As a model, writer, horror convention host and actress, Rebekah Herzberg has been carving into the horror genre with a blood-thirsty grin ever since she was a young teen.
She’s as straight forward as they come- an honest, die hard horror fanatic who has as deep an affinity for the classic VHS format as any human being on this planet. Her writing style comes sans sugar coating, just the way any self-respecting horror enthusiast would want their news and reviews.
Over the last two years, Rebekah has begun to build up her IMDB page with roles in ‘The Good Friend’ and ‘Princess’. Both films are- surprise, surprise- horror.
She’s also a proud member of the roller-derby nation and wholeheartedly plans on getting back on the track as soon as possible.
Recently, I tossed a line to Rebekah asking if she’d be interested in being interviewed for the blog. She agreed without hesitation, which is especially appreciated considering she is really quite pregnant and can pop at any time. So a special thank you to the mommy-to-be for her time and support and to the little boy for letting Mama do one last interview before entering the world!
1. How did you fall in love with horror?
I get asked this question a lot and it’s hard for me to remember the exact age but I believe I was somewhere around eight years old. A mom and pop video store called K&E Movie Rental had a rare collection of horror films on their shelves and I was drawn to it. Kevin Tenney makes jokes all the time asking where my parents were and how was I allowed to rent these movies. My grandmother would often take my brothers and I to the store and wouldn’t pay attention to what we were renting. That sounds horrible but it really isn’t. I didn’t turn into an ax murderer or psycho. I think what intrigued me the most was the cover art. I am still obsessed with the forgotten VHS cover art. My brothers forced me to watch a lot of films when our parents were out of town and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. The first films I remember watching are Wes Craven’s ‘Last House On The Left’ and ‘The Exorcist’. I always hate saying ‘The Exorcist’. It seems so cliche but it’s the truth. It was one of the few films that actually scared me. Others that stood out would be ‘Night of the Demons’ (my personal favorite) and ‘Creepshow’ along with more cliches; ‘Child’s Play’, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, and ‘Pet Sematary’. ‘Pet Sematary’ was another that really scared me. The sister Zelda still scares me to this day. My brother use to stand by my door at night and say, “Rachel,” using her voice. Even though I was scared, I was obsessed. My older brother David would be the one who got me into horror. He even use to write short horror stories and scripts when we were little and he would read the stories before we went to bed. They would always scare me. I also remember my father renting the original ‘House on Haunted Hill’ and ‘Dracula’. ‘House on Haunted Hill’ scared me!
2. You started your own website dedicated to horror as a 13 year old during bouts of insomnia. What were you like as a child/teen?
I grew up in the suburbs where there were several neighborhood kids. We all played and had fun. I have no idea how I managed to have a social life and spend so much time on the computer. I was even involved with dance and theater from a very young age into adult hood. It baffles me that I got any sleep. People made fun of me all the time for having a horror website. I knew many people weren’t reading it and it wasn’t much but I just enjoyed talking about horror, even if nobody was reading. I taught myself web design. I think I became addicted to the internet because for a short time I became one of those chat room trolls that made fun of other people. I was too cocky. I can’t really stereotype myself and say I belonged to one group. My best friend was the first male cheerleader in our home town. I had friends that were band geeks, stoners, freaks, and the ravers. Bullying did become an issue in middle school. I was ridiculed relentlessly for being Jewish. We were the only Jewish family in town and my family was very strict. Even my own friends made fun of me for being Jewish. All the girls in the dance company I joined were also very mean to me. They would call me a lesbian and a weirdo. I didn’t speak much and kept to myself. When I did speak, my friends would complain that I talked about movies too much. I couldn’t help it, I was in love.
3. What are some of your favorite horror films?
‘Night of the Demons’ will always be my favorite. Anything from Dario Argento’s early days, Mario and Lamberto Bava, and Jess Franco top that list as well. ‘Carrie’ has to be one of my all time favorites. All of the video nasties and many black and white horror films. There’s so much out there, it’s impossible to name a few.
4. As a proud host of the 2011 Texas Frightmare Weekend, how did that opportunity arise for you?
I have been attending Texas Frightmare Weekend for years now. A lot of the people involved with Texas horror films are close personal friends of mine. Parrish Randall mentioned me being a host in 2011 and Loyd Cryer offered me the opportunity. It was a lot of fun and surprisingly, I got to host the panels I wanted. It’s not really that big of a deal to some but considering how big of a nerd I am, I was honored to be in that position. I wanted to be involved this year but seeing how I am pregnant, I could not handle the responsibility. So I just enjoyed myself.
5. How many conventions/film festivals have you attended over the years? Can you share a memorable moment or two?
I haven’t been keeping count. I have mixed feelings about Crypticon in 2009. They didn’t promote the event as much as they should have so there weren’t as many fans but that made it easier to get interviews and longer conversations with the guests. I had more interviews and better conversations at that convention than any other but it was poorly put together. Texas Frightmare Weekend is always the big one. This year it was bigger than ever. The year before was my favorite year because of all the shenanigans I was involved with. I spent a lot of time with Japanese director and actress Yoshihiro Nishimura and Eihi Shiina. Nishimura and I switched clothes one evening. He enjoys wearing female dresses. I was also involved with the infamous human centipede (fundoshipede) in the pool area where Dieter Laser forced us to get on our knees and pushed us in the pool. New York Comicon was also another fun experience. I was handing out fliers at the Glass Eye Pix booth for the directors of ‘Satan Hates You’ and ‘I Sell the Dead’. I had never seen so many creative costumes before. Nothing will top the 10th Anniversary screening and Q&A for ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ though. It isn’t horror but I did meet the one and only Bill Fucking Murray.
