Exclusive Interview: Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, and Michelle Bauer - Screaming in High Heels!
To help promote the release of Screaming in High Heels (review), a look into the lives and careers of Scream Queen legends Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, and Michelle Bauer, Breaking Glass Pictures provided an opportunity for us to have a chat with the documentary’s leading ladies.
Check it out below, and be sure to purchase Screaming in High Heels through Evil Shop below!
Can you tell me a bit about the genesis of Screaming in High Heels? Did director Jason Paul Collum approach each of you with the idea of featuring you in a documentary about the Scream Queen era?
Brinke Stevens - A few years ago, Jason and I co-produced a documentary called Something to Scream About, which featured popular actresses like Julie Strain and Debbie Rochon. However, it didn't include Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer, which disappointed some fans. Jason Collum, being such a longtime fan himself, then decided to create a 'love letter' of sorts to our original Scream Queen trio, which became Screaming in High Heels.
Linnea Quigley – Well, I think I was the last contacted since I live furthest away (hopefully for not too much longer). But I thought – “Wow, how cool a commentary.” But I had no clue it was so amazing.
Michelle Bauer - Jason Paul Collum did contact us each individually. I thought it was just going to be an interview, which a lot of people have approached me with in the past. Not until I did the Q & A did I realize he had a much broader and bigger idea in mind. I then started to get excited about the project. I had no idea it was going to be the start of something so big.
While Screaming in High Heels certainly covered a lot of ground, both with your careers and personal lives, is there anything that wasn’t covered in detail or at all that you’d like to speak at length about?
Michelle - I believe that Jason was thorough. He did his homework and it shows. It was all voluntary just how much or how little we wanted to share. I was nervous at first because he could have used all of our personal information and shed a completely different light on the whole genre and the people involved. He wanted to show an honest and complete side, and he accomplished that.
Linnea - I would have liked to get into more of how I’ve gone from being the teen girl to now playing mothers and more interesting parts - not just the shower girl. And also about my devotion to animal rights and how I live my life now.
Brinke - Actually, it was pretty thorough and covered just about everything. And in such a fun exciting way!
Can you speak a bit about the “glass ceiling” that’s mentioned in the film, and how the “Scream Queen” label prevented you from landing a variety of roles outside of the genre? What types of films might you have enjoyed working in, given the option?
Linnea – Well, everything happens for a reason. And yes, back then you got labeled. Not as much as today, but doing nudity and doing low budget films made them not want to use you. Now, you get reality people in movies who aren’t actors. I would have loved to do movies like Resident Evil. I do love horror, and comedies also.
Brinke - When I first started acting in the early 1980s, I immediately landed small roles in big films, like Psycho 3, Three Amigos, Body Double, The Naked Gun, and Spinal Tap. I thought I was soon destined to become an A-list actress. At the same time, the video boom hit and I was constantly hired for low-budget horror movies. I was quickly typecast as a B-movie celebrity, and it became impossible to break out of that genre to land any bigger film jobs. I've loved all my myriad roles and don't feel like I've missed out on anything - except that my income has always reflected those same low budgets, and it's always been very hard to make a decent living in this particular industry. There are no residuals, no retirement plan, no pension, no 401K's, nor any health insurance for us.
Michelle - There was a time before I stopped working that I would have liked to have taken on the roles of the mother, doctor, snoopy neighbor or the scientist. But unfortunately, the transition seemed impossible. The "glass ceiling" was very real and constricting. I was not old enough to play an older role, and I was "stuck" in limbo. The "Scream Queen" era was over, and it was a struggle to make new contacts. I sought out a manager to help me overcome the transition but I ended bringing him more work than he got me. Frustrated, I walked away from him and decided my time and energy should be focused on my family. It was the best move I ever made.
The documentary details the resurgence that your careers are seeing due to your young fans growing up and becoming filmmakers that are keen to employ their idols. Now that you’ve entered this next phase of your career, do you see yourself tackling new types of roles, either in front of or behind the camera? Have you ever had an interest in, say, writing, directing, or producing?
