Caroline Munro “Hammer Heroine, British Beauty”

The unexpected path first opened up in the mid-60s when a photo a friend took of her when she was 16 won the Evening News’s Face of the Year competition, which was judged by David Bailey. She doesn’t remember the snap, other than that she was freckly. Modeling gigs came quickly, including a shoot for American Vogue in which, she says, she had to sit in the sea off Malta modeling knitwear.

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In 1967, Munro, who had sung in her church choir, released her first single, a breathy ditty called Tar and Cement, recorded at Abbey Road. Her backing band was Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, better known as Cream, alongside the future Yes guitarist Steve Howe. She remembers Baker driving her up the Mall in an open-topped Jaguar to the photoshoot; an image in keeping with the Austin Powers-ish tang of her life at this time.

Didn’t her religious parents object to their only child getting into the scanty end of modeling? “I think they were pleased that I found a career that I enjoyed. I had dyslexia which, for a long time, really undermined my confidence. I think my mother hoped I would become a window dresser.”

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She made her film debut in Casino Royale (1967), as director Val Guest cast her in a scene with Woody Allen, in which she was unrecognizable at the back of a line of 40 girls firing machine guns loaded with ping-pong balls. She played two scenes as Tommy Steele’s mistress in Where’s Jack? (1969) but again she had no dialogue. Later that year, however, she received her first big film break when Charles Bluhdorn, chairman of the board of Gulf & Western, saw her photo in American Vogue, had her screen tested and signed her to a one-year contract. As a result, she went to Spain to play Richard Widmark’s amorous daughter in the barely released comedy Western A Talent for Loving (1969). “They wanted someone who looked Mexican. I had to speak with an accent.” What was the story? “My father has to marry me off because of the family curse – we love too much.” Essentially, the plot demanded that Munro’s character be cured of her ancestral nymphomania. “My love interest in the film was Derek Nimmo.” You mean Just a Minute’s Derek Nimmo? “That’s him. Lovely Derek!” Her option was dropped when Gulf & Western bought Paramount, so her most positive memory of the production was meeting her co-star, American musician Judd Hamilton, whom she later married.

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Over the next decade, Munro’s parents got used to seeing their daughter writ large and wearing smalls. There she was on the cover of the Music for Pleasure Hot Hits 11 album, practicing archery in a bikini and knee-high suede boots. For a decade, she remained the face of Lamb’s Navy Rum. “Join the Lamb’s Navy,” went the slogan. “It’s where the action is.” The Office for National Statistics holds no data on whether naval recruitment rose during the 1970s, but intuitively it seems likely that squads of would-be sailors signed up after seeing Munro wearing a naval jacket with epaulettes and little else. She was dressed in an unzipped scuba top and was brandishing a knife drawn from a scabbard strapped to her bare thigh. It was his daughter. “Dad knew I was going to be the Lamb’s Navy Rum girl, but not that I would be on a billboard,” says Caroline Munro. “He said it was a bit of a shock.”

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) & Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), turning up for work every day to lie in her tomb, she could be rightly described as an actress who was not yet animate. But Munro’s big acting break, in 1972, was thanks not to such screen work but her continuing efforts for booze and seamen. James Carreras, head of Hammer horror, had also been transfixed by a Lamb’s Navy Rum billboard. As a result, she became like Ingrid Pitt, Joanna Lumley, Kate O’Mara fated to spend aeons being nibbled by gaunt men with false teeth. She signed a contract at the studio and starred with Christopher Lee in Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972). “That was when I realized I wanted to be an actor. It made me get serious and study for it.” Today, when asked if she has ever been frightened by any of the monsters she has worked with, she usually replies: “No, but I was frightened by Christopher Lee, (better than a monster), because he looked so awesome in his cloak, and make-up.”

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In Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1974), she played the barefoot Gypsy girl Carla whom the eponymous captain saves from bloodsuckers. It has some fabulous dialogue. “What he doesn’t know about vampirism,” says the captain of his hunchbacked assistant, “wouldn’t fill a fly’s codpiece.” “They were planning a sequel, but it never happened,” says Munro, sadly.

Brian Clemens
Brian Clemens

Brian Clemens on Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter  
 Surprisingly enough. Munro was not really Clemens’ choice for the role of Carla. “When I wrote the script it called for a fiery gypsy girl,” Clemens says. “Hammer insisted I use Caroline because she was under contract to them at the time. Everyone said Caroline couldn’t act. Well, she could not act the gypsy girl part, that’s for sure. But I had her read the part quite naturally, in her own softspoken voice (inexperience always shines through when you ask an untrained actress to start projecting). It worked, and so I reconceived her character to fit Caroline, and I think that worked too. Before, she was a bit of a joke-the beautiful model turned actress. But as a result of Captain Kronos, Charlie Schneer gave her the lead in Sinbad’s Golden Voyage (which I wrote), and since then she has been working regularly.”

 As Munro herself remembers it. “I was under contract to Hammer, and Kronos really came about through them. They were the ones who suggested that I do the part, and recommended me to Brian Clemens. I liked the story, I thought it was good for a horror/vampire type thing.”

 A major problem that came up during the filming of Captain Kronos was the nude scene in a barn where Carla apparently just spent the night with Kronos. Munro was, at first, reluctant to do the scene. “We had terrific discussions,” she recalls. “I said, ‘No, I won’t, and they said, ‘Yes, you must, and I said, ‘No, I won’t.’ So then we decided on a compromise.” The resulting compromise called for Munro’s long hair to be pasted onto her breasts at strategic points. “They knew up front how far I would go and what I wouldn’t do. In fact, I’m sure I said, ‘If you want, maybe I’m not the one you’re looking for. If that is totally necessary for the part, and it will make the film a good film you must choose someone who will do that.’ So they had their option too.”

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 She smiles as she recreates the incident. “I had a sweet stand-in named Glenda Allen. She was prepared, and I think used to taking her clothes off. When it came to the big day. she was all prepared, and she said, ‘Well, I’ll do it for you.’ But I said, ‘I don’t really think that’ll be good!

 “Anyway, Brian said, ‘Oh, well Glenda, if you wouldn’t mind just walking around a bit without your clothes on just to get the feel. just so the crew will get used to it… So she did. I suppose the first five or 10 minutes the crew were interested, but then, after while, they weren’t so interested. But she was doing it to make me feel at ease, which is rather sweet. I suppose it did–but it was funny, her standing there having tea and cream buns when she was naked.

 As for the other actors in the film, Clemens has definite opinions on them all. “Horst Janson (Captain Kronos) was okay, and probably the best actor I have ever worked with from the point of never, never bitching. When he said he could fight with the rapier sword, he could. He said he could ride a horse, he could…. Many actors admit to doing everything just to get the part, and then, come the day of shooting, you find you have to use a stunt stand-in. Horst did the work brilliantly.

