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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dear God No! 's Madeline Brumby - 13 Question Marks of Horror

If you've seen Dear  God No!, the greatest exploitation flick since the golden age of exploitation flicks, then you've seen Madeline Brumby. A talented screen and stage actress, Madeline takes the world by storm with her performance as Edna, a sheltered and odd young woman with a secret or two. I was able to catch up with her as she sets to begin filming the next great Jimmy Bickert exploitation opus; Frankenstein Created Bikers. Join us for 13 question marks of horror...

1.                   You started acting after college. Was acting always your first love?

How about my closet love? Storytelling and cinema have always been huge passions of mine, but I didn’t admit that I wanted to be an actress until the semester I was graduating. Go figure…it took me a while to come out!

2.                   Dear God No! has raised the bar of independent horror and exploitation. How would you describe it to the uninitiated?

Jimmy Bickert definitely took me to exploitation film school. DEAR GOD NO! is the ultimate grindhouse film. It is disturbing, offensive, hilarious, horrifying and amazing. You can’t even call it a tribute. It was shot on super 16mm film and all the effects are practical. It was a wild and wooly ride, but definitely one of the greatest experiences of my life.

3.                   Dear God No! has a very authentic look and feel. Were you a fan of the classic 70s exploitation films or was this something new to you?

Pretty new, I have to say. I had seen clips of various 70s exploitation and biker flicks, but never watched a movie to completion. Looking back, I think this was for the best, as most of the actors from these types of movies really didn’t have formal training in acting, or really knew what they were getting into. It’s really part of the whole “charm” of the genre!

4.                   How did you come to be cast in the film?

I was searching for work and stumbled across the ad for Edna. I distinctly remember reading a brief description and that “some nudity” was required…I thought, what the heck… Might as well give it a shot! I sent my headshot and resume off and, I’m not kidding, within about 10 minutes Jimmy responded and said “You have exactly the look I had in mind when I wrote the script.” I auditioned and a few weeks later in front of Jimmy, Shane, and Nick and performed a Mr. Bean monologue (ha!) and read the sides for Edna. Jimmy followed up the next evening with “We watched the tapes last night and thought you were fantastic. It was nice meeting you and we apologize for our scruffy appearance. We're just excited about our biker cameos so we have been letting ourselves go a bit...attached is the script."

5.                   With a film this wild, have you met with anyone who was truly offended?

Not yet…They’ve always left the theatre before I had a chance!

6.                   Where there any parts of the film that were difficult for you as an actress?

I struggled with the aftermath of filming the rape scene. I was determined to deliver the performance without having to do multiple takes, not only for my sake, but also, to not waste the film. I got pretty worked up, and channeled a lot of deep, buried emotions. I didn’t talk to anyone once we finished and stayed away for about a day to recuperate. I wasn’t mad; I was just psychologically drained from the sincerity of the performance.  

7.                   Director James Bickert had a very specific vision. Was your character laid out for you or were you allowed to flesh her out a bit?

Jimmy explained my character was based on early feminist Kate Chopin’s character Edna Pontellier mixed with Gustav Flaubert’s Emma Bovary tossed into a 70s exploitation picture. He also did not want any deviations from the script. I thought that was quite the challenge, but was glad to take it. Developing her went beyond all expectations. As a result, Edna Marco has been the role I’m most proud of.

8.                   Edna is such a weird character with a lot going on with her. What did you use as a reference?

I referenced Jill Banner’s performance of Virginia in Spider Baby. I was particularly intrigued by the use of her hands as a twisted dynamic to her already crazy character. I don’t think she’d even had any training before making the film, but her physical acting is my favorite part of her performance. I tried to channel a bit of the weird, almost nervous tick behavior with my hands as well…I think it helped. But, probably the best reference was me as a teenager. I was pretty introverted and depressed. I’d say most of those dark emotions were exercised/exorcised during stabbing of Evelyn Marco.

9.                   Dear God No! has got to be one of the wildest flicks of all time. What crazy stories can you share from set?

Wow! There are too many to choose from! My favorite is actually when my costume didn’t make it to the last day of shooting at the waterfall. About an hour into the drive to north Georgia Jimmy was like, “well, looks like you’ll have to do the final scene nude”. Fortunately, I had slept in my famous white, granny panties (so I, at least, had those) but I was never supposed to do the final scene naked. Even though it wasn’t the original plan, Edna being stripped bare, really made the final scene more intense, more artistic, and more fun to watch.

10.               On the film TSC 3, you stepped up to the Associate Producer role. What was the difference for you wearing multiple hats?

It was extremely educational. I learned a different, and very stressful side of filmmaking. I booked the location (which was also the location of the interior scenes of the Marco’s home) and helped orchestrate scheduling.  I don’t think it’s something I’d like to do in the future with filming, but I certainly learned a great deal.

11.               You recently did Dracula's the rock opera which is an insane ground when all stage play. What can you tell me about it?

From musicians, score, and performers, the show is oozing talent and potential. Rob Thompson essentially turned Bram Stoker’s writing into lyrics. With the help of Naomi Lavender, Chris Love, and Sam McPherson, Thompson created the greatest musical interpretations of the classic. Del Hamilton and Justin Welborn staged and directed, and Shane Morton (the art director of Dear God, No!) production designed the world premier this past October. Dracula: the Rock Opera is “rock” as in there is a live band, and an “opera” as in there are no spoken words. I had the privilege of playing one of Dracula’s wives and Lucy’s mother. It was definitely my favorite stage production I’ve ever done, and hope I have to opportunity to do it again. The CD is amazing, and will be released soon.
12.From a performance standpoint, are you more comfortable in the theater or working in film?

I am really quite comfortable in both. I enjoy film acting the most, though. There is such a closeness captured by film that the audience can’t obtain watching a stage performance. I feel film is more accurate to how the mind interprets what it sees. Stage is wonderful, don’t get me wrong as you can’t beat a live audience, but the audience never gets to be as close as the camera.

13. One last thing. I understand that you will be returning in Frankenstein Created Bikers. Can you tell me anything about your character in it?
I’m missing my body…So, I’ve been studying The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and Reanimator because those are the two best performances by a head in a pan that I’ve ever seen!

Keep an eye out for Madeline in the near future on stage and in film. If you haven't yet, pick up Dear God No! You'll be glad you did. 

Other Horrific Musings:

Bikers vs. Bigfoot! Dear God No! (2011)

Dear God No!'s James Bickert-The Sinful Celluloid ...

Exploitation Theater: Candice Rialson in Pets (1974)

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