CARMILLA -(1998) DRACULINA CINE' -Starring Maria Pechukas, Heather Warr and Andy Gorkey Written and Directed by Jay Lind and Jeff Schelenker for Evil Clown Productions

The legendary tale of Carmilla is brought to life once more in a version more daring than ever told before. Now the infamous She-Vampire is living in modern Long Island, NY and her prey are the darling and delicious teenagers who populate her up-scale town. Inspired by the seminal 1871 tale by Irish author J. Sheridan Le Fanu.

Director Jay Lind has put his inimitable stamp on the story which has been the basis of a number of films over the years. None of which had the courage to show what Mr. Lind bravely puts on the screen. This is Carmilla in her most raw form: Bloodied, naked and with teeth bared. Watch it... you dare!

After movie DO YOU LIKE WOMEN? I was pretty close to hanging up my director's spurs and returning to the wonderful world of nudie photography. After all, less work, more benefits! Then I was lucky enough to helm NIGHT OF THE CAT and my entire outlook changed.Filmmaking can and should be a blast.

NlGHT OF THE CAT was so successful that I immediately decided to embark upon a filmatic journey that I had long wanted to take: an original adaptation of J. Sheridan LeFanu classic novella Carmilla. I knocked out a good, tight, literate script assembled a solid castand started shooting.

This was in 1994. As the Scott poet once said, the best laid plans, etc. Starring Maria Pechukas in the role of Carmilla. Maria had previously starred in SPOOKIES as well as my films V IS FOR VAMPIRE, NIGHT OF THE CAT, and the unreleased-in-America erotic cannibal comedy DO YOU LIKE WOMEN?

I had wanted Jennifer Worthington to play the other female lead. Madelaine,one of Carmilla's descendants, as well as the principle victim. Unfortunately for me, the timing was really bad, as Jenn had just embarked on a careerin the adult film industry. So I had to recast the role of Maddy.

I was dating this really gorgeous 18-year old actress/model named Nicole,so I gave the part to her. We started shooting and then Maria and I got married. Nicole split from the production [well, duh! - Editor] so we had to focus on scenes we could shoot without her character for awhile.

stuff with the characters of Carmilla and Angela during this period. Then I decided that Maria should play both Carmilla and Madelaine- An excellent idea artistically. Madelaine is one of the best actresses I have ever seen. However, this is where the real headaches began. Because of financial considerations (I was broke), the decision was made to move our film enterprise from Long Island, New York to a less expensive place.

We did a lot of We wrapped the 'NY' stuff and packed our traveling gear to head south to Delaware where I had a lot of family. The movie floundered for a few months until I hooked up with a Maryland based producer who helped me to get started again. We found a haunted bordello to use as our principle location, recast with local talent, and re-started the whole deal.

Tiffiny Barron, a large breasted 18-year old flower child took overthe role of Carolyn and though she was a natural. Heather Warr a statuesque brunette beauty essayed the very tough role of Madelaine's mother Marrianne. Heather eventually became a partner in our corporation. Now I've read somewhere that some B movie director is going around saying that he'll only hire porno girls to do nudity because they're glad just not to have sex. I really can't disagree more.

If you've got a good script and the actors are confident in your ability to make a good film then it's really easy. They feel comfortable with you and your artistic vision and are professionals.I always advise other filmmakers to hire professional actors not only models and strippers. Actresses are more reliable and professionals realize that nudity is necessary in many instances.

Basically they understand that naked" is just another costume. Anyway back to our story... When last we left our hero he was struggling to complete his film CARMILLA under less than ideal circumstances. A couple of weeks into shooting our savior the Madelaine started hittingon (as in do you want to date me.") Several of the actresses. A Born Again Christian. I was beginning to believe in curses.

We forged on. I became the executive producer. A local musician also pitched in as all associate producer I was also lucky enough to convince a friend who owned a lot of cool computer stuff to jump on board as an executive producer. they provided professional lighting equipment and did the titles and all of the digital still.

It's been four years now since I started on the road to this " CARMIILLA Project."

I'd shot hours footage on various formats such as Hi-8 and Super VHS video, Super 8 and 16mm film, and it's time to edit it into a co-hesive final product. Well, of course, we were unable to secure an editing suite. No one in the entire state willing to let us edit an erotic horror moviein their God fearing editing suite. However my associate producer Jeffhad a couple of decks and an 8-track soundboard. I built my own editing suite and set out to cut this mother together.

Days and nights passed without notice as I blended the various formats into one movie, combining music and visual to the almost hallucinogenic Montage that is CARMIILLA. We set out to create a dreamscape, a nightmare world, spook house reality where sex and blood and are the main ingredients of the soup, and thanks to Maria Heather, Colleen and Jeff, we were able to do just that. I am happy with and to use them in future projects.

In this case I am bringing back Heather and Maria, and, of course, my co- producers Jeff and Bill in their production capacities. The next movie is a big and better production made with higher moneymore dialogue It's called VALERIE and it's to star Maria in the title role.

I'm really looking forward to this one. We start shooting in November. It's an erotic thriller about an Long Island girl who believes shemay be turning into a vampire. Hope you enjoy the ride. I met Maria Pechukas in 1992 on Long IsLand at an audition for a filmcalled VALERIE. The story was a psychological drama, which incorporated the vampire motif, much like the flick VAMPIRE'S KISS but sans the humor. Director Jay Lind cast Maria in the lead role.

We rehearsed the scenes quite a bit before we began shooting and shot countless promo pictures to send out to various magazines trying to stir-up interest, not to mention a few bucks towards the ultra-low budget. During rehearsals Maria s talent floored me. I had never seen an actress so concentrated or disciplined, she took every aspect of her job very seriously.

