This is an email interview conducted with Cheryl Guttridge on December 4, 2009. She acted in numerous Super-8 productions, had a leading role in Josh Becker's feature film; Thou Shalt No Kill... Except, as well as appearing as a Fake Shemp in The Evil Dead.

Cheryl is now married and living in Annapolis, Maryland. She makes her living as an author, and has had ten books published to date; eight romance & suspense (written under the name of Margaret Allison) and the most recent two have been young adult (written under her married name Cheryl Klam). Cheryl has an Official Website, as well as a fanpage on Facebook.

Cheryl playing Sally in Josh Becker's first feature film; Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except (1985)

To begin, how did you first become involved with the rest of the gang, are you still in contact with any of them?  
I met Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Scott Speigel and John Cameron in a community theater play (The Man Who Came to Dinner) the summer before I started high school (they were all about four or five years older than me). I was the ingιnue and Bruce was the lead – John Cameron directed. I thought Sam was hilarious... Scott was a goofball, always talking in a Three Stooges voice. John was serious and intense... and Bruce was a little intimidating just because he was quiet (at least, he seemed quiet at the time) and movie star handsome. After the play ended, I saw more of Sam than any of the other guys because he started dating my best friend. Her mom wasn't comfortable with her going out alone with him - so I tagged along on their dates. It wasn't a coincidence that the character of Cheryl in the The Evil Dead was the third wheel – the only one without a date and the first one to turn into a zombie. And in regards to the second part of your question; yep. I'm still in touch with Rob, Sam and Bruce.

Cheryl, the summer she worked on The Evil Dead
Can you remember the first short in which you acted?  
I'm pretty sure it was The Happy Valley Kid

What were the deciding factors in who was an actor or crew member in a short, was it just as simple as who had some spare time at that point?  
I think it was whoever had some time to spare, who helped write it, etc.

Were you happy to take roles offered in any of the shorts, or did you pick and choose what roles and shorts you did and didn't want to do?  
I was thrilled to be in Sam's movies – I played whatever role he offered. He was already 'famous' in our community – everyone knew he was a filmmaker and it was quite a coup to be cast. But, like I mentioned, I kind of had an 'in' since he was dating my best friend.

Generally was the plot/storyline of a short planned in advance with scripts, storyboarding & shot lists, or just made up as shooting progressed?  
No, there was always a script, and Sam also used storyboards (at least, I remember one from It's Murder.) I guess it's possible that Bruce or one of the other guys might have improvised, but I never did. It all appeared very legit to my untrained eyes.

You mentioned The Happy Valley Kid, what are your memories of making that short?  
The first thing that comes to mind is that Sam almost killed me ten times before we even began. The shoot was early one Thanksgiving weekend morning at Michigan State University, about an hour and a half from where we all lived. Sam picked me up (yes - in the famous Oldsmobile) before dawn – I think Scott Spiegel and John Cameron were also in the car. Sam kept discussing the upcoming shoot and every now and then he'd turn to talk to one of us and drive off the road. And it wasn't like he'd whip around and correct the car, either. He didn't even seem to notice. He would finish his thought as the Oldsmobile bumped up and down on the shoulder. We were all saying our Hail Marys the entire ride. The second thing I remember was that it was the first time I met Rob. I played his 'romantic interest' and had to wrap my arm in his. I remember looking up at him thinking, "Geesh - this guy is old!" Of course, he was still a kid - but he was getting his masters and I was in my first year of high school.

Do you think the team changed once making a potential theatrical profit from a picture became possible?  
Nope. They were all business from the beginning. But still, it was always a lot of fun. Whenever we all got together we were like one big family - a family that actually liked each other.

Cheryl as Jane Bradley in It's Murder (1978)

Cheryl being terrorised by Scott Spiegel in Clockwork (1979)

Moving on, what are your memories of shooting It's Murder?  
That was shot in Sam's house, as per usual. I remember very odd things, like how thrilled I was to discover that his parents had a Tab (the soda) dispenser right by the sink, so I could have all the diet soda I wanted. It was a teenage girl's dream come true. And I remember having a lot of fun with my lines, especially: "And my little brother, Bradley." I don't know why, but I LOVED that line. I also remember Sam and I going to Oakland University so he could shoot me running over the tops of buildings. I felt like a true actress, albeit one with a very small production crew (only Sam).

Did you see a change during shooting, when the tone of Sam's shorts moved from comedy to horror?  
No. Sam always took his projects very seriously but the mood on the set was always very light with lots of jokes. The guys were all into the Three Stooges and in between takes they would teach me how to fake bash my head into a locker and fake poke other people's eyes out... basic life skills that every teenager should know.

You played the lead in Sam's first horror short; Clockwork, what were your experiences on that shoot?  
We shot it in Sam's house and I think that was his actual bedroom. I remember we had several of those nightgowns – his mom owned a lingerie store. It was a good thing that we didn't have to return it because the nightgown I was wearing was a sticky mess by the end of the shoot. (The fake blood was karo syrup and stuck to my skin.) I also remember that even though I was wearing shorts under my skirt, I was extremely embarrassed when I had to take my skirt off. Besides that, I remember wondering if the movie would raise my stature (in terms of popularity) when Sam showed it at my school. (It didn't.)

