The 1983 cult horror classic Sleepaway Camp shocked audiences like never before with its legendary twist ending. Felissa Rose who portrayed Angela in that series has since gone on to make a name for herself in the horror industry and shows no sign of slowing down. Her latest film, Camp Dread takes her back to her camping roots and is bringing along another female horror icon in Danielle Harris and Eric Roberts. I had the honor to sit chance to sit down with this icon of horror to discuss Camp Dread and some of her career.
Bobby: How did you get involved with Camp Dread?
Felissa: A few years ago I received an email from a friend of mine named Josh who is a writer at Fangoria who told me that there was this great director named Harrison Smith who wanted to get in touch with me about his next endeavor called ‘Camp Dread’ and would love to speak with me and send me a script. I said yeah great have him call me. So when he called we ended up on the phone for hours, we immediately clicked and he sent over the script and I flipped over it because it was really smart and well written. I was blown away when he said that he had written Rachel Steele for me so I was very happy to jump on board.
Bobby: Due to ‘Sleepaway Camp’ you have become somewhat of an iconic character in horror whether you want to admit to it or not. Have you ever tried to steer away from horror and it keeps pulling you back in or do actually really love it?
Felissa: Wow I appreciate it those are some big shoes to fill. (laughs) It is a genre that I love and respect and am a fan of. I made a very conscious effort to steer towards it because you feel love and support in it. It’s a genre that accepts you unconditionally and I have just been so fortunate to be a part of.
Bobby: I know this probably isn’t the first, but this is a little bit of a different type of character than you may be known for. How different is your process in preparing for this kind of role?
Felissa: Everyone asks if do I love playing monsters or victims, but I love them both for obvious different reasons. Angela to me, when you create a character even if they are evil, as an actor have like and love the character because it is kind of like giving birth to your own child. I really loved the way Rachel was written, she has this past as an actress who was a diva and obvious a pain in the ass, but now that they have called her back she is changed and now a therapist. So I really wanted to go with a more empathetic character that’s had different relationship with the other characters. With John Hill she reverted back to her bitchy diva attitude if you will and then with the young people she is more interested in helping and caring for them so there was that maternal element, and I have three children so it was kind of like my everyday life, so she was a lot closer home for me. Plus there are some red herrings with her and I like all the twists and turns with her in the film.
Bobby: I know the Angela character is a bit different, but when you have played a character that has become some iconic, do you ever go into other horror films and they want you to play the character just like you did her?
Felissa: I do run into that actually. ‘Sleepaway Camp’ is obviously my biggest claim to fame and I am grateful for it and was so lucky to have, but I have to say, most of the directors that I have worked with know me from that movie. A movie I did called “Caesar and Otto’s Sumer Camp Massacre” was written around the Angela-esque character and I portray my character as written just like her. Everything about her is done the same way, they really wanted me to revert back to those shoes and give them the same character. I love it, but agree that the role is happily looked at and people want more of it and I get cast for it so for me it’s a win, win.
Bobby: At this point in your career do you get a lot of say so, like on how your character is going to die or anything? I know a lot of time the scripts tell how they die, but do you ever get to suggest or give any input on that stuff?
Felissa: No, I just do what I’m told. I have been lucky to work with such competent and smart directors like Harrison Smith and numerous others that I have worked with over and over again that we know each other so well. There writing and directing and allowing me to perform that we take what they have already saying what the character is supposed to be like and doing and we kind of mix it all up to get the right temperature, but when it comes to the death scenes I leave it all up to them. ‘Camp Dread’ is one of my favorite death scenes and that was Cleve Hall, Monster Man, who did my scene and it was crazy! I thought I was really going to die. They titled my head back and poured this stuff down me and it was going down my throat, but I am a method actor so it gave me more to work with one shot of me gagging and choking.
Bobby: Before I let you go I have to ask, being involved with ‘Sleepaway Camp’ that had such a strange twist that has become legendary did that have any effect on you as a child doing that kind of thing or were you able just walk away like a normal part and just not think about it?
Felissa: With the filmmaking process, since it isn’t done in continuity you’re just shooting this scene here and this scene there so as a child you never really know what the film is going to turn out to look like. So I just walked away from it thinking it was a lot of fun just acting and made a lot of new friends, so it wasn’t until I actually saw the movie that I realized it was pretty intense. I didn’t do any of the kill scenes, I never held a knife, the curling iron or any of the other instruments they used so for me it was just go to work, have fun, act, and then leave. There wasn’t anything bad happening.
Bobby: I appreciate you taking the time to do this. I am a big fan of ‘Sleepaway Camp’ and was glad that you came back for ‘Return to Sleepaway’ Camp and look forward to seeing what else you have coming up.
Felissa: Oh, thanks so much.
Grab your copy of Camp Dread when it hits stores on April 15th. For more information head over to http://www.image-entertainment.com/