The Movie Waffler Waffling With Horror Icon Debbie Rochon | The Movie Waffler

Waffling With Horror Icon Debbie Rochon

We spoke to the genre legend about her extensive acting career and upcoming directorial debut.

Interview by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Photos by Gary Cook

Hey Debbie, is it true you got your first acting role while living homeless as a teenager?

Yes it is. They were casting kids to be punk rock fans and I heard about the casting call and went in. I spent three months working on the movie Ladies and Gentlemen: The Fabulous Stains.

You're often referred to as a Scream Queen. Is this a label you embrace?

It’s a label I tolerate. I don’t describe myself with that term but I understand in this world people need labels, so it is one that has been given to women working in horror. It doesn’t bother me. I call myself an actress that does horror, but that doesn’t have a certain ring to it I guess.

At what point in your career did you realise you had become a horror icon?

I think it comes with the years being involved in any genre. I have been in some great films and some not so great films but either way I have been working a long time, so it’s a nice thing to be referred to as! I think since I have been in so many movies, written for many publications and have worked in radio for years, people have been kind enough to put me in that category. That’s a nice label.

Since the '80s you've worked on hundreds of indie productions. What are the biggest changes you've seen in independent filmmaking over the years?

The amount of work has increased. The amount of filmmakers has increased. Technology has made it possible not just to make movies much easier but also give people in the business the ability to get the word out about their project if they work hard at it. All good changes really. I still do love the look of film but digital has come so far it is now beautiful to watch also. If it’s lit properly.

What's your favourite horror movie?

The Shining. Great story, characters, art direction, shots, score. Hits every mark for me.

You appeared in several Troma movies. What do you think is the secret to Troma's success?

Lloyd (Kaufman) has his own unique style. When a director has their own style and something they want to say and always push the envelope it’s what filmmaking is all about. In independent film you can say whatever you want, seeing you don’t have to answer to a studio. They stand for freedom of speech as well as intense, crazy entertainment values. They have such a loyal fan base they will never be forgotten. The secret is simply that they made their own type of movie regardless of whether people loved it or hated it and stuck to their guns.

What can you tell us about your feature directing debut, Model Hunger?

This film is made for viewers who enjoy an underground New York style of film. It has something to say if you’re willing to pay attention, and if you just want to see some really terrific performances it delivers. It doesn’t depend on gore but doesn’t shy away from it either. My goal is that it will find its unique audience; there’s a lot in the movie for the right crowd to enjoy!

Do you plan to continue directing?

Absolutely. I have something I am working on now but it’s far too early to talk about it yet. I very much look forward to helming a movie again!

The horror genre seems to boast a higher percentage of women directors than other genres. Why do you think this is?

Hard for me to say, but maybe because it has a built in audience. Maybe because you can say anything you want in a horror movie. You can make any comment you like about the environment, the state of racism, classism, the apocalypse. You don’t have to adhere to any formula, so it’s very freeing!

Any advice for budding women filmmakers?

Never rush your movie. Make sure the script is really good before you start. It’s your blueprint and once you begin making the film you can’t change gears mid stream.

At The Movie Waffler, we love horror, but there are still many who refuse to take it seriously. Why do you think the genre still fails to receive respect from the mainstream?

I think it receives a lot of attention from the studios because it’s a cash cow, even though it’s their red-headed step child! Money is the bottom line in the business. They pay close attention to the indie scene and see the trends quite often. If there is anything that is really doing well they might be inspired to make their big budget movie based on what’s going on in the indie scene. Just look at all the found footage films. Respect? Not sure about that but they will always pay attention to what will make them money.

You've always been prolific, and you have a bunch of movies set to come out over the next year. Any in particular you'd like to tell us about?

There are a few movies coming out soon including Helltown, Malevolent, Nightmare Box, Killer Rack and the much anticipated Death House.

Thanks for speaking with us Debbie!

Thank you! It was my pleasure!