How did the situation change once Sam, Bruce & Rob made the leap to feature films?  
They were still the same nice, down-to-earth guys. The only real difference was that they had an office so the gang had an official place to hang out and put up posters. It all seemed very grown up and exciting to me, but I wasn't the one scrambling for money and investors.

What are your memories of playing Sally in Josh Becker's Super-8 film Strykers War?  
The mood was different because it was a different crew. I didn't know Josh that well – he was more like a boss to me. I tried very hard to impress him and act professional on set – but it wasn't easy – especially when Bruce and I had to give each other that lovey-dovey stare. And it was also tough to keep a straight face in some of my scenes with Sam, as well. He's very funny in that movie. In a terrifying way, of course.

Was it easy to then translate your role into the feature version Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except?  
I think so. But it was kind of a tough shoot because most of my scenes were shot outside so we were dependent on weather. I remember it was cold and damp and we spent a lot of time swatting mosquitoes and waiting for the weather to clear. I was also older than I was when I did most of my work with Sam and Rob... I was in college and working full time, so I was a little stressed. I do remember that Josh treated all his actors really well and there was always a great lunch spread, which, as a poor college student, I really appreciated. But I digress.

Tell us about your time on Cleveland Smith Bounty Hunter?  
That was a lot of fun – all my favorite guys were in it and I was the only girl. I got a big kick out of seeing Rob and Ted (Raimi) dressed up as natives. Especially Rob - he was always quite the professional looking film executive. The painted, naked chest, grass skirt and wig went against his image. That whole shoot was like one big costume party (at least for me.)

Cheryl playing opposite Bruce in Stryker's War (1980)  

Cheryl & Brian Schulz in Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except (1985)

Did you have any involvement with Within The Woods?  
I think there was some discussion about me playing one of the roles - but I can't remember the details or why I didn't do it.

At any point was there any prospect of you taking one of the lead acting roles in The Evil Dead?  
We talked about it. But I was still in high school and my mom put the kibosh on me missing a month of school to go hole up in a cabin in the mountains of Tennessee with a bunch of college boys.

Cheryl Fake Shemping in The Evil Dead (1982)
You were unable to take a leading role in The Evil Dead, but you were credited as a Fake Shemp?  
When the boys got back from the shoot in Tennessee, they realized they still needed some pickup shots. I don't know if the original actresses were unavailable or if I was the only one willing to work for a Big Mac and fries, but Rob called me and asked if I could help them. I spent a good part of the summer before starting college, at Sam's parents' house doing all sorts of odd 'acting' jobs, like the scene where I had to come up out of the ground spitting blood out of my mouth. It was shot in Sam's garage and it was about 120 degrees. I was covered in waxy, thick pancake makeup, was wearing a really hot and scratchy wig and had white contacts in my eyes. I took a slug of this gross mix of ketchup and karo syrup, crawled into a coffin like box and held my breath while they piled 'dirt' on top of me. I remember lying there and hearing Bruce yell out - "I think now's a good time to tell you that the dirt is really horse manure!" (That Bruce. Heelarious.) I asked Rob years later if that was true and he said it wasn't real dirt because it would've been too heavy for me to push through, but he was "pretty sure" they used peat moss – not manure. Whatever it was, it got into my eyes, my mouth, my nose - ugh. By far the worst scene for me though, was the one where that disease type infection goes up the girl's leg. That was done with stop motion photography and I had to lie in one position (without moving) while the makeup artist drew a tiny bit on my leg, then stopped so they could take a picture... drew a tiny bit more, then stopped... it took hours and hours. It was incredibly difficult to stay completely still. Everything started aching and at one point, I was in so much pain that I became horribly nauseous. Rob grabbed a garbage can for me to throw up in to, someone else held my leg in place so it wouldn't move, and someone else held my hair out of face... not my proudest moment.

You appeared in the PM Magazine - Screams for fun and profit, a local Detroit TV show which ran a spot on Renaissance Pictures around 1982, and showed you filming some scenes and being made up as a zombie. Do you remember anything about this?  
That was staged for the cameras - Rob had called and asked if I'd help them out and be their model/demonstrator. I was excited to do it - I think it was a perk for all the other yukky things I had to do.

You acted in a number of shorts right up to the last one; The Sappy Sap in 1985, but never had a prominent acting role in any of Sam's early feature films, was there a reason for this?  
Yeah - what's up with that? The minute they went all Hollywood, they dumped me. I'm kidding, of course. By the time the fellas moved to LA, I was finishing up college and had begun to realize that I wanted to be a writer - so I wasn't really interested in acting anymore. But as I recently mentioned to Rob and Sam, if there's ever a remake of The Evil Dead I want to be in it. (When I said that they both laughed and switched the subject. So I think it's pretty much a sure thing that: (1) a remake of The Evil Dead is imminent, and (2) I'm in it. )

Cheryl with Bruce in Cleveland Smith Bounty Hunter (1982)

Scott Spiegel's love interest in The Sappy Sap (1985)

You're currently a published author of ten novels. Why did you turn from acting to writing?  
I think acting and writing utilize similar skills... both require an intense amount of imagination, concentration and focus. The only difference is with acting you have a gazillion people staring at you the entire time. And I have trouble concentrating when someone's staring at me.

Thanks very much for taking the time out to talk to us, we really appreciate it.  
Thank you. I haven't thought about a lot of this in a very long time, so it was quite a nice trip down memory lane.