What an honor it was to speak with the talented ’80s icon, Diane Franklin. She is recognized by her iconic, dark brown, curly hair and dialects, although it is her talent as an actress in films such as Better Off Dead (1985), Amityville Horror franchise, TerrorVision (1986) and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) that makes her one of my favorites. How surreal it was to learn more about this actress to share with our readers.
PopHorror: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Diane! I have to say that Better Off Dead (1985) is my favorite dark comedy. I absolutely love it and have probably watched it over a 100 times. Maybe it seems silly, but I’ve looked up to your character, Monique Junot, since I was a young girl watching it for the first time in the ’80s. I could see myself in her, and it made me feel comfortable to be who I was, which was the girl who liked to wear dresses but was playing dodgeball with the boys on the playground. Thank you for this. I would love to hear how you felt playing the role of Monique in Better Off Dead.
Diane Franklin: Here is what is so amazing. When I was a child in the ’60s, I grew up in an environment where I really never felt like a boy or a girl couldn’t do whatever. I think it was the way I was raised. It was never taught to me that a girl acts this way or a boy acts that way. As you get exposed to society, it is then when you get told that boys do this and girls do that.
When I read for Better Off Dead, I knew that how I was raised wasn’t common. I was so excited to play a role where a girl could do all of these guy things, but be a girl. I feel really proud of the character that I played in this film, Monique. She was 100% capable. She was okay with being different. It was a blessing to get that role and play her in a way that wasn’t done before. She was the girl who wanted to fix the car. She was hardworking and stubborn. She didn’t have to prove herself. She was just herself. I think she was a good role model for women and men. It is good sign to show men that it is okay to be attracted to capable women.
PopHorror: How amazing was it to be a part of The Amityville Horror franchise twice as two different characters?
Diane Franklin: When I got the news that I was going to play Louise DeFeo in The Amityville Murders (2018) [read the PopHorror review here], I burst into tears. I thought, “How can this be happening?” I must have done something right for this to be happening. I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams that this would happen. When I did Amityville II: The Possession (1982), I didn’t think anyone would see it. Really nobody watched part twos. Plus, horror wasn’t backed in the ’80s like it is today. People thought, “Oh, you were in a horror film… You couldn’t get other work.” Now, I get told by people that they think it is one of the best films of the Amityville series. It has been awesome going from playing the innocent daughter to being the protective mother. As far as I am aware, I am the only actress to play in a franchise in two different roles. That is kind of historic.
PopHorror: The Amityville Murders is a chilling film that scares on a more psychological level. Can you tell me your thoughts on the film?
Diane Franklin: I am glad you asked this. If you are a horror fan looking for blood and guts, then you could be disappointed. It isn’t just strictly horror. It is not like Amityville II: The Possession, which is a clear cut horror film. This is a docudrama. If you want to learn what happened to this family and the emotional aspects of the experience, then you will walk away feeling affected.
PopHorror: TerrorVision (1986) is one of those campy iconic ’80s horror films that is a rite of passage for any horror fan. When you read the script, what made you want to be a part of it?
Diane Franklin: The character. I always have been attracted to characters. I wanted to play a punk rocker. If you would have looked at me at the time, you would have thought, “No way!” I didn’t have any hair color, piercings, or tattoos. No one would have looked at me and thought, “Rebel,” but in my heart, I was.
It was such a fun role to create. I wore three wigs, and we discovered the fun of spray painting them. It was like I was a Christmas tree to decorate for the costumer. Once I was in the whole outfit, I just became that character, and what a very fun character it was to play.
We all knew it was a live action cartoon and that all our characters were supposed to be over the top. I thought it was funny. It was to be a parody of the ’80s, but unfortunately, people didn’t get it at the time. They just thought it was a super bad movie. Today, it has been rediscovered, and people get it and love that it is campy.
PopHorror: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Are you participating in any excellent events for this? I am also dying to know: how it was to work with Keanu Reeves?
Diane Franklin: Yes, I am so excited. I am going to the Vista Theatre in Los Angeles for a 30th anniversary showing of the film and partake in a Q and A. What an excellent message the film had to be excellent to each other. I feel so fortunate to be in the first film and to play a princess. We shot the film in Los Angeles and Rome. It was amazing. We also shot a different ending in Arizona. There are deleted scenes out there somewhere.
I was so fortunate to be able to work with Keanu. It was before he hit it big. He was up and coming, but I knew he was going to be big. He was very nice and respectful to me.
PopHorror: The title of your autobiography is quite clever, Diane Franklin: The Excellent Adventures of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the ’80s. Was the title your idea?
Diane Franklin: Thank you! I am so glad you said this. I kept visualizing saying the title of the book like I was on a talk show. I ran it by a bunch of people, and they kept saying, “You are joking, right? That is way too long. No one is ever going to remember it.” I was like, “Of course, they won’t remember it. That is the point.” The point is that the title is funny. You have to smile when you say the title of the book. Even though it is long, people know it is the Diane Franklin book.
PopHorror: You are working on another book, right? I would love to hear more about this.
Diane Franklin: I am working on my next book, which is based on Better of Dead. It is going to be a tribute to the film. [Director] Savage Steve Holland said he would get involved and write the foreword for the book. I am so excited. I want to do a chapter on each character in the film. I really want to give that movie its due. I want Curtis Armstrong [Charles De Mar] and Amanda Wyss [Beth] to write something for it, too.
The best part is that I have been doing conventions for years, and those who have met me know that I have the coat from the movie. So anyone who has had their picture taken in the coat and have sent their picture to me will be in the book. We all bond over the coat. My goal is to have people feel the same finishing the book as they did finishing the film, which is a sense of hope, happiness, and just good energy.
PopHorror: Meeting you at the last convention I attended was my best celebrity experience ever. I felt like you really took the time to listen to me as a fan and made me feel special in my encounter with you. From your perspective, how is it to be a part of conventions as a guest?
Diane Franklin: Awe! Thank you! You are special! You made me feel special. I am one of the few people who just loves it and have gotten a lot of people into it. People used to think conventions were the graveyard for actors, but it isn’t. I saw it as an opportunity. You realize you made a difference in the lives of people. You brighten their day when they get to meet you. They are leaving feeling better after meeting you. Passing good energy is very much who I am.
PopHorror: Do you have any movies coming up that our readers can look forward to?
Diane Franklin: Yes, I have a small part in the upcoming film High Holiday (2020) with Jennifer Tilly (Bride of Chucky 1998) and Tom Arnold (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare 1991) that will be in theaters. Also, I have a major role in a movie called Waking Nightmare that is in the editing process. It is a scary movie. It is super good. It is about a sleepwalker who commits murder in her sleep.
PopHorror: My signature final question is: what is your favorite scary movie?
Diane Franklin: Well, the minute you say it… The Exorcist (1973). That is my first scary movie. I actually auditioned for it, and then later on watched it.
PopHorror would like to thank Diane with a D for taking the time to do this interview. We wish her continued excellent adventures in her career and look forward to her upcoming movies and books. Stay tuned to PopHorror for all your horror news, reviews, and interviews!