Each month I’m going to take a look at an actor, actress, or filmmaker that I grew up loving and has informed my own career (if calling what I do in the industry qualifies as such) in writing or performing. Films are supposed to be fun, entertaining ventures that allow an escape from the day-to-day happenings of our lives. Why not celebrate the uncelebrated, folks. Join me on my quest as I gush over those who have inspired me to put words on a website that will ultimately never equate what it means to be honored by their peers at an official award show or film festival.
The Friday the 13th franchise holds a special place in my heart. With this first piece dropping on a Friday the 13th, one of two in 2017, I thought it might be fitting to take a look at one of my favorite characters in the series and her work in other genre pieces. A Hungarian born model turned actress, Elizabeth Kaitan plays Robin in John Carl Buechler’s seventh entry in the franchise. Trading in her trademark blonde locks for a more subdued head of red hair, Robin isn’t your typical “have sex, smoke pot, and die” camper, folks. Elizabeth Kaitan’s portrayal of a cute, young would-be victim is a departure from the campers that we’ve come to expect to set-up shop along Crystal Lake. Robin, along with her friends, find themselves hold up inside a cabin waiting for their friend, William Butler’s fantastic Michael, to show up for his surprise birthday party. Due to car problems, and a freshly resurrected Jason Voorhees, Michael never makes it to the party. What are the kids to do? Aside from making fun of the neighborhood telepath, Robin and her bestie Maddy pine for the affection of young stoner David. Obviously I am only speculating here, but with infamous producer Barbara Sachs ruining SFX on set, and the MPAA’s clear hard-on for the film’s violence, Beuchler had more room than he probably ever intended to let the characters breathe in “The New Blood,” again, only speculating. I personally feel this adds to the film’s longevity. Sure, the kills are still gory fun, and Jason looks amazing in this outing, but what keeps me coming back to this sequel of choice are the characters. Kaitan’s Robin is fantastic here as you can really see the wheels turning inside the character. She is going to fuck David by any means necessary! Even if that means changing who she might have been when she arrived at the cabin. She’ll smoke a little dope if it means time with the hunk. Hell, she’ll even throw her friend under the bus and straight up tell her she’s not good enough if it means she’ll get a piece of the young rocker. She’s believable as every girl that ever said no to me only to turn around and date my friends in high school. Needless to say as a young man I was smitten, as a (not so wise) 31 year old, the performance inspires.
After my love affair with the Friday the 13th series started it didn’t take long before I ventured out into other genre franchises. I soon found myself seeing Elizabeth Kaitan pop up in various films, but the very first time I remember seeing her outside of Crystal Lake was on Garbage Day! 1987’s “Silent Night, Deadly Night 2” is not a favorite of mine by any means. But deep inside the film was a performance that the film did not deserve, but was awarded when Kaitan was cast in a supporting role as Jennifer. In a film that is comprised of footage reminding us how much better its predecessor was, Kaitan grounds the over-the-top film with a believable performance that makes you feel like you’re actually watching a great movie. Many years after seeing the film for the first time it taught me a lesson as an actor person in this crazy industry. If you commit to the role, you can’t really go wrong, folks. In many cases an actor is only as good as the material they’re given, true, but sometimes you realize the material is better when the right actor or actress is cast. I’m not tearing “Silent Night, Deadly Night 2” down. That is not my intention. But there is no denying that Kaitan is in a different film here. In a film full of characters that are interpreting the script in one way that doesn’t gel with me as a viewer, Kaitan hits all the notes perfectly in a film I think I would enjoy quite a bit.
