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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cool Ass Cinema Presents: An Interview with Actress, Lone Fleming

American Fantastic Cinema has a long list of actresses made famous through their work in horror films and genres that share kinship with them. Such actresses as Fay Wray, Evelyn Ankers, Allison Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau, Jaime Lee Curtis, Linnea Quigley, and Danielle Harris have a special place in the hearts of horror fans for their contributions to the art of screaming, running and being the last woman standing. Like America, European countries like Great Britain, France and Spain have their own unique heritage of horror and the Scream Queen's that aided immeasurably in keeping those films alive decades after they were made. One such actress is Lone Fleming, the Spanish Cinema's Jaime Lee Curtis. You will know her from such films as TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971), RETURN OF THE EVIL DEAD (1973) and A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL (1973) to name three. She has the distinction of realizing a dream in show business not once, but twice, as she's currently enjoying a massive resurgence in film led by a devoted clutch of young directors who grew up with her work just as this writer has. The following is an interview with Mrs. Fleming who was kind enough to take time out of her extremely busy schedule to discuss her career from the beginning to today.

Venoms5: At what point in your life did you become interested in being an actress?

Lone Fleming: When I was a child, a real Tomboy, by the way, I always wanted to become either a nurse or an actress. Over time I have often wondered what these 2 things had to do with each other, lol. I did try studying to become a nurse, but I was hopeless at mathematics so that was out. Later I studied theater for one year with an American professor and was supposed to go into the theater. I was 15 years old at this time. But instead, I chose to travel and work. I said to my mother if I was to become an actress, I could do it no matter where I was. Mind you, I have done crazy things in my life, but somehow I always had luck on my side. The first thing I did on my travels was to go to Germany with some friend's and sing on the streets! We were in East Germany having a look and got picked up by the police (laughs). I think they could see we were not spies, but we did spend one night in jail (laughs). Anyway, they escorted us out of Magdeburg in East Germany the next day. At that age I thought it was great fun!

V5: How did you meet your husband, film director Eugenio Martin? 

LF: I met Eugenio the first time in the film, THE FOURTH VICTIM (1971; aka LA ULTIMA SENORA ANDERSON [THE LAST MRS. ANDERSON]) with Carroll Baker and Michael Craig. At that point, prior to shooting that one, I was about to go back home to Denmark. I was struggling to get roles. It was very difficult for me. I lived with an English girl, and we both were thinking of going back home. But then came the offer for LA ULTIMA SENORA ANDERSON. Eugenio thought I should stay in Spain and pursue acting there. I did, and little by little I started to get more work and things got better. But it was always a struggle; and when you love what you do, you can handle everything.

V5: What was the experience like being directed by your husband?

LF: Eugenio is a very good Director as he has shown throughout his career. A great Director of actors. He always took his time to talk and listen to them, to discuss their feelings, how they felt, about how to play the role. I did learn a lot with him. I only did 4 film´s with Eugenio, I think.

Lone as Conchita in BAD MAN'S RIVER (1971).
V5: Do you have any memories of working with Lee Van Cleef on EL HOMBRE DE RIO MALO (BAD MAN'S RIVER [1971])?

LF: I had a great time working on that film. Being Danish, it was a real challenge playing a Mexican character; and I loved the role, it was a great deal of fun. Lee Van Cleef was a very nice person, but I didn't really get to see him much so I can't tell much about him.

Lone (right) antagonizes Aurora Bautista in A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL (1973).
V5: UNA VELA PARA EL DIABLO (A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL [1973]) is one of your best roles and one of your husband's best films. What did you think of the script and the character you played?

LF: The story for UNA VELA PARA EL DIABLO came to Eugenio from an image he had from childhood. In Granada at that time people were very fanatical. I thought the script was fantastic. It tells so much how Fanaticism can turn to evil, using God's name. Nothing has changed one need only look at the world today. My character was myself, lol! I loved playing that role.

V5: Where was it filmed? The setting in that village surrounded by mountains was extraordinary.

LF: The pueblo where we shot that was in Grazalema, a beautiful place and it hasn't changed much.

V5: Considering the subject matter and the time in which it was produced, were there censorship problems getting this film made?

LF:  The censorship came after the film was shot. And yes, Eugenio had problems with it. I can't remember what exactly.

V5: In between the titles discussed above, your husband directed PANICO EN EL TRANSIBERIANO (HORROR EXPRESS [1972]). Were you offered a part in this picture? It has a large following in the USA. 

LF: No, I was not offered a role In PANICO EN EN TRANSIBERIANO. At that time Eugenio was making that one I was in Denmark for a while. 

