Shrieking Like a Psycho Cheerleader: Talking With Dana Leuth by Owen Keehnen

Splat Pack member Dana Leuth is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with on the indie horror film scene. She’s worked with Tony Urban at Crazy Ralph films on ‘Phobic’ as well as played Jordana Steel in his deliciously twisted reality-TV based mock-shock-umentary ‘Klownz’…a.k.a…Girls Put Down The Damn Ouija Board or You’ll Conjure Up The Spirit of a Serial Killing Clown!! And she’s coming back for more -- Dana is also set to star (as Fox no less!) in CRF’s upcoming ‘Psycho Cheerleaders’.

Dana is also no stranger to The Funhouse, The Crazy Ralph spin-off Funhouse Pictures that is -- having appeared in Shawn Hunt’s “there’s something in the woods that shouldn’t be there” epic ‘The Shrieking’ as well as being cast as Daria Sinclair in his upcoming hellacious flick ‘Demoniac’. On a different front the in-demand actress was also Sherry Van Horne in Troma’s suck-fest ‘Night of the Vampires’ and has had additional roles that include 3FingerFilms ‘The Birthday Party’ as well as ‘Sad Eyes’. Not bad at all for a couple years of work.

So sit back, grab a Dr. Pepper and a warm cheesy pretzel, and say hello to one of the newer and most promising young stars on the horror scene today.


Owen: Hi Dana, let's start the readers off with a visual, can you describe the room where you are writing this interview?

Dana: I like things clean, simple, warm & classy. So the room reflects that. Warm lighting, a comfy chair and my cat Eva on my lap makes it the perfect haven. I spend a lot of time in here so I like to make it as comfortable as possible.

Owen: So far you have worked with Crazy Ralph Films with 'Klownz', 'Phobic', and the upcoming Tony Urban movie 'Psycho Cheerleaders'. How did that gig come about and what about makes you a great choice for the Crazy Ralph stock company?

Dana: I came across a casting call for Klownz and figured I'd give it a shot and send in my pictures. When I got an interested response, I didn't know much about Crazy Ralph Films but I had my bags packed in half a minute and was on my way. It was such a great experience working on Klownz beside Tony Urban. With each film, I realized quickly it wasn't a fluke that he knew how to put together such an amazing shoot filled with outstanding actors & crew to bring his great script to life. Working on independent projects calls for large amounts of dedication and faith. Not just to your own career, but to the director, the project, your fellow actors and hard work. Tony has a knack for picking out actors that really want to throw themselves into a project.

Owen: Were you ever a Psycho Cheerleader in real life?

Dana: I was never a 'Psycho' cheerleader, but I was the captain of a cheerleading team so I've had plenty of experience keeping psycho cheerleaders in line!

Owen: Tell me about your role as Daria Sinclair in the upcoming Funhouse Pictures' movie 'Demoniac'?

Dana: It was great to be given the opportunity to play the role of Daria Sinclair. Shawn Hunt gives a depth of characterization not often seen in today’s low budget horror films.  I'm looking forward to learning everything that makes Daria tick. 

Owen: You also worked with Funhouse as Jo Payne in 'The Shrieking' with Anna Bridgforth and Kelly Ray. What was your overriding memory of working on that film project?

Dana: We spent our days shooting on a lake in the woods of North Carolina. I have an absurd, unnatural fear of spiders so I was pleased that we had made it through the day with no encounters. One of the last scenes we shot before emerging from the woods, I was sitting on a rock under the trees when someone told me not to move. At which point, I looked down and saw a spider crawling on my hair near my face. I screamed and jumped up, frightened as a five-year-old sissy girl. It could've been great footage if the camera was rolling, most of the crew thought we were filming a scene!

Owen: Oftentimes you hear about thespians in horror movies having to do all sorts of difficult stunts and disgusting things. Has that been your experience? If so what is the most frightening and/or disgusting thing you have ever had to do in a film? And have you ever refused to do something for the camera?

Dana: I was shooting an independent horror film about three years ago that called for a brutal death scene. I was the virgin sacrifice and had to shoot barely clothed, terrorized, and covered in blood & glass. It was a long shot and even though everyone working with me in that scene was extremely supportive, it was emotionally exhausting and entirely uncomfortable. I would most certainly refuse to do that again!

Owen: Career-wise was it always your intent to focus more in horror films per se or did this entire fright career just sort of snowball and create itself through contacts?

Dana: I've always been a huge fan of the horror genre, so seeing as my first film opportunity was for a horror film I was more than thrilled. After that, it did sort of just happen that each film following was horror. There is nothing quite like working on one though. Romantic comedies never call for screaming, sticky blood and fake bruises!

Owen: So we are pulling the car into the Dana Leuth Drive-In. What three horror movies are you going to be showing on your triple bill and what goodies are they going to be serving up at the concession stand?

Dana: Welcome to the Dana Leuth Drive-In. Tonight we are featuring 'Psycho', 'Rosemary's Baby' and 'The Blair Witch Project'. Help yourself to warm pretzel bites with hot dipping cheese, popcorn and Dr. Pepper.

Owen: I love Dr. Pepper! Dana, what does it for you in real life? What is the ultimate class of demon and why ---- vampires, zombies, ghouls, werewolves, psychos, creatures, aliens, witches, telemarketers, mimes, etc.

Dana: For me, the unknown giving way to the imagination is the most frightening. Psycho films usually do this best. It could be anyone you know, capable of things only your mind could conjure up. Although, telemarketers have given me my share of sleepless nights!

Owen: Do you have any other upcoming projects you want to plug or mention or brag about?

Dana: Filming for 'Psycho Cheerleaders' and 'Demoniac' begins soon. Although very different films next to each other, they both promise a fantastic evening in front of the screen!

Owen: Is there anything that turns YOU into a raging psycho?

Dana: There are definitely things that make my blood boil. But if you're looking for the one thing that could make my brain snap and change me into a real psycho, it would be the patterns of a honeycomb. I have a 'thing' about that pattern.

Owen: What scares you in real life?

Dana: Not much does scare me. I honestly only have one fear...but it's certainly the deepest. Spiders. Of any size, shape or color. It's completely irrational and I don't know where it started but it's always been there. My mother would hear a blood-curdling scream from my bedroom, come running and see me standing there shaking, pointing at one on my wall that could be mistaken for dust. They're fast, darty and they most certainly have it out for me.