Screaming In High Heels: The Rise and Fall of the Scream Queen Era (2011)

Jason Paul Collum

Linnea Quigley
Brinke Stevens
Michelle Bauer
Fred Olen Ray
David DeCoteau
Kenneth J. Hall
Jay Richardson
Richard Gabai
Ted Newson
Jason Paul Collum

Genre - Horror/B-Movies/Exploitation/Documentary

Running Time
- 63 Minutes

This review is a rare one for me. I don't usually get the urge to review documentaries because I like to write about films that allow me to decipher them and discuss them in great detail while still being pretty vague about the film's contents. But my good friends at the awesome Breaking Glass Pictures sent me an advanced screener that I wanted to promote before its actual street date. And it happens to be a cool 63-minute documentary titled SCREAMING IN HIGH HEELS: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SCREAM QUEEN ERA.

The documentary is a love letter to horror B-movies, especially during the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, focusing on three actresses who were on top of this sub-genre - Michelle Bauer, Brinke Stevens, and Linnea Quigley. These ladies were sexy, daring, and appreciative of what the genre had to offer to them and their fans. We get interviews with each of the ladies about their careers during the heyday of horror B-movies, as well as from filmmakers who worked with them, such as Fred Olen Ray, David DeCoteau, Jay Richardson, and Kenneth J. Hall. The documentary is more of a summary of this era of Scream Queens, due to its short running time, but it's still very interesting and informative.

Director Jason Paul Collum, who also directed a documentary called SOMETHING TO SCREAM ABOUT in 2002, definitely shows his appreciation and devotion to a genre not many people get. We get a short summary about how drive-ins drew audiences for B-movies, until they lost business due to the home video boom of the 1980s - with mom and pop video stores carrying low budget horror B-movies that were constantly rented, with HBO also building a fanbase due to the channel showing these types of films. We later hear that while Fay Wray, Janet Leigh, and Jamie Lee Curtis are considered the original Scream Queens due to starring in very popular horror films, actresses Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, and Brinke Stevens earned the title more as they always embraced the genre they starred in.

The documentary's most interesting info is when it focuses on the three actresses themselves. We learn about their childhood and how they accidentally stumbled into the B-movie business as models [Brinke Stevens had a Master's degree, but entered the entertainment business due to her then-husband, who was a comic book artist and used her as a muse for one of his characters]. All three ladies come across as extremely humble and grateful about their cult careers, recalling about the films they worked on quite fondly. The great part is that we see actual clips from their respective films, including a lot of the ones they worked on together, such as NIGHTMARE SISTERS and SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA. We also see rare clips, like Quigley being a correspondent about the Fangoria Convention for MTV, Quigley receiving an award from USA's Up All Night, as well as Quigley and Stevens talking to the awesome Joe Bob Briggs about how they're perceived in Hollywood [wasn't very well due to the stigma on B-movies and horror]. Their filmmaker friends and colleagues fill in some blanks, really painting a portrait that everyone involved was like a family and supported each other through the good and the bad.

The final minutes of the documentary focus on how Blockbuster Video, Hollywood Video, and then the advancement of the internet and technology destroyed the video age, as well as dimmed their careers. All three ladies are still in the business somewhat, but due to personal situations, as well as ageism, they're not the stars they once were. The ladies also discuss about their fans, and how they loved 99.9 percent of them [
the .1 percent includes some interesting stories].

This documentary is very successful in accomplishing why Quigley, Stevens, and Bauer were stars in the horror genre during the genre's heyday, and really tries to focus on both the good and the bad that came along with that recognition. I do wish the documentary was longer than 63 minutes, because I'm sure there could have been a lot more included to really beef up the retrospective. I also feel that each lady should get their individual documentaries, as each of them starred in a lot of films and sure to have some interesting stories about their experiences during this time in their lives. I would have liked to have seen more material for this film, because I'm sure it's there.

But if you're a fan of these three Scream Queens and love the B-movie genre, especially during the 1980s, then you should definitely pick this documentary up on
August 28th. The DVD will also include some more interview footage by Quigley, Stevens, and Bauer, as well as some footage from the Flashback Weekend of Horror Q&A session. This doc definitely made me nostalgic and gave me the urge to watch a lot of these films again. Although short, definitely solid and worth anyone's attention.

3.5 Howls Outta 4


  1. This looks like it's awesome! I'd love to check it out, I'll try to get myself a copy. I never really care too much for documentaries but this is calling to me!

    1. It's pretty great besides it being way too short. But if you love Scream Queens, this doc is for you.

  2. Sounds terrific - though like you I wish it was longer, and that's before I have even seen it!

    1. You wish it was longer, huh? Well, that's what she said!

      Seriously, it's a great doc. Worth getting when it's finally released.

  3. I've been wanting to check this out! Oh and by the way I have an award for you over at http://halloweenoverkill.blogspot.com/2012/07/awards-update.html

    1. Thanks for the award! And would love to hear your thoughts on this one!


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