The Blind Dead seek their next victim.

V5: Your most famous role was the lead in LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO (TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD [1971]). Can you tell me how this project came about?

LF: The usual way. I had an agent, and I think Amando had seen me in an advertisement and called me in through my agent. I was so happy because I got to shoot with my best friend at that time, Cesar Bonet, and Pepe Tellman. We had met while working in Bilbao, and Cesar got me into photo novellas, which was very popular at that time; and that is how I started on that one.  

V5: Do you have some memories of working on this film you could share? Was the rape scene particularly difficult to do?

LF: We had great fun shooting the rape scene. I have a lot of memories making this film. We were all together, the actors, and the crew for three weeks--we were all like family. As for the rape scene, Pepe had to hit me (laughs). He just couldn't bring himself to hit me hard enough, only a little smack. We had to do four takes and Amando was shouting, "HIT her for God's sake!" So just before they said action..... I bit Pepe quite hard on his arm and then he really hit me (laughs)! Also, Amando said they had to see my underpants being taken off! I said "No way....." Amando then said to me to think about how I could do it. I went to get a pair of white, and skin colored underpants and put them both on. So then Pepe took the white underpants down and problem solved (laughs)

Lone and Maria Elena Arpon
Also the lesbian scene was fun. Amando told us to do this scene yet he had never seen lesbians interact. We said us neither. He told us to invent something. So I told him to go and get a bottle of wine. Elena and I drank half a bottle each. We both got a little tipsy, so you see the scene came out perfect. I think it is rather beautiful.

Lone and Cesar Bonet (Cesar Burner) in TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971).

V5: You mentioned Cesar Bonet (Cesar Burner) being your closest friend. What became of him?

LF: Cesar was a very dear friend for many years. At one point he became my agent, too. But then he fell ill and later died of cancer. I lost track of Pepe (Jose Thelman) and Elena (Maria Elena Arpon), unfortunately.

V5: Anton Garcia Abril's Blind Dead music is fantastic.

LF: I think half the film's success is due to his music. I saw him again two years ago in Tenerife (largest and most populated of the seven Canary Islands) where they were paying tribute to him. I told him how perfect his score was on LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO. It's a shame it's not on CD.

V5: How was LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO received by Spanish audiences and critics at that time?

LF: The film was well received in Spain but nothing like it was all over the world. In Germany that year it was a number one hit, as it was in many other countries. Here in Spain it has since become a cult film. The 29th of this month I am going to a Festival in La Coruña, Amando's home town. They are doing a special Festival for him and I am going to receive an award as well.

V5: How was your experience working for director Amando de Ossorio on both this film and its sequel EL ATAQUES DE LOS MUERTOS SIN OJOS (THE ATTACK OF THE BLIND DEAD)?

LF: Working with Amando in NIGHT OF THE BLIND TERROR was a little different from the second film because of the hard work involved with the Templars. Amando put all his energies into directing the many scenes with them. It was a very hard job. But he was easygoing directing the actors. He came with his fantastic drawings to show us what he wanted. Amando was tireless. We all loved to work with him in this film. Most of it was shot in a small village near Setubal, Portugal. There was this marvelous half ruins of a monastery.

Lone Fleming prepares to battle the Templars. Esperanza Roy at left.

V5: You worked with Esperanza Roy again in EL ATAQUES DE LOS MUERTOS SIN OJOS (1973).

LF: Her role was much too thin for such a good actress. Esperanza has always been a great friend to me ever since I first started in the cinema. As for me, my part was much smaller from the first picture. The result wasn't as good as LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO. I did like my death scene, though (laughs)

V5: You worked with Ossorio again on LA ENDEMONIADA (DEMON WITCH CHILD [1975]). How was working on this picture compared to the BLIND DEAD films?

LF: LA ENDEMONIADA, I thought my role was very bland (laughs). There was nothing to hold onto! Everything was built around Marian Salgado, The Witch Child of the title. She did a great job, and it was very hard for her, especially with all the makeup. We became great friends after we finished working on the film, but then I lost track of her. Then, three years ago I found her on Facebook, and have become friends again. She and I work together with Sandra Alberti and Loreta Tovar in the short film, EL ULTIMO GUION (2015;THE LAST SCRIPT); also with Antonio Mayans and a great actor named Jose Linfante. It is directed by a friend of mine, David Garcia. This was his dream to do this and he has finally done it. As for filming LA ENDEMONIADA, there were lots of actors in this one and in a film like that, you go to work and you go home when finished shooting. 

