Screaming in High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era is a documentary directed by Jason Paul Collum is a history of three of the most famous scream queens, the environment that lead to their success and the lead up to the golden age of VHS and then the maturation of the priced to own market leading to the bursting of the home video bubble. Crafted from interviews with are aforementioned trio of titillating thespians, interviews with directors and writers of the era and numerous video clips from some of their finer film exploits and convention appearances, Screaming in High Heels tells the very real human story of some very legendary and influential horror movie actresses. Collum has a history of doing some pretty spiffy documentaries including Something to Scream About which also focuses on the ladies of horror and Sleepless Nights: Revisiting the Slumber Party Massacres. He offers some pretty fantastic commentary throughout the documentary and provides key narrative to the history of the queens.
Formal Documentary Synopsis from Breaking Glass (who you may notice is one of my favorites):
Three girls living in Los Angeles, CA, in the 1980s found cult fame when they "accidentally" transitioned from models to B-movie actresses, coinciding with the major direct-to-video horror film boom of the era. Known as "The Terrifying Trio," Linnea Quigley (The Return of the Living Dead), Brinke Stevens (The Slumber Party Massacre) and
Michelle Bauer (The Tomb), headlined upwards of ten films per year, fending off men in rubber monster suits, pubescent teenage boys, and deadly showers. They joined together in campy cult films like Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988) and Nightmare Sisters (1987). They traveled all over the world, met President Reagan, and built mini-empires of trading cards, comic books, and model kits. Then it all came crashing down. This documentary remembers these actresses - and their most common collaborators - on how smart they were to play stupid.
The choice of non-scream queen interviewees is really a who's who of B/VHS horror royalty. David DeCoteau (Creepozoids), Richard Gabai (Nightmare Sisters), Fred Olen Ray (The Tomb and who was also recently featured in our IT CAME FROM 1980X, Scalps entry. These are some smart filmmakers who took advantage of a special time in the life of Hollywood and media formats. They're interviews are smart and funny. These are the wise men that horror filmmakers of the here and now need to listen to in order to get the whole "entertainment" part of film making. Combine that with a host of bonus features, DVD interview bonus material on the DVD and footage form the Flashback Weekend of Horror Q&A make this worth your pennies. It's unrated (fuck the MPAA).
The interviews are endearing. Each of our featured scream queens has a unique history, industry and acting related story and personal story that leads to either the downfall of their career or the continuation of their own legends. I won't give too much away because I want to give you something to enjoy, but you'll probably leave the movie with a little less pubescent boy running wild and a little more, mature young adult who appreciates talented actresses who may also have amazing physiques. While some might argue that this documentary doesn't explore the entire culture of scream queens, that many are left out and that it has a more pop appear to it, there isn't a horror fan who won't get something out of it.
I'm not going to lie when I tell you that the downfall of the scream queen and VHS era have plagued me with a hole that has never been filled. Watching the end of this documentary may just bring a tear to your eye as it did mine (real men also cry... doubly so for whiny doctors of terror). If you dislike the chain video stores and have seen fit to celebrate their demise then I can assure you that this end sequence will fill you with a bit of rage. You'll be happy that that damn Blockbuster down the street finally went out of business even if it was replaced by a vending machine or turned your postman into the video store clerk.
I want you to keep an eye out for the next edition of IT CAME FROM 1980X on LIBERALDEAD.COM as I'll be featuring a scream queen related picture that is mentioned in this film.
Screaming in High Heels comes out on DVD August 28th. You can buy the DVD HERE.
Make sure to like them on FaceBook HERE.