Wearing pink shorts, a white T-shirt, and a perky ponytail, actress Brinke Stevens looks eerily like one of the innocent coeds she plays — at least in the first few scenes, before she sprouts fangs. ”I usually start out normal and pretty, and about halfway through I get possessed, go insane, or turn into a vampire,” says Stevens, scream queen of video quickies and one-woman underground industry.
In Nightmare Sisters, her transformation from mousy sorority girl to vampy vampire takes about half an hour. In Teenage Exorcist, she’s a prim yuppie who moves into a mysterious old house and, faster than you can say Linda Blair, starts thrashing about in a murderous rage — and a skimpy black leather getup. It’s only fitting, then, that Stevens underwent a real-life metamorphosis from marine biologist with a master’s degree to B-movie babe.
Stints as an extra in over 100 movies finally led to her first speaking/screaming role in 1982’s Slumber Party Massacre, in which she fell victim to a driller killer. With the rise of the VCR, B-grade Hollywood was then in the midst of a rabid gore cycle, providing abundant opportunities for nubile young women. ”They always needed 14 girls to play victims,” Stevens says. ”I got good at screaming.” Through videos such as Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Transylvania Twist, and the upcoming The Haunting Fear, she’s also become adept at shower scenes, and at delivering lines without lisping despite the fangs Poli-Gripped to her teeth. ”But I still can’t eat with them,” she says.
Offscreen, the 30ish Stevens has made a cottage industry out of exploiting her exploitation-flick status. She personally writes the newsletter that goes to the 800 dues-paying members of her fan club and appears at fright-film conventions (such as the one in New Jersey pictured below) wearing flowing wigs and slit-to-there dresses with plunging necklines — the better to hawk her videos and autographed photos. She produces and hosts Shock Cinema, a four-volume ”making-of” cassette series aimed at nondiscriminating horror-film viewers. Callers can hear the smoky-voiced actress read scary bedtime stories on Stevens’ 900 phone line and find her byline in magazines like Fangoria and Horrorfan. She wrote Teenage Exorcist, and her screenplays for two mainstream erotic thrillers are now making Hollywood rounds. Stevens has even trademarked a character, Evila (no relation to the campy Elvira), a seductive vampire who will come to the rescue in the soon-to-shoot Video Pirates From Mars. More than a movie role, Evila is an enterprise, a subsidiary of the mini-empire built upon Stevens’ on-screen neck biters. ”Though I haven’t tried to break out of B movies, the opportunity hasn’t been offered either,” Stevens says. ”So rather than expand vertically, I expanded horizontally.”