Interview: Tiffany Shepis of Trade In

Some might just slot actress Tiffany Shepis as a video vixen or a scream queen, but that’s an unfair categorization, because she is one of the independent film sector’s leading actresses, having appeared in nearly 80 movies since her debut in Troma’s Tromeo and Juliet back in 1996. Most recently, Tiffany made waves in such genre movies as Dark Reel (2008), Night of the Demons (2009) and The Queen of Screams (2009).

Disc Dish spoke with Tiffany about her movies, including comedy Trade In (DVD $24.98, SKD USA/Entertainment One, released Nov. 23 2010), which concerns a couple of Arizona car dealerships that compete against each other in a crazed sales contest to determine who gets to stay in business.

Disc Dish: It was fun seeing you in a straight-ahead comedy, riffing as a car saleswoman in Trade In.

Tiffany Shepis: Yeah, it was a lot of fun to make. It’s tougher to get low-budget comedies produced. Low-budget horror movies are much easier to cast and get off the ground. Getting a chance to do comedy is always great. Then again, a lot of my horror movies end up being comedies anyway.

DD: It looked like everyone in the cast was having a fun time.

TS: We had a giant ensemble cast of crazy characters, a lot of whom were local talent — we shot in Arizona. We were shooting in an actual car lot that was in operation during the production. We would see so many crazy situations with actual sales people trying to sell cars, just like we were in the movie.

DD: Trade In also marked the final screen appearance of Corey Haim (The Lost Boys), who pops up in a strange dream sequence. How did he get involved with the film? I know you and he were close over the years.

TS: We were seriously good friends. He was living in Arizona at the time, trying to get his health in order. He would come down to the set to hang out and bullshit with everybody, pal around, talk about movies, play with the grips and have a good time. So everyone was thinking, ‘Shit, we have him here every day, we might as well use him!’ But there was nothing for him in the film, so the writers came up with the idea of a bizarre dream sequence where the guy who’s dreaming is more excited about Corey Haim being in his dream than a couple of hot chicks.

It definitely turned out a lot stranger than I thought it was going to be. It started out as very funny, but it came out sort of unsettling and creepy. It’s a screwed-up double-edged sword; Corey was a sweet, sweet, sweet man, but child actors, they’re all very much like children. He just wanted to get healthy and get back in the game. It’s sad.

DD: You’ve got so many movies in the post-production pipeline that I just want to rattle off a few intriguing-looking titles and hear what you have to say about them. Let’s start with The Frankenstein Syndrome.

TS: Oh, that’s a great one, written and directed by my husband, Sean Tretta, who has done a lot of indie horror films. It’s a great Frankenstein-ish story about illegal stem cell research gone wrong. I play a molecular researcher in that one!

DD: How about Mountain Mafia?

TS: It’s about the Cornbread Mafia in Kentucky. Lots of guns with a very low budget that we had a very good time shooting. We shot it all in Kentucky, where there are a lot of great people and even greater bourbon.

DD: Psycho Street?

TS: It’s an anthology of horror stories, where I do all the wraparounds. I play a sort of demented version of Marcia Cross on Desperate Housewives, who keeps a perfectly spotless house with a lot of dead bodies in the basement. We shot it in Bloomington, Ind.

DD: And The Violent Kind?

TS: Oh, The Violent Kind played Sundance last year, and let me tell you, there’s nothing like going to Sundance when you have a flm there. Not bad for a B movie actress, right? It’s a very weird, Lynchian horror film about a biker gang that goes out to an old barn for a party and bad things start to happen. I play the girlfriend of the leader of the gang who leaves the party for a little while and then comes back covered in blood! It’s very cool and very bloody! We filmed it in Northern California.

DD: Wow, you’re all over the place. I hope you’re part of a good frequent flyer program.

TS: Oh yes, a good one. We fly everywhere for free.

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.