Book Review “Diane Franklin: The Excellent Adventures of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s”

Author: Diane Franlin
Paperback: 134 pages
Publisher: Diane Franklin
Release Date: August 2, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

If you grew up in the 80’s and watched movies then you know who Diane Franklin is. If you were a teen guy (or a girl) you most likely had a crush on her. Her first film role was “The Last American Virgin”, which started her career as an 80’s icon. From there she took on roles in film like “Amityville II: The Possession”, “Better Off Dead”, “TerrorVision” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. These films were a big part of my life growing up. They are also all pinnacle films of the 80’s. This book is a real treat for anyone that is a fan of these films and are looking for an inside look into Diane’s career and life. When I recently spoke with Diane about her book, read here, she told me that she wanted to do this in a way to preserve her experiences and stories on these films for herself, her family and also her fans. It is great reflection of not only her films but also her life outside film.

“Diane Franklin: The Excellent Adventures of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s” was self-publishing by Diane herself and is currently available for sale only on and for download to your Kindle devices, click here to purchase. This book is very personal and reads like a friendly conversation. It goes into a lot of Diane’s personal experiences. She includes a lot of great personal photos as well. My favorite part of the book though is how accessible it is. I am a big fan of “Better Off Dead”, so instead of searching through the whole book for what she wrote on that film in particularly, she has set up the book with chapters based on each film. So there are chapters on her films like “Last American Virgin”, “Bill & Ted”, “Better off Dead” etc. This is a very smart idea and a great selling point for the book. Maybe you don’t give a crap about “Amityville II” but you love her in another film. People can go directly to that movie and still enjoy the book.

Speaking of “Amityville II”, we all know Diane’s role in that film is a bit risqué. She goes into a lot of depth about that film as well in the book and fans of the film are going to LOVE IT! But speaking of risqué, Diane has actually rated each chapter dealing with her films, so some are rated PG-13 or rated R etc. So if you are a parent it will inform you on how mature each chapter of the book would be for your kids. It is not very graphic but the subject matter is more mature in the rated R chapters. This is a very unique book and one of the most interesting memoirs that I have ever read. Diane really goes back in time and relives these events and brings these wonderful stories for us to enjoy. What I also love is that the stories don’t stop with her 80’s films it goes into her early life as well and her life before and after she became an 80’s icon. It is very honest and engaging. If you are looking for a very quick, easy and fun read…then be sure to pick this up!

Diane Franklin reflects on her film roles of the 80’s and talks about her book

If you grew up in the 80’s, and was a guy (or maybe even a girl) then you probably had a crush on Diane Franklin. She started her film career with “The Last American Virgin” and from there took over the 80’s in film. She was in films like “Amityville II: The Possession”, “Better Off Dead”, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “TerrorVision”. Media Mikes had a chance travel back to the 80’s with Diane, chat about her films and most importantly her new memoir, “Diane Franklin: The Excellent Adventures of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s”.

Mike Gencarelli: What made you want to write your memoir, “Diane Franklin: The Excellent Adventures of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s”?
Diane Franklin: When I decided I wanted to write a book about my career. I looked back and I realized that I have done so much. I also look back and I think how 80’s it was. The films that I did were popular but more on a cult popular aspect. My kids are teenagers now, but when they were young they were my top priority. You always think about passing things on to them when they get older. They won’t know me as Diane Franklin. I am mom to them. Even though I did so much work in films. My role in the business was also very unusual. I started so young and I worked in various aspects of the business. I thought to myself that I need to write all this down. Firstly, since I wanted it on paper before I forgot it all [laughs]. I was in what movie? The other thing was that I wanted my kids to know my life before I was mom. Nobody can tell that story. My husband can’t tell it. My friends can’t tell it.

MG: How did you end up self-publishing the book?
DF: At the time when I wrote it, it wasn’t like I was on a show and someone approached me to write it and sell it. Most of the time know when people write a book today it is because they are on a show and it works with their current popularity. People will buy it just based on their name. For me, if you know me or my films, I thought people are really going to love to go back and finding out what my career was like from my perspective. I was the girl that you feel in love with [laughs]. There was a lot of things that came into writing this book that I think are incredibly interesting, even just from a historic point-of-view.

