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Screaming in High Heels: The Rise and Fall of the Scream Queen Era

USA 2011
produced by
Jason Paul Collum, Jay S. Danziger (executive), Warren Mueller (executive), Daniel J.Noah (executive) for B+BOY Productions
directed by Jason Paul Collum
starring Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer, Fred Olen Ray, David Decoteau, Kenneth J.Hall, Jay Richardson, Richard Gabai, Ted Newsom, Jason Paul Collum, Tony Brown, Adrian Najera, Jarrod Clayton Cox
written by Jason Paul Collum, music by Paul Meyer

documentary

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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.

This 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 feasible.

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.

Totally recommended to everyone who's at least somehow into indie horror ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD