Interview: Actress Debbie Rochon on horror movie Colour From the Dark

She’s frequently categorized as a Scream Queen or a Video Vixen or some other alliterative or rhyming title, but we like to think of Debbie Rochon as simply one of the hardest working actresses on today’s independent film scene. With more than 150 films to her credit and no apparent signs of slowing down (she completed some dozen last year, including Bikini Bloodbath Car Wash, Cottonmouth, Hanger, The Good Sisters and the supernatural vigilante nun action-comedy Nun of That), the always-candid Ms. Rochon took the opportunity to fill us in on what she’s been up to.

DD: The last time we spoke, you were promoting Nowhere Man, which was about five years and 50 movies ago.

Rochon: (laughs) Yes, it’s been a while. Nowhere Man, that was a fun one!

DD: Movies about men searching for their severed penises usually are. Your latest film on DVD is Colour From the Dark (Vanguard, DVD $19.95, released on Feb. 23, 2010), an Italian production based on an H.P. Lovecraft story.

Rochon: When I read the script, I imagined all the fun stuff we could do and we did! The director, Ivan Zuccon, made it even more fun.

DD: And it was shot in Italy?

Rochon: Oh yes! I was there for five weeks in the summer, about an hour north of Bologna in the Po Valley.

DD: That’s where Antonioni made all his early films.

Rochon: So beautiful, views of corn fields and grape fields for miles. And we shot at this farm that was about 300 years old — the story takes place in 1942 — and we were really cut off from the outside world. And in the place where I stayed, nobody spoke English. It was quite an experience. But Ivan was great.

DD: This is actually the only film I’ve seen by him; it was very well-composed and had a great use of color.

Rochon: Yes! His framing and his scenes, they look like paintings. The whole experience was very inspirational for me.

DD: There are some graphic moments, but overall it’s quite different from the films your American fans associate with you.

Rochon: It is. Cinephiles get this sort of film, which has a lot of story and isn’t all about gore. And European audiences, too. They enjoy gore just like everyone else, but they also like multi-leveled stories that don’t have to be linear. Some style and art never hurts!  Not all American audiences go for that.

DD: I guess that sounds about right. You’ve been making movies for 20 years now–do you see major differences between your different generations of fans?

Rochon: Yeah, I really do. Generally speaking, it seems like there’s a certain amount of a sense history missing with some of the new viewers. Sometimes you find some incredibly knowledgeable young people who can see where things have come from; they sort of acknowledge the roots and lineage of these kinds of horror movies—of movies, in general! That’s the coolest part, isn’t it? Hopefully, there’ll be [some viewers who are] curious enough to search for that knowledge and find it and appreciate things for what they are.

DD: You’ve appeared in more than 150 movies–have you ever gotten any offers to direct?

Rochon: Oh yes, a few times. But the projects that I’ve been offered–without being insulting to those who have offered them to me—are way too small-minded for me. Hey, I love exploitation, but it’s not really my desire as a director to do make that kind of movie. Sometimes, I’ll get a strong desire to direct, but then I’ll get sidelined by writing projects I want to do and writing my book. I have a real love of writing. Anytime you want to do something well, it takes a lot of time and commitment. Once I get my book finished and go through the process of finding a publisher, then I’ll consider getting into the fulltime job of raising the money and finding a script for a film that I’d like to direct. I’ve been shying away from doing something just for the sake of doing something.

DD: Tell us about your book.

Rochon: It’s about me and it’s painfully honest. It’s about everything from when I grew up on the streets in British Columbia and that time of my life — the ugly times, the violence, being raped, all of it–to my discovery of film and moving to New York and all the insanity that’s happened since then. I want it to be more like all those old punk books, like Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil — really raw and honest, no holds barred, naming names and putting it all out there for people to read and be blown away by

DD: Okay, you’ve got more than a dozen films in post-production and at least another six that you’re getting ready to shot.  Do you ever take any time off? And what do you do then you do?

Rochon: That’s a great question because I’ll be damned if I have an answer! In order to have any level of success, you have to work like a mad person 24/7, especially when you’re living in New York City. So I have to say that I’ve been a workaholic for my 25 years in New York. When I do get a little time off, I just, like—well, let me tell you about last month. I did three weeks on a shoot in Florida for a movie called As Night Falls. They were all overnight shoots, really grueling and challenging and tough. And I was the bad guy and I  had to wear lenses every single day and that killed my eyes. Then I did a week in L.A. and another week in New York for two other movies. So it was five-six week of insanity and then I got to actually sit down and I think I stayed in the same position for a week solid—laying down, sleeping and watching movies on DVD. There’s no fancy vacation to Europe and no beach, not that I would necessarily love those things. But I had a week off and I slept. Really glamorous, huh?

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.