Screaming in High Heels: The Rise and Fall of the Scream Queen Era (Breaking Glass Pictures, NR)

dvd screaming-high-heelsIf boobs, blood, and minimal production values were not your idea of fun, you knew to pick up something else instead.

 

If you’re old enough to remember VHS tapes, then you probably also remember a type of B-movie whose principal appeal was the presence of beautiful women who showed their boobs (and perhaps more than that) and screamed a lot while becoming increasingly drenched with blood. The documentary Screaming in High Heels: The Rise and Fall of the Scream Queen Era is a tribute to those films, and in particular, to three well-known scream queens who specialized in this type of film: Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, and Michelle Bauer.

Together, Quigley, Stevens, and Bauer appeared in over 300 films, most of them with titles like Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, The Slumber Party Massacre, Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity, and Jane Bonda’s Bizarre Workout. All three appeared in Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. The availability of home VHS facilitated the production of films catering to particular market segments, and these films filled one of those niches. Keeping this point in mind, there’s real truth in advertising in their titles, which told you exactly what to expect—you wouldn’t pick one of them up at the video store if you were in the market for an art film, but for people of a certain taste, they promised a lot of fun. And if boobs, blood, and minimal production values were not your idea of fun, you knew to pick up something else instead.

The director, Jason Paul Collum, is clearly a fan of scream queen films (he’s directed a few horror features of his own, as well as publishing a book of interviews with cult film actresses), and his enthusiasm shows throughout this documentary. It’s a traditional talking-heads-and-film-clips kind of film, but the format serves his purpose well, and the clips are just long enough to be fun without becoming tedious. Collum sketches out a brief history of the exploitation flick, starting with the drive-in era, and includes interviews not only with the three featured ladies, but also with a number of people who worked on the same type of film, including directors Fred Olen, Ken Hall, and David DeCoteau and actors Richard Gabai and Jay Richardson. Collum also appears as an interview subject, which I have to say is a first in my experience.

Screaming in High Heels is only 63 minutes long, but is fleshed out (sorry!) by bonus features on the DVD, including three extended interviews and two panel sessions with the actresses, plus the film’s trailer. The bottom line is that if you’re a fan of scream queen films, this is definitely one documentary you will want to see. If you’re not, then probably not. | Sarah Boslaugh

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply