Steel, Amy (Final Girls)
Dread Central’s next final girl, Amy Steel, portrayed the lone surviving female in two horror films of the 80s. Her first role was as Ginny, the Camp Crystal Lake counselor with a background in psychology that helped her survive Jason Voorhees’ vengeful rampage in Friday the 13th Part 2.
Her second role was as Kit in one of this writer’s favorite underrated horror films of the 80s, April Fool’s Day. Steel played one of several college co-eds that travel to their friend’s summer house, only to find that what she thought would be a relaxing weekend would turn out to be a weekend with a large body count.
The actress had a knack for portraying strong, intelligent final girls that generally were smart enough to stay ahead of the pack that they traveled with. A lot of this was due to Steel’s own introversion, something the actress says spilled into her work onscreen as well as her time while on set with her fellow actors.
“Part of me is very introverted so I never really became that involved with everyone on most sets I worked on,” explained Steel. “I think part of that made it so that when it came time for me to become my characters, they always ended up being a little aloof and apart from the central group.”
Although Steele was familiar with the Friday the 13th franchise, she had no idea that she was going to be part of a film that would endure with millions of fans almost 30 years later.
Steel said, “At the time of Friday Part 2, it was before the genre really picked up so I didn’t give it a lot of credit or take it seriously. For me, it was just another audition because I had no idea what it would end up meaning after all this time.”
Even though she hadn’t worked much in genre films, the actress took an immediate liking to the Ginny. "I liked my character Ginny because she wasn’t a total bimbo,” explained Steel. “She was smart and confident and you knew she had something driving her.”
“When I played Ginny, I was really young and different from a lot of the people working at the time so that came out in my character. I was naturally suspicious of cocky guys at that age, and you see a lot of that when I’m on screen with Paul (John Furey). I tried to put so much behind the actual words in the script just so she felt almost unreachable, to Paul and to audiences. I wanted her to have some power,” Steel added.
Even though Ginny was an intelligent and powerful adversary for Jason, the actress still found working through some of her scenes with Mr. Voorhees to be more than nerve-wracking.
Steel said, “I definitely would get caught up in the anxiety when I was shooting scenes. Working in some of the environments I did for Friday the 13th really gets you into a vulnerable mindset. I even had nightmares about Steve Dash chasing me.”
One thing that Steel regrets about her involvement with the Friday the 13th franchise is that she didn’t return for the third installment.
“They asked me to do Part 3, and I turned it down. That’s something I wish I hadn’t done now looking back. But I did have a lot of fun shooting Part 2, and I know we did something special with that movie,” said Steel.
Even though Steel didn’t return to do battle with Jason again, that didn’t tarnish her reputation with Frank Mancuso, Jr., the producer behind Friday the 13th Part 2. On the contrary he asked the actress to be a part of a different project he had in the works, April Fool’s Day.
Steel, who was already in Vancouver shooting another film, extended her time up North and joined the rest of the cast on set. Steel spoke about why April Fool’s Day was a standout horror film in her eyes.
“April Fool’s Day came in at the new beginning for the genre, which came about because films like A Nightmare on Elm Street were changing the genre,” Steel explained. “There seemed to be a new playing field in horror where it was more about young people in real situations, revenge situations, and April Fool’s Day was very much a part of that movement. I still think April Fool’s Day is criminally overlooked. Director Fred Walton lent a lot of intelligence to the story, and I think it still holds up after all these years,” added Steel.
One of the things many horror fans have wondered about over the years is whether or not the rumors of an alternate ending to April Fool’s Day really exists. Steel says her piece on the matter.
The actress recalls, “I honestly think that we did shoot another ending, that there are two different endings to April Fool’s Day. I can’t remember what it was, but I swear that it has to be out there somewhere. Someone has to know where it’s at. I would love to see it myself.”
Steel continued working in Hollywood through 2003, when she decided it was time to focus on her life at home and on her new career as a psychotherapist. It’s a job that her character Ginny could most definitely relate to.
“When I had kids, I honestly just kind of stopped looking for jobs,” explained Steel. “I was never really a die-hard actress. For me, I was really lucky in my career. I started off as a model, then I went on to do commercials and television work, and then made the jump to making movies. Hollywood treated me very well, but at one point I just stopped being hungry for the work.”
“At one point in my life, I decided to go back to school, and I’ve been a psychotherapist for the last 10 years. I do find it pretty funny that I ended up with the same career as one of the roles I’m most remembered for,” Steel added.
Even though the actress is no long working in the industry, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t relish the chance to take on Crystal Lake’s most infamous resident one more time.
Steel said, “I think it would really cool to come back as Ginny again. The funny thing is that I’ve never been asked since Part 3. But I think it’s time to see Ginny again in a Friday the 13th movie. She has some unfinished business.”
A special thank you to Amy Steel for taking the time to speak with Dread Central as well as to Thommy Hutson for arranging the interview.
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