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With the demise of the drive-in of old but the almost simultaneous
advent of home video in the 1980's, the independent filmworld (and
especially the indie horrorworld) shifted quite a bit, but there were a
breed of young filmmakers (this documentary focuses mainly on Fred Olen
Ray and David DeCoteau, but there were others) who specialized on cheaply
shot cheesy horror films with a healthy dose of humour and an even
healthier dose of nudity. And while these films originally featured
B-movie icons, fading stars, TV stars between jobs as their main
attractions, eventually a new breed of stars were born from these films -
the scream queens.
Sure, there were scream queens before (even if they
were not called that), and the film quotes Fay Wray, Janet Leigh and Jamie
Lee Curtis, but the new crop was different: Hard-working girls who made
about twelve movies a year (in their heyday at least), got naked in most
of them, tried to retain their dignity and give decent performances
despite whatever was thrown at them ... and hey, they looked hot as well.
film focuses mainly on three scream queens, Michelle Bauer, Linnea Quigley
and Brinke Stevens, almost unarguably the biggest of the eighties, and
certainly the three women for whom the expression was actually coined. And
all three women tell their story in their own words, how they came to fame
and how they took pride in what they did, and also their surprise about
their relatively sudden fame. They talk about their fanbase and their
convention appearances, but also the eventual demise of the scream queen
era, not only caused by their progressing age but also by the rise of Blockbuster
and Netflix and their seemingly endless supply of major motion
pictures (in comparison to the dying breed of the mom-&-pop stores
that carried the indie horrors), by the fact that due to more and more
affordable professional film equipment more and more young wannabe
filmmakers crowded the market and more and more girls who have been horror
films started to refer to themselves as scream queens, and also by
changing audience tastes that made 80's style horror cheese less and less
However, the film ends on a happy note, since Michelle, Linnea
and Brinke are all neither gone nor forgotten, they are still guests of
honour at conventions, they do still get occasional roles in films (if
smaller ones than before) and they do still enjoy their fame and look back
on their work with pride.
Ok, my educated guess is that if you
choose to watch Screaming in High Heels, you are already familiar
with the scream queen phenomenon as such and very probably also with
Michelle Bauer, Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens, and their respective
stories - and then this film doesn't have all that much new for you to
offer ... and somehow that doesn't matter one bit, because the whole
documentary is quite clearly a work of love, where director Jason Paul
Collum, who does have quite a few indie horror movies under his belt, pays
loving tribute to the three women who are the subject of his film, and he
peppers the whole thing with a sheer endless number of snippets of the
movies of their golden era, ranging from good to bad to cheesy to weird,
but always entertaining. And even if you have seen every film Michelle,
Linnea and Brinke have ever been in (and hey, judging from their output,
you very probably have not), you'll find at least some of this amusing.
recommended to everyone who's at least somehow into indie horror ...