Lone Fleming (left) and Julia Saly (right)

V5: You worked with fellow Scream Queen Julia Saly on this film and again on Paul Naschy's EL ULTIMO KAMIKAZE (1984). What was she like to work with and what became of her?

LF: Julia Saly was very kind and easy to work with. I didn't get to know her well on Amando's LA ENDEMONIADA nor EL ULTIMO KAMIKAZE. The second title was the only film I did with Paul Naschy, but we got along fine both times. I don't think I ever had a problem with any actors.

V5: Regarding EL ULTIMO KAMIKAZE, what was it like being directed by Paul Naschy (Jacinto Molina)?

LF: It was a small role, so I really didn't get to know him well. Later I got to know him a little more in Film festivals, along with his wife, Elvira, and son, Sergio Molina. But as far as being directed by Paul Naschy, he always knew what he wanted.

V5: You stopped making movies in the mid 1980s, but your career has had a resurgence in the last couple of years. How did you get interested in making movies again?

LF: Funny enough, I never thought of working in movies again. I never for one second thought I was going to be remembered! So when I got my computer and went onto Facebook, I was very surprised to see I had so many fans all over the world. And then young directors began to ask me if I wanted to play roles again, and so it started. And I have also written some short story for movies--one of which has been shot, although I don't know what happened after the shooting. Next year we will shoot another story of mine, and I have two more waiting. 

V5: Can you tell me about some of these new projects you're working on including a new BLIND DEAD film and the 2015 remake of Jose Larraz's VAMPYRES (1974) you're starring in with Caroline Munro?

LF: Since I've gotten back into filming I've been working with young Directors; which has been a great experience, as I got to know digital filmmaking. It really is amazing how you can shoot today with a small camera. The first time I did it I was a little nervous. I was used to having a big camera in front of me and lots of lights. But you soon get used to it--you just forget there's a camera (laughs). So now I've worked in short films and documentaries in addition to full-length features. 

The first thing I shot when I began working in film again was a documentary by Jose Manuel Cueto called "AGAINST TIME", or CONTRA EL TIEMPO, which almost won a Goya. This was a documentary of interviews with actors from my time. It's very interesting, about how they felt growing older and not working anymore. On the new VAMPYRES (2015), it was very nice to work with Caroline Munro as I knew her the first time from a festival here in Spain 2 or 3 years ago. We got on fantastic, though it was only for a short time on that one. I have worked with Victor Matellano in a documentary, on the motion picture called WAX (2014) and again in VAMPYRES. He has become a good friend. I'm also in a documentary for Luis Esquina called SIMON'S JIGSAW, about film director Juan Piquer Simon. This is presented in Sitges this year. I am working with Cesar del Alamo on my second full-length terror film with him called RENACIDO (THE REBORN). Then a Short film with Angel Gomez titled BEHIND, also with Macarena Gomez, a very good and well known Spanish actress. And lastly, our short film, THE LAST SCRIPT from director David Garcia who has had this dream of the returning of the Templar's. The Templar's costume is just fantastic, too.


V5: Considering your international popularity as a Scream Queen, do you enjoy watching horror movies, and if so do you have any favorites?

LF: Funny enough, my favorite horror film is ALIEN. For a long time I didn't want to see it. But one day I saw the first film and I got totally hooked! Over the course of three days I saw the rest. I just couldn't stop. Also I love the Dracula with Frank Langella from 1979. I thought it was a beautiful film.

V5: Throughout your film career you've done other types of films besides horror. Out of everything you've done thus far, is there one picture you're especially proud of and why? 

LF: Films I am proud to have done..... NIGHT OF BLIND TERROR, of course. My Mexican role in Eugenio's western, EL HOMBRE DE RIO MALO.... and also one of the first roles I did as a Spanish woman in a Comedy called PIERNAS CRECIENTES FALDAS MENGUANTE; this was a very good role for me where I was playing a young girl who married a count.

V5: Last question, what is the one thing you'd like to be remembered for--film related or otherwise? 

LF: I would like to be remembered for myself, the person I am.

I would like to once again thank Mrs. Fleming for participating in this interview and being so kind as to devote a lot of her time to answering my questions. She has her own website that includes her current projects, which you can find by clicking HERE



Dick said...

Wonderfully done interview Brian. This has my vote for blog post of the year ! I hadn't thought of before why she didn't appear in HORROR EXPRESS. It's pretty cool how when viewing that current picture of her on her website that those beautiful eyes are instantly recognizable.

venoms5 said...

Thanks Dick, I'm glad you enjoyed it! It was great fun talking with her. She's at a festival in Spain for Amando de Ossorio this weekend, too. And yes, such mesmerizing eyes she has!

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