The first time I laid eyes on Tamara Glynn I was around 10, maybe 11 years old. She appeared on the screen of my small 4:3 black-rimmed television that sat on a shelf inside my closet. She was wearing a scandalous, skimpy red devil outfit.
It had to have been in October because every spooky season channel 31, AMC -- in a time before it was famous for zombies and drug dealers -- would air nonstop horror movies like "Halloween" 1 through 5, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Poltergeist," etc. for weeks and weeks up until All Hallows' Eve.
At this point during my childhood, my parents had made the questionable decision to allow me to watch such blood and guts gore fests, which -- to be fair -- were heavily edited and censored for network television consumption. After "bingeing" the Halloween franchise and seeing all of Michael Myers' kill scenes -- slicing and dicing boozed-up teenagers -- I noticed that Glynn's death felt different.
Her character, Samantha Thomas, is found by the stone-faced killer as she is playing hanky-panky with her boyfriend in an abandoned barn, something teenagers regularly do in these types of slashers. As both teens lay horizontal, Myers impales the boyfriend with a pitchfork. Now, traditional horror logic would have you assume this was a 'two birds, one kill' scenario, but Glynn's character survives the three-pronged instrument of death. In fact, she actually yanks the fork out of her expired lover's back and charges at Myers. This makes her one of the few, if not the only female victim who actually fights back, though her effort is quickly squashed as Myers makes good use of a nearby scythe.
I didn't realize this at the time, but Glynn is an Arkansas native, born in the Hot Springs region of the state, and she currently resides in Rogers. I was recently invited to her home to interview her about her decades-long career.
AT: If you're gonna die in a horror movie, that's probably the best way for an Arkansan to go out, in a barn.
TG: I didn't like the way the script said I was going to die, and I was like 'nope, I'm a little farm girl from Arkadelphia, Arkansas. I was raised on a farm. We're not going to go down like that.' So me being 22 years old at the time, it was my first feature film, and it was a gut feeling. And where I got the confidence from ... I guess ignorance is bliss. I went to Moustapha Akkad who owned the Halloween franchise, the producers, the writers, and the director, and said, 'OK guys, we need to talk. I'm not going to do one of these cheap little kills. If I'm going to die, it's got to be done the right way and this is my vision of this.' And thankfully they listened, and it turned out to be one of the most remembered deaths in the franchise.
AT: That's incredible that they let you come up with your own kill scene. You've done quite a few horror films in your career; were you always a fan of horror growing up?
TG: It's funny looking back. It was my mom who introduced me to horror. She introduced me to the original "Halloween."
AT: How old were you when she took you to see it?
TG: I was 10, and I'll never forget hanging up with my agent after getting the call to audition for "Halloween 5." I turned to my mom and said, "Oh my God, I'm getting to read for 'Halloween.'"
AT: Did you always want to be an actor?
TG: I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, but once I found out that they were making $14 a game back then I was like, 'OK, let's reshape this and keep moving forward.' An agent from California talked to my mom. He said I had promise and that me and my mom should move out there for a summer. So we did, and I stayed out there for 10 years.
While out in Hollywood, Tamara's mom ended up getting work as an assistant to acclaimed director Michael Mann. This connection ended up helping Tamara get a role on the series finale of Mann's long-running popular show "Miami Vice." She would appear in various shows and movies including the Billy Bob Thornton-directed feature "Daddy and Them."
This interview is not the first time I had met Tamara in person. Back when I was a film student at UCA, I was known for making no-budget horror films. I was privileged to have one of my films screened at the Hot Springs Horror Film Festival, a festival that Tamara co-founded.
TG: We started that festival back in 2013, and one of the best stories I have from my time working at the festival is that a group of filmmakers came from Staten Island to Hot Springs because they had a film screening. When they got to the festival, there was so much energy coming through them right as they walked in the door, and they became almost like little brothers to me. And they ended up doing a lot of marketing and promo stuff for me. And they ended up making the "Terrifier" movies.
AT: Those films have become quite popular, especially "Terrifier 2." Aren't you in the second film?
TG: I am. And I've been out at the conventions with them. But "Terrifier" isn't for everyone, which is odd because I have 5 and 6 year olds coming up to my booth at conventions saying, 'Miss Tamara, I saw you in 'Terrifier.'"
AT: Oh wow! Seeing "Halloween" at 10 is one thing, "Terrifier" is a whole other gory beast.
TG: The first convention I ever went to was in 2013. John Carpenter was there, so was Norman Reedus ("Walking Dead"). And here I am this girl from Arkansas, and I was like 'What am I getting into? These people, they have tattoos. Why do they have body piercings? Why are they in body paint? Who are these people?' They're bankers, they're attorneys, they're schoolteachers. And it was just a beautiful wake up call to just understand the love and support and depth of these people, and how big of a family that we really are. It's mystical, and I'm having the time of my life.
Tamara can be seen in the forthcoming movie "Ouija: A New Beginning, " as well as select horror conventions across the country.