This week it is our distinct honor to talk to Erica Cruise , Vamperica from Ronin Fox Trax . Her husband, James Cruise, is her riffing partner and the subject of our first interview. Now we get her side of the story.
RiffWiki: First off, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are and where you come from kinda stuff.
Where should I start? I was born...Or should I start when I was born to darkness. Aurora, Colorado 1985...it all started. I actually spent the majority of my childhood in a small town entertaining anyone who would watch me twirl and sing. Kids jokingly called me a vampire before it was even cool, maybe it was for the best. I grew up-ish blah blah. Met this cute ginger dude that I married. My day job is a LIE (retail). I am an artist, amateur seamstress, crazy lady, domestic engineer (I keep a clean house), cake decorator, idea freak and obviously....a comedian.
RiffWiki: Do you remember when you first came across Mystery Science Theater 3000? How much of an impact did it have on you?My parents were sci-fi fans and always looked for something the family could watch together that wouldn't give me nightmares. MST3K was perfect, there was nothing better than laughing together. I do believe that it helped my family through a hard life and tense situations. Introduced us to those simple jokes that you can repeat at the dinner table. It also endeared me to my present husband and one of my favorite hobbies...making fun of him.
RiffWiki: Same question, only with RiffTrax.
When I met Jim for the first time, our ice breaker was him talking about Iriffing and Rifftrax. I thought FINALLY someone I can present to my Father. On our third date he turned on one of his shorts and ran...but no matter how far he went he heard me laughing. Not sure what the first Rifftrax feature he showed me, but we went to Plan 9 From Outer Space three separate times in the theater.
RiffWiki: Other than MST3K, what other fandoms did you make yourself a part of? There's a really touching story you tell in the Nemesis RFT that seems to indicate an affinity for Star Trek: The Next Generation.The list of what I am not a fan of is much smaller. I can always irritatingly find something I like about any show, and sometimes it will at least be the make up FX behind it (big Tom Savini fan). I love the works of Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Eli Roth, Robert Rodriguez, Nora Ephron, Mel Brooks, Tim Burton, Sofia Coppola, Stephen King (movies)Sam Raimi, Joss Wheadon, Edgar Wright...to name a few. I guess you can say I am a fan of the art of passion and film-making. But I can be nit-picky about logic in movies, but then I just take a walk in THE REAL WORLD.
But I was raised on the wonderful show Star Trek:The Next Generation. Both my parents agreed mutually on at least that. My Mother always loved watching sci-fi, despite the fact she was raised by a farming family. It was a treat to go to the movies because we lived far away from town (the nearest taco bell was 38 miles away). Sadly in my late teens my sweet mothers' health was fading and she was diagnosed with a terminal form of skin cancer. The very last time we went to the movies was to see Star Trek: Nemesis and I always felt it was a wonderful thing for her to finally watch Riker and Troi get married. She wasn't awake for the rest of the movie but it was maybe for the best. Oh and my father looks like Riker....seriously.
RiffWiki: You and James have a very unique story within the world of movie riffing. We talked about it when we interviewed him, but I think we'd like to hear it from your perspective. Like that Twilight novel from Edward's perspective, only not stupid and boring.I was living with one of my sisters and a friend of mine needed a ride home from a party that turned out to be right next door. I meet my cool neighbors and said hi to some people, there was a guy siting at their computer showing people funny stuff, as I left I leaned in and told him to show them Foamy the Squirrel, he said he already did. We both laughed and I left. That is the same man I met online and was engaged to two years later when we realized what had almost happened. I always had a Morticia Addams/Jason Mewes type humor about me and he had a Silent Bob/Gomez allure to him. I am the crazy to his day, the smirk to his night. He is the snicker to my smack talk and the SHHHH stop saying Penis in public. Our lives are rarely dull, but we only really fight when it come to driving. We got lucky.
RiffWiki: How do you feel the two of you have grown as not only a couple, but as performers in these past few riffs. How far do you think you've come as performers? What do you consider some of your strengths, and what are some things you think you can improve on?
Working on riffs we bounce off ideas and it helps us learn how to communicate. Its an amazing therapy, we run through his writing and I try to add a little nut flair whenever I can. When we get upset we know its time to take a break or stop for the night. Recognizing our limits did take a while. Jim has this amazing memory of facts and diction that he uses in the Riffs and I do believe I push him to stretch it and find some new ways of doing things. For example: if he sounds strange and cannot find a way to create a voice I talk him from a voice I know he can do and have him add a certain way to change it. He gives me room to change the way I say lines and let me do improvisation work.
