Most of us live our lives waiting for moments; these moments come and go so quickly. Some we will remember and cherish forever. One moment that will stick with me forever is meeting actress Diane Franklin. Slightly over a year ago, I conducted an interview specifically on Amityville II: The Possession, over at horror convention Monsterpalooza. I can remember feeling mesmerized hearing this 80s babe, a staple of my childhood speak about a film that I hold so dear to my heart. However, like a scene out of a creepy horror film (for me), the interview material vanished. Devastated I had no backups (that I was aware of), and for nearly a year I moped at the fact I had lost this material. I can remember quite; clearly, it was a typical Monday morning, and I was searching through the infamous “Cloud” for some unrelated photos and lo and behold, there it was in all its glory, my interview with Diane.
For horror fans, Diane Franklin is recognizable from the film TerrorVision (1986) and most notably from her role as Patricia Montelli in Amityville II: The Possession (1982). Horror is not the only genre that Diane has placed her hand print in, many fans remember Diane from The Last American Virgin (1982), Better Off Dead (1985) and of course Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) as the gorgeous Princess Joanna.
One of Diane’s newer conquests has been the release of her two autobiographies The Excellent Adventures of The Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s and Diane Franklin: The Excellent Curls of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s (Volume 2). Both books are available on Amazon and can be purchased by clicking on the titles above.
Interview With “80s Babe” Diane Franklin on Amityville II: The Possession (1982)
Interview – April 2016
Ryan T. Cusick: Do you stay in contact with any of your co-stars from Amityville II?
Diane Franklin: Good question. Rutanya Alda and I stay close we are really good friends, and she is wonderful, so I have actually stayed much closer to her. She put out a book recently, which is wonderful, a great book, I highly recommend it. She wrote about her film Mommy Dearest. So I think I put out my book and it sort of inspired her to get the confidence to put that out, it made me really happy. We have always been very close and have had a good relationship. When I’m in New York, I visit her, and I say “Hi.” I ran into Burt Young at a convention a comic con, no wait Chiller back east, I ran into him which was wonderful. He is just awesome and so great to work with, always laughing when we were shooting, and such a good spirit and such a talented actor, so that was really fun to see him. I have heard from the kids in Amityville, they are all grown up, [smiles], which is crazy to hear about them being all grown up. They are doing really well, I have not seen them though, but they do seem to be doing very well, and I think they are living on the east coast.
RTC: They are really brother and sister, right?
DF: Right, yeah they were really brother and sister like they were in the film. And Sonny [Jack Magner] and I know a lot of people have tried to get into contact with him, they want to know what is going on with him. I have no idea what is going on, I mean I know that he is still around, I think he has a good life, but I haven’t been in contact with him.
RTC: It has been a lot of years.
DF: Yeah…but it is good you know. I just think that it is great that people love the movie. People seem to think that this movie is really special because it is more realistic.
RTC: Yes, it is darker, definitely.
DF: Yeah, the beginning of it most certainly is. You believe it. You believe the characters, you believe the abusiveness, and with the association with the house. Personally, I have always liked the 1st half of the movie more than the second half because the 1st half of the movie retained my ability to believe in the paranormal, it was just scary. The second half of the movie because of the special effects, kind of lost me but that is just my thing. But I did like coming back as a ghost; haunting that was really fun.
RTC: Any strange occurrences happen on the set?
DF: You know Rutanya had some stories about that. I didn’t have anything paranormal happen but [Laughs] If you read my book, I have a book out on Amazon called The Excellent Adventures of The Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s. I am actually coming out with another one in August, hopefully, knock on wood. But that book when I wrote it, I was talking about how I did Amityville I was twenty, and I went down to Mexico by myself, with nobody else to shoot on sound stages. When I got there [Smiles] I had sort of the revealing scenes and Dino De Laurentiis was there and he wanted me to do some more revealing scenes. I sat down in the front seat of his limousine with him, and he was trying to convince me[Diane says this in her Dino De Laurentiis voice] “You know this is not good, you’re beautiful.” And I am like, “this is not in my contract, it’s not in my contract, no.” [Laughs] I am twenty years old, and I am standing up to this guy and to me it was like no, I am not going to do this, it wasn’t even a question of battling anything but I would say if anything were scary, that was!