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Soon after, Hammer films got into financial trouble, and her contract was dropped. However, she got the lead as a slave girl in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), involving her with the special effects monsters created by Ray Harryhausen. But she hardly ever met those mythological beasts consumed with a desire to eat her. “I worked opposite a black curtain, in front of which somebody would wave a stick around to represent the monster moving, and I had to look at the stick and react to it. Later they superimposed the monster in place of the curtain. At least I was shown pictures of the creatures that Ray had drawn, and he would direct the special effects scenes himself.”

He was there making suggestions during all the live action, and then director Gordon Hessler would step back and Ray would direct the special effects scenes himself.” Despite the picture’s unexpected boxoffice success. Munro wasn’t offered another movie until more than a year later, when she played a supporting role as a stripper in I Don’t Want to Be Born (1975). “I did it because there wasn’t any other film work around,” she admits. “I quite enjoyed playing the part, though, because it was different. She was gutsy and tough, so I liked it for the acting experience.

Her next film, At the Earth’s Core (1976), had her threatened by a lot of make-shift, full-sized prehistoric tat. ‘They used special wires for the flying sequences, and I was frightened they would knock me out as the creatures came flapping down at me.” She enjoyed working with Peter Cushing. “He’s very quiet and unspoiled, so unlike a star. I defy anybody who’s met him to say a bad word about him.”

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At the Earth’s Core followed as Munro’s next fantasy project. For that Edgar Rice Burroughs’ yarn, which co-starred Peter Cushing, Munro battled a variety of mechanical monsters. Kevin Conner directed Core on a single soundstage at Pinewood studios. Munro painfully recalls that the Pellucidar set had its share of effects mishaps. “One of the Mahars dropped on my head. I was supposed to be standing in a trance. When the fire beasty comes down, Peter bashed it with his duck umbrella to get it away, but the poor man in the suit couldn’t control it because he was on a curly wire. It looked very realistic at least.

“Then there was the scene in which Doug McClure and I were on the ledge. Even though I had a stunt lady, we didn’t use her. There was a creature down below breathing fire, and the flames dld get very close, My screams are quite real in the scene because it was really hot. The sweat was real, too. Even my hair got a bit singed. But always say that if you’re going to do something threatening on film, making it real for the actors gets a real reaction. If you do it half-heartedly, It is harder to react. I like a little reality, but not too much!”

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In 1977, the producer of the Bond films, Cubby Broccoli, cast her as Bond villainess Naomi in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). In one scene, Roger Moore’s Bond arrives in Sardinia, posing as a marine biologist. Naomi, sporting a bikini and diaphanous peignoir, sashays to her boat, as Bond comments: “What a handsome craft – such lovely lines.”

Later, Naomi is tasked with killing Bond and his accomplice, which she attempts to do from her helicopter, shooting at the Lotus Esprit while Bond negotiates Sardinian corniches. Then 007 turns the tables: his car, souped up by Q, becomes a submarine, which fires a deadly rocket at Naomi’s chopper. What do you remember of the shoot? “Well, I didn’t fly the helicopter. That was a lovely stunt man in a black wig.” She filmed her scenes sitting in a helicopter in London.

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Who can forget the way she sent blood pressures perking with her “Ms. Anti-Friction (1977)” TV spot for Noxzema? The way she spun around in that multiple-split skirt and sat backwards on that chair before she pouted those moist lips and… well, you remember, I’m sure. That commercial, in fact, was taken off the air because it was considered too sexy for the Bible Belt. It was replaced by the ambiguously continental, dressed-to-the-neck Anna. Yet it had its impact, introducing a stunning style to Americans, even though it was one of Caroline’s last modeling assignments.

She really owes her success to those Lamb’s Navy Rum posters, which accidentally made her a pin-up with an identity that could be exploited in other media, and she has continued to do them for the last ten years, long after she has given up other modeling. She has always refused to do any nude scenes, and turned down The World is Full of Married Men and Force Ten from Navarone for that reason. “If I were the first actress to do a nude scene, then it might be interesting. But I’m not, so it wouldn’t,” she said.

Luigi Cozzi’s Starcrash (1979),. Described as “Sinbad In Space” by some, StarCrash told the story of Stella Star (Munro) and her efforts to defeat an evil space Count (Joe Spinell).

“We had a fight scene with David Hasselhoff and some stunt men, Munro recalled. “Unlike most films, was not given enough time to rehearse. The stunt man rehearsed me for about a half hour, where usually you get weeks to practice. The stunt man wanted me to try and hit him. Luigi yelled ‘action and the stunt man didn’t move fast enough and bloodied his nose rather badly. I Immediately broke Into tears and we stopped shooting.”

The success of Starcrash, has given her some popularity in America, where she gets a lot of that fan-mail from, sometimes addressed to “Dear Stella Star”. What would she like to do now? “I’m grateful to fantasy. It’s been good to me. But now I’d like to try something different, with something more of a character for me in it.”

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I heard that you turned down Vampirella in the early 1970s?
Caroline Munro: Yes, I was offered that from an Italian studio. It wasn’t something that I was really interested in doing.

Was it a bad script?
Caroline Munro: Well…it was…just something where I didn’t feel the opportunity was right, to be honest. And of course, there was also the Modesty Blaise script, and that would have been a very interesting project. It’s been around for such a long time in development, I suppose they will make it someday, but I don’t know who the actress would be that they’d want for it now.

What was it like having Christopher Lee bite your neck in Dracula A.D. 1972?
Caroline Munro: Great! Chris is a really nice man, and I loved doing the film. It was a lot of fun, I thought, quite light really, with all that kind of hippy clothing and so on; I thought it was terrific.

What were your favourites among your own performances?
Caroline Munro: I think probably Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter for Hammer, which was something that came together very well, and it’s now quite a cult film. There was actually a sequel planned, and it got a fair way along but once again, it didn’t actually get made. I think that would have had some potential as a series and I would love to have done it, but it’s one of those things. People liked me I think in The Spy Who Loved Me, and that was such a thrill to do as well, so I probably did well there, too!

Talking about some of the larger-than life characters that you’ve worked with, and there was another on The Golden Voyage of Sinbad… any recollections of Tom Baker?
Caroline Munro: Oh, I really liked Tom… had quite a few scenes with him in Sinbad. Again, what an extraordinary presence he had on screen… very much larger-than-life. I saw him not so long ago. I was out with my daughter looking through DVDs in HMV, I think, and he saw me and said: “Hello kid, how are you doing?” and it was such a surprise but that wonderful voice was unmistakable. He was brilliant, just a lovely, warm cuddly bear of a man, such a fantastic talent. When you think of all the wonderful stuff he’s done, from Doctor Who to Rasputin and so on… amazing! I was actually quite nervous of working with him but he lived up to his reputation of being an actor’s actor. He was lovely, just so sweet with me, delightful.