His strengths are character/actor voices and writing. I bring some strange and a womanly angle to the work. I think our surroundings change so the sound maybe a work in progress, we have yet to have a dream set up for recording. I also have issues sometimes with not understanding the material and we debate on the need to do jokes. I don't like talking over the actors in the movies and I think the quality of the jokes are more important than the quantity. But everything gets better with time.
RiffWiki: Since you've been on board, which riff would you say was the most fun to make?Every time we riff we get goofy and sometimes I can't stop laughing. But my favorite to record was Happy Birthday to Me. I was involved in writing and my sister Cassandra was there to share the fun. Its always a good thing to listen after the credits for our outtakes, it shows how much fun we have and how much work Jim puts into editing my laughter out.
RiffWiki: Everybody is different in this regard, so I want to ask how you guys go about choosing which films to riff?
Jim had a list before I even met him. But I come up with ideas every now and again for the future. I want to do a chick flick that guys can listen to our riff during a date night and still push thru the tears. I also want to do a bunch of shorts.
Our conditions are usually a original movie that no one else has riffed, not in any way a comedy but it can be goofy. We do prefer horror. We do like a slight challenge because some movies are begging to be riffed. A trick of mine is to find out if an anniversary is coming up and try to release around then.
RiffWiki: So much can be said about your Nightmare on Elm Street riffs. Knowing that there are still two more left to do, how do you guys approach it these movies to keep them fresh and unique?Different stories and puns are required for different rips and tears from us. We watched Wes Cravens New Nightmare recently and it will be a tough one because its one of our favorites. It influenced both of our childhoods and it doesn't have as many logic holes than the others....but we welcome the challenge. Freddy VS Jason makes fun of itself and that does make it that much harder to add in our own gaffs. But it will be a while till we can make that one.
RiffWiki: Are there any of your riffs you feel are underrated?
All of em', as I say to my husband on a weekly basis “I AM FUNNY DAMMIT!”. Some movies we have riffed are either ones people have not seen or don't like watching for their own reasons.
RiffWiki: Any movie you guys would like to do that for whatever reason just hasn't happened yet?Thelma and Louise, but it might be too boring. Steel Magnolias might be funny enough and Jim has war flashbacks from the theater version he saw.
Stress also creates allot of dampening on projects and creativity. We refuse to give out a project we cannot give our hearts to.
RiffWiki: Now it's time for the picks. What are you favorite three riffs that you've participated in, three full length official RiffTrax and three produced by other riffing groups?Ouch. Harsh. Okay.
Of ours: Happy Birthday to Me, Batman, Dune. RiffTrax: (yep I'm in love with the live shows) Plan 9 From Outer Space, Manos, The Hands of Fate, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. MST3K: Space Mutiny, Hobgoblins, Girl in Golden Boots.
Other Riffing Groups: Ill be honest, I have not watched any. Its not because I don't like them. I have a strange way of approaching my creativity and this goes with my painting as well as riffing. I can't stand my peers. It messes with my head and ego. I don't go to an art museum before I pick up a paint brush. Plus I can easily get burned out over any commentary and that's just me. Jim has eaten the same four variations of breakfast for the five years I have known him, I have to find new ways to inject bacon into my body. He can watch a riff a day, I have to be in the right mood.
RiffWiki: If you could, which single movie would you force Mike, Kevin and Bill to riff that they haven't already?
Thelma and Louise. HAHAHa....heh. No, anything I can think of is something we want to do ourselves.
RiffWiki: Thanks so much for talking to us. If there's anything you'd like to say that we haven't already covered, the floor is yours.
I do believe that Riffing is going to get popular, we live in a world of people who think Beibers' career is built on something so there just HAS to be some hope for us Riffers.
Living in Northern Houston, Jim and I are privileged to be able to go to a wonderful theater chain called Alamo Drafthouse. They have amazing events like Quote-a-longs and screenings of classics. We have seen celebrities present some amazing movies: Like Zoe Bell presented her groovy film Raze and Bruce Campbell brought along his Evil Dead trilogy. Lately we have watched a local riffing group called Master Pancake and they are a treat to watch and deserve special mention. They sell out. They fuel our love in this hard business of comedic commentary. It shows me there is always something to strive for....live shows.