PJ TOTALLY BARES HER SOUL: Talking With Horror Goddess PJ SOLES by Owen Keehnen

There are horror icons and then there are HORROR ICONS. PJ Soles is one of the ones in all capitals. This interview was a dream come true...on my end anyway. I loved PJ (Pamela Jayne) since seeing her as Norma the ballcap wearing prankster in 'Carrie' and as the totally luscious and totally tragic Lynda in 'Halloween'. The double blockbuster horror roots have solidified her place in the hearts of fans everywhere...evidently Rob Zombie being one of them. However, fans may not realize that her first horror flick was made a bit before 'Carrie' - the under-the-radar fright flick 'Blood Bath' in 1976.

Aside from her horror credits who can forget PJ opposite Bill Murray in 'Stripes', as the ultimate Ramones fan Riff Randell in 'Rock and Roll High School', the horror flick 'B.O.R.N.' with Amanda Blake, Fred Olen Ray's 'Alienator', 'Breaking Away', 'Sweet Dreams' with Jessica Lange, the creepy 'Mirror Mirror IV: Reflections', 'The Awakening of Cassie', 'Shake Rattle and Rock', 'Jawbreaker', 'The Other Woman', Goldie Hawn's 'Private Benjamin' as a (GASP!) brunette, 'Murder on the Yellow Brick Road', 'Out There', 'Zuma Beach', 'Listen to the City', and lotsa etc. She also did TV work with guest starring roles in some of the hottest shows of the era - 'Cheers', 'Airwolf', 'Simon and Simon', and 'Knight Rider'. This woman has a serious resume!

Her cameo role in Rob Zombie's 'The Devil's Rejects' seems to have awakened the sleeping giant of her horror fans to the possibilities of new roles. She has had a new slew of horror flicks of late: 'The Tooth Fairy' and 'Dead Calling'. And next up, PJ puts a spin on things and plays the creepy one in the new Phil Creager flick 'Death By Engagement'.

The totally engaging PJ was everything I hoped she would be...



Hi PJ, is it true that Phil Creager went to extraordinary means to get you to appear in his movie 'Death By Engagement'?

Hmmmm, I don't know about "extraordinary means", but I do recall him asking me if I would read the script, and if I would consider playing "Mrs. Starkington". It is always exciting when someone just hands you a script and tells you the part is yours if you want it. It was also less shocking that it happened to be a neighbor and friend who was gently letting me know that it was time for me to be playing those "quirky, mature women".

Also, I believe I insisted that they please seriously consider our close family friend John Corlis for the musical composer, which was really like offering them the most talent for the least money. Since John was still in college getting his music degree, it was a good match for both sides. He really did an amazing job.

What attracted you to the character of Mrs. Starkington in 'Death By Engagement"?

I was attracted to her strangeness, her odd behavior, her surreal take on reality, and also in spite of her creepiness, I identified with the fact that she loved her son with all her heart.

Was it fun being the creepy one for a change?

Definitely fun being the creepy one, and I was glad my character was merely mentally out of whack.

What's your most vivid memory of filming the horror classic 'Carrie' (1976)?

My most vivid memory has to be just the incredible bonding that took place with all of us young actors. We really became like a family - we were so close, including Sissy, who tried not to be too friendly on the set during filming, but after the day's end when we would all go to watch "the dailies" (which was so rare that director Brian dePalma encouraged us all to attend) Sissy would become part of our group and we laughed so hard at each other during all the clips..........fun times.

Looking back what stands out for you during the filming of the prom chaos scene that fans may be interested to know?

Well, for one, and I've told this so many times, but the force of the water coming out of the fire hose broke my eardrum, and it was a painful 3 months.........but aside from that, the individual "death scenes" were not written in detail for specific characters in the script - they were up to the director's particular choice and design and not divulged until the day of when the crew started setting up, and Betty Buckley was so worried and stressed about what type of scene Brian was going to plan for her.........it was hilarious.

And do you have a memory of filming the classic 'Halloween' (1978) that you would like to insert into a time capsule?

I suppose my scene upstairs in the bedroom is a particularly vivid memory because John Carpenter allowed me to help create it. When you are a young actor it is so exciting to be given an opportunity to choose what your character does in a scene and to contribute to the creative flow of the film. I remember being very aware that I wanted to make "Lynda" sexy and cute, yet not be a slut.

What did Rob Zombie say to you that convinced you to do that totally great cameo in 'The Devil's Rejects'?

I went to a regular casting session along with a list of other "notable 70's actors", and I brought an 8x10 photo of me as my character Norma in "CARRIE" for the casting director to give to Rob, and I signed it: "To Rob Z. Ready to scream for you! Totally, P.J. Soles". I didn't hear anything for two months, but then finally they booked me for that one scene, and I met Rob the day of the shoot. At lunch, he brought out all his photos and posters and I signed more stuff for him - he was a collector - it was funny at the time, and I thought that I must have gotten the job because he wanted me to sign some of his memorabilia.......haha!

What has been the craziest and most challenging special effect that you have been a part of in a movie?

I don't think that I have ever done any "special effects", but in "STRIPES" I had to handle a machine gun and shoot Russians and that was pretty outrageous for me.

I'm a big fan of 'Rock and Roll High' too and I gotta ask are you really a big Ramones fan?

NOW I am a very big fan - I especially like Joey Ramone's last album written and recorded when he was very ill, and I really love his rendition of "What A Wonderful World". When I was first handed the cassette (not CD, haha) of The Ramones in 1978, it took awhile to adjust to that unfamiliar sound, but as soon as I saw them play live during the filming of our RRHS concert scene, I thought they were very raw and amazing - I love genuine talent and they were pure living art. I appreciate their courage for being unique at a time when The Eagles were the hot thing.

You must have the most interesting horror fanbase. What is the most unusual request a fan has ever made of you?

I haven't had any strange requests from horror fans - most of the fans I meet are so gentle and shy, and grateful to get a photo taken with me - they are really great. But a few years ago, I had a foot fetish guy who kept writing to me requesting a photo of only my feet: bare, in stockings, in heels, in ballet slippers - it was an odd request, and he was quite upset that I was not responding. I finally sent him my headshot and said that this was what I normally sent out and I have never had a photo session of just my feet...........

Okay, we're pulling the car into the PJ Soles Drive In. What three horror flicks are on the triple bill for tonight and what goodies are they going to be serving up at the concession stand?

Death By Engagement with P.J. Soles Death By Engagement II starring P.J. Soles P.J. Soles Presents: Death By Engagement III  

serving: Popcorn with blood-red melted butter................

What scares you in real life?

What scares me is the idea that if two people can't understand each other's points of view, how are two countries ever going to compromise for peace..........it is scary and terribly sad. I am scared that our world is not working for peace but for power.

What are you the most grateful for in your life?

I am most grateful for my two children: my son Sky and my daughter Ashley.

Thanks so much for talking with me PJ, this has really been a dream come true. I bet memorabilia I have of your career rivals Rob Zombie's!