RETROCRUSH INTERVIEWS THE STAR OF
NIGHT OF THE COMET AND CHOPPING MALL
Were you in the drama club or a cheerleader in high school?
we didnít have a drama club and I thought cheerleaders were stupid. I
was younger than everyone else in the first place. I was basically
trying to get out of there so that I could do what I wanted to do. My
father died and I felt all grown up so I kind of went on with my
life. I wouldnít say I belong to any group. I wasnít a stoner. I
wasnít a cheerleader. We didnít have a drama club. I got super good
grades and I slept.
Did you have any reservations about The Night of the Comet
The script itself reads funnier than
it played because when youíre actually playing it you realize the
gravity of the situation. When youíre reading itÖitís hilarious. A
couple of scenes were laugh out loud. We always stayed focused that
this was a real situation. As a matter of fact if something got too
funny one of our producers Andy Lane would come up and say, "Okay,
that was funny you guys. Now shoot a serious one too." Heíd
say it to the director not to the actors.
Night of the Comet is a difficult genre because you were
shooting sci-fi which is serious, but yet thereís a comedic aspect
Thom told me that he wrote it in
about two hours. He was being encouraged in that he needed to work of
course as we all do. The last thing these people did was
Valleygirl. He had just done Sole Survivor which was a
very serious movie. Then he had some documentaries in his background.
He thought of the dumbest thing he could.
He talked to his daughtersí friends.
He said, "What would you do if it was the end of the world and you
are the only ones left?" They said, "Weíd go and get guns and it
would be cool because everything would be free." He wrote down every
dumb thing they said. He went home and wrote a thing in two hours
called, "Teenage Comet Zombies" and it changed very little.
Perhaps thatís what makes it entertaining.
Thatís a real strong part of Thomís
personality is to see the irony in people that they donít see in
themselves. He thought, "These kids are clueless." My character
really presents that side of Thom.
The scene where your stepmom slaps you in the movie is crazy.
I did that stunt myself. The roll
over the couch.
The guys you encounter at the mall are effeminate or gayish. Was
your fight with them territorial?
Well, they were stock boys and had
always been treated subhuman and then all of a sudden this is their
store. They were turning zombies. They were just doing it slowly.
Thatís a pretty intense scene. Was that at night?
Everything was at night. We were
permanently screwed up. Sometimes weíd turn around and work first
thing in the morning. Like all that stuff we shot downtown that had
to be over the weekend when there was nobody there.
Was the cops sequence challenging to film?
No, not at all, those arenít my
legs. Andy Lane had a girlfriend and they put her hands and legs in
after we wrapped. Those might have been my legs. I canít remember. A
lot of times theyíll be showing my hands and those are her hands.
Theyíd already wrapped me, but they needed the hands.
There was some improvisation to the movie.
A lot of it was. I think as a whole
ensemble with cast and crew and everything we really didnít know how
it was going to play either. I think thereís that element of it and
thatís why it endured because itís about the people not the special
The movie has funny one liners and mis-interpretations such as
when Kathy is talking about cancer.
He goes, "You have cancer?" and
Kathy goes, "No, I am a Cancer." That may come from Thom trying to
communicate with his daughter who was a little girl at the time. She
wasnít even a teenager yet. Also, what I didnít notice right off the
bat is sheís playing him the whole time. Sheís stalling for time. A
lot of that is intentional. Kathy and I never discussed how we were
playing anything. We had great chemistry together.
Many people watched it on cable and developed a big crush on you.
Like Wayne Crawford said, "We have
something for everybody in this movie." It was Thomís second film
that wasnít a documentary. It was low budget. We made the whole thing
for $500,000 dollars.
What an incredible job to do
Youíd never know it. Every penny of
it is on the screen. He did a nice job.
You should be proud of yourself for Night of the Comet.
I am. To this day people know me as
the cheerleader with the Uzi or the little girl with the big gun.
Actually, itís not an Uzi. Itís a Mach 10. They misfire so often that
we added that line because it was driving us nuts. I think Thom came
up to us and said, "Weíre going to have a scene where youíre blowing
stuff up." Just say, "This is the problem with these things. Daddy
would have gotten us Uzis."
My friend Steve noticed right away that the gun jammed.
