Screaming in High Heels: The Rise & Fall of the Scream Queen Era (2012)

hifNZixLike pretty much any documentary involving the video age and golden age of horror “Screaming in High Heels” is a love letter to the genre, and a requiem for a period of horror and filmmaking that is dead and buried. Granted there is the occasional Danielle Harris and Diora Baird, but the facet of the scream queen is defunct, thanks to a new wave of horror directors who feel they’re above such elements. Scream Queens were once upon a time a big lure for potential horror audiences to a new title. Director Jason Paul Collum sets the spotlight on three of the most beautiful women to ever rule the horror world, and examines the highs and lows of being a scream queen.

Michelle Bauer, Brinke Stevens, and Linnea Quigley are three of the sexiest film sirens who ever lived, and Collum provides audiences with a lot of insight in to their accidental fame, and their rise to brief mainstream recognition. Director Collum leaves no stone unturned, covering most of these actresses most iconic and infamous horror films, as well as looking back on their stints as models, and representatives of the cult film community. From the end of the drive in to the beginning of the video age and cable television, the trio of scream queens offer their thoughts on the changing medium of film and the conditions of working on micro-budget cult horror films,

Meanwhile directors like Fred Olen Ray, and David DeCoteau often recall working with Quigley, Stevens, and Bauer with great fondness. Truly these three incredibly buxom women are about as humble and likable as can be, and they make the documentary a sheer delight to sit through. Folks who were around during the golden age of video stores and low budget horror films will find many gems to be mined from the video clips, tidbits of facts, as well as clips to rare award shows and late night TV shows like “USA Up All Night.” Along the way the trio of scream queens recollect much of their own experiences with filmmaking and indie directors.

Including their own willingness to perform in the nude, and the lengths they’d go through to ensure a film would see completion in some instances. Collum gives us a closer look in to the women’s lives delving in to their own life story and their eventual falling in to the business of filmmaking as models who simply walked in to the arena of the horror film and discovered they could dominate it with their unparalleled charisma, talent for improvisation, and incredible sex appeal. There’s also some really interesting looks in to the saturation of the home video market and the peak of the video age where every home had a VCR and everyone communed to the video store to feast on horror nuggets that found their audience base.

Even in spite of lacking advertising, publicity, and press junkets with the media. There is of course looks in to the downsides of being such powerful figures in an otherwise controversial medium of filmmaking that dares to defy conventions. The trio of actresses provide insight in to the more politically charged debate about violence in horror films as well as their role in sexual exploitation and objectification. There is also a few horror stories about obsessed fans who often threatened their well being and careers as actresses. In spite of displaying the inherent dangers of being talented individuals who embraced their sexuality, “Screaming in High Heels” is about laughs and nostalgia first and foremost.

Collum recalls a time in cinema where the VHS ruled the world, and young gorgeous women were able to dominate the horror world as larger than life beings who could lead any title in to icon status. Sadly with a new generation of self-important horror directors, there’s simply no room for scream queens, but the pure sexual appeal of Stevens, Quigley, and Bauer are eternal. “Screaming in High Heels” is the ultimate testament to how women changed horror forever and dominated the cinematic arena of the genre with their charisma, appeal, and sexuality that they used to create an empire of fans and cult appeal forever. The scream queen may be dead, but the trio in “Screaming in High Heels” will live on forever.