May 25, 2016 Interview – Silvia Collatina
Back in the ’70s and ’80s, children had prominent roles in a lot of major Horror films. From 1973’s The Exorcist starring Linda Blair to 1982’s Poltergeist starring the late Heather O’Rourke, these young talents were signature fixtures in Horror. In the Italian Horror scene, this was also evident, and one such bright star was a girl by the name of Silvia Collatina. Begun acting professionally by the age of seven, many recall her from the famous role as Mae Freudstein in Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery. Now a grown woman, Collatina still shares a great love for Horror of yesteryear and hopes to have some influence on contributing to the scene. Recently we caught up with Collatina for a look into her childhood as an actress, her memories of The House by the Cemetery, future projects, and more.
CrypticRock.com – You began your professional acting career at the young age of seven years old when you starred in 1979’s The Great Alligator. Tell us, what inspired you to get involved in acting?
Silvia Collatina – Well, I was even younger, I started acting at 5 years and a half in an educational documentary relating to schools. A friend of mine was a baby actress and her mother introduced me to a talent agency, so my adventure started. After several engagements I got my first important test, it was for The Great Alligator. At the time, I was a little pest, perfect for that role.
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) Well that worked out well for you. Back in 1981, you were cast as Mae Freudstein in Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery. How did this role come about for you?
Silvia Collatina – In the ‘80s there were not a lot of kids working in the cinema, so we were rather famous in this field.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, this is true. Especially in the Horror genre. The House by the Cemetery has certainly built a strong following through the years, and for many, it is their favorite Fulci film. Do you have fond memories of working on the film?
Silvia Collatina – Oh yes, it seems like yesterday. I have strong and vivid memories of the movie, visually and emotionally too.
CrypticRock.com – That is wonderful to hear. Many have said Fulci was perhaps a difficult man. Since you were a young child, what was your impression of him? Was he kind to you?
Silvia Collatina – Frankly speaking, I cannot deny he was a little bit rude, even towards kids, but I had a great respect for him and I tried to do my best. I knew he was a great director.
CrypticRock.com – Understandable, not everyone is pleasant or easy to work with. Many scenes from The House by the Cemetery were actually shot in New England. Did you enjoy visiting North America, and have you ever returned to these sights all these years later?
Silvia Collatina – Oh sure, I was definitively excited to see the USA. I still remember; astonished, admiring the skyscrapers from bottom to top… they were very tall, I could not believe it. The streets were so large too, everything was so big, even the milk bottle and the corn flakes box!
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) Well everything is always bigger in America they say. The House by the Cemetery celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2016 and is still adored by a strong fan base. What do you think has been the key to the film’s longevity?
Silvia Collatina – I think that nearly every Horror movie of the ’80s still remains in our memory. The House by the Cemetery still appeals to people thanks to its fascinating setting, the pastel colors of the movie, the mystery, the finale. Everything is still so poetic, Gothic, and horrific at the same time.
CrypticRock.com – That is very true. Many fans would agree with you on that. Those qualities are what make the film stand out. You co-starred with Giovanni Frezza and Ania Pieroni, among others in The House by the Cemetery. Was what your experience like working with the cast and crew? And, do you still keep in contact with any of them?
Silvia Collatina – All the crew was fantastic. I really enjoyed working with them all. Paolo Malco, Catriona MacColl, Giovanni Frezza …we were like a big family. I met some of them during Horror conventions in the USA and it has really been a great pleasure. Time seemed to stand still. As for Ania Pieroni, I did not have any relationship with her, perhaps she was angry with me, who could blame her! After all, I cut her throat (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) That is a possibility for sure. It is nice to hear everyone got along so well though. Fulci did often re-use actors and actresses in his films. Were you ever invited to star in any of his other films?
Silvia Collatina – In 1984, I had a very short but intensive role in Murderock. I was Molly, a girl in a wheelchair who took a pic of the killer’s jacket… a very unusual role for a girl but I really enjoyed it.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that is right, it would have been nice to see you in other films as well. The Italian Horror scene was extremely strong through the ’70s and 80’s with so many great films, whether it be a beautiful piece by Dario Argento or perhaps something more gory from Fulci. In your opinion, why do you think the Horror scene was so strong at that time?
Silvia Collatina – As fan of Horror movies of the ‘70s and 80’s, I can witness that at the time every plot was new, charming, and you got dragged into it. Unfortunately, nowadays, the coming of 3D leaves nothing to the imagination, nothing scares us anymore, and that unfortunately contributed (together with the lack of new ideas) to ruin this genre of movies.
CrypticRock.com – That is very true. The atmosphere is sadly lost on many modern Horror films. Between the textures, soundtrack, and use of the scenery in older films, there was certainly a lot to capture a viewer. Following your career as a child actor, you moved on to other things. What made you decide to step away from acting, and do you have any future projects?
Silvia Collatina – As a teenage of the ‘80s, I wanted to study, to feel free, and to be like the other girls. At the time, being an actress was something very strange, people pointed you as an alien, and with my red hair, I already felt like this. I was very shy too, so I stopped with acting. It was my choice… I frankly regret now for this, but I cannot turn back time.
Now I would like to direct Horror movies. I have lots of ideas, because I am very fond of Horror in its entirety. I wrote a story called La Locanda dei sospiri (The Lodge of Whispers), which I am going to shoot with the aid of some friends of mine, it takes lots of time though! I am writing another story called Devilish Impulse, and I find it very interesting and original. I have been a Horror movies actress, but I have always been a big fan of Horror too. Horror completes me. I relax when I see a Horror movie and I need to feel scared, but I can’t anymore. Nothing compares to Profondo Rosso (1975), The Exorcist (1973), The Shining (1980), just to cite a few.
CrypticRock.com – You are so right. Nothing compares to classics such as those. Let us hope Horror will return to its golden age again soon. One can imagine a creative soul cannot be tamed, and you still have creative passions. What are some outlets you use to express your creativity?
Silvia Collatina – Oh indeed, I am a creative soulm and that’s thanks to my bizarre family. I love drawing, singing, writing. I am very fond of supernatural and I read a lot. I have lots of ideas and plans in different fields. I would also like to help poor people, I feel very protective and sensitive. But I have also some other secret projects…My life would not suffice.
CrypticRock.com – That is fantastic that you help others and it is also wonderful that you have the ability to be creative as well. We all need those outlets, just some have not found what their muse is yet. My last question is pertaining to Horror/Sci-Fi movies. Tell us, what are some of your favorites.
Silvia Collatina – I am obsessed with The Exorcist and I want to thank William Peter Blatty and William Friedkin. This movie really changed my life, it still scares me and that’s great.