It jammed a million times. We blew
so many takes with the gun jamming we thought weíd lose our mind.
Do you still have the cheerleader outfit?
I still have the cheerleader outfit
and the shoes and yes they still fit. Every single time I date
somebody that will come up eventually. No pun intended. Theyíre
always embarrassed to ask me as well they should be. I say I still
have my cheerleader outfit and they go, "Can I see it?" Itís hanging
in my closet. Itís in the back. We had two because we were running
around getting dirty and stuff. Thomís daughter took the other one.
She used to wear it every year for Halloween.
You could sell it on Ebay as an original prop from a movie.
Well, it would never fit anybody
Did you play Tempest on Night of the Comet?
To this day I donít know how to play
videogames. Kathy didnít either.
It was somebody else playing it?
She faked it. They got her reactions
because they wanted it to look like she was having sex.
Was there anything in the movie that was challenging to film?
had a hard time when we were chained up. That started to get real
Was that you in the trunk of the car?
Thatís me. It has to be me. They
showed me in a close-up looking dead and then me opening my eyes.
That was nice and weíre excited to see you didnít die.
character is kind of a good person.
It deepened her character. Sheís the
nicest, kindest person in real life. Itís great working with her
because sheís a person where you look in her eyes and sheís an ocean
Sheís been in a lot of movies: Death Race 2000, Eating Raoul.
She and Robert Beltran did Eating
Raoul together way before they ended up in Comet. Then she
ended up in Chopping Mall.
Do you think that ditzy, hot teen or have fun shopping valleygirl
still exists in the world?
No, I donít know. With everything
that is going on in the world as a people weíre not as feisty as we
used to be. Itís so overwhelming I think a lot of people give up and
not think about it which is a bummer.
If a comet did come through killing everyone which other person
would you want to survive?
I canít pick my dog huh?
Sure, you can. What type of dog is she?
Sheís half Rottweiler and half Black
Whatís your dogís name?
Sasha Louise Simon
Itís all about the dog.
I suppose if I were married Iíd say
my husband. Iím divorced so fuck em.
I read that they used the lone Mercedes imagery that was in
Comet in 28 Days Later.
When something hits it sort of
becomes iconoclastic. People use stuff without realizing that theyíre
using it. Thatís when you know youíve really touched a nerve. They
hold us responsible in Fast Times for inventing the world,
I still use that.
I TOTALLY use it. I donít think we
invented it. I think that was around a long time before. I donít know
this, but could that be the first time anyone said it throughout a
movie? When we did the Vanity Fair thing the blurb was, "We invented
the word TOTALLY." I donít think we did. We definitely brought the
word "DUDE" into serious play.
Fast Times influenced all teenagers when it came out. It
was all about surfing, lightening the hair, and Vans.
I think when Cameron did Fast
Times he went undercover Iím sure it was the 1970ís. The movie
came out in 1982. That was one movie where I had never heard a
California accent before. So, I got out here and it was the same
thing in Comet. We were watching the real high school girls.
Everyone said, "Donít try to look like these girls because theyíre so
made up." They look like theyíre 35. We canít do it. I was listening
to them talk and I couldnít believe it. So, when I had my speech I
just talked like them. The real cheerleaders were watching me and
they were furious. They said, "We do not talk like that. Iím so sure
we talk like that."
You had a good time on the set of
Fast Times at Ridgemont High?
We had a great time. I had the sense
that this was going to be something special. It was also my first
time to California and my first time on a famous movie lot. It could
just as easily have been all that excitement. I certainly didnít
expect to be talking about it 25 years later.
Did you hang out with many of the people from the set of Fast
We were together forever and ever
because it took a long time to shoot it seemed to me. Yeah, I would
have to say that we did. Um, Sean had this thing. I got to know Sean
a little bit because he would have to come in early in the morning to
get his surfer hair on. He didnít walk around like that the whole
time. I would have to come in early because I couldnít drive so the
teamsters had to pick me up in the morning. He would be aloof from
the rest of us. He had, "Spicoli" on his trailer door. He wouldnít
answer you unless you called him "Spicoli".
He stayed in character.
