An Interview with Eileen Dietz [Women in Horror Month 2018]

Eileen Dietz is known to most film fans as Pazuzu in the classic The Exorcist.  To most horror fans, she has been mainstay on our screens since then.

Eileen, please tell us a little bit about what attracts you to work in the horror genre?  Why do you keep coming back again and again?
It gives me a chance to play really interesting characters. Unlike a cheerful wife or Mom or teacher or professional something, Dr, Lawyer, I get to play evil or a victim which is far more exciting don’cha think?

How would you say the industry has changed from when you worked on The Exorcist until now?
Oh totally. They called, or call THE EXORCIST a horror film, but in today’s market, I think there is a real difference between a “horror” film and a thriller. Horror today seems to be about blood and guts, no real characters and not much of a plot. A thriller is The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw, original Halloween and so on that have a beginning, a middle and an end and a plot and good writing which makes them classics. Horror verges on Horror Porn.

The horror genre is clearly near and dear to your heart and you make efforts to be the sweetest lady on the convention circuit why it is important to you to be there and go to many conventions?
Aww it sounds so pedestrian to say and such a cliché but I love the fans. They are so positive about their reverence for The Exorcist and how I scared them throughout their childhoods or even into adulthood. How I invaded their dreams and waking moments for years. I love hearing that. I also love traveling and especially hotels. I love hotels each hotel room is so different and inviting. And finally yeah, the money is pretty damn good!! 🙂 🙂 (I keep my prices down and reasonable)

As a mainstay of the genre, what have been some of your favorite projects to work on and why?
Can I say all of them? Each one stands alone with an awesome character. I would say of course The Exorcist, but then Helter-Skelter, General Hospital and now Halloween 2 and all the indies I have been shooting.

What have been some the greatest challenges for you when working in horror?
Being quiet in the makeup chair as I am somewhat of a talker, my friends would say “somewhat?” But not really, often the makeup is 3 1/2 hours I just go zen and find it very relaxing. Other than that, after a full makeup my eye or my nose starts to itch under the makeup.  Biggest challenge and fun is finding the vulnerability in my evil women, as evil people don’t think they are evil or the strength in my Victims who I find interesting only if they have hope even though they feel constantly beaten down. With no hope there are mass murders in my opinion but that is a different subject entirely.

What do you wish actresses who are new to genre would know about working in horror?  What would you tell a starting Eileen about the field?
Oh wow!! There are so many bad scripts around so try and pick and choose. But more important know your craft as if you were playing Shakespeare or any of the classics. Do not ever downgrade what you do as in “it’s only a horror film”. These writers feel strongly about their characters and it’s often up to you to bring a fullness to these roles, that although she might be evil she has a full life maybe hurts. Also take a small role, I just shot a cameo in a film, to be in front of a camera. Also check out school projects they love horror so work for free to get your feet wet. I am actually shooting a student film at the end of the month because I love the role.

What types of parts do you prefer to play and what type(s) would you like to be offered in the future? 
As I said evil and victims, that’s it!

Why do you think the Women in Horror Month movement is so important?  What does it mean to you?
The horror genre continues to grow and grow and we should be recognized for what it is (God forbid the Oscars would recognize us at least for makeup and special effects) But we are definitely a growing demographic in movie making and does encompass the age that Producers and TV Networks want the most, 18-24 years old. Big studios are attempting horror now because it pays so well but they forget they need a script, “First there was the word”.

Which other ladies in horror would you like the readers to check out?  Whose work do you look forward to in the Women in Horror community?
hmmm, Dee Wallace and Adrienne Barbeau are friends and always do wonderful work as well as any women that truly enjoy and embrace their work no matter what is it and if the budget is a huge studio project or a small indie project. Also I never call myself a “scream queen” because I believe that term is so misused, starting with MTV horror series where everyone with a line or two in a horror film became “a scream queen”. I prefer to call myself “a horror queen” or a title from one of my favorite films “Queen Of Screams” that’s me!

What is up next for you that you can talk to us about?
An awesome film shooting in Portland called PAPER DRAGONS a film addresses the shooting issues we have today and the short DON’T GO DOWN about a truly evil woman. And several others shot and waiting for distribution.

Thank you Eileen for giving us a bit of your busy time, we are honored to have you do this interview for Women in Horror Month 2018.
And if you wish to email me at eileendietz11@gmail.com or DM me on Facebook and you can buy an autographed copy as well as many other Exorcist goodies.

To know more about Eileen and her work, check out her autobiography.