When she was acting she became indistinguishable from the character. Maria was Valerie. During the photo shoots she radiated the same intensity. It was quite amazing watching her work and see her dedicate 100% of herself to the project.

Maria was a true actress.The real deal. You never saw an actress when you watched her work. She had depth, was three-dimensional and had the ability to transform into a character. Thats something that most actors never experience fully in a lifetime of work.

On the way to rehearsal one night she handed me a New York newspaper opened up to the theater reviews page. A play she starred in, which had recently closed, was featured. Maria's acting was compared to the likes of Meryl Streep. It didn't surprise me though. This woman had a rare talent and it was not lost on me. Although VALERIE was unfortunately never completed, Lind, producer Jonathan Faber, Maria and I went on to make DO YOU LIKE WOMEN - a satire inspired by the 1963 French farce AMIVOUS LES FEMMES?

This time I played a student private investigator and Maria played Celia,the wicked leader of an all-female cannibal society. Maria took what could have easily amounted to a stereo typical bad girl character and turned it into an evil but sympathetic villain with the perfect sprinkling of black humor.

The range between Valerie and Celia was like the range between Robert DeNiro s characters in TAXI DRIVER and MEET THE PARENTS. Maria captured the essence of both roles perfectly. The memories I have of Maria? When I think of Maria I think of how she loved to swim, she was a great swimmer! I think of how hard her life was. Her sister had died and it took a great toll on Maria. I think of how she has inspired me as an artist. I think of the glowing angelic performance she gave in the 1985 flick SPOOKIES.

If you haven t seen it check it out! I think of the time I ran into her and her then new husband Jay Lind, at a convention and she gave me a poster from her latest film onto which she inscribed I love you Debbie. - Debbie Rochon

DRACULINA: What can we talk about? MARIA PECHUKAS: My movies, my photos my poetry, whatever.

MP: I did SPOOKIES when I was a teenager, I was at the High School For Performing Arts, here in Manhattan, (the school made famous in the movie and TV show "Fame" - ed.) I was hired to play the lead, Isabelle for $500 a week, which at that time was really mad money. So I did two weeks. The movie sucked. But I looked good, and I thought that I did a good job, y' know for a kid.

D: After that?
MP: After that I did some modeling, ballerina posters and calendars, some topless stuff that still pops up now and then. And then I met Jay Lind
D: The movie director... what happened?
MP: We connected right away. We were artistically of one mind, though I think Jay might be a bit more sadistic... Anyway we hit it off and started working together.
D: What was the first movie you did with him?
MP: SANGRE SONGES. It was released in Europe. My first onscreen nudity,and my first on screen lesbian scene. Jay had me naked and crucified on this huge cross...

D: You said it was your first "on screen lesbian scene. Are you a lesbian? MP: No, no way, but I think all women are a little bisexual. It's onlynatural to be attracted to pretty things and to act on that attraction is only natural as well... One of the things I had in common with Jay was that we both liked the same girls.

D: After SANGRE SONGES what did you do? MP: I did a play, "School for Wives" here in New York and then I was in Jay's movie, NIGHT OF THE CAT which I think is still out, I'm not sure. After that I did DO YOU LIKE WOMEN a very funny script, a lot of silliness. It takes place in the Hamptons, so the cast and crew got to play on the beach everyday. There's some nudity, mostly Debbie (Rochon) and Allison (Woodward). I had a great time, I played Celia Fassbender, a gourmet chef and the leader of this cannibal cult searching for "The Perfect Girl" who turns out to be Debbie (Rochon) and I try to turn her into the perfect barbecue. It was really neat. We had her on this huge grill, naked and covered in barbeque sauce. It was a very fun time, a very funny time.

D: Now that was your last movie for awhile? What happened?
MP: Life. We had a real bad attack of Life. Jay was trying to get his screenplay, "Valerie" produced. We were doing a lot of nude photography just to pay the bills, and we got married, which probably wasn't a great idea for people Like us...
D: People Like you? MP: Artists, free thinkers, free spirits. And... well, you're going to find out sometime. I slipped back into anorexia and bulimia, which I had first suffered from in junior high.
D: Can you tell me about that?
MP: Not really. It's a very painful thing to talk about. It's about body image, insecurity and control. You know, your Life is out of control, but you can at least control this one thing. Okay? Now, Let's get on.

D: How did you end up playing both Madaleine and Carmilla In CARMILLA?
MP: Jay had cast this really Lovely LittLe eighteen-year old girl to play Maddy, but she backed out at the last minute because of all the Lesbianism, which Jay wanted to be real, or at least as real looking as possible. He wanted to push the horror envelope as far as he could without going into pornography. I'm very proud of my work on that film, as is everyone involved.

D: I spoke to Colleen (Van Ryn-DO YOU LIKE WOMEN and CARMILLA) just the other day and we got talking about CARMILLA...It's just a great experiment, this great underground classic.
MP: I sure wish more people had seen it than, say SPOOKIES, because is really sexual and scary and pushes boundaries and really forced us, as actors, to stretch way beyond where most of us were comfortable.

D: So, what are you working on now? MP: I'm doing a play at Theatre 22 here in New York called Drawing DownThe Moon." I play Diana, the priestess of this coven, which is where the whole thing takes place. It's set in modern Manhattan.

D: Any more films? MP: No, not for a while. This is sort of goodbye for me. I've got to get my personal life together first, get so I can eat without feeling guilty.You know?. (Originally Published in Draculina Magazine) Cover Page Index