MG: Tell us about what we can expect from the book?
DF: I took just not factual events but also my personal experiences. I also tried to put a lot personal pictures in there as well. When I am 90, I want to look back and go “Oh yeah, I know that girl”. So this is a memento for my kids and myself but also a great way for fans to look back. It was also very important for me to make the book very accessible. If you love “Last American Virgin”, you wouldn’t have to read the whole book to find out what happened for that movie. I wanted to make specific chapters for each film. There is a “Last American Virgin” chapter, “Bill & Ted” chapter, “Better off Dead” chapter and so on. So people can go directly to that movie and totally get into it. I wanted it to be a book that they could flip through the chapters and make it easy and fun. I am an upbeat person in general and I wanted it to reflect my personality in the book.

MG: What do you feel makes this book unique?
DF: As a parent, a few of the roles I did were rather risqué. So I didn’t want to talk about this…but not that. You would never get to know me as a person or as an actress unless I talked about everything. So I do in fact talk about everything, but what I did is that I rated the chapters [laughs]. So some are rated PG-13 or rated R. So if you are a parent you can still buy the book and have your kids read it and have them skip over the mature sections. But even if they did read it, is it not too bad. It just has to do with subject matter that is more mature. There is nothing like this anywhere. There is no book like this out right now. I did the film “Amityville II: The Possession” and that deals with some risqué subject matter, I go very in depth for that chapter. I have gotten such great feedback from people that love the horror genre because it is coming directly from me and they are getting an inside scoop on it. I am also not holding back with what I talk about.

MG: So where can people pick this book up?
DF: You can only get it right now on (click here to purchase the book) and it is also available to download on your Kindle device. If you buy the book on Amazon and then add me as a friend on Facebook and look for the black and white photo of me from “Better Off Dead”, you can send the book to me and I will sign it! So there are advantages to being a friend with me on Facebook [laughs].

MG: Being from Long Island, I have to ask about your role in “Amityville II: The Possession”; anything strange occur during shooting?
DF: I actually talk about that in the book. The thing is that because we didn’t shoot it in the house itself, I am sure if we shot at the house it would have had a more eerie feeling. When you are shooting a movie, each one has its own tone or feeling. But when we shot this movie, the tone was definitely somber, even though we all got along. We all worked really well together though. The director, Damiano Damiani, was very calming and as an actor you follow the director. For me as an actress I totally got what he wanted to do on the film. Here is a great “Amityville” story actually. When I saw the film for the first time in Long Island, I was with my friends and I actually got carded going into the movie. I was like “Hello? I am the reason why it is rated R” [laughs]. How ironic was that!

MG: “Better Off Dead” is a film that I always loved growing up with as a kid; how does it feel to have influenced numerous people’s lives?
DF: Oh my God! That is amazing. You never know how you will be remembered. As an actress you just do your work. So many people have seen this film and it is one of those films that has really resonated with people. They will watch it and then pass it on to their kids as they grow up. It actually started as this underground college film in the beginning and developed this word of mouth. I was just so happy that people got to know me through that character. It was a good role and also a good role model. It was also totally 80’s and hilarious. I just feel so blessed and grateful for this film and everyone’s love for it.

MG: Why do you feel that 80’s films are just as popular today if not more then their original release like “TerrorVision” and they have this continued cult following today?
DF: What is that all about? Seriously? [laughs]. You never know how a film is going to do. I never expected these films to have another life down the line on Blu-ray etc. “TerrorVision” was hilarious. When we did it we thought it was a hip movie that was very funny and also campy. We thought it was going to do well. It was like a live-action cartoon. But I think since it was rated R when it came out and I don’t think it found its audience. But today people still watch it and love it. So it’s great!

MG: Recently you have been working with your daughter Olivia DeLaurentis, who has been directing films; how was this been for you?
DF: My daughter makes films and has been since she was little. She won her first film award when she was 12. She was at the Los Angeles Film Festival last year. She writes, directs, acts and edits her own films. This is not one of those “well her mom is an actress and probably helps her”. No, no, no, I wouldn’t do this to a child. She works very hard and for Olivia this is her passion and she loves it. If I had any influence it was that when they were young, I used to do comedy improv and used to involve my kids. We also just came back from the Soho Film Festival with her film “My Better Half”, which I was in. She is 16 now and her film was selected and is competing with adult films…not ‘adult’ films but against other adult filmmakers [laughs]. It is just amazing. She already has a feature script and she is ready to go! So keep an eye out!