John Phillip Law must have been interesting to work with. He had a great track record. He was Diabolik, he played the angel in Barbarella, was in some cool gialli and spaghetti westerns….
Caroline Munro: Yeah, he was very much from the Stanislavsky method-type, “New York school” of acting… always came to the set very prepared, every day. And he was so athletic. He worked every day with the swordsmen and worked out every shot, he was a real perfectionist. He wanted it to be as good as it possibly could be and he made a beautiful Sinbad in every way, perfect. We were working with a dialectician as well, so the accent was perfected. We tried to get the dialogue as close as possible to what it would be, so a lot of preparation went into it, though again, in comparison with what they do today, it was a very small shoot.

What was it like performing alongside great actors like Peter Cushing and Doug McClure in At the Earth’s Core?
Caroline Munro: I loved it. I used to go to work with a smile on my face because they were wonderful actors, also beautiful human beings and I had such a brilliant time. I worked with Peter (Cushing) twice, we did Dracula and At the Earth’s Core together, and Doug (McClure) was just the funniest, sweetest man to work with. His loss was terrible, we were like the three musketeers.

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The comradely between you really shines through on film.
Caroline Munro: I think it does, we got on really well and it’s a perfect family-friendly film. It’s lovely when you’re young and some of the little kids come to see us and they are a bit nervous about the creatures, but they still absolutely love them. It’s a special film.

Your role demanded you to wear a very revealing outfit, did that make you feel uncomfortable on set?
Caroline Munro: Actually no, because in At the Earth’s Core most of my co-stars, the extras both male and female were all dressed similarly. But it was in the winter…which was tough.

What was your favorite moment working on At the Earth’s Core?
Caroline Munro: One of the moments I remember was when Doug and I had to fight the fiery beastie…the one that squirted fire from its mouth. Peter was going to come in at the last bit of the shot, but the film crew said for this sequence…we’re going to get the stunt people in because it’s going to be quite physical. And we just looked at each other and said no we’ll do it.

The crew were like…are you sure? And we said…yeah! So, what happened was, we did the flames and the fiery beastie, and the flames were so extreme that we yelled real screams, with a real fire that missed us by inches. So, I remember Peter steps in with his bow and arrow and shoots the fiery beastie.

You went on to star alongside Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me and instantly secured your place in history as a Bond girl. How does it feel to be a part of that exclusive club?
Caroline Munro: I tell you what, I loved my time with Roger, and Richard (Kiel) and Curt (Jurgens) and Lewis Gilbert (director) and that was an amazing time, but I also love the fact that when there are various shows like this with the Bond women, the Bond women are amazing. They’re all individual and are just extraordinary strong women. It sounds cliché, but we have forged a bond and they are amazing women. We adore each other. We can’t get a word in edgeways when everybody’s together though.

Crash

Starcrash had an amazing cast, didn’t it? It had an extraordinary cast, the late Joe Spinell and Christopher Plummer, and of course David Hasselhoff, too. Was he as much of a handful as one might have thought, given the way his career and persona developed?
Caroline Munro: He was a bit nervous about doing his first film. Lovely chap, I see him at least once a year at various shows.

What about your other co-star Marjoe Gortner? He didn’t exactly have your typical film star background, did he?
Caroline Munro: Yeah, he had been a famous child evangelist, of all things. He kept himself to himself, really very quiet but super professional. He put in a lot of hard work I had read up on him before I went over there and discovered this earlier life he had led, which made you see him from a whole different perspective.

How did you find Cozzi as a director?
Caroline Munro: Oh I adore Luigi, he’s a really good friend of mine. The production company wanted to change it to make it more American. I think it was done on the back of Star Wars, they wanted to cash in on the phenomenal success of that. It was very different from Star Wars, very stylized. I just think Luigi did fantastically well on that film, he worked really, really hard and did such an amazing job. The budget wasn’t enormous but I think it was bigger than anything else he’d been used to.

Maniac (1980)
Maniac (1980)

Hindsight leads Munro to reassess her participation in Maniac (1980), as well. She was in the midst of production on this brutal exercise in nihilistic sadism, and expressed optimism that the finished film might advance her acting career. In retrospect, her opinion is more realistic.

“I didn’t particularly like Maniac,” Munro acknowledges. “it was a good movie of its type, and Tom Savini’s makeup effects were terrific, but it wasn’t my personal choice of entertainment. My character didn’t seem to be connected to the rest of the storyline. It looked a bit funny to have this woman suddenly come in from nowhere. But there wasn’t enough time to add more to the part.

“Experience-wise I wouldn’t have missed it, because it gave me the chance to work with Tom Savini and Joe Spinell, who are very creative people. It would have been nice if the material had been better, though.”

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Disappointment also plagued Munro on her subsequent project, The Last Horror Film (1982). Co-written and co-produced by her husband Judd Hamilton, it was intended to be her first genuine career vehicle. Those plans were sabotaged, however, once director David Winters ordered her voice dubbed by an anonymous American actress-without Munro’s knowledge or permission-allegedly to correct sound problems on location. Briefly test-marketed domestically as Fanatic, the picture was quickly consigned to a video tape release under its original title.

“I was incredibly upset about the dubbing,” Munro laments. “Whoever did my voice did a fine job, but it wasn’t my performance. I was just a mowing photograph.

“You always have to dub your dialogue when you shoot on location, so I automatically assumed I would do my own dubbing. But everything happened in a rush. Winters suddenly took the film to Los Angeles, and before I knew it, I had been dubbed by someone else.”

Winters stated that he never offered Munro the opportunity to dub her own voice, because of a personal and professional falling out he’d had with Judd Hamilton. Several months later, Winters denied his previous statement, claiming there had been no such falling out, and that he’… first scheduled for Caroline to…do a mix…and there was just no time”

“That is definitely not true.” Munro maintains. “Winters never contacted me about scheduling me to do a mix. He may not have had the time, but I was free. I was ready and waiting, and would have been happy to go to Los Angeles to do my own dubbing.

“Winters may have had a time problem, but because of all the difficulties that occurred during the shooting, knew there was more to it than just that. He also had personal reasons for his decision. He did have a falling out with Judd, I can certainly confirm that. Funnily enough, Winters called me last year and asked if I would do a jungle adventure film with him. I said it sounded interesting, but he never sent me a script. I haven’t heard from him since. Actually, I’m not sure if I would ever work with him again. It might be unfair to Judd.”

The Last Horror Film (1982)
The Last Horror Film (1982)

Unfortunately, the conflict between Hamilton and Winters also interfered with Munro’s plans to reprise her popular Stella Star character from Starcrash in a follow-up to that science-fiction hit. Originally announced for production by the Cannon Group in 1979 under the title Star Riders, the project was later developed independently by Hamilton as Star Patrol and then Stella Star-with David Winters under consideration as director.

“I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.” Munro concedes. “I can only think that the timing must have been wrong. Several producers were interested, among them Michael (Repulsion) Klinger, but we were never able to raise the financing As far as I know, there will never be another Stella Star picture. Frankly, I think I’m a bit past it by now, anyway.