Michelle - I do not have any plans to return to work. I dabble here and there. I have started up with a manager to visit a couple of conventions a year so I can have a chance to thank the fans for their loyalty and support. I feel I owe them a huge THANK YOU. I had no idea that there was still a fan base out there. I have Jason to thank for that also. I have never had the desire to write, produce or direct. That takes a special type of person and that person is not me.
Linnea - I’ve had some great ones lately, but they are lower budget. But like I said, everything happens for a reason and I’m lucky to be where I am. I have produced, and I’d love to direct. I like to come up with ideas, but I also like being in front of and behind the camera. I like getting more involved in films I do, and if I was in LA I’d be kicking more ass.
Brinke - At the Burbank store signing last week, we were astonished how many young people came up to us saying they grew up watching our movies as kids, and how we were their very first romantic crushes. It's true that many of those teenagers later became filmmakers themselves. I'm now working with the next generation, like young director Chris Olen Ray (The Silicon Assassin), son of Fred Olen Ray, whom I worked with extensively in the late-80s and early 90s.
I've shot 10 new movies this year, and have had many interesting roles. I played the Mother (Abby Borden) in Lizzie Borden's Revenge, and also a couple of very strong, powerful, almost masculine roles such as a tough small-town Sheriff in Axeman at Cutter's Creek, and the President of the United States in The Silicon Assassin.
In 2012, I also wrote and directed my very first film, Personal Demons, which co-starred Linnea Q and Debbie R. After appearing in 150 movies so far, I found that I was a naturally good director; I really enjoyed the whole process and hope to do it a lot more in the near future.
Given how the industry has changed so dramatically since the heyday of the 80s video boom, do you think it’s possible that we’ll ever see another Scream Queen era? Are there any actresses currently working that you feel deserve to take up the mantle of “Scream Queen”? I know that Tiffany Shepis was mentioned in the doc, amongst others.
Linnea - I don’t think there will be another scream queen era anytime soon. It was something that just fell into place like magic, and a lot of the people are long gone who tried to be scream queens, they should just say they are actresses and not try to hold on to a term that will not help them. You can’t name yourself something others have to.
Michelle - The eighties video boom was a chance happening that I was fortunate enough to be a part of. I don’t see it coming back, unfortunately. The market was basically cornered at the time and now it is possible for anyone to pick up a camera or recorder and call themselves a director or producer. As far a Scream Queen status goes, I have been out of the loop so long. I have no idea who is out there doing what.
Brinke - We were just in the right place at the right time. In the mid-1980s, the video boom kept us constantly working and thus launched our stellar careers. At that time, there were many independent studios, run by Roger Corman, Charles Band, Fred Olen Ray, David DeCoteau, and so on. Today, those indie studios no longer exist, so I think it would be almost impossible for a young actress to follow in our footsteps. Fortunately, Tiffany Shepis and Debbie Rochon have found their own path to become huge stars in the industry. Their success is well-deserved... they're both very talented and sweet gals.
Any parting words to fans, and those who haven’t yet seen the documentary?
Brinke - I think it's such an amazing part of cinema history that everyone should see it! We three girls were unique, true originals, carving our lasting niche in a male-dominated industry. And we have only our devoted fans to thank for our huge success. So, my deepest thanks to all of you for your love and support!
Linnea - It’s an amazing documentary, and you learn a lot too. It’s got never before seen things, and it delivers it with fun and humor, and also seriousness. I thought I was just doing a documentary, but this is an honor, and so enjoyable. Jason Paul Collum did an amazing job! I love it, and thanks. It’s the ultimate compliment.
Michelle - Thank you.
A special thanks to Brinke, Linnea and Michelle for their time, and Breaking Glass Pictures for the opportunity.
Screaming in High Heels is now available from Breaking Glass Pictures.
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