6. As a fan of the genre, what are your thoughts on the current state of Hollywood horror?
It’s no secret that I am not a huge fan of mainstream cinema. Mainstream anything for that matter. Hollywood is so fake to me. These people are not fans. At least not the mainstream actors doing horror pictures. They just want a pay check. I prefer independent horror films and actors that stick to the genre because they’re such big fans, because they work hard and they do it for their love of the genre. A-List actors, a lot of them anyway, don’t give a crap about horror films. I also feel these filmmakers cater to a younger audience. People will argue that there are no more original ideas and I am tired of hearing about this. There are original ideas. I see original films all the time. They’re just not mainstream. Why do they have to keep remaking everything? Why does Elijah Wood have to play Frank in the ‘Maniac’ remake? The idea of Frodo scaring a woman makes me laugh. Are they doing it for the money? I don’t understand. Why does it have to be remade at all? These films are not out dated. Kids these days have short attention spans. I let a teenager watch ‘The Lost Boys’ and he told me it was ‘gay’ and needed to be remade. I cannot believe it when people tell me they prefer the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ remake over the original. I pretend I didn’t hear that and I pretend that remake doesn’t exist.
7. I think it’s clear that independent horror is leaps and bounds ahead of Tinsel Town’s product these days.Who are some women in horror you admire, both behind and in front of the camera?
Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of ‘Dead Hooker In A Trunk’, I believe the Soska sisters have a bright future ahead of them. Shannon Lark has a bright future ahead of her as well. I was in a horror film with her that took home seven awards at a film festival called Splatterfest. She took home one of the awards for Best Scream. On set, I couldn’t believe how loud she could scream. You could tell how passionate she was. That woman is going places. More known women behind the camera that I am a huge fan of would be the obvious Mary Lambert and Marry Harron. Rachel Talalay is one of my favorites because she did a remarkable job with ‘Freddy’s Dead’. She’s a big part of one of my favorite movie franchises and she’s also Jewish. As for being in front of the camera, Jamie Lee Curtis is a favorite. I would call her a scream queen of the past because she didn’t just stick with horror. Lina Romay, Jess Franco’s muse and wife, was a sultry and provocative star that frequented exploitation films I enjoy. I have mad love for Barbara Crampton, Linnea Quigley, Debbie Rochon, and who could forget the one and only Barbara Steele? Modern day scream queens would be Tiffany Shepis, April Burrill, Roxy Vandiver, and Danielle Harris.
8. What makes for a truly excellent horror film, in your eyes?
There are several ingredients that make for the perfect recipe. A chilling score, unexpected scares, convincing actors with cries for help, the pacing, atmosphere, character development, credible dialogue, excellent special effects, comedic relief, and originality. That’s what makes for the perfect horror film but a lot of times I find myself in the mood for a big ole corn ball fest.
9. What have been your contributions to the Wicked Channel?
I just started writing for Wicked Channel. I am a HUGE VHS fan and collector so once a week I send in VHS reviews, which people cannot get enough of, and I check out independent films to review as well. I am also a writer for DreamDemon.com so I wouldn’t say I spend a lot of time mainly focused on Wicked Channel. There’s also my blog where I feel I can get away with more inappropriate jokes and not get into trouble. I have done some writing locally as well as other sites in the past. I stay busy.
10. If you interview a horror icon, past or present, who would it be and why?
Brian De Palma because I am such a big fan and Roger Corman because I want to know why he feels the need to stick to the same formula. Women are required to get naked in his films and I want to get to the bottom of this. Lars von Trier as well. I want to pick that man’s brain and find out what his problem is. Then I wouldn’t mind interviewing Robert Englund because I am obsessed with the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.
11. You are close friends with several noted women in horror. Who are some of your favorite women in horror?
One of my favorite women in the industry would be Heidi Martinuzzi because she makes me laugh. We could use more Heidi Martinuzzi’s in the world. Then we have the GORGEOUS and artistically tattooed Jovanka Vuckovic. I enjoyed her time at Rue Morgue.
12. What advice would you offer a young woman interested in entering the world of horror?
I don’t believe I am the best person to be giving out advice. I have made a lot of mistakes. Some of which, I am still recovering from. I try to look at how others are acting and tell myself that I don’t want to act like that. Don’t be a diva. No one will take you seriously or want to work with you and you will become the laughing stock of the horror industry. Treat others with respect and in return you will be treated with respect. It’s okay to make mistakes. We all do. Learn from the experience, pick yourself up, and start all over again. Repeating those mistakes only makes you look like a jack ass. Never give up! If you work hard enough, things will happen for you. Never put yourself above other women. You want to get along with these girls and show your support. There’s no place for insecurity in this business. We can all be fabulous. Life is not a competition. Most of us are fans right? Don’t be a diva, be a fan! You must also learn how to take criticism. Not everyone is going to like you and people may try to bring you down. Look at it this way, you’re obviously important enough to them if they cannot keep their mind off of you. Consider their hatred a compliment, thank them for the attention they have shown you, and move on.
I thank Rebekah for her insight, time and support!
Check out her blog for anything and everything on Rebekah’s mind!