Disillusioned by the capricious nature of Hollywood deal making, Munro found greater satisfaction at home in England. Personally selected by Adam Ant to Costar in his award winning ” Goody Two Shoes (1982) “ rock video, she received extensive exposure on both sides of the Atlantic.

The acclaim for this video led rock star Meatloaf, a long-time Adam Ant fan, to choose Munro to portray a man eating vampire in the video for his British single, ” If You Really Want To (1983) “ Directed by Stuart Orme, this atmospheric homage to Hammer Films was never broadcast in America.

“I felt really quite evil, dressed up in my long cape, fangs and red eyes,” she laughs. “It made a nice change. Although I’ve been bitten before by Christopher Lee in Dracula A.D. 1972, I had never actually done the biting. I got my own back, by attacking all the young men.”

Shy of the Limelight Caroline Munro quietly tolerated the personal and professional restrictions imposed upon her for most of her life. One of England’s most successful models, she graduated to motion pictures through a succession of fortuitous accidents. Lacking any formal dramatic training, she learned her craft on camera, accepting undemanding roles in minor movies, while earning a modest living in the British film industry.

Too timid to try to conquer the more competitive American marketplace, Munro repeatedly rejected opportunities which she feared would further exacerbate her insecurities-declining an offer of personal management from Hollywood star maker Jay Bernstein, who later spectacularly launched the careers of glamour queens Farrah Fawcett and Suzanne Somers; two offers of professional representation by Eileen Ford, head of the prestigious Ford Model Agency, which would have required her to relocate to New York from her London home; and two lucrative offers for nude pictorials in Playboy.

Munro also turned down a sympathetic starring role opposite Faye Dunaway, Alan Bates and Sir John Gielgud in Michael Winner’s costume adventure The Wicked Lady (1983), refusing to perform a nude love scene. Ironically, she was replaced by the equally unwilling Glynis Barber, who requested-and received-a nude body double. “I didn’t fancy the nudity,” Munro asserts. “Had it not been for that, I would have done The Wicked Lady. I didn’t ask for a body double, because I thought that would have defeated the purpose. People would still have thought they were seeing me nude. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my body. It’s OK. I just don’t want to show it all.”

She separated from her husband, American musician/actor/producer Judd Hamilton in 1983, after a 13-year marriage. “I wasn’t happy,” she reveals. “I took stock of myself, and decided I needed to change my life. It was a matter of my finally growing up. I met Judd when I was a teenager, and he was my first boy friend. My ideas changed completely from that time. I couldn’t be held down. Obviously, I had to grow. Sadly, I think we simply grew apart.’

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Munro was pleased to make a cameo appearance as herself in Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984), which was shot several months prior to Slaughter High. Produced by that slash-happy duo of Dick Randall and Steve Minasian, and directed by and starring their Pieces protagonist Edmund Purdom, Christmas follows the gory trail of a mysterious murderer slaughtering Santa Clauses at holiday time in London. To provide a momentary musical respite, Munro worked one day, singing the song “Warrior of Love” with a rock band, on stage at the Picadilly Theatre.

“I did it because it gave me the chance to sing on screen, which I had never done before,” she explains. “I wanted to show another side of me. I never asked to read the script, so I had no idea what sort of movie it was. Surprisingly, regardless of her brief screen time, Munro received second billing on the one-sheet posters and in the newspaper ads. “That’s a bit cheeky, she chuckles. “If people go to see the picture thinking I’m the female lead, they’ll be very disappointed. I’m only in it for about two minutes.

“I shouldn’t think it will be widely shown. I haven’t seen it, but I’m told it didn’t turn out well. Since I was playing myself, rather than a character in the story, I don’t feel badly about what I did. It’s just a pity it couldn’t have been in a better movie. Had I read the script, perhaps I wouldn’t have done it.”

Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)
Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984)

Retreating to the relative safety of British TV, Munro accepted a steady assignment as hostess of the inexplicably popular weekly game/variety series 3-2-1, produced by Yorkshire Television. Initially pleased by the chance to sing and act in comedy sketches with many of England’s veteran entertainers, she grew increasingly bored as her participation was reduced.

Severely stifled on the small screen, Munro turned to the theater in 1985, making her stage debut playing Fairy Twinklestar in the traditional Christmas pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, at Britain’s Theatre Royal Lincoln. “I wanted to test myself,” she remarks. “It turned out to be the most physically and emotionally terrifying work I’ve ever done. I had to go out on stage night after night-sometimes three shows a day-and lay bare my soul.’

Absent from motion pictures since 1984, when she starred in the British horror thriller Slaughter High (1986) (Filmed as April Fool’s Day in 1984), which was written and directed by her Coast to Coast collaborators George Dugdale, Mark Ezra and Peter Litten. Audiences accustomed to seeing Munro as a quivering heroine in jeopardy are in for a surprise. “I play a self-centered bitch,” she gleefully announces. “Her name is Carol, and she’s an actress/model who is known for taking her clothes off. She comes from a wealthy background, and is rather spoiled.”

“It begins at a Midwest American high school in the late 1970’s.” Munro re counts. “A gang of students, led by Carol and Skip, who is the joker of the pack, set out to play a practical joke on a shy boy named Marly. He’s very bright, but he isn’t well liked and gets teased a lot.

“Carol lures him into the girl’s shower room, with promises of whatever his imagination likes. The poor boy goes in, because he has a crush on her. It ends up with her fully dressed and him stark naked, and the gang videotaping it all. They do horrible things to him-shower him down with foam, give him an electric shock, and stick his head down the lavatory.

“They’re discovered by the athletic coach, who sends them to the gym to exercise as punishment. Meanwhile, Marty goes to the chemistry lab, where he works on an experiment. At the instigation of Carol and Skip, a couple of the boys give him a cigarette of funny substances, which makes him ill. He becomes shaky, and the Bunsen burner slips and starts a fire. Marty knocks into the cupboard, and a big bottle of acid falls down. It splashes all over his face, and he gets incredibly badly burned.

“The gang hears the explosion, and dashes into the lab. They all feel guilty for what happened, although they don’t feel responsible. Carol bends down to apologize, and Marty reaches up to strangle her.

It turns out Carol is having a dream Those events really happened, and she has been reliving them. She wakes up, and it’s the present day. She and the gang are going to a class reunion at their old school on April Fool’s Day, but they don’t know who arranged it. Only the members of the gang have been invited.

“The school is abandoned, and they have to break in. They think it’s another of Skip’s practical jokes, but he denies it. They wander through the halls, and discover a party has been set out for them. They enjoy the food and beer, take various drugs, and get quite merry. And then the fireworks begin.

Those fireworks include an explicit assortment of gruesome deaths, courtesy of makeup effects artist Peter Litten, as Marty takes belated revenge on his tormentors. “A boy drinks a beer, which causes his stomach to explode, splattering one of the girls, Munro reveals. “She takes a bath to wash off the blood, but acid pours out of the tap onto her. Two people are electrocuted in bed as they make love, and someone else is drowned in a cesspool, There is also a hanging, an impaling, and an ax smashed into somebody’s face. And there’s a complete twist at the end.”