DF: That was scary! And I was sitting here with this renowned producer saying “no! I’m not going to do it,” so it was kind of funny, and that is a scary story for me.
RTC: How did you get involved with Amity originally?
DF: I was an actress in New York working for years. I had started when I was like ten years old, modeling, commercials, soap opera, and theater and I had done this film Last American Virgin, and it had not come out yet. There was a little bit of word on the street about it, nobody knew who I was, and then this film came out, and I was in New York, and I got the script, and I am originally from Long Island, I am from Plainview Long Island which is pretty close to Amityville itself. So when I got the script, I felt like “oh, I know this town, I know what is going on.” I wasn’t familiar with murders that actually happened because I was too young I think when it all really happened. But, I really bonded with the idea of that character [Patricia Montelli] because she was so innocent. I knew in a horror genre that innocence was really important and that you want to stretch the character, so you had the most innocent versus the evilest, it just gets to you, so I knew how to go about doing the character. I didn’t think that I was right for the part originally because my character had a brother and I didn’t have a brother so I didn’t have that association and I thought “I don’t even know that relationship.” So when I played it I really had to observe other people and kind of think what I would be like because I just didn’t have that kind of relationship [smiles] and to me, that was like acting. I went like “Hey bro, how’s it going” [as she taps me on the shoulder] you know, so that was experimental for me. It was an exciting moment where I was like, “Okay I am going to create this.” I think that is originally why I felt I shouldn’t have been cast in this. Which is funny because I most certainly didn’t know incest either, that is not something where I am going to go [sarcastically] “yeah I know that.” There was something about the fact that she was vulnerable and innocent and something happens that takes you off guard that I could associate with, so my character would be frozen at the moment which I think is so important because when you see something like incest in film, there are a lot of things in retrospect that you could say, “I wish I… or I should have done this, my character should of like ran and pulled away.” But when you trust somebody with your heart, and it is a family member, especially a family member you’re torn because you are in two places now, so you don’t know if you should run or not, this is someone that you were supposed to trust or you one time trusted that is a moment where you would be frozen, for me that is what I would think. It wouldn’t be a distinctive, easy decision if it is a monster you are going to run, like if it is a family member that you trust or a friend, your least expectation is that so my instinct was that she would freeze and that is how I played the character. She [Patricia] longs to be close to her brother, she wants that relationship, and she feels that if she is loving to him and care for him that they can still have that, they can go back to that. So I think that is the really painful part of that story.
RTC: He pushed her away.
DF: Yeah once that happens everything is gone, and you can never bring that trust back. Its just different and I think letting that go and understanding letting it go and understanding “I have to let that go, and I have to separate it is bigger than something a girl can handle at that age, she doesn’t have anyone else she can turn to. [Smiles] There ya go, that is my interpretation.
RTC: Would you do another Amityville film?
DF: [Excitingly] Oh yes, I would! It is kind of interesting that Jennifer Jason Leigh just did one, right?
RTC: Yeah, they keep saying that they are going to release it and then it gets pulled back.
DF: Oh, so It hasn’t been released yet?
DF: See I looked at that film, and I thought “Why am I not in this?” Because of the 80s. I think when they do Amityville films the key is to stay as real as you can, stay paranormal. I always really enjoy films that you can’t prove whether it is right or not, those are the ones that get under the skin. “Oh, I feel that I hear that.” As opposed to I see, then again it is artistic, I think special effects are absolutely artistic, very cool to make something look that real. But there is something more disturbing about the creature and the devil that you don’t see.
RTC: There is definitely. Thank you.
DF: Thank you so much, it was a pleasure.
-About The Author-
Ryan T. Cusick is a writer for ihorror.com and very much enjoys conversation and writing about anything within the horror genre. Horror first sparked his interest after watching the original, The Amityville Horror when he was the tender age of three. Ryan lives in California with his wife and Eleven-year-old daughter, who is also expressing interest in the horror genre. Ryan recently received his Master’s Degree in Psychology and has aspirations to write a novel. Ryan can be followed on Twitter @Nytmare112