LADY SHRIEKFEST: Chatting with Actress and Shriekfest Maven DENISE GOSSETT by Owen Keehnen

Back in 2001 Denise Gossett had starred as Angela Travis in the film 'Chain of Souls' and was frustrated by the lack of venues to screen the film, so she did what any wonderfully motivated person would do and started Shriekfest, the LA based horror film festival. It was an immediate success and has been growing yearly since its 2001 start and now the annual film festival includes screenings, lectures, a contest for best film as well as screenplay, and of course it's also an amazing networking venue (

In addition to her Shriekfest duties Denise is also a busy actress starring in such horror films as 'Carnies' with Reggie Bannister, Lee Perkins, and Ford Austin, 'Crustacean' , and 'Fright Club'. Ms. Gosset has also been in plenty of non-genre films like 'Postcards from the Future', 'Katie Bird: Certifiable Crazy Person' , 'Sex Pot' , 'Sheila Takes a Bow' , 'Scene of the Crime' , 'Self-Inflicted' , 'Rift' , and 'Decaying Orbit' . And she's also appeared on such TV series as 'The New Adventures of the Old Christine' , 'The Office'e , 'Fashion House' , and 'Samantha Who?'.

And the charming Ms. Gossett was also nice enough to take the time from her busy schedule (did we mention she also has a baby!) for this exclusive interview.


Denise - why don't you start us off with a visual and describe the place where you are answered these questions?

Well, I am sitting at my laptop at my desk surrounded by tons of work, nothing too exciting. There are stacks of horror films around me though and the Shriekfest 2009 poster is behind me. To my right is a birthday card that was drawn for me by Armando Norte, A bunch of headshots are on shelves below my desk and I can hear my 17 month old little girl giggling in the background.

Congratulations on Shriekfest. You started the horror and scifi festival in 2001. What was your primary motivation behind putting it together?

Well, I wanted to help filmmakers and screenwriters pursue their dreams...I am a big believer in dreams and I love it when people follow through. Plus, I had just starred in a horror film and wanted it to do the festival circuit, but upon doing some research discovered that there really weren't very many horror fests out there. So, I came up with the idea to start Shriekfest.

And how do you think that has evolved over the years.

Well, the festival keeps growing every year! It blows my mind; we get submissions from every country out there! Through the years I've kept notes of the films and screenplays I've personally enjoyed and when a request comes in, I'll refer the ones I've liked, no matter how long ago it was entered into the festival.

I know the festival also has a film and screenplay contest. So if one of our readers out there is a fledgling filmmaker or screenwriter what can they do to submit their work to Shriekfest?

Well, the 2010 call for entries just opened, so all you have to do is go to our website and print off the entry form and send that in with your submission. the pricing is tiered, so get them in early.

I've read some wonderful things you have said about the tight-knit welcoming nature of the indie horror community. Why do you think this genre of filmmakers seems to be more open than most genres - any theory?

These filmmakers are down to earth and that's why they are more open, plus they are in a genre that has been through various degrees of disrespect through the years...I think something like that makes them band together. Hollywood has a love/hate relationship with horror and I think that makes people stick together as well. Speaking of tight knit community, I hold a monthly networking event in Hollywood, CA. If you are local, the info is on our site and we'd love to have you! This will be the 3rd year of the networking meetings and I'm always hearing how people got work from the meetings.

You also are a busy actress. Tell me about the horror/comedy you have coming out with Elissa Dowling called 'Crustacean' in which you play Sheriff Dee Dee.

This is a spoof film in the John Waters vein. Very silly stuff, but lots of fun as well. Very fun cast and crew.

And I also want to hear about your work as Helen in 'Carnies' with Reggie Bannister, Lee Perkins, and Ford Austin. Any memory from that shoot you would like to have preserved in a time capsule?

Ah, yes, the cast. Our cast was awesome and meeting all of them was definitely the highlight of that shoot! We had so much fun and still keep in touch to this day. Here's a funny little anecdote: The majority of the set had hay on it and there were several of us with extreme allergies, so as the day or night wore on, there would be a lot of sneezing going on! Some of us even had to work with snakes and/or a rat! Doug Jones is also in this film...very sweet man. Good memories!

I also want to hear about your work as Angela Travis in the horror movie 'Chain of Souls'. As your first feature, is that what sort of endeared you to the genre?

Ah, that seems like so long ago. It was wonderful starring in a feature, but I have come a long way in my acting...I thank Steve Jarvis and Dennis Devine for bringing me along for the ride though. That is the film that made me come up with the idea to start a horror film festival...there were hardly any back then. I have always been a horror fan...horror films were one of the few rated R films that my Mother would let my brother and I watch, so we were hooked!

What is the most frightening thing that has ever happened to you during the filming of any shoot?

Well, I shot an episode of 'Guilty or Innocent' and my character gets knocked out and burnt in her house. They had a wall of fire so they could shoot the fire engulfing me and before we shot, they came up and said we need to spray you down with anti inflammatory! I was very scared....I had to lay on the couch with my eyes closed! I couldn't see how close it was, but I could feel it and it was HOT~...the stunt coordinator told me afterwards that he was very nervous....not cool...I don't like doing stunts, especially not life threatening ones.

Do you have any other upcoming projects you want the racksandrazors readers to know about?

I recently shot an episode of 'The Office' and a Western called 'A Chestful of Blood' and later this year I am scheduled to shoot 'Cellar Door 2: Preymate'.

Vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, creatures, aliens, telemarketers...what does it for you horrorwise Denise and why?

I love monsters, all kinds of monsters, always have...I love to see what people can come up with and how creative these creatures can be, plus they are scary! Telemarketers...they are scary too! Especially because they know things about you!

What was the first movie to scare the shit out of you?

'Nightmare on Elm Street'! To this day, if I'm at a haunted house and there is a Freddie there I freak out!

Okay, we're pulling into the Denise Gosset 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?

I love your questions! Tonight we have a triple feature including 'Nightmare on Elm Street', 'The Exorcist' , and 'Saw'! And at the concessions we will be serving red vines, popcorn, chocolate, and how about a banana martini?

What is your dream (or nightmare) horror movie role?

Well, for some reason I'd love to play a detective hunting down a serial killer or I could even be the serial killer!

What's the best Halloween costume you ever had?

My parents used to throw these amazing Halloween parties and they would go all out...I remember being very young and being dressed as Dracula and I thought that was pretty cool! My Mom went one year as an ape from 'Planet of the Apes' and that rocked! I've always loved Halloween.

What scares you in real life?

Losing a loved one or losing the love of a loved one. I can sometimes have a morbid mind, I worry, if you are going to be late, please call or I'll think you are in a ditch somewhere. Have a Happy New Year and follow your dreams! Thank you so much for having me!

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