Slaughter High (1986)
Slaughter High (1986)

Although set in America, Slaughter High was shot entirely on location in England, principally at an old high school in the center of London, during a five week period in the summer of 1984. Aside from Munro, the cast consists of unknown American and British actors who have extensive stage experience in England.

To blend in with her ersatz surroundings, Munro was required to adopt an American accent. “Having been married to an American, and having been to America many times, I didn’t find it that much of a challenge,” she notes. If wasn’t sure how to pronounce a certain word, I would ask the other actresses, all of whom were American.

“But if my American accent sounds authentic, no one may realize it’s actually my voice. Since I was dubbed with American accents in Starcrash and The Last Horror Film, people automatically expect me to be dubbed now.”

Ironically, additional dubbing was necessary to augment the performance of another cast member, when actor Simon Scudamore, who played the murderous Marty, tragically committed suicide during post-production. It was a tremendous shock to me.” Munro comments. Simon was only 29. He was a nice chap, but apparently he was chronically depressed. He kept to himself a lot during the shooting, but I thought he was just trying to stay in character.”

Simon Scudamore
Simon Scudamore

To preserve the integrity of her own off screen character, Munro adamantly refused to bare all for art’s sake, in a climactic confrontation scene with the crazed killer. “The producers wanted me to be naked in another shower sequence” she discloses. “The idea was that, since Carol got Marty naked in the beginning, he would reverse the situation and get her naked at the end. But ! don’t do nude scenes. The producers were willing to settle for me wearing a corset, but I wouldn’t do that, either. I ended up doing the scene fully clothed.

“I felt the nudity wasn’t relevant. It wasn’t even in the script. The producers just wanted to spice up the picture. We discussed it before I signed my contract, and I had no trouble getting them to eliminate it. The scene still works the way I did it. I don’t think it would have worked better if I had been nude. It would have just looked stupid. Besides, they had a couple of other naked ladies, so they were satisfied.”

Despite such concessions, Munro has mixed feelings about appearing in her fourth consecutive slasher film. “I do have afterthoughts,” she admits, “because the makeup effects are pretty strong. But I was still keen to do it, because I wanted to work. Apart from the money side, I like to keep busy, And I enjoyed the challenge of playing a somewhat different character. I suppose ! can’t really disassociate myself and my character from the rest of the film, though, because it’s all part of a whole.

“Obviously, I would like to make other kinds of movies. But if horror films are all get offered, and I don’t have to compromise my standards, and I’m reasonably happy with them, then I’ll go on doing them until they stop being offered.”

321

Distancing herself from her 3-2-1 duties, Munro played a game show hostess in the Christmas Day 1986 British TV pantomime Cinderella or: The Shoe Must Go On, for Central Television, and then appeared as a celebrity contestant on several popular British quiz shows. Intrigued by a more appealing invitation for regular TV exposure. she also shot a pilot episode for a new British astrology series, Zodiac. Directed by Mike Mansfield, who previously helmed her award-winning music video for Adam Ant’s single Goody Two Shoes, the program has been sold to London Weekend Television.

Anxious to resume the singing career she began while still a teenager, Munro recently recorded a single entitled “Pump Me Up (1985)” written and produced by British rock star Gary Numan. She also sang with Numan and his band on the BBC TV variety show The Main Attraction. Now Numan plans to produce an album and rock video for Munro.

‘Pump Me Up’ is a very modern song, with lots of synthesizers,” she reports.” don’t know if it’s my cup of tea, but it’s certainly different. The words are difficult to hear, which may be a good thing, because they’re a bit risque.”

1953

During a break in her hectic 3-2-1 schedule, Munro played a three-legged barmaid in a lavish new science-fiction TV commercial for Dr. Pepper. Directed by Bob (Tattoo) Brooks at Twickenham Studios, with alien creatures created by Christopher Tucker and Alastair Bottell, the spot is currently airing on all three American networks, as well as on MTV, in 30 and 60 second versions, following the release of a special 90-second version to nearly 1,000 theaters showing 2010 and Dune.

The British Female “Max Headroom”

Originally envisioned as a presenter of music videos, Roxscene has been further refined to incorporate the potential for more lucrative exposure. Initially perceived as a female version of Max Headroom, the character provides a much larger scope for creative experimentation. According to their story concept, Roxscene is an android manufactured by profiteering tycoons to operate a pirate TV station in outer space. Liberated from their control via a technical mishap, she unleashes her outrageous personality on an unsuspecting world.

Roxscene
Roxscene

“Roxscene is a rebel without a cause, and her cause is rock and roll,” Munro announces cryptically. “She is very much a lady of the past, present and future. She’s a chameleon. She changes her look depending on her mood, as do most women. She can be very coy and playful, but she can also be a real bitch. She’s all the extremes, embodied in one personality.”

 Indeed, the character will be photographed in full-length form wearing a variety of colorful costumes and wigs, dramatizing at least six distinctly different personas, including an ingenuous Valley girl, a coquettish Southern tomboy and a gritty punk rocker. Following a week of rigorous rehearsals with Peter Litten, Munro endured a grueling four-and-a-half-hour special effects makeup session before shooting a brief presentation video.

 “It’s so intricate and must be perfectly done,” she explains. “First, my face was covered with a layer of thick, surgical glue. Then, all the different pieces were stuck on. It didn’t hurt, but it was very uncomfortable. My head was really quite huge looking, with an exaggerated forehead, cheeks and chin. It was difficult for me to keep a straight face because I kept getting the giggles. The makeup wasn’t heavy, but I perspired underneath it, and I became itchy. I wanted to scratch my face, but there was no area I could touch. Everything was covered with makeup. It was like a second skin.”

 Submerging her shy and unassuming nature beneath the protective prosthetics, Munro felt sufficiently removed from reality to liberate Roxscene’s caustic character traits. “I was Roxscene,” she insists. “I was no longer Caroline Munro. I could lose myself in her. I had to, because there was no way I could be myself while looking like her.

 “At first, I felt very inhibited, because I’m used to underplaying in films, rather than overplaying. But once I realized that I had to fight through the makeup, I knew what I had to do. Since I was covered up, I could pretend to be whomever I wanted. I didn’t have to have any inhibitions, because she wasn’t me. When I understood that, all the barriers came down.”

 Limited for her entire acting career to playing two-dimensional sex objects, Munro is delighted to at last capture a role which taxes her performing talents instead of merely exploiting her physical attractiveness. “Roxscene is my greatest challenge, because she is nothing like me,” Munro points out. “I hope I can show another side of myself.

