In the horror films of the late 1980s, very few faces are what one would consider “familiar.” During a ruthless era in Tinseltown, when franchise sequels offered little chance for a “repeat performance” Kelly Jo Minter stands apart. From teenage dirt bike riding vampires, to a shotgun wielding landlord with a penchant for S&M, Ms Minter has certainly run the gauntlet. Her story is a unique journey, but when it is retold in her own distinct voice and words, it takes on a genuine charm; It’s almost as if you’ve known her in the past, and you’re merely “catching up.” There is an undeniable authenticity to a conversation with Kelly Jo Minter, a manner of speaking that causes you to cling to every last word
Prior to becoming an actress, Ms Minter worked for a year behind the camera with the production company Sunset Gower. Her work as a production assistant undoubtedly taught her the more vocational aspects of filmmaking. As a result of her esoteric knowledge, not to mention her god given beauty, Kelly Jo naturally found her way in front of the camera. It would be an embarrassment not to mention Kelly Jo’s accomplishments outside of our genre specific realm. Her resume includes roles in The Lost Boys, Mask with Cher and the teen comedy Summer School with Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley. The latter being a beloved regular airing on late night basic cable. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Summer School it comes highly recommended. Amazing credits like these deserve acknowledgement, they are testament to the incredible talent Kelly Jo possesses.
Ms Minter would eventually take a stab at one of the most successful franchises in horror history when she landed a role in A Nightmare on Elm Street part 5: The Dream Child (1989). As Yvonne we see a strong woman of color survive to the end credits. A traditionally difficult feat in that era of slasher sequels. While she does admit that she hadn’t seen any of the previous installments prior to accepting the role, Freddy Krueger was a pop culture icon at the time and Kelly Jo was enthusiastic. She goes on to say of the director Stephen Hopkins “he was a young cat” “he was just really easy, I think that’s the difference when you go in and you have the chemistry, he was a young cool guy” When I asked Kelly her opinions of Robert Englund she told me that on set they kept their distance to increase the tension on screen. She explains that they have done conventions together and she felt it is worth noting the level of appreciation Englund has for his fans. The Dream Child proved to be an ambitious installment with an almost highbrow plot, this tended to elicit faux performances from some of the cast. Still, Kelly Jo remains the most believable character. She serves as the glue holding the fragments together.
Kelly Jo would later get her chance to work with a legendary name in horror when she accepted a part in Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs(1991). In this film Ms Minter plays Ruby the tarot card reading and generally bad-assed older sister of our protagonist Fool (Brandon Adams of The Mighty Ducks fame). With an absolutely unpredictable plot and Home Alone-esque booby traps, the story is a prepubescent horror fan’s holy grail. You can honestly hang your hat on this film as a genre audience and say “Yes, this feels right.” Ms. Minter explains that the plot was lifted from a real life kidnapping/imprisonment news story. An eerie piece of trivia that almost forces you to sit down and watch the movie again. When I asked Kelly what she thought of working with a maestro like the late, great, Wes Craven, her sentiments sounded warm with a deep respect and admiration. “Wes was really funny. Dry wit.” she continues “it would just be a treat to sit down at lunch and hear the stories.” The end of the film finds Ruby back on the screen for a brief but hilarious monologue and the final action sequence. The People Under the Stairs has seen new life in recent history, serving on multiple occasions as the inspiration for haunted attractions at Universal Studios’ annual Halloween Horror Nights. This piece of trivia was one that Kelly Jo was completely unaware of, she seemed pleasantly surprised that the film had found a new incarnation.
Recently Kelly Jo Minter has been busy acting, being a mother of four, and building custom homes with her husband. She is proud that her boys are interested in pursuing a career in acting but she is quick to comment that she instills a professional attitude in her children. As she says it is not enough to be cute. “Can you act and can you do the part?” She is adamant about the work ethic that goes into acting. Obviously she is very aware of the competitive nature of Hollywood. As it was explained to myself, L.A. is no place for low self esteem. We wrapped up our conversation discussing recent thrillers and Ms Minter seems more than eager to re enter the world of horror, if the story is right. With so many modern horror films carrying classic genre-centric credits(Split’s Betty Buckley: Miss Collins in Carrie), it seems only fitting that we might see Kelly Jo Minter in the next terror filled box office hit.
A very special thank you to Kelly Jo for taking the time to speak with Cult Classic Horror and myself. It was amazing how candid and charming she could be. It was a conversation I will not soon forget. If you enjoy our blogs please like them on Facebook and feel free to comment across our social media accounts. We’d love to hear from you. Lastly if you’re just dying to hear Scotty, Danny, and the Rob’s conversation with Kelly Jo Minter, please consider becoming a patron at Patreon.com/CultClassicHorror. Your generous contributions help ensure that we continue to deliver “the conversations you’ve always wanted to have about the films you love.”