Linnea Quigley chats about 80’s horror and reflects on her cult classic roles

Linnea Quigley is known best for her scream queen roles in films like Trash from “The Return of the Living Dead” and “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers”. She is the topic of focus in the new documentary “Screaming in High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era” along with Michelle Bauer and Brinke Stevens. Media Mikes had a chance to chat 80’s horror with Linnea and chatted about the dozen projects she has still yet to come.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how “Screaming in High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era” came about?
Linnea Quigley: It was amazing. I got a call and asked about being in the documentary. They flew me out to Los Angeles. It was Michelle (Bauer), Brinke (Stevens) and I. And I haven’t seen Michelle in forever. It was really great seeing everybody. I really liked Jason. I wasn’t sure it was going to be as big as it has been. It was on Chiller TV. I went to the premiere screening in Chicago. It is just a greatdocumentary. It gives so much information but in a few way.

MG: [laughs] Great. Better obviously than being called pimple face. I was really shy in my school years.
LQ: To be called, it was just amazing. It was just the ultimate honor to hear that. It is something you never think of but always wish for it. A lot of women say it’s degrading but if it happened to them, I am sure they wouldn’t say that [laughs].

MG: Trash from “The Return of the Living Dead” has to be one of the best characters in the genre, can you reflect looking back on the role?
LQ: Oh man, I loved being in that role. I was into the punk rock thing and I was in a band. My character is not like who I am personally, so it was fun to play her. When you are that age, you don’t think anything is every going to happen to you and talk about death. It was fun to play that sort of character.

MG: How long did the make-up take once you turned zombie?
LQ: With all the painting of me and everything, I would say a good six hours. I have had some longer ones as well. The hard part was trying to get that white off afterwards because it had to be waterproof. You can imagine going home at 6am in the morning and nothing gets this off. The producer had me sit in his really nice Jaguar and there is still makeup he still can’t get off this leather seat [laughs]

MG: 1988, brought some of your most unique titles films “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers” and “Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama”, why do you feel these films are still loved by the fans?
LQ: For some reason, there are just some films that make an impact. They just had all the write qualities. They just came together with the right music and cast. You could’nt ever redo these films. It was just a special time. It was just the type of movie that never gets old.

MG: I always loved the idea of your “Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout”, how did that comes about?
LQ: We were on the set of “Murder Weapon” and Ken Hall and I just started talking about what a good workout it is to do a horror film. I had to swing this axe over and over again. We just started brainstorming and decided to do it. We got the financing and just did it. We are actually doing to be doing a commentary soon and re-released it on DVD. We have a lot of funny stories just from the two days it took to get it done.

MG: How do you feel about “Silent Night, Deadly Night” getting remade?
LQ: Oh I didn’t know it! I thought it was remade a bunch of times already lol. The second one is like the first one [laughs]. It is news to me though. I hate to say it but they are going to have to come up with something pretty good because that film has been stretched out thin.

MG: How do you feel that the horror genre changed over the years, especially with all the recent remakes?
LQ: The only remake that I have liked is “Piranha 3D”. The “Scream” and “Saw” franchises are all more for the gore factor then a real plot. The first ones are ok but then they just get very unrealistic. There is a huge difference between the “Sleepaway Camp” series and then the “Saw” series.

MG: Did you ever get to keep an our your outfits or props from your films?
LQ: Well, when I first started I never thought there was a need to keep things. I have somethings from “Return of the Living Dead”. I was promised my outfit from “Night of the Demons”, but never came through with it. A lot of the movies I’ve done, we had to supply our own wardrobe so I do have those things. I have an ensemble of clothes to wear. I have the top from The “Horror Workout” still and the G-String from “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers”. It is kind of funny.

MG: Tell us what you have planned upcoming?
LQ: Yep, “Celluoid Bloodbath: More Prevues from Hell”comes out October 9th. They show trailers and I do little intros. That is really fun to watch to you like the older horror. “Cougar Cult” just got into Redbox. So I got to Redbox everyday and go “Oh…have you think this film” [laughs]. “Caesar and Otto’s Deadly Christmas” is coming out this Fall, it is really fun. Brinke and I are both in it and there are a bunch of great cameos, like Felissa Rose. Also I am suppose to do this movie called “The Trouble with Barry” later this month. I also just did this film where I have three age changes and a monster costume and that is called “Disciples”, which I also co-produced with Joe Hollow. I just did “Demonica”, which your gonna love this…it’s demons on skates. I did a short “Stella Buio”, which is getting really good reviews and going to the festivals. I also did a video for this band Sexcrement that Victor Bonacore directed, it is just so wild. On top of all that I’ve been doing some conventions. So it has been really amazing.

Interview with Jon Donahue & Keith Coogan

“Crafty” is a new web series created by Mark Thomas Haapla and Morgan Mead. Morgan also co-stars in the show along with Jon Donahue (“Heroes” and Disney’s “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2”) and Keith Coogan (“Adventures in Babysitting” and “Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead”). In addition to his acting duties, Jon is also one of the writers, directors and producers on the show. “Crafty” is an ensemable comedy that takes place behind the scenes (at the craft service table, duh!) on the set of a hit television show called “The Telepathist”. The show is filled with kooky characters and a slew of celebrity cameos like Diane Delano (“Popular”, “The Ladykillers”), Daniel Roebuck (“The Fugitive” and “Lost”), Wyatt Knight (“Porky’s”), Ian Petrella (“A Christmas Story”), and a few of the guys from HBO’s “Entourage”. Movie Mikes had the chance to talk with Keith and Jon about how it was working on the show and what we can expect.

Click here to purchase Keith Coogan’s movies

Mike Gencarelli: Keith, how did you come on board for the show, “Crafty”?
Keith Coogan: This guy Jon Donahue, I met him at a screening for “Jaws”. He was there with some friends that made the documentary “The Shark is Still Working” which is a great behind the scenes making of “Jaws”. Great film. Not too long after, he contacted me and said they were doing this project. He had a sizzle reel and it looked great. I jumped on board!

Mike Gencarelli: Keith, tell us what we can expect from your role in “Crafty?
Keith Coogan: I play Keith Coogan, who is the second actor to take on the role of “The Telepathist”, the star of a popular network television show. I immediately jumped into…the insanity that takes place. I got the tone of the show right away and everyone involved with the show was having a lot of fun. I was able to step back and make a lot of fun of myself. I got a lot of great bits with Jon, where he thinks I am an insane actor. We were doing one episode that Jon wrote and directed and he also starred in the scene with me! It was great, a lot of fun.

Mike Gencarelli: Keith, tell us what is was like working on a web series?
Keith Coogan: It was pre-pro because they were renting a sound stage, they had nice cameras and equipment and had it all planned out. They even had shot lists, some storyboards and were ready to go. It didn’t defer from a regular TV or film shoot in that way at all. We were just trying to get the work done, bang out the pages and make something that we would enjoy. You realize there are no studios or producers involved, they are running the show, that is where it is new ground. You find yourself in the captain seat and it is a big responsibility. It is really easy working on a shoot with a hundred people and everyone only has a little piece of it, though in this, everyone becomes a lot more important. All of their input gets listened to and everyone gets a chance to shine on these shoots. Everyone has many roles to make it happen. It is funny but not all laughs and giggles, there can be clashes and stressful moments. This is art and these are creative people. It just shows the passions of everyone wanting it to be great.

Mike: Keith, can you tell us about some funny moments on the set?
Keith: Oh gosh, we got one of the creators into a chicken outfit and that was fun. I got a text message, it was probably a rum influenced text message, saying “Mark Thomas Haapala in a chicken suit or not?”. I said “Of course!” When you are browsing the web and you see a guy in the chicken outfit, that is comedy.
Jon Donahue: I gotta say I was against the chicken outfit but after we shot it I am all for it. You were absolutely right Keith.
Keith: You mean the chicken outfit seemed a little crazy during the “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Baked” episode…when me and the kid are smoking weed?!. You mean THAT sounded outrageous [laughs], I understand.
Jon Donahue: My favorite part of that day was when the glass coffee table you were under collapsed on top of you.
Keith: That almost killed me [laughs].
Jon Donahue: The coffee table scene is in the trailer.

Mike: Jon, what was your inspiration for the show?
Jon: As far as my portion of the writing, the show is created by Mark Haapala and Morgan Mead. They had these characters in mind. So we had shot three or four episodes and they were originally 10 minutes a piece, now they are around five minutes. On the first day when Mark called action, we just started acting. We didn’t know our characters or anything. When I wrote “Adventures in Telepathy”, which was Keith’s first episode, we understood who our characters were. So after that I went back and rewrote the pilot with Haapala to match what was written for Keith’s episode. By the way, Keith gave some great notes where his character should go. Remember that Keith?
Keith: Yes. You totally picked those up and put in hints of it in too…it was a big leap to go there right away.
Jon: I really had so much fun writing for these characters. I built on what they created and we went from there.