Paul Naschy's Howl of the Devil (1987)
Paul Naschy’s Howl of the Devil (1987)

Before she could unpack her bags, Munro was flying off again, this time to France, to explore the possibilities of film work there. With the British movie industry virtually extinct, she has turned to Europe for work with producers and directors avid to capitalize on her indelible genre association. All three of her most recent fantasy forays were made overseas-Paul Naschy’s Howl of the Devil (1987) in Spain. Munro portrays a poor Spanish maid named Carmen, who is menaced by a cavalcade of classic genre creatures, including the Frankenstein Monster, the Phantom of the Opera, Quasimodo, Mr. Hyde, and-inevitably-Paul Naschy’s best known character, the melancholy werewolf Waldemar Dáninsky. “It was a chance to do something different,” Munro recounts. “It was a challenge for me, as an English woman, to blend in with the Spanish look, but I adapted quite easily. “The clothes I wore were very plain. I wouldn’t be seen dead in them, walking about as myself. But when I put them on, with flat shoes, a little apron and my hair pinned back, it seemed absolutely right. I was comfortable, because I felt like the character. In fact, the Spanish women on the set said I looked authentic. Perhaps, when people see me in The Howl of the Devil, they’ll think: ‘My goodness, what an old bag.'”

Jess Franco’s Faceless (1988) in France and Luigi Cozzi’s Black Cat (1989). in Italy. Indeed, the prolific Franco-veteran of a score of exploitation epics-offered her yet another foreign film, three months before she gave birth.

Demons 6: De Profundis/ Black Cat (1989)  Was originally proposed as an unofficial finale to Dario Argento’s then-incomplete ‘Three Mothers’ trilogy. Originally a script draft was written by Dario Argento’s ex-wife Daria Nicolodi, but producer Dino De Laurentiis (whom she gave the script to) wasn’t interested and Argento (who originally was supposed to direct) moved away from the project and focused on his next movie ‘Tenebrae’. A few years later, Nicolodi gave the script to her friend Luigi Cozzi, wanting him to turn it into a movie. Cozzi decided to do it but didn’t want to make a straight sequel to Argento’s ‘Suspiria’ and ‘Inferno’, so he re-wrote the script into something that is more of a tribute to the two Argento movies. Nicolodi (who originally was supposed to star in it) realized that Cozzi’s version was not what she had in mind, and so she left the project.

“I was absolutely gob smacked,” Munro recalled. “Jess rang me up one day at home and asked if I would be interested in discussing a movie he was making in Spain. I never did find out what sort of film it was. Once I told him that I was six months pregnant, he said, ‘I don’t think you would be quite right for the part. “I don’t know what sorts of films Jess made in the past, but that’s immaterial to me. I got on really well with him. He had a very nice flair. I like him and found him to be quite interesting. I would work with him again, if the project was suitable.”

Black Cat (1989)
Black Cat (1989)

Unfortunately, all three of these films fell victim to a variety of post-production problems. Lost in distribution limbo, they remain unreleased in the United States. Though they were all shot in English, with international casts, only FACELESS contains Munro’s original performance. An English language print of HOWL was never prepared, although a Spanish dubbed version aired uncut on Spanish television in August 1991. With Paul Naschy recuperating from a heart attack, and producer Juan Gomez having left the film business, HOWL seems unlikely to surface in America.

FACELESS was released theatrically and on video in France, even though producer Rene Chateau failed to pay Munro half her contracted salary. An English language version-minus several minutes of explicit gore effects is currently available on video in Canada, but has yet to be licensed in America.

Sadly, the most blatant breach of Munro’s contract occurred with the ill-fated Black Cat. Despite protective provisions deliberately negotiated by her English agent, she received none of her original salary and her voice was dubbed by an anonymous American actress. Insisting that he, too, was never paid, the writer/co-producer/director Luigi Cozzi blames all these difficulties on the movie’s trouble-prone distributor, Menachem Golan’s 21st Century Films.

Brigitte Lahaie & Caroline Munro
Brigitte Lahaie & Caroline Munro

Persuaded by Cozzi to portray a sexually aggressive actress in the behind-the scenes look at the derivative Italian horror film industry, Munro cautiously showed off her statuesque figure on screen for the first time in more than a decade-since starring in Cozzi’s space opera spoof STARCRASH. Drawing the line at actual nudity, she nevertheless performed two passionate love scenes in bed, as well as a suggestive bubble bath sequence. Inexplicably, however, her two most provocative scenes-in which she disrobes on camera down to a skimpy black bra and panties, and later paints her nails wearing a perilously short nightie-were cut from the finished film.

“Luigi and I had different ideas about those scenes, “Munro disclosed. “I discussed it all with him beforehand, because I didn’t want him to get the wrong idea about what I was willing to do. He assured me that he would shoot the scenes discreetly, and he was absolutely true to his word about that. For the bed scenes, I wore trousers and a bra under the covers. For the bath scene, I wore a bikini beneath the bubbles.

“However, for the undressing scene, they originally handed me a very revealing, see-through bra and panties. I said. “Nope. I’m not wearing those.’ I went shopping in Rome, and bought a denser, darker outfit instead. There were only a few crew people on the set when we shot those scenes, so it didn’t unduly bother me. I didn’t mind being photographed in those outfits in the film or for stills taken during the shooting, because I thought it was part of my character. But I was asked to pose for publicity photos as myself in the lingerie, and I declined.”

“As I get older, I’m becoming more experienced, and more secure about myself and my work,” Caroline Munro reflects. “Having not taken the correct route of drama school and the stage, it has been extra hard for me. I felt I didn’t have the experience, and therefore I was very insecure. Now, however, I feel I have-in a way-paid my dues, by going back to the beginning and starting again. That’s why I’ve been jumping at so many different projects. I feel I’ve earned the chance. I feel I can be up there with the other actors. I’m still not completely secure, but I’m much more secure than I used to be.

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We would like to have seen you in more roles since the mid-80s…
Caroline Munro: Well I do actually have a film coming up shortly, I hope.

What genre is it?
Caroline Munro: A thriller. I’m in contact with a woman producer on this project, and perhaps that makes a difference. If you get to a certain age as an actress, it seems like you only get to keep working if you have it all done [mimics having face stretched back], and it’s so short-sighted, really a shame. It’s not like the audience really goes away, but the producers go away. There are still people who’d like to see you working and making films, but the producers and film-makers maybe don’t agree and sometimes that’s that.

I was wondering if you were aware of how your career has intersected at a couple of points with that of the Italian actress Daria Nicolodi. For instance she was originally cast in the role that you ended up playing in Maniac.
Caroline Munro: Do you know what happened there? She had the role, she was going to be the lady, absolutely, but she was still working on something else. I went to New York… I think it was to attend a Fangoria convention… and I had already worked with Joe Spinell, who was one of the guests, as was Bill Lustig. They were talking about doing these films but their lady hadn’t arrived and that’s how we got talking. Bill and Joe asked if I’d be interested if she couldn’t get away from what she was doing and I said yes, that I could read for it, but I was a bit busy and I had to go back to London. But this was the Friday and in fact they were going to start shooting on the Monday, so I ended up taking it on very short notice. Joe and Bill said this might not be like anything you’ve seen before, so they took me to see Halloween to give me an idea of what they were aiming for, and they were right. I really hadn’t seen anything like Halloween and it was quite an eye-opener. So, the thing is, I trusted Joe implicitly and I really got a nice feeling from Bill, he seemed to know exactly what he was doing, and what he wanted so I agreed to it and on Monday morning there I was, doing a very improvised scene with Joe, sitting at a dinner table. That was our very first scene in the film. Yes, I’d agreed to do it.

