Skater and singer is also a Scream Queen
Actress, athlete and singer/songwriter Christy Johnson is a triple-threat talent.
A medal-winning competitive skater with the Piedmont Speed Team, Johnson also fronts Dreamkiller, the band she founded in 2004 and for which she won Rock Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2013 International Music & Entertainment Awards. I first saw her in Have Faith, Will Travel, the conclusion of local filmmaker Jaysen Buterin’s The Gospel According to Booze, Bullets & Hot Pink Jesus trilogy. Struck by her charisma, convincing anger, and equally convincing athleticism, I intended to write about her in 2013, but life intervened.
Readers may have noticed her wearing a skeleton bodysuit on the cover of the October/November Everything Music (www.dreamkillermusic.wixsite.com/home/single-post/2018/10/07/Christy-Johnson-Featured-in-Everything-Music-Magazine). Inside, she talks about Dreamkiller and her upcoming solo album. With her music covered there and Halloween just around the corner, I asked her about her film career as a Tarheel-based Scream Queen.
The most recent of her 33 films are Night of the Living Dead: Genesis and Beneath the Old Dark House, scheduled for release in 2019. She described Matt Cloude, director of both, as “an astute up-and-coming filmmaker” with whom she hopes to collaborate on future projects.
“His vision for the re-imagining of Night of The Living Dead: Genesis pays homage to the classic masterpiece, even to the point of including the original Barbra, Judith O’Dea, and also has its own unique spin.” She said that the car from the 1983 Stephen King adaptation Christine also appears in it. “I get to ride around in her sister, a bright yellow ’67 Oldsmobile Cutlass.”
The cast includes Mike Christopher and Jim Krut (“Hare Krishna Zombie” and “Helicopter Zombie” in the original Dawn of the Dead) and George Stover (whose filmography includes Nightbeast, Call Girl of Cthulhu and MILFs vs. Zombies). “Horror fans will eat this up like a zombie devouring fresh brains,” Johnson said.
She credited writer/director Cloude with beefing up her character Judy Hartley. “It’s a dream role, and I expect it to be remembered as my first breakout performance in a major feature film.”
Johnson said the project is near completion and in talks for distribution.
She described Cloude’s other project, Beneath the Old Dark House, as a multi-story horror anthology, like 1970s classics Tales from the Crypt and The House that Dripped Blood. She described her segment, “The Doll,” as “a blast to shoot,” despite cold damp weather at “a creepy old cabin in Luray, Virginia,” which she said enhanced the aesthetic, although “viewers might not fully notice the chilly atmosphere since I am running around in my underwear for half the film!” She also described the evil doll of the segment’s title as “absolutely terrifying,” making it easy “to pull out all of the ‘scream queen’ stops on this project!”
Looking over Johnson’s IMDb credits, I asked if Tobe Hooper’s 2005 zombie film Mortuary was her first horror role. She said no, her first was an earlier film not listed in the database.
“I was actually cast as the leading role in my first horror film ever, The Devil’s Game. We shot it in Greensboro over about four years when I was a teenager. That independent feature taught me a lot about working in film, and I went on to study acting in college.”
Johnson earned a BFA in Acting and an MA in Liberal Studies at UNCG and began building her resume. “I landed a role in National Lampoon’s Pucked,” shot in the Triad in 2004 but not released until 2006. “Through networking on set, I was offered a chance to go out to California to work with a legend.”
The legend was the late Tobe Hooper, director of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Poltergeist, who cast her as a zombie named Dottie. “It was a submersive experience, as I was surrounded by experienced crew, A-list stars and even had my own trailer. I received a taste of the Hollywood film life and absolutely loved it.”
Johnson’s IMDb credits also include “living-dead roller girl” Scary Carrie Carmichael in the Dread Central web episodes Ghost Trek: The Kinsey Report and Ghost Trek: Goomba Body Snatchers Mortuary Meltdown, the angry alcoholic and pill-popping wife of a former lunar astronaut in Orbs: They Are Among Us (which won her the Best Actress award at the Killuride Film Festival in Myrtle Beach in 2014), and Pride and Lucifer in director Adam Hulin’s 2012 Hatchet County, about demonic forces erupting in 19th century rural Virginia. The demonic dual role demanded both what she called a “powerful, dark and sexy presence” and athleticism.
“I started practicing martial arts at age 3 and went on to win gold at the National Karate Junior Olympics. I’ve been competing in speed skating for over 20 years now. I won Nationals in Quads in 1998 and then Nationals for Inlines in 2009. After taking an eight-year hiatus to focus on my career, I’m now back and competing once more. It’s a fun and hardcore way to really stay in shape.”
Ian McDowell is the author of two published novels, numerous anthologized short stories, and a whole lot of nonfiction and journalism, some of which he’s proud of and none of which he’s ashamed of.