In a career that spanned two decades and includes 39 films, there is one film that I will go back to time and time again. “Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity” is not only, in this writer’s opinion, Elizabeth Kaitan’s best work on screen, but also one of the top films in the science fiction genre. Written and Directed by Ken Dixon, “Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity” transcends the B-Picture genre it found itself in. Like “Silent Night, Deadly Night 2” I believe this comes down to the performances. Unlike “Silent Night, Deadly Night 2”, everyone is on board with Kaitan in how the decided to play the material. Again, commit! On paper Slave Girls has about as good of a chance as any other bikini clad space flick from the 80s, but fuck if it’s not better than the majority of films to come out of the 80s. This film is not cheese for cheese’s sake. If you call it cheesy, we will exchange harsh words. Limited only by its budget, hence the rubber suits, early digital effects, and the castle walls wavering whenever bumped into, the performances of Kaitan and costars Cindy Beal, Don Scribner, Brinke Stevens, all the way down the cast list are superb. What Slave Girls lacks in on-screen monetary value it more than makes up for with a helluva lotta heart. In the film Kaitan plays Daria, a tough as nails woman that breaks her chains (literally!!) as a blonde victim and turns hero always finding herself one step ahead of the film’s heavies. And she’s funny to boot. I just love it. Her performance is tongue firmly placed out of cheek and played as serious as Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley here. In a low budget film it is so easy to wink at the camera and share a laugh with the audience, but for my money a true talent will put their head down and forge new ground when tackling subject matter in a serious and believable manner. Kaitan, and the entire cast, deliver. What strikes me most about the film 30 years later is how well it holds up. Seriously, check it out on Full Moon Streaming right now. This film is full of so much that made watching films in my youth fun. Action! Nudity! Spaceships! Killer robot servants! A sword fight! Battle armor! Come on! Dixon based the screenplay on Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game”. Fun Fact: Connell’s story has spawned, per IMDb, at least 18 film adaptations. Having not read the story as of this writing, I can not attest to how accurate of an adaptation it is, but I’m certain this is the only one that features Elizabeth Kaitan. So it wins hands down. I spent the majority of my teenage years fantasizing about endless sequel ideas. “Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity” is the world’s greatest untapped franchise in my 14 year old mind. Seriously, Charles Band, I got you, Sir.
In ’91 Elizabeth Kaitan replaced departing Linnea Quigley in “Vice Academy 3” starring alongside Ginger Lynn, Julia Parton, Jordana Capra, and John Henry Richardson. Written and Directed by Rick Sloane, creator of the “Vice Academy” series, the film proved to be a comedic stepping stone for Kaitan who’s comedic timing thrived with the witty, satirical material provided by Sloane. Having starred in the fun “Assault of the Killer Bimbos” in ’88, and “The Girl I Want” in ’90, along with one liners here and there, Kaitan was certainly no stranger to comedy, but “Vice Academy 3”, really is a coming out party for the actress. I assume Rick Sloane had the same feeling as he continued to work with Kaitan for the remainder of the series. In most scenarios, as franchises go on, actors are replaced, a franchise will start to hurt and eventually fizzle out. But Sloane, Kaitan, series regular Jayne Hamil, and later Raelynn Saalman as ‘Traci’, turn that theory on its head. Each film together Sloane and Kaitan put their best foot forward and the audience is treated to solid efforts time and again. I love Ginger Lynn and Linnea Quigley in the first two films, but this is Kaitan and Hamil’s series. Kaitan proves once again that committing to your role is key, even when commitment is to over-the-top silliness. In the world Sloane has crafted, you buy it. These films are just plain fun. I wish we could get an in-depth documentary on the films a lá “Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th”, but I doubt we’ll see the day. Or will we? Mr. Sloane, if you’re out there…call me!
Since 2000 Elizabeth Kaitan has retired from acting, but has stepped back in front of the camera a few times to reminisce about the Friday the 13th films in select documentaries and bonus features over the years. Now married, Elizabeth Ruiz appears to have left the entertainment industry for good, but it seems she remains active in her community and continues to fight for the betterment of animals and toward stopping animal cruelty. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wishing for her return to acting. A bright star all these years later, her performances have taught not only myself, but many genre fans valuable lessons. To study her career would do any Hollywood hopeful a great service.
Jeremy Morrison – Staff Writer
Co-creator/host of the Acid Pop Cult Podcast, film reviewer, screenwriter, Jeremy has more than eight years experience in television and film production. His childhood fascination with the naked breasts featured in the “Friday the 13th” franchise prepared him for absolutely nothing in life. J-Mo lives by one motto: #wecantallbezacksnyder