Screaming In High Heels (2012)

The screener for Screaming In High Heels : The Rise And Fall Of The Scream Queen Era arrived from Breaking Glass Pictures at a rather serendipitous time. Jamie and I were right at the start of our Trash Kings Month for the Gorecast, covering the films of Fred Olen Ray, David DeCoteau and Jim Wynorski so I leapt at the chance to include this documentary in our Wrap Up show.

Made over a two year period by director Jason Paul Collum, Screaming In High Heels is a heartfelt look at the 80′s VHS rental boom and three of the most prolific scream queen actresses around at the time; Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer and Brinke Stevens.

At just over an hour long, Screaming In High Heels is a relatively short documentary but it zips along at lightning speed and is never, ever boring. Included are interviews with all three of the actresses in question as well as Jay Richardson, David DeCoteau and Fred Olen Ray so there’s plenty of insight into the era in question.

Arguably the most interesting parts of the documentary are when the interviewees go into depth about their experiences and memories of the VHS golden years when ‘Mom and Pop’ video rental stores were a-plenty and low budget movies were given a real chance to shine and gain a deserving audience. It’s sad, then, to see them lament at the rise of Blockbuster and other rental chainstores that helped to do away with the everyday activity of renting something from a local store based on the cover art alone. It’s even sadder still that, these days, even the Blockbusters of the world are suffering, with online rentals and illegal downloads making such a dent. This will get many viewers misty eyed though, to see a movie that explores and celebrates horror having done so well outside of the Hollywood machine in the 80′s.

The movie touches on some of the best and worst aspects of the low budget movie making experience and gets some genuinely funny, as well as touching soundbites from the actresses involved. It’s a little depressing to see Michelle Bauer effectively hiding from what she is/was but wonderful to see Brinke Stevens and Linnea Quigley still celebrating it. All three ladies are down-to-earth, intelligent and often sardonically witty, Quigley in particular seems like tremendous fun and unabashedly champions what she and her fellow scream queens achieved.

Amongst the faces you’d expect to see, are snippets of interviews with the director himself. It seems as though, when he failed to get the quote he wanted/needed, he injects it himself which is, by turns, an odd, bold but understandable choice, although it does prove distracting sometimes.

80′s low budget movie fans will lap up everything on offer in the movie. There is an incredible number of clips here, with so many titles covered, from Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama to Nightmare Sisters to Slumber Party Massacre to Dr. Alien to Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, and all the way back again. Better still, each one is labelled so you won’t have to spend hours scouring the internet for that obscure clip you caught a glimpse of!

At times, we’re given tidbits of information regarding rabid fans and potential stalkers that the ladies had to contend with, only for that particular segment to end prematurely without ever really having told us anything and leaving us wanting more. It feels inconclusive and a bit of a tease. This is a minor gripe though, and the entertainment value of the documentary as a whole will almost certainly outweigh that. The director obviously worked hard to achieve this on a shoestring budget and his rapport with the interviewees is obvious in their candid answers.

If you’re after a brief glimpse into the often magical world of 80′s trash cinema and the Scream Queens that became it’s stars then you should definitely check out Screaming In High Heels.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

One Comment on “Screaming In High Heels”

  1. Rawrsetta says:

    Considering your own lamentations re. the downfall of local video stores reminiscent of when you were a child, i reckon this was probably made for you to review. awesome work, lovely – keep it upppp.

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