“I Think Characters on the Fringe Are More Interesting”: ‘Poison Ivy’ Director Katt Shea on Strippers, Runaways, and Exploitation Cinema

Filmmaker Katt Shea started her directing career on the Roger Corman track to fame. The “King of the Bs,” who helped launch the careers of Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, and Martin Scorsese, produced Shea’s series of films about characters on the fringe — a subject she’s remained fascinated with her entire career.

Stripped to Kill portrays erotic dancers as artists in their own unique world. Dance of the Damned reads like a low-budget, suicidal version of Before Sunrise. Streets is a downbeat look at teen runaways fighting for their lives against a maniac cop.

It was Poison Ivy that put Shea on the map in the mainstream world, starring teenage Drew Barrymore when she was still making the cover of tabloid magazines for her bad-girl behavior. The film was nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 1992.

Now an acting coach, and with a few projects still up her sleeve, Shea will be a guest of honor at Film Forum’s Genre is a Woman series, which screens June 3 through June 16.

Flavorwire recently spoke to Shea about making her way in the male-dominated world of exploitation cinema, and why loners and outsiders are so personal to her.