After having a diva moment on the wind-battered beachfront set of her latest fright flick endeavor (the aptly titled Scream Queen), outlandishly named actress Malicia Tombs (legendary Scream Queen Linnea Quