Monday, 15 July 2013

Back into the fog with Adrienne Barbeau

The doors were all closed and bolted, the window latches firmly locked and the curtains drawn. I never liked the nights when the fog came in. It drowned the town and always frightened me, but I never really understood why until today. 
I turned the radio on, I could hear Adrienne Barbeau's sultry voice, it calmed me as the fog grew thicker. 

Adrienne had always been my hero, her career spanning over 35 years, she could turn her hand to anything, from horror, (The Fog, Creepshow, Swamp thing), to comedies, (Cannonball Run, the George Carlin show) to sci fi and action (Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and Escape from New York) Voice overs for Scooby Doo, The Thing and Demolition man... And was recently head hunted by Ben Afflek for her part in Argo, Afflek said "I liked the idea of her being part of this slightly kitsch, '70s sci-fi movie vibe. She just seamlessly blended in. Having her in the movie was kind of a trip. It was cool."  And then there's her singing, her writing, motherhood, the woman is an inspiration! 
My tiny apartment was starting to feel like it was closing in on me, my heat pounded, it felt as if a million tiny insects were crawling over my body, my skin.. my eyes... everything itched... I had to get out before I went truly crazy. But the fog was so thick now how could I leave? I needed a sign, a beacon of hope, but from where? I walked to the window and starred out into the nothingness, no one went out when the fog came in off the coast, but I had never seen it this thick, it made me claustrophobic and so lonely... I needed to be near someone, anyone...  Then I saw it, like a ray of hope... A light coming from the hill, it was the radio station! Of course, she must be there, I could hear her! If I followed the light, I could make it to the station, to Adrienne... But would I dare? 

"I will survive" by Gloria Gaynor started playing on the radio, that's all I needed, I grabbed my keys.

I started driving up the hill, having lived in Antonio Bay all my life, I knew this road like the back of my hand, handy now I thought, as, right now I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face.

The short drive didn't seem to short tonight, but I carried on, no other cars dared to be on the road in this weather, so it was a clear route. I kept my eyes focused on the windscreen, too scared to look anywhere else, but after what seemed like an eternity, I made it. I parked up as close to the station as I could. I couldn't see the door,  but I could guess where it was, I took a deep breath and made a run for it. I found the building and felt along blindly for the door handle, I could sense something, something behind me, something close, I didn't know what it was, didn't want to know, but what it was made me want to find that door even more.

At last I found it, I turned the handle, my heart missed a beat... I knew if this door didn't open I was not going to be making it home tomorrow.

The door clunked and swung open, I breathed a sigh of relief, ran in and slammed the door behind me, panting furiously, my heart felt like it was about to jump into my throat, but I was safe for now. 

I rushed up the stairs, following the signs that read ‘Studio’, I could see the fog seeping under the door, ‘Exactly how safe was I?’ I thought.

Finding the door I banged on the window, I could see the 'on air' light glowing brightly and Adrienne at her desk, wow she looked great I thought...  She saw me, smiled and ushered me in.

I rushed in and locked the door behind me, that feeling that something was coming for me began again, but Adrienne’s smile soothed me and with a heavy sigh I took a seat next to hers.

She poured me a scotch to calm my nerves and we got chatting while the music was playing, she asked me my name and why I was there, I told her about the fog and the light being a beacon, she poured me another drink.  I was a big fan, I had told her such, so I took this opportunity to ask a few questions of my own, to take my mind off what was happening outside...

I asked...

What do you think is the best movie you've been in? And what do you consider to be your best performance to date?  
“I think ARGO is probably the best movie I've been in, although I just made a cameo appearance in it. It's a great film!  As for a performance, well, I always get a kick out of Billie in "Creepshow" but I think I loved the role of Ruthie in "Carnivale", too.”

When you were a child growing up did you always aspire to be an actress? If you hadn't been, what do you think you would have chosen as an alternative career?  
“I always thought I'd get my degree and teach acting, I suppose. never dawned on me until I was in my first year of college that I should attempt to pursue a professional career.  My other love is psychology, and of course, now, it seems like I might have been writing all those years, as well.”

We laughed at all her comedies, I remember her in her tight red cat suit in Cannon Ball run, driving a sports car fast and playing the men… Everyman wanted her, every woman wanted to be her… I wondered what was it like filming with Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise? Mel Brooks once said that he scheduled an extra two days every time he planned to work with Deluise, I asked, was this the case with Cannon Ball Run? Was it as fun as the out takes lead us to believe?
“The full answer to this question is in my memoir "There Are Worse Things I Could Do".  The chapter that starts with "Was making that movie as much fun as it looks?"   The short answer is no. But Dom was a sweetheart, then and always.”

