Being a badass might be occasionally hard on the soul, but in a series of roles in the late ‘80s, presence filled genre regular Tiffany Helm made it all look very easy.
Helm is, naturally, best known for her sullenly accurate portrayal of pixie-punk Violet in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. But a year after that sequel hit the theater chains, Helm was back in early riot mode as the dangerous Andrea Eldridge in the WIP homage Reform School Girls.
As one of head bad girl Charlie’s closest allies, Helm took all the subtle qualities that she brought to Violet and gave them a maniacal twist. She even gives razor voiced co-star Wendy O. Williams, a truly authoritative figure, a run for her money in the damaged honeys sweepstakes. With a sweet opponent smashed up against the bathroom floor, Helm provides sinisterly quiet intent as Andrea readies a flame to brand her as Charlie’s latest conquest. It’s one of the truly chilling moments in a film that sometimes operates more from a sense of humor than true menace. (Slasher historians, meanwhile, should note that another one of Helm’s codependents in mayhem here is played by Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives’ saucy Darcy DeMoss.)
Helm’s character Vickie in a 1988 episode of 21 Jump Street was the one to get rudimentary ink, though. As a drug addled teen, she, once again, applies a subtle gravitas in a rather heavily handled episode about suicide. Nicely, Helm does get some private screen time here with Johnny Depp. His slightly iconic Tom Hanson saves her ink stained, addicted character from mass destruction. This episode entitled Best Years of Your Life may be best remembered, though, for its inclusion of Brad Pitt as one of the guest stars portraying a member of Helm’s truly troubled academic clan.
Helm rounded out the decade by playing a slightly exasperated southern waitress named Mary on the Heartbreak Hotel episode of Freddy’s Nightmares. Yes, like Friday the 13th Part 7’s Lar Park Lincoln, Helm switched to team Nightmare here, allowing herself a lighter touch and a sense of comedic sweetness that the other mentioned roles didn’t always grant her. Abandoned and pregnant, poor Mary gives birth to an alien in one dream sequence and to an (unseen) devil baby in another segment. Obscure, perhaps, but just like Helm, the part was certainly a memorable one!
Be sure to keep up with all of Helm’s various activities at https://www.facebook.com/tiffanyhelmfanpage.
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!