Yeah, and everyone else was like,
"What is wrong with that freak?" The hair and makeup lady said, "Heís
a sweet guy. Heís working on his part." I could respect that. Heíd be
putting his hair on and theyíd be getting me ready. We wouldnít talk
too much, but in a way we formed a weird bond that way.
What about Chopping Mall?
I was listening to the director
Wynorski's commentary and he stated the catering wasnít too good.
Nope, Possum Patties and Weasel
Strips. We had this one dessert this time. You know how when they
give you a pill when youíre in the hospital, a mini dentist cup. One
time they had that for dessert and there was whip cream in it. I
thought, "Maybe thereís a little cookie in it." So I ate it and
thatís all it was, a cup of whip cream. They were called Cajun Joes
or something like that. You couldnít tell what it was half of the
Itís like when people eat deep fried squirrel.
We could have eaten it. We just
donít know. Barbara Crampton and I sat there and did a commentary too
and Wynorski cut us out of it he decided to hog the whole show I
guess. He had Barbara and me down there and we commented through the
Were you all together or was it a separate commentary?
No, we were all together. I was
there. He didnít use it. He might have done two. Who knows? He might
have said, "These people are going to listen to the girls and not me
so letís do another one."
They were talking about the scene in the pet store and how he
didnít like the scorpions.
What happened was he has this thing
where he wonít ever ask an actor to do anything he wouldnít do
himself. So when it came to the scorpions the bug wranglers dropped
it on his crotch. He was like, "Okay, we donít use the scorpion."
It sounded like even after all these years it scared him.
I think it bothered him more than it
did me. I trusted the bug wranglers. The secret to getting around me
in any situation is if you can make me laugh. He said, "This is
Dolores and sheís been in the business for over 20 years. Sheís
worked with all the greats." I thought of it as Dolores on me.
There were snakes too?
There were snakes on my legs. I
wasnít scared of the snakes though. I already had a Boa Constrictor
on me in the film I did called Zero Boys. Itís not in the
movie, but it was freezing outside and that Boa Constrictor was warm.
So, I lost my fear of snakes. Thatís not to say that if a snake came
popping out at me if I was hiking I wouldnít be scared to death
because I would. If someone comes up to me and theyíre a bug or snake
handler I maybe foolish, but I trust them to know what theyíre doing.
The bugs and the snakes are their living. Theyíre not going to let
anything happen to them. That was an easy thing for them because if I
moved a muscle the robot would hear me.
Those robots were constructed pretty well.
Robert Short made them. Heís a
genius. He did Daryl Hannahís tail in Splash. Youíll notice
that at the beginning of the movie thereís an aerial shot of the
Beverly Center and then a cut to the Galleria. The reason for that is
we were going to use the Beverly Center, but when they got the robots
and they were all designed. They got them into the Beverly Center and
the robots wouldnít fit on the escalator. So, how scary would that
be? Whereís the robot? I left him cooling his heels on the second
floor. It was a serious problem for about 5 minutes. One thing I
learned about working for Roger and Julie Corman and Jim Wynorski is
if thereís a problem no matter how dire if you blink once or twice
theyíll have figured a solution.
It sounded like you filmed quickly and it was a tight budget.
We were fast. The ideal thing is get
it right the first take, shoot one for safety, and move on.
They were saying they donít make movies like that anymore because
a lot of it goes directly to DVD.
Night of the Comment and
Terminator came out at the same time. Siskel and Ebert said they
enjoyed Night of the Comet more than The Terminator.
Was it hard to get into character when they said, "The Robots are
after you. Run!"
The hard thing about running in a
movie, now that I tell you this Iíll ruin it for you. Watch the actor
because you have to look like youíre running for your life and yet if
a camera is on a dolly which means its coming on a track. The camera
cannot move as fast as you can. You gotta make it look like youíre
running for your life and youíre not covering too much ground. Thatís
the toughest thing. Fortunately, for me I had already learned that on
The Zero Boys because I was driving the cameramen nuts. Theyíd
say, "Run for your life" and Iíd run for my life. Theyíd say,
"Unfortunately, itís not on film so nobody will ever see it." You do
not frustrate a cameraman on a low budget movie. You donít do it.
You want to keep friends.
If you want to keep your life.
