It has been confirmed that Night of the Demons 2 star Zoe Trilling (a.k.a. Geri Betzler) passed away at the too-young age of 57
Geralyn Marie Betzler worked on several movies throughout the ’80s and ’90s. On her first feature, 1985’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, she was credited by her full birth name, but as her screen acting career went on she would take credit as either Geri Betzler or Zoe Trilling – and it’s that second name that most fans seem to know her by. Among her credits are episodes of Guiding Light, 21 Jump Street, and Married… with Children, and the films Amityville Horror: The Evil Escapes, They Came from Outer Space, The Borrower, Dr. Giggles, Night Terrors, Hellbound, and Leprechaun 3 – but her most popular role may be in the 1994 horror comedy Night of the Demons 2, where she stole the show as bad girl Shirley Finnerty. Sadly, just as Night of the Demons 2 is reaching Blu-ray courtesy of Scream Factory, it has been confirmed that Betzler / Trilling passed away last month at the age of 57.
Here’s an obituary from Star Tribune: Geri was born on May 27, 1966 in Wausau, WI, and died on September 8, 2023 in Vista, CA. Geri was a remarkable child and a brilliant, determined, independent woman. At age 18 she moved from Minnesota to Los Angeles, CA to pursue a career in acting and dance. She supported herself by working at a bakery and setting up a distributorship in LA for a small fresh juice company, known today as Naked Juice. She also taught Aerobics in a number of studios, including Jane Fonda’s. At the same time she enrolled in acting and ballet classes. She began her acting career in 1985 with TV roles including a part as Lacey Bauer in the TV series Guiding Light. Throughout her career, she continued to perform guest roles in TV series and theater productions in Los Angeles and New York. She is most know for her roles in horror productions such as Genie in Night Terrors and Shirley in Night of the Demons. She left the film industry and became a choreographer at American ballroom in New York City, as well as a yoga instructor and personal trainer in both NY and LA. She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Norma and Frank Theisen, Agnes and Frank Betzler; step-father, Jerry Ruona; aunts and uncles, Sherry (Jim) Bias, Mary Fayfield, Janie (Mike) McNamara, Willard (Birdie) Betzler, and Violet (Hershel) Bachman. Geri is survived by her mother, Phoebe Ruona, Minneapolis; brother, Mike Betzler, Minneapolis; uncle, Bob Fayfield, Shorewood; step-siblings, Karie Ruona, Minneapolis; Mark Ruona, Minneapolis; Julie Ruona, Clearwater, FL,; numerous cousins, and lifelong friends: Loretta Falcone, San Jose, CA: Michael Libow, Los Angeles, CA; Don Schneider, New York City, and father, Larry Betzler, Chula Vista, CA. A private internment will be held at Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis.
Betzler’s Night of the Demons 2 director Brian Trenchard-Smith paid tribute to her on Facebook: I am sorry to report the passing of Zoe Trilling who gave such a standout performance in my Night of the Demons 2. Only 57, gone too soon. I remember her skill as an actor, her sense of humor and her warm luminous personality. Cast and crew always had a good time when she was on set. In my view, and that of several directors, she deserved a much bigger career. She was an undiscovered gem. My condolences to all who like myself and my wife had the privilege of knowing Zoe Trilling.
Original Night of the Demons director Kevin Tenney also posted about her: Best known to horror fans for her roles in Night Terrors, Leprechaun 3, and Night of the Demons 2, Zoe Trilling was also part of what we in the industry call a Loop Group, a small collection of actors who add background dialogue and crowd noises to finished films in post production. I worked with her in this capacity on my film Pinocchio’s Revenge. She was even prettier in person than she was on film, and much more petite than I expected. She was also genuinely sweet and down to earth as well as being massively talented. When we needed a devastated mother to tell our lead actress over the phone that her son was dead, Zoe broke down into tears, sobbing uncontrollably as she delivered the news, a performance much stronger and more emotional than I could’ve hoped for from a disembodied voice that would be barely audible in the final mix. She was the very epitome of a seasoned professional, in spite of her young age. We tried desperately to locate her to do an interview or commentary track for the new Blu-ray release of Night of the Demons 2, but she was absent from social media of any kind. And now I find that she passed away just last month right here in California. So, here’s to you, Zoe. Gone too soon and too young to be gone, you’ll be sorely missed by your fans and colleagues alike.
I haven’t seen all of Geri Betzler / Zoe Trilling’s screen performances, but I have seen several of them, and her performance in Night of the Demons 2 is one that always stuck with me. I expected to see her in a lot more films after that, but sadly, it wasn’t to be.
Our sincere condolences go out to Geri Betzler / Zoe Trilling’s family, friends, and fans.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/zoe-trilling/