Mike: Jon, how did you feel shuffling between acting, writing and directing?
Jon: Funny enough, I found out I love writing. I used to be a news reporter and I only wrote news stories. This was different writing comedy. It was a lot of fun being able to write a joke every few minutes. What we realized in the editing process, before I started writing, was that everything has to be faster. Our episodes are five maybe six minutes and we have to get everything in, like story lines and make sure everyone has a piece in every episode. I find writing really fun. What I also enjoy is the improv on set. I love acting also and doing comedy, experimenting and being in the moment. I love the timing in the show, everyone is wonderful and so perfect. The day I directed Keith’s episode, I hadn’t directed anything before. I was having so much fun directing, I didn’t want to jump in front of the camera, which for me is unbelievable! I just had so much fun. The whole process was very long but very rewarding. We finally have a cut of the episode I directed in the can. It is going to be great and Keith is very funny in it.

Mike: Jon, tell us about the show and your role, Larry that you play?
Jon: The show basically is a craft service table on a television show, like Keith mentioned, “The Telepathist”. Obviously a take on “The Mentalist”. It is about a group of wacky people and everyone has their story. I play the first assistant director and I kind of compare my character to Jason Batemen’s on “Arrested Development”. He is the straight guy that has to deal with a bunch of imbeciles. Having worked on sets before, I have worked with a lot of assistant directors. I have been able to observe and understand where they are coming from. My character is the ring leader, since the director (Roebuck) is not even on set. He is agoraphobic, he can’t leave his house and directs from a laptop. I run the whole stage while he is in a bathrobe sitting in his house.

Mike: If you need to sum up the show in one word, what would that be?
Keith: Juicy.
Jon: I get it! Like a fruit!
Jon: I am going to use two words, F**king funny.

Mike: Tell us why should people check out the show?
Keith: It is funny. Everyone has a fascination of what is it like to be on a set. We do not pay that off with any reality. It is total divas and complete egotistical maniacs. It is funny in the way like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. These people are really crazy. You are not going to learn exactly what goes on behind the scenes but it is real stuff…wrangling different actors and working with creative types that don’t want to come out of their house. What is universal, is if you work in a office, bank or you are teacher there is always conflict, comedy and tragedy. These people would probably kill each other.
Jon: [laughs] and they have.
Keith: It is possible that the show “The Telepathist” takes itself a little too serious, just saying [laughs].
Jon: I just want to throw in that these characters are based on real people. We take them to the extremes but they are ultimately based on real people and will obviously remain nameless. Even though Kevin Connolly is playing himself, he is actually playing another actor in the industry.
Keith: It is a very creative show and I know everyone is going to grab onto it when they see it.

Mike: Keith, aside for “Crafty”, tell us about your “Monologue a Day”? What made you start that?
Keith: Sure, this past New Years I got an idea to combine the concept of “Julie & Julia” mixed with my love for acting and technology. I love putting stuff on YouTube. I wanted to keep it simple since the ambition is trying to do it and complete all of these pieces. I learn something, shoot it and put it up. It is 1 minute long, don’t want to try anyone’s patience. I alternate between comedy, tragedy, drama, Shakespeare, stuff from movies or books. I learned about the craft and it is really like a daily workshop. It has been great and has become a great casting tool for me as well.
Jon: Are you ever going to do the monologue from “Glitter”, I suggested?
Keith: [laughs] Yeah right!

Mike: Jon, you are also currently working with Tom Hanks on his latest film “Larry Crowne”, can you tell us about that?

Jon: I am not sure how much I can tell you. Basically he twitters everything, so I really don’t have to say much. It is about a guy who loses his job and has to start his life over. It is very funny. From script to what we are shooting now it is hilarious. The whole cast is great, Wilmer Valderrama and Nia Vardalos and everyone is so wonderful. Julia (Roberts) of course is always great. It is a blast. Tom is writing, directing, starring and producing. I am blessed to be there everyday. So I am very excited and “Larry Crowne” will be out next year.

Click here to join the “Crafty” Facebook page!

Click here to purchase Keith Coogan’s movies