Monday, July 30, 2012

Screaming in High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era

Screaming in high heels dvd art

Every generation of horror fans has a specific era that they grew up with. Naturally there is a nice transitional overlap from what came before and after, but at the heart of it all there is about a decade of time that sits comfortably in the center of what each fan considers "the good ol' days." For me, personally, that time period would be the 1980s. Not only did I get the overlap of the mid-to-late '70s, but I also watched as horror evolved, and often devolved, into what might be the strangest (and most entertaining) time in horror cinema with the early 1990s. That entire time period from the mid-'70s to the mid-'90s is as gory good as it gets, and the main factor for it being such an awesome time for the genre is the bridge in between.

Screaming in high heels michelle bauerHorror boomed big time in the '80s, and there are a number of factors for this, most notably being the VHS format. VHS took film out of the cinemas and ushered in an era of home video that caused movie fans to go completely bananas, and at the forefront of it all was the horror genre. There was an evolution that genre cinema went through because of home video, and home video itself evolved due in large part to the popularity of genre cinema on the format. As a result, a very specific formula began to prove immensely successful (i.e. profitable) for "non-Hollywood" production companies. Video goers began to yearn for something specific from their rentals; they wanted blood and monsters; they wanted fun and entertainment; they wanted a pair of nice tits on a beautiful woman. And like a perfect storm, all of these things came together and combined to result in the birth of the Scream Queen era.

It is the almighty Scream Queen and the time in which they ruled that is the focus of 2011's Screaming in High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era, a documentary that, as promises, looks at the rise and fall of a specific group of extremely popular genre actresses: Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer. Often considered some of most notable and certainly three of the most popular horror actresses of the era, "The Terrifying Trio" of Stevens, Bauer and Quigley made a major splash on the home video scene throughout the '80s and much of the '90s, completely changing the landscape of the role women played in low-budget horror. These were the women who went from being the faceless but very "healthy" background babes to being the main selling point of a slew of B-Movies in the '80s and early '90s.

Screaming in high heels

Directed by Jason Paul Collum, Screaming in High Heels follows the typical talking head format that seems to be the gold standard for a majority of film related docs. Outside of the three Scream Queens and their generous insights, interviews come in the form of subject relevant film folk such as Fred Olen Ray, David DeCoteau, Kenneth J. Hall, and a handful of other people who were a part of the scene, all of whom deliver plenty of interesting stories and tidbits for the viewer to chew on. The doc runs the gamut of numerous interesting subjects that cover the era from start to finish, as each Scream Queen speaks of the incredible highs that came with their popularity as well as the negative effects that came along with doing the "types of films" the women were doing. Some of which has followed them up until this very day. The price of fame, I suppose.

Screaming in high heels Linnea QuigleyFor the record, I am a huge fan of film documentaries, particularly ones that are about specific genres or eras of cinema, and outside of the insightful interviews, the doc is chockfull of great movie clips, something that is often a highlight of any film documentary. Also enjoyable is seeing things like television appearances that the girls had made as well as the many ways in which they "busted" their way into pop culture.

Screaming in High Heels certainly delivers the goods by covering a lot of ground; however, while the doc is overall very satisfying, there are two problems that I have with it, one being the runtime (I like 'em long, baby!) and the other being the lack of a fanboy perspective. Now, when I say fanboy perspective, what I mean is Screaming in High Heels could have used some commentary from a celebrity horror fan like an Eli Roth, an Adam Green or whoever could step to the plate and bring that solid fanboy perspective that I, as a fan, can relate to. And in doing so, the runtime of just over 60 min would be stretched out a solid 15-20 min, making the doc's length less of a problem for me.

Regardless of these minor issues, I thoroughly enjoyed Screaming in High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era and have no qualms about recommending it to anyone who loves Scream Queens as well as anyone who enjoys this specific time in horror cinema.    

If you'd like to check out Screaming in High Heels for yourself, the horror cable network Chiller shows it from time-to-time, but if you want to see the unedited version, then Breaking Glass Pictures is releasing it on DVD on August 28th. And, depending on your sexual preference, you might want to see this one unedited. *cough-cough lots-of-boobs cough-cough!*

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Slaterocalypse is Upon Us…

Slaterocalypse main

Not too long ago the mighty Eric from the equally mighty Back online. Back on Duty. asked if I would participate in an event worthy of busting out the ol' Black Jack Gum and cracking open that pack of menthols I stole from the corner store. This event would come to be known as Slaterocalypse, a week long celebration dedicated to the films of the great, and when I say great, I mean great, Christian Slater.

Now, chances are that Eric doesn't have access to my memories, so he probably isn't aware of the fact that there was a time when I was pretty much obsessed with a few of Slater's films, specifically Gleaming the Cube and Pump Up the Volume. Both films are a great representation of the type of kid I was at the time in which they came out, and I watched both of these movies on a constant basis. In fact, there were times when I used to watch Pump Up the Volume as often as twice a day (usually smoking stolen cigs). That sounds pretty over the top now, but I was 13 at the time and the rebellious nature of the film filled a void that very few could.

Anyway, what I'm getting at here is it's very awesome that Eric decided to ask me to take part in a Christian Slater theme week, because he is an actor who did a handful of films that were quite influential on me as a youngster. Now, Pump Up the Volume naturally would have been my first choice to review as a part of Slaterocalypse, but it was already taken, unsurprisingly. However, of the options that were left, I think I fared well considering I was able to pick a film that I not only have always enjoyed but one that I actually bought on DVD recently and had been wanting to rewatch, and that is Lot 249 from Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.

So, why not take a moments to stop by Back online. Back on Duty. to check out my horror host approach to Lot 249, and while you're there, check out all the other Christian Slater goodness that has overtaken his blog with the force of 10,000 hail storms. I don't even know what that means, but it does sound pretty bad ass. Click here for all the action! 


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Paracinema's Sweet 16!


Issue 16 of Paracinema Magazine has been unleashed onto the world, and from the looks of it, it appears as if they are taking no prisoners with an issue chockfull of awesome cinematic goodies for you to feast on!

Check out some of what's in store! 

"Images of Horror and Lust" in Ken Russell’s The Devils
by Samm Deighan

Flinging Lingerie at Police Cars with Lulu, Peaches and Darlene: The Fashionably
True Story of How Female Rebellion Launched the Assault of the Killer Bimbos

by Jonathan Plombon

Recovered Realities: Found Footage and Mockumentary Horror
by C. Rachel Katz

Rehabilitating Daddy, or How Disaster Movies say it’s OK to Trust Authority.
by Jon Towlson

The Films of René Laloux: Notes on the Golden Age of French Science Fiction
by Derek Godin

This Ain’t Hollywood XXX: The Cultural Significance of the Porn Parody
by Justin LaLiberty

Issue 16 also features articles from a few very good friends of CNAMB, including everyone's favorite "Bug," Zach, from The Lightning Bug's Lair as well as the one they call "Magic Man" aka James from Behind the Couch. Also, I think there might be a little something in there about a film called Tourist Trap from yours truly, but don't hold that against Paracinema!    

Issue 16 is days from being released into action, so be sure to head over and order yourself a copy right now! Yes, now!!

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