07th Oct2014

‘Scream Queens: Horror Heroines Exposed’ Review

by Phil Wheat

[EDITORS NOTE: Given that we’ve already reviewed the Vinegar Syndrome release of Graduation Day and both discs are virtually identical bar the extras, we thought we’d review the MAJOR difference between the two Blu-ray releases – the bonus feature on the UK disc, the documentary Scream Queens: Horror Heroines Exposed]

Debbie-Rochon-SQ-doc

It’s fair to say I’m a sucker for scream queen “documentaries”. Be they the T&A filled features such as Scream Queen Hollywood Hot Tub Party, more amateur-hour productions such as Donald Farmer’s shot-on-video Invasion of the Scream Queens, or the awesome scream queen interviews that featured in Stephen King’s World of Horror – if it features an interview with a scream queen then I’m there. I’m also a fan of the documentaries and Blu-ray extras produced by High Rising Productions – including their previously released slasher movie documentary: Slice and Dice: The Slasher Movie Forever.

Put the two together and… I’m in filmic heaven!

Directed by UK-horror scene stalwart Calum Waddell and hosted by scream queen Debbie Rochon (Terror Firmer, Tromeo and Juliet) Scream Queens: Horror Heroines Exposed features, in a change of pace for horror documentaries, especially those focusing on females in the genre, an all-female line-up, discussing horror movies from their perspective – exploring the challenges of being an actress in a genre predominantly made by and for men, from how they came about to be defined as a “scream queen”, about the vagaries of the genre: nudity, violence, misogyny, etc., and about how they feel about the genre and the label.

If you’re going to make a documentary on scream queens you have to have, at least in this horror fans opinion, the true [scream] queens of the horror genre, those actresses that defined what it was to be a Scream Queen – the likes of Michelle Bauer, Brinke Stevens and Linnea Quigley. The three women who, in the 80s, created the now-iconic title and set the standard for all that followed. In fact its those three that, for me, make this documentary.

Brinke Stevens, even in the aforementioned quasi-documentaries like Scream Queen Hollywood Hot Tub Party and Invasion of the Scream Queens, always came across as much more than JUST a scream queen and that’s only confirmed here in Waddell’s documentary. In all honesty I could watch Stevens talk about her experiences in the genre for hours – she has great stories and a great storytelling manner. She would have made a far greater host for Scream Queens: Horror Heroines Exposed – much moreso than Debbie Rochon whose delivery falls flat at times.

Thankfully Waddell and co. fill their documentary with a mixture of scream queens, from big screen veterans to up-and-coming stars including including Sybil Danning (Howling II), Danielle Harris (the Halloween series), Adrienne King (Friday the 13th), Melanie Kinnaman (Friday the 13th Part V), Jennifer Lim (Hostel), Lynn Lowry (Shivers), Catriona MacColl (The Beyond), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), Patricia Tallman (Night of the Living Dead), Lisa Wilcox (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 & 5) and the likes of Forbes Riley (Splatter University), Elissa Dowling (Dread, Death Racers), journalist Heidi Honeycutt, Irina Voronina (Piranha 3DD), Jennifer Lim (Hostel), plus the UK’s very own Emily Booth (Cradle of Fear) and Jane March (Colour of Night)… All of whom have great stories to tell and great experiences to share. And the odd product or two to plug!

If you enjoyed Waddell’s previous effort, Slice and Dice: The Slasher Movie Forever, you’ll definitely get a kick out of this documentary. On the one hand it’s a shame that 88 Films chose to pair this great documentary with a film rather than release it on its own accord; on the other it’s about time this film saw the light of day – it’s been in “production” since 2010 and was originally slated to appear (in a slightly different form) on Arrow Video’s Blu-ray of Vamp.

Definitely make sure, if you buy the Graduation Day Blu-ray, you give Scream Queens: Horror Heroines Exposed a spin – you won’t regret it!

**** 4/5

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