Thatís the great thing about doing low budget movies. Everyoneís
passion is out there. We donít have time for anything. Nothing needs
to wait. Everyone is sort of pissed off that they have to do it or
theyíre pissed off that theyíre not making any money on it. Thatís
why it was such a bad thing with the catering. Youíll hear the
catering come up on Chopping Mall all the time. One of the
first rules of producing a film is that crew is well fed. If theyíre
not all hell breaks loose. The crew one time let the air out of
Wynorskiís tires. Thatís how much they loved him.
It sounded like the woman in charge of the mall caused problems.
You canít imagine what we did to
this mall. You see it on film, but what you didnít see is that
afterwards in about a half an hour we had to have everything back the
way it was. How that crew did it I will never know. Weíre in there
destroying the place all night long. In an hour to a half an hour
sometimes it will all have to be the same. What a surreal thing. To
go to the mall afterwards and see it normal. Itís the same mall that
we used in Fast Times.
I like the numbers on the robots in reference to The Man from
It was #1,2 and 3. The one on the
third floor was Clint Eastwood. The one on the first floor was Joe
Friday. The one on the second floor was a ditz. The one on the second
floor cannot get anything together. The one on the third floor is the
one I finally blow up. Thereís actually one left.
A sneaky one that got away.
No, I mean in real life. We only
have one left.
They were saying they have no idea where it went.
Rule #1, the rule of Jim Wynorski
club: Donít believe anything Jim Wynorski tells you. He knows where
it is. He wonít tell me where it is either. That whole thing ran ad
nauseam all spring, summer, and fall of last year. It probably still
is on for all I know and Wynorski and I donít see a dime off of it.
The movie was originally released under the name Killbots.
What Jim Wynorski is famous for is
heíll hire people to do something under a semi okay name. We all
signed up, Barbara Crampton and everybody to do a film called
Robots and it was sold to us as having Robert Short, the famous
special effects artist guy is going to do the robots. Itís going to
be a class act. Then it was Killbots and then it was
Chopping Mall and we were like, "Oh my God." He said, "You
wouldnít have done Chopping Mall right?" I said, "No" He
replied, "Thatís why you signed up to do Robots. You think I
was born yesterday?"
Were you there when they blew up the ladyís head?
I was there 24/7. Anytime Wynorski
was there. I was there.
What a grueling shoot that must have been.
Itís like I spent my entire first
six films at night. I was under the impression that people only shot
films at night.
What about your role in Big Bad MommaII with Angie
Hereís how Jim Wynorski and I ended
up working together and we didnít realize we were racking up so many
films together. I wanted to originally play one of the daughters. A
lot of the thing was they felt my feel was too contemporary. Theyíre
into shooting. He calls me up and goes, "How would you like to play
Angie Dickinsonís great, great granddaughter?" I said, "What?" He
said, "Weíre going to put age makeup on her and cut to the present."
Weíre going to show that sheís an old lady and sheís teaching you
everything she knows. I said, "Great, I get to meet Angie Dickinson
and weíll do a day of shooting."
Why didnít they do Big Bad Granddaughter?
I donít know.
I liked Angie in the first Big Bad Momma.
She was great. I call her a great
broad. Thereís nothing she hasnít seen, heard, and nothing surprises
her. She has a great sense of humor about everything. I call those
ladies broads. They get along with the guys really well. Thatís a
great asset in any industry if you can get along with the men. Itís
still heavily dominated by men. If you can speak man somehow and know
where guys are coming from and not make them uncomfortable or give
them a hard time youíll have an easier time in business than if you
donít speak man and you make them uncomfortable.
Is there a quality you look for in a guy? You havenít gone lesbian
No. Especially in Hollywood guys are
very focused on themselves. Not that Iím not, but to a pathological
Is it better to date someone out of the business if you can?
I think so. Iíve done that too. Iíve
been engaged to someone who wasnít in the business. They donít
understand. So, I donít know.
Youíre still available and open for dating?
Iíve heard youíre a Trekkie?
I was in love with Captain Kirk when
I was really little.
All those repeats of the original Star Trek?
Yeah, we used to watch them while we
ate dinner. They were on like at 5 oíclock. Thatís how I became a
When you were growing up whom did you have a retroCRUSH on?