Coming in right at the height of the scream queen craze, Invasion of the Scream Queens is a documentary built upon numerous interviews with what feels like a myriad of horror actresses. Directed by cult schlockmeister Donald Farmer, the documentary has no real narrative to it and seems to be more of a long-winded ABOUT ME rather than an actual documentary focused on the scream queen era. Regardless, throughout the numerous interviews, there are certainly a few worthy gems as well as some valuable insight into the genre at the time, and all from the perspective of the women who were boobs-deep in it.
Of the many interviews, the viewer is privy to some very well-known actresses as well as a few that you might not have heard of. Some notable interviews come from mainstays Brink Stevens and Michelle Bauer. Coincidentally, I had recently re-watched Screaming In High Heels, so it was interesting to see both actresses just as they are at the height of their career in Invasion of the Scream Queens, whereas in Screaming In High Heels, both Bauer and Stevens are simply reflecting on the past with mixed results. It's a fascinating contrast.
Other interviews of note come from Janus Blythe, who tells some intriguing stories about meeting a future boyfriend in Jonathan Demme as well as working as a personal assistant to director Tom Holland on Fright Night. Elizabeth Kaitan, who is quite charming and just as sweet, is given an opportunity to unleash her love of film by discussing her adoration for Bonnie and Clyde as well as Martin Scorsese movies such as Taxi Driver, After Hours and Goodfellas, which she frustratingly exclaims "Should have won the Oscar!"
A shockingly youthful looking David DeCoteau turns up as the only male interviewee. While DeCoteau gives some valuable insight, his biggest contribution comes from comments he makes in reference to Linnea Quigley and how they no longer work together for various reasons. DeCoteau goes on to mention something about how they're both "upgrading their career," something of which really piqued my curiosity, especially considering that, outside of a few film clips, Quigley is entirely absent from the documentary.
One of my favorite interviews from Invasion of the Scream Queens comes from the great Mary Woronov, who gives an entertainingly strange and animated interview. Woronov spends some time discussing working with both Andy Warhol and Paul Bartel as well as her own work as an artist. Throughout her interview, the audience is given the opportunity to actually see some of her fairly impressive artwork, as Woronov both candidly and uncomfortably discusses what each piece means to her. It's really nice to see this aspect of Mary Woronov, and in my opinion, her interview is of great value to the documentary and cult film fans alike.
There are plenty more fascinating interview subjects, though there are also a few that can be a little dry at times, something of which results in sporadic moments of boredom. On the other hand, there are times when the whole affair starts to get a little depressing, which is a result of hearing so many of these actresses talk about how they're looking forward to doing bigger and better things – like getting into mainstream Hollywood pictures – which is clearly something that would not come to fruition for the majority of them. They all have stars burning bright in their eyes, but it's all just waiting to fade away.
The DVD video quality of the 20th Anniversary Edition of Invasion of the Scream Queens is fairly low, which is clearly due to the fact that it‘s a VHS rip of the original 1992 Mondo Video release, complete with tracking issues and all. Overall, I don't consider this much of a problem, as I assume a VHS release was the only source available. Furthermore, it fits with the era on an aesthetic level. With that being said, however, there are moments where the quality does become a little distracting, specifically when the screen sporadically goes black for a few seconds here and there early in the film.
While I may have my qualms, It's nice to have something like Invasion of the Scream Queens see a DVD release. These interviews are a part of cult cinema history and should be archived as such, and I believe the project as a whole, in all of its imperfections, is worth the time of any horror and cult cinema aficionado.
Invasion of the Scream Queens 20th Anniversary Special Edition is now available for purchase on Amazon.