Your movie Scream
Queen has recently been re-released - so in a few words, what's it
Queen is a horror comedy about horror star Malicia Tombs (played by Linnea
Quigley) who is killed in a freak accident during the filming of a low
budget movie. One year later, the cast and crew arrive at an ‘old dark
house’ in Hollywood to try to finish the movie while a killer – who
may or may not be Malicia – stalks them.
What were your sources of inspiration when
writing Scream Queen?
There were two main inspirations for Scream
Queen. The first was
Eurohorror movies of the ‘70s and ‘80s, like The Devil’s
Nightmare, House of Psychotic Women and Tenebre, which I tried to emulate in terms of
the ‘gothic’ setting and some of the giallo-style murders.
The second big influence was my own experiences working in the movie business
up to that time. Most of the films I had worked on were horror films of
various budgets, so I wanted to comment on the ‘scene’ at the time
with humor and parody.
What can you tell us about your movie's approach to horror?
Although I’m not usually a fan of horror comedies, somehow the mix
seemed appropriate for Scream
Queen, since there’s so much
self-referential and ‘meta’ content in the concept. At the same time,
I didn’t want to pull any punches where the horror was concerned, and
made the deaths as violent and shocking as I could manage. When you’re
starting out (like I was at the time), you usually try and make something
different that stands apart from the crowd and is not just imitative of
the other horror films that are out there at the time.
my opinion, Scream Queen
is also a highly ironic film. Would you at all agree to that, and if so,
could you elaborate on the film's brand of irony a bit?
Absolutely! I wanted to set that winking tone right from the beginning,
where a standard slasher film cliché is subverted by pulling back to show
the film crew, with all its petty gripes and conflicts. The opening was a
way of letting the audience know this was not just going to be a
‘straight’ horror movie. The in-jokes and references – to both older
films and the movie biz – continue throughout the film.
talk about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand!
Mostly, I was just trying to finish the film in four days! But seriously,
I did try and create a gothic atmosphere in the main house where we shot,
which was achieved through lighting, costumes, props and the angles that
DP Dave Smith and I chose. And I also tried to keep the balance between
humor and horror throughout, which wasn’t hard because my cast and crew
were all on the same page.
can you tell us about Scream
Queen's key cast, and why exactly these people?
I cast actors who were right for the roles and wouldn’t require heavy
direction, starting with Linnea. I think she really liked that the role
was written for her, and also commented on her standing in the industry at
that point. She hadn’t played a role like that before, and I don’t
think she has since. The rest of the cast were people either I, Linnea, or
the producer knew. There were no formal auditions for the movie.
of course also have to talk about Scream
Queen's main location for a bit, and what was it like filming
We filmed the majority of the movie in a house in a Glendale. It wasn’t
ideal for the script, but it was affordable and we did the most we could
to dress and light it to
fit the gothic tone I was going for. I had the run of the place for four
days, and thanks to some very long hours we shot everything we had
planned. We also filmed pickups and additional scenes all over LA, from
Hollywood to Malibu.
A few words about the shoot as such, and the
It was a short shoot – just four or five days of principal but with lots
of pick-ups later on. It was a fun shoot for the most part, with the
exception of a few difficult actors and the producer, who would threaten
to “shut us down” ever so often, even though it was all his money in
the film. Like on any low budget film, you just keep shooting no matter
what happens, good or bad. My favorite times on the set were those with
Linnea, because she created a sense of calm and was super professional and
friendly to everyone.
So how did the re-release of Scream
Queen come about?
I had been campaigning off and on for years to get the movie released on
DVD. Visual Vengeance finally stepped up to the plate and made it happen
in a bigger way than I ever expected. They approached me right away once
they had secured the rights, and I got involved in delivering the best
elements and creating most of the bonus features.
Queen has been made over two decades ago already, what are your
personal opinions about the movie from today's point of view?
I think the movie was ahead of its time in many ways. Of course, there had
been some ‘meta’ movies made before it, but not that many, and not
nearly as many as have been made since. It was definitely unique in the
horror genre, especially SOV horror, for the movie to lampoon itself like
it does. So, the postmodern tone and some of the issues the movie raises
help it stand out now, just as it did then. Technically, it's a product of its time and budget, and I wish we’d
had more time and money to make a slicker movie. But as a script, I think it holds up pretty well.
Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Scream
Queen, both then and now?
There was no reception back in 2002 because nobody could see it! That was
very disappointing to me at the time but I did make other movies which got
wide releases and caught on with fans. Over the years, I’ve heard from
people who saw Scream
Queen somehow and really enjoyed it. Which makes
this Visual Vengeance Blu-ray release all the more important, because I
think fans really will have fun with this film, and by watching all the
extras, discover the story behind it.
Any future projects
you'd like to share?
I don’t want to talk too much about projects I have in development as
I’m superstitious. But I am currently promoting my new book Neon
Nightmares: LA Thrillers of the 1980s (available from BearManor
Media, Amazon, B&N, etc.) and my new anthology movie
Hi-Fear, which is
on DVD and can be streamed on Itunes, Amazon Video, etc. I am also
producing special features for other upcoming Visual Vengeance releases of
my films. And I have a new movie I plan on shooting next year.
What got your into filmmaking in
the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
I started shooting shorts and features on Hi-8 video in high school, then
went to film school at Boston University. Afterward, I moved to LA and
worked in various production jobs before I was offered the chance to write
and direct Scream
can you tell us about your past filmwork besides Scream
I’ve written and directed over twenty movies since then. Some of the
ones you may have heard of are Camp Blood (and its two sequels), Death
Factory, Goth, Plaguers and the
Hi-8 trilogy. I’ve also written two
book: Terror in the Desert: Dark Cinema of the American Southwest (McFarland) and
Neon Nightmares, which I mentioned earlier.
In all your films you never stray too far
from the horror genre - so is horror a favourite genre of yours, and why
Horror is a favorite genre of mine, but not the only one I like, or want
to work in. I’m a big fan of film noir, psychological thrillers and
action movies for example. But since I directed a few popular horror films
early in my career, that’s all I’ve ever been offered, or been able to
get off the ground. Within the genre, there’s incredible opportunities
to tell different types of stories, though. The last few anthology films
I’ve executive produced and co-directed, Hi-8,
Hi-Death and Hi-Fear,
have been chances for me to tell horror stories that are more personal and
different than standard slasher/creature films.
How would you describe yourself as a director?
Ambitious, hardworking, impatient, demanding, collaborative and flexible.
By that I mean, I always have a plan going in, but am willing to adjust if
hit with any obstacles. I always try to see the ‘big picture’ and not
get overly fixated on details that can hold you up. I’m also not set in
a particular way of directing: I think each project demands its own style
and approach, from shot choices to how actors are directed.
who inspire you?
In the horror genre George A. Romero, John Carpenter, Dario Argento.
Outside horror Michael Mann, William Friedkin, Paul Schrader, Walter
Hill, Albert Pyun. Those are just a few.
Your favourite movies?
Dawn of the Dead, To Live and Die in LA, Sorcerer, Blue
Velvet, All That Jazz, Streets of Fire, Near Dark,
The Hitcher, Prince of
... and of course, films you really deplore?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results?
The links below
will take you
I hate laziness or lack of personality in filmmaking at any level. I’m
not a fan of today’s studio franchises, like Marvel or
DC movies or
Fast and the Furious type stuff. Those do nothing for me. Closer to home, I
think indie horror – and I’m talking about regional microbudget movies
here, not Blumhouse or
A24 movies – used to be much more ambitious and
individualistic. It’s sad to see folks just throwing stuff out there
that isn’t even an hour long and trying to milk a trend without any real
thought or originality. It brings the whole genre down, in my opinion.
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
My production company is Nightfall Pictures, and the best way to get news
about my current projects is to find us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Nightfallpix/), on Instagram
on our official website: https://nightfallpictures.wixsite.com/mysite
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I’m amazed that I’m still talking about Scream
Queen 25 years after we
filmed it, and even more thrilled that it’s now available for fans to
enjoy. If you’re a fan of Linnea, or my work, or just indie horror in
general, check out the Visual Vengeance Blu-ray - I’m sure you’ll find
plenty to scream about.
for the interview!