One of the problems people have with Maniac is that Joe’s a hopeless, gibbering, socially marginal character, but there’s a sub-plot which involves him wining and dining your very glamorous character. Is that all a fantasy in his mind? Does he have multiple personalities?
Caroline Munro: I think what made it so bizarre was his character, the look of him and the derangement and angst and all of that. Then he turns up looking very well turned-out and charming. It was bizarre, but Joe did it so well. He was so good and I believe they wrote this thing, which was very much their baby, based on the real life case of the Son Of Sam killings. It was loosely based on that, I believe, but connected with Joe’s imagination and Bill’s, and that’s how they collaborated on Maniac.

Did you develop other leading roles in the period where you were the lead in Maniac and Starcrash?
Caroline Munro: Yes, there were a number of projects that I was put forward for, a number of scripts. One that I was very keen on was a pirate film, where I would have played a pirate myself. It was a terrific script but it never actually got off the ground in that period. It was made many years later…what was it called? Cutthroat Island…?

With Geena Davis.
Caroline Munro: That’s right, Geena Davis did it in the end, but that was in development for so many years, and I’m sorry it didn’t get made in the time I was up for it, because I think that would have been a lot of fun, though I remember that the film that finally got made didn’t do so well, so maybe, I don’t know, maybe it was for the best. The original script was a lot different to what they made with Geena Davis.

Your other cross-over with Nicolodi is that she was very much involved in the genesis of Cozzi’s film The Black Cat/De Profundis, though I gather she’d taken her name off it by the time you were cast. Were you aware of her involvement in that?
Caroline Munro: No I didn’t know that. Of course she’s a very well known actress, but no, I had no idea. I don’t recall seeing her name on the script that I got, so she can’t have been involved at that point. I think she bowed out at an early stage but she was instrumental in the conception of that film.

Cozzi’s Black Cat, or whatever title you know that movie by, was a troubled production that went through a lot of changes and had a lot of issues. I don’t know if you want to talk about this, but I know there were problems getting paid by the Golan/Globus guys.
Caroline Munro: All of us, including Luigi, had problems with that. My agent Dennis had asked for half upfront, because they were pretty notorious for this, apparently, I’d been shooting for a couple of weeks when Dennis said: “I’d rather you didn’t go to the set today”, because we’d had nothing, not even the half upfront, and he must have phoned Italian ICM and said: “She isn’t going to come to the set, that’s it”. Most of the actors did not get paid, and I know Luigi didn’t get paid. None of us got paid and that was it. It was a bit rotten, really!

Any memories of Florence Guerin from that picture?
Caroline Munro: She was wonderful… fantastic! I was so impressed by her as an actress. She was pretty quiet, very intent on getting it right, and I think she did a brilliant job. I think she was just making the transition from modelling to acting there and she was just feeling her way. I don’t really know much about her, but I was very impressed by her as an actress, thought she was amazing. We did several scenes together and I thought she was brilliant, really good, very real, you know? Absolutely perfect, and she looked beautiful, stunning. Very impressive.

She starred with you again in Faceless, your collaboration with the notorious Jess Franco…
Caroline Munro: I was in Geneva doing a play about Marco Polo and I got a call from Jess, who talked to me about this film, said he knew my work and he’d very much like me for the role. I asked to see the script and he said, they’d be shooting in about a month’s time or so. When I got back home he had sent the script, and in the meantime, I’d received a call from a journalist called Steve Swires, who had written a load of articles about me in Fangoria and all the big American magazines. I don’t know how he knew but he said: “I hear you got a call from Jess Franco”…I said, “Yeah. I have, and we’ve talked about doing this film and he’s mentioned all these names, Helmut Berger and wonderful Stephane Audran and all these other amazing people.”

Steve said: “Yes, there might be, but don’t do it!” I said: “Why wouldn’t I do it? It sounds great, it’s a different kind of role for me…” Then he warned me that if I did it, just to be very aware of Jess’s camera angles. I asked: “What do you mean?” And he told me that Jess has a habit of wandering up ladies’ bodies – with his camera, that is – to get compromising shots. I thanked him and said I would watch out for that. In fact Jess Franco, I actually thought, was amazing as a director. He really went for realism.

Franco’s another guy who’s no longer with us, unfortunately, but he’s remembered as a very intelligent, cultured and interesting guy. Who made some terrible, questionable movies. Faceless, as it happens, is just about the most coherent and commercial film that he ever signed his name to. One gathers that this was due to the largesse and restraining influence of its producer, Rene Chateau. Was that your impression?
Caroline Munro: I think Jess has been unfairly judged, because maybe he never had a decent budget to work with, so maybe he could now go on location and work with the kind of people he wanted to work with. And this time he had, well, it wasn’t a massive budget, but he could take time to film and not be shooting it all in a few days and work out a decent script and everything. And to give him his due, people do say Faceless is a pretty good film.

Yeah, it is. Something else you always hear about Franco is that his mind was so fertile, he’d start a film and lose interest somewhere in the middle because he’d come up with an idea for another film and wanted to disappear to make that. I gather that as well as giving him a budget, Chateau gave him very definite parameters and made sure he stuck to them, exerted a bit of discipline!
Caroline Munro: I Rene was a very good producer… and we had lovely Brigitte Lahaie, and Florence again, so it was a really very interesting cast and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very hard work – it’s always hard work – two weeks of scenes that were quite intense and claustrophobic. It did have that feeling, very bare and depressing. Chris Mitchum was in those scenes as well.

Howard Vernon was in that movie, too.
Caroline Munro: Yes, Howard, that’s the second time! worked with him.

Because he was also with you on the Paul Naschy film, Howl Of The Devil.
Caroline Munro: Yes, we spent every evening in our… kind, of monastery! (laughs) We got on so well. He was lovely, and not a bit like the character he portrayed in the film.

Another of the grand old men like Price and Cushing…
Caroline Munro: Absolutely and he was really good in Howl Of The Devil. He was very knowledgeable and very articulate and charming, and again, super-professional when it came to doing the work. I got to know him very well and I really liked him. I think I’ve been so lucky with people I’ve worked with. I always go in with an open mind, you can’t kind of go with negative expectations, you have to give people the benefit of the doubt. That was what my dad always said, he was a lawyer.

