Mar 18, 2013


(You can find a more in-depth review of this doc here.)

Screaming in High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era is somewhat of a misnomer. Yes, the film is ultimately comprised of interviews with three lovely ladies - Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, Michelle Baur - but overall it is a retrospective of schlock cinema from the early 1980s. It embraces the wonderfully weird change that occurred in the horror genre once direct-to-video distribution became a thing. I love this period of film-making, even if I haven't seen much of what it had to offer, and even if nearly all of it is terrible. I consider Screaming in High Heels to be a little keepsake that memorializes this moment in time that is grossly overlooked. 

The special features of the DVD are especially geared towards the horror crowd. You would think that goes without saying, considering the doc itself not only chronicles the careers of these three women who worked in a very specific sub-genre (schlock), but a bulk of the special features include interviews with each of the ladies performing Q&As at Flashback Weekend, just one of the many re-occurring horror conventions, which can be found all around the country. I bring this up because these interviews are pretty indicative of the cons themselves and make you feel like you're there. I've been to a couple of these cons and, though I don't make it a habit of going anymore, they will forever remain a playground for horror fans. The guests, the swag, the autograph sessions - it's certainly a great experience. These Flashback Weekend interviews serve as a nice reminder that these cons are out there and able to unite actors and fans in an environment free from formality. 

Not every question lobbed at the ladies are pure gold, but that's all part of the experience. I can only imagine Brinke Stevens has been asked what is her favorite role from her career a million times, but it doesn't make her answer any less interesting. And hearing her say she would love to one day do a film with Christopher Walken makes me like her even more.

Additionally, director Jason Collum, during Brinke's Q&A, actually mentions that many more ladies - including Halloween 2's Pamela Susan Shoop and Phantasm 2's Samantha Phillips - were supposed to be involved, but could not due to various conflicts. That makes me a little wistful for what could have been. 

During Linnea Quigley's Q&A, in which the lovely lady shows no signs of having lost her spunkyness, someone asks her, "Throughout your long career, what are you most proud of?" to which she responds, without missing a beat, "Spawning all of you." It's moments like these that bring a smile to your face and reinforces this idea that the horror crowd really is a community. No other genre boasts the level of mutual appreciation present here and it's nice to see this reaffirmed by icons like Linnea.

Michelle Baur, sadly, did not have a Flashback Weekend Q&A, but her extended interview provided some additional insights into her career. She delved into how her past affected her present, especially where her teenage daughter and her ever-curious friends are concerned. Her concerns about her past brought a real humanity to her interview as well as her contribution to the doc, and I'm a little disappointed that this bit was not included in the main portion. But I'm glad it was included, as it  helped her become a bit more real.

I cannot recommend Screaming in High Heels enough. Too often this era gets swept under the rug as an embarrassment, so it's nice to see it get the kind of appreciation it deserves. I only have one complaint: it's too fucking short. I could have watched two more hours of these ladies and their directors openly and honestly discussing their careers.

The DVD has been available for a few months now. Do us all a favor: buy, don't rent. If you have any appreciation at all for this era of the horror genre, this is something you'll definitely want on your shelf.

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