I already had her book on my shelf and had read it from cover to cover 100 times, but was too embarrassed to say, but I did remember a line about her role in The Cannonball Run (1981) "All the talent I needed was in my breastbone." She said... And what woman wouldn’t die for a bone like that!

I wondered…

So, who had the cheesiest chat up line? And did it work?
“Well, John Carpenter and I met on the set of "Someone's Watching You" and ended up getting married, so I suspect whatever he said worked. Don't think it was too cheesy, though.”

Oh yes,  John Carpenter, one of the World’s greatest directors and an ex-husband of Adrienne's, my boyfriend sprang to mind, he was a driving instructor and a good guy, he was teaching me to drive and we were nearly killing each other,  I thought about Adrienne, doing a three point turn is one thing, but being directed by a partner? What was that like?
I guess it depends on the partner. I loved working with John Carpenter, before and after we married. He's just the best.” 

I was suddenly aware of the door, fog was slowly seeping under it and a cold sensation was making my spine shiver, but I carried on with my questioning, it calmed me and kept my mind busy.

I've noticed over the years that a lot of actors remain uncredited in many films they feature in, you yourself are uncredited in many, 'The Thing', 'Demolition Man' and 'Judge Dredd', why is this? Why do so many remain uncredited? I take credit when I've just made an outfit for a party last year, let alone acting in a major motion picture!
“I didn't appear in these three films, I just did voice work in them. In fact, I have no recollection of doing Judge Dredd at all, so if it weren't for you mentioning it, I wouldn't believe I was in it in any way.  But a fan just brought me the DVD cover to sign and so I guess you both must be right!”
Looking at the door made me think about Adriennes 80s classic of the same name and I wondered What did she think of the 2005 remake? I asked, why do you think so many films are being remade? - Many very badly, I added
“I Haven't seen the remake of "The Fog". I suspect a lot of remakes get made because executives are afraid to trust their artistic sensibilities with original material and think a remake is a shoo-in for success. And they might be if they were made as well or better than the original, but that's not often the case, is it?”

I was starting to get worried now,  I was feeling spooked… Then I realised, I was with a woman who had been so many classic horror films, I wondered if she had ever felt this way during filming? 
 “Never by acting in a horror film.   Although I did avoid the set when E. G. Marshall did the cockroach segment of "Creepshow".  Rats, I don't mind.  Snakes and tarantulas I can handle. Roaches, I'll probably turn down the role.”

I could see a shadow by the door, Adrienne saw it too, quick as a flash we were out of our chairs and starting backing away… Then it started banging, banging on the glass of the door… Adrienne and I held on to each other… A million regrets flowed through my mind… Why hadn’t I learnt to drive earlier? Why hadn’t I been nicer to my mother? Why did I think that perm looked good? I wondered if Adrienne had any regrets about her career?

Are there any films that you thought "Damn, I wish I'd played that"? or "I could have done a much better job with that role"? 
“I love Jane Fonda's role in "Klute". She was great as Bree Daniels and I certainly couldn't have equalled that performance, but I do love that role. And I would have loved to essay Brooke Adams' role in "Cuba", just for the opportunity to do that love scene opposite Sean Connery.”

Then there was a sudden crash and the glass window smashed, fog poured into the room like a smoking waterfall, we couldn’t see, we couldn’t scream, we couldn’t think, all we could do was cling on to each other as we pressed ourselves to the back wall of the room. The figure came closer, I could just make out from the silhouette a bearded man, wearing a polo neck sweater and what looked like a sea captains cap, was there something was in this hand? I couldn’t quite see… 
He slowing shuffled towards us, there was something in his hand, it looked sharp, an axe!… He lifted it above his head…After all my years of living in a fishing town I could tell a Boarding axe when I saw one… Especially when it was travelling directly towards my head…

Now we could scream… But not for long…



  1. Superb and gripping!

  2. Great read... Gloria Gantz was one of my favorite characters. You literally had me on the floor

  3. oh I want that book

  4. That was great!

  5. there's something in THE FOG!!

  6. Great interview!

  7. And from Adrienne herself! "This writer took a fairly standard interview on my part and turned it into a really fun read. Thanks, Charlotte!"

  8. I'm always happy to see Barbeau in an old flick. Fond memories!