If you were to say the names Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, and Michelle Bauer at any given horror social event, the response would be the same: Scream Queens. These 3 women are most commonly associated with the title both by myself and an entire generation of VHS junkies. During that seminal era in home entertainment, those 3 actresses gladly wore the horror badge on their bustiers, taking their bloody star turns in one genre movie after another. At the highest point, they were 3 unstoppable stars who were spotted (and adored) everywhere. At their lowest point, they were replaced by younger “actresses” donning the Scream Queen moniker with nothing to offer, barring a few undistributed movies and pension for whippin’ out their boobs. This documentary delves into that rise and fall.
Screaming In High Heels is a glimpse into the world of the working actress. Stevens, Quigley, and Bauer are all names that come with miles of resume. They were a new breed of actress who weren’t ashamed of the schlocky films listed on their portfolio. Quite the contrary-they took pride in their places amongst the biggest names in horror at the time. A few titles you’re familiar with: Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Nightmare Sisters, The Return Of The Living Dead, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Slumber Party Massacre…see? I told you.
Throughout the doc, all 3 actresses spoke very candidly of their past endeavors. Even in discussing the lousy aspects of their careers, each actress has made peace with the time they’ve put in. Though the Scream Queen title has influenced an endless supply of horror “personalities” who aren’t worth a good goddamn, still, their work ethic has laid the foundation for many to follow. That work ethic is a tradition carried on by the likes of Debbie Rochon, April Monique Burrill, Ruby LaRocca, and Tiffany Shepis. In addition, several writers & directors also offered up their versions of these stories, backing the actresses claims and credibility. Bottom line: SIHH is proof that Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer have earned every ounce of respect they’ve gained in the movie world.
So, how does the actually documentary itself stack up? Well, it’s pretty typical, well-worn territory. The format is interviews/movie clips/interviews, etc. I suppose I wasn’t expecting different and because the subject matter was one I was interested in, I assumed I’d enjoy the movie. That being said, there were things that could’ve been done to bolster up the overall sustenance of SIHH. A perfect example is the movie’s run time. It clocks in at a brisk 63 minutes. Now, knowing that director Jason Paul Collum is a hardworking indie fella, I know that funding dictates a lot of how the project will turn out. But, you’re working with 3 iconic names from the modern era of horror-there had to have been more material! Everything is shot with the interviewees sitting against a black backdrop. No visits to their homes, no look at some of the strange things they’ve accumulated over time…nothing. There’s so much you could discuss when you have filmographies like this. While the other parties involved (interview subjects such as Fred Olen Ray and Jay Richardson) were excellent sources for information, these women have worked with B-movie royalty. Roger Corman is 0f course discussed, but would’ve also been an excellent person to talk to. Not to mention the scads of costars, journalists, fans, and aforementioned actresses who were inspired by The Terrifying Trio… all of who I’m sure would love to pay homage by adding their two cents. My overall point is that when the credits roll, you feel like there is soooo much more to be said. I was expecting to hear plenty of stories that I haven’t heard. Instead, I watched a documentary that I enjoyed but ultimately didn’t learn anything from.
If you are a connoisseur of the slasher/Scream Queen era, you will no doubt be hunting down Screaming In High Heels when it hits stores August 28th. Just be forewarned: It’s thin on both time and material. I’m not saying it won’t be a fun nostalgia trip, but from a guy who’s done documentaries like this in the past (Collum did a retrospective on Slumber Party Massacre as well as a documentary in 2003 similar to this) I hoped for so much more. Screaming In High Heels had a lot of potential t0 unveil the lives of these actresses and blows longtime fans away, but instead ends up falling short.
Tags: April Monique Burrill, B-movie, boobs, brinke stevens, Debbie Rochon, Documentary, Fred Olen Ray, linnea quigley, michelle bauer, nightmare sisters, roger corman, ruby larocca, Scream Queens, slasher, Slumber Party Massacre, Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, the return of the living dead, VHS