Today it is both a bad and a good time to be a horrorhead. It’s bad because right now horror seems to be all but dead in Hollywood’s eyes and what few drabs and dribbles they oh so kindly give us are, more often than not, remakes of much better original movies. Sure there is the occasional something new that sneaks out, but they are very much the exception to the rule. However, it’s a good time because if you’re a true fan of horror then there has never been as much inside info on fright flicks as there is now. There are a bunch of great books on all of the scary cinema we grew up watching and for those who don’t like to read, there are also a cavalcade of feature length documentaries on all of the big name horror movies you could possibly think of. Halloween, Friday the 13th, Jaws, Psycho, Nightmare on Elm Street, Return of the Living Dead, Romero’s Dead movies, the Scream flicks, and more have all had docs made about them. In addition, there are documentaries on a lot of the smaller aspects of horrordom. Heather Langenkamp from A Nightmare on Elm Street has her film, I Am Nancy. There’s the wonderful Best Worst Movie about the amazingly awful cult favorite, Troll 2. Slasher films of all sorts are covered in Going to Pieces. And now it’s time for the ladies that made the fright flicks from the ’80s so damn cool to get some love with this movie. And all I’ve got to say is that it’s about time.
Screaming in High Heels is all about the three ladies that the term “scream queen” was coined for: Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer. If you watched a low budget horror movie that was made in the ’80s to the early ’90s then chances are good that at least one of these ladies were in it. From the truly great movies that changed the genre forever such as Return of the Living Dead (yeah not only did the whole zombie eating brains thing come from this film, but it was also the first flick to have running zombies in it) to the obscure direct to video works like Evil Toons, not to mention the cultiest of cult classics like Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. These three gals were nothing if not prolific. And this doc is nothing if not a fun trip down memory lane if you grew up watching those weird movies on cable TV or rented from your local mom and pop video store.
High Heels is largely an interview piece where Quigley, Stevens, and Bauer do the majority of the talking, as they rightly should. A number of writers, directors, and actors are also interviewed like Fred Olen Ray, David DeCoteau, Kenneth J. Hall, Jay Richardson, Ted Newsom, and others. Scenes from a bunch of the scream queen flicks are interspersed throughout the documentary as are archival news footage, behind the scenes bits, snippets from TV interviews, reviews, and trailers.
Perhaps my only gripe with this documentary is that it seemed a bit too brief. At just slightly over an hour long, it’s over far too soon. I guess that’s a good thing, as it doesn’t overstay its welcome, but there’s a lot of stuff and movies that are not even mentioned here. Perhaps the most criminal exclusion to me was the complete lack of any mention of Night of the Demons, one of the most fun and totally ’80s-tastic movies ever made that also has one of Linnea Quigley’s most memorable roles. But oh well, I guess nothing is ever perfect.
As for the extras on this DVD from Breaking Glass Pictures, there are a bunch of interviews with the three scream queens that didn’t make it into the documentary from varied sources, such as Q&As at cons, home movies, vintage on set pieces, and more that all together run just over an hour. A small smattering of trailers are also included, but that’s it. Not bad for a single disc DVD from a very independent production, but I wish there could have been a bit more extra to these extras. An audio commentary track would have been nice at the very least.
Screaming in High Heels is a fun and fast trip down memory lane for horrorheads that grew up in the ’80s or for the modern fan that can appreciate B-movie classics. It’s also a candid look at the three queens and the highs and lows of their unique lives. I enjoyed this movie and can recommend it to any horrorhead that came of age during the birth of the home video craze or who want a crash course in Scream Queen 101.
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