That can be a risky strategy. Sometimes you give people the benefit of the doubt and end up wishing you hadn’t!
Caroline Munro: Sometimes you do, sometimes people get greedy or jealous or whatever, but generally, I think, people are people. We all have the same needs and wants and you want to get on in life. And especially if you’re making a film, it’s so important that you’re all working together and not pulling in different ways and if you do, it shows in the end result, which is what it’s all about, after all.

It’s a philosophy that seems to have served you well. What about Naschy himself?
Caroline Munro: Oh I adored him, and we were going to work together again. He was the nicest family man, a real gentleman. Caroline Munro: Again he always portrayed brutish people or these creatures, but he was devoted to his wife and Sergio, his son (who’s still working in the film business.) T have nothing but praise for Paul Naschy, he was just lovely.

He seemed like a sad kind of guy, though. When I met him in London in the mid-90s, he was in a pretty downbeat mood, even though he was at an event celebrating his work. One gathers he was depressed about the lack of recognition in his home country.
Caroline Munro: I think that’s right. Somebody made a documentary about him called The Man Who Saw Frankenstein Cry (2010), which possibly redressed the balance a little bit. It’s a very moving documentary. He did maybe feel that he hadn’t had the acknowledgement he was due, because he was kind of the King of Spanish Horror. He didn’t get the credit as an actor and when he went into directing, which is very hard in itself, his English was not good. He wanted to shoot Howl of the Devil in English, which we did in the hope that it would do be more commercially attractive to the English-speaking markets, but when it came to his part, it was hard for him because, don’t forget, he was directing, too. So ultimately he did his lines in Spanish and they were re-dubbed later. I’ve never seen a good print of that film and sadly, I don’t know what happened to it. When we were making it, it felt like a really interesting film, with all the horror stuff and elements of realism. I don’t know if it was finished or what, I just don’t know what happened to it. Maybe it was the lack of budget.

That was the kind of stuff that dogged him throughout his career, such a pity. Somebody recently paid tribute to Naschy, Victor Matellano, whom I know you’ve just worked with. He used a theatrical recording of Naschy’s voice in the film, Wax. Matellano is obviously into reviving these classic Spanish horrors, I know that you’ve just been in his remake of Vampyres. Could you tell us anything about that?
Caroline Munro: I’ve yet to see that film but I thoroughly enjoyed working on it. In fact I was asked two or three years ago to get involved in Wax and, for whatever reason, that didn’t work out. But Victor got in touch again at the end of last year and I went and did just one, incredibly long, day’s shoot. I had the most amazing time with him and his crew. He’s a brilliant director, a real visionary who knew exactly what he wanted. He had a fantastic crew and I worked with a couple of really good actors, did a few scenes. I hope it works out.

It’s a pity that Jose Larraz, who directed the original, died before the remake has been released. Were you aware of him and the original version of the film?
Caroline Munro: To be honest, no. But I heard about it from a lot of people, it’s kind of an erotic horror, isn’t it? I wanted to see it before I went over but I didn’t manage to. I had a little part that was nothing to do with any of those characters, so it wouldn’t have made a difference, but I would have been interested to see it and I’ll make sure I do.

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Her performing confidence partially restored, Munro was still characteristically ambivalent when a casual suggestion landed her a guest star part on the CBS late-night series Tropical Heat (1991–1993), to be filmed in Israel. The unexpected opportunity came to her through British casting agent Jeremy Zimmerman.

“It caught me by surprise, she explained. “Jeremy was speaking with (SIAM co-producer) Felice Arden, and she told him, ‘If you ever have a thought about Caroline, she’s ready to get back to work. He said, ‘As it happens, I’m casting something for the States at the moment.’ The next thing I knew, I received a call from his secretary to go along for Tropical Heat.

“There were many English television actresses waiting in the office when I arrived. I shot a little screen test on video, reading from the script. They phoned me up the next day and said I had the part, and that I was to leave for Israel in two days. My first intention was to tell them, ‘No, because I can’t leave my baby.’ I only went up for it because I thought it would be a good experience for me. I felt very rusty, so I went in just for the reading. They must have thought, ‘What a daft woman. She must have the menopause.”

Encouraged by her husband to reverse her decision, Munro discovered that the part had been immediately recast. Two weeks later, however, she was offered another role in a different episode, and eagerly accepted. Leaving her husband to mind their baby, she flew to Israel in mid-March. Accustomed to the more leisurely pace of feature filmmaking, Munro was surprised by the rapid shooting schedule of television production. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in my life,” she remarked. “I only did one day’s work, but they crammed pages into that one day. I worked for 13 hours and was on all the time. There were two units shooting simultaneously. I had two directors, but I never learned their names, because I wasn’t introduced to them. That’s how quickly we worked. Everything was done in such a hurried way.

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In a change of pace from her usual damsel-in-distress roles, Munro portrays chic Alicia Simmons in the episode entitled “Stranger in Paradise,” which is slated to air by November. “She’s really the comedy relief,” Munro noted. “She is a very wealthy, mysterious woman from the East. Her father was a merchant banker, so she has traveled a lot and become thoroughly spoiled. Her family emeralds have been stolen, so she goes to the main character, Nick Slaughter, and mistakes his sidekick Spider for him.”

I want to prove that I really can be somebody else, other than the little girl who floats about, screaming and crying and carrying on. I would like to be more than just the token female in a film. It would be nice if people could see something deeper in me, and realize that I can play other parts.’ She attributes much of her recent personal growth to the support she has received from her husband.

“I’ve finally grown up, with lots of thanks to George, Munro mused, “He is the best thing that has ever happened to my love life.”

CREDITS/REFERENCES/SOURCES/BIBLIOGRAPHY
thefutureoftheforce
Den Of Geek
theguardian
Fangoria#004
Fangoria#006
Fangoria#023
Fangoria#046
Fangoria#070
Fangoria#102
Starlog#130
Femme Fatales v06n01
Femme Fatales v01n02
Starburst 24v02n12
The Bloody Best Of Gorezone_001
The Dark Side 165

FILMOGRAPHY
Casino Royale (1967) as Guard Girl (uncredited)
Joanna (1968) as Extra (uncredited)
Where’s Jack? (1969) as Madame Vendonne
A Talent for Loving (1969) as Evalina Patten
Fumo di Londra (1971) as Beautiful Brunette
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) as Victoria Regina Phibes (uncredited)
Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) as Laura
Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) as Victoria Regina Phibes (uncredited)
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) as Margiana
Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1974) as Carla
I Don’t Want to Be Born (1975) as Mandy Gregory
At the Earth’s Core (1976) as Dia
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) as Naomi
Starcrash (1979) as Stella Star
Maniac (1980) as Anna D’Antoni
The Last Horror Film (1982) as Jana Bates
Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984) as Herself
Slaughter High (1986) as Carol Manning
Howl of the Devil (1987) as Carmen
Faceless (1988) as Barbara Hallen
Demons 6: De Profundis (1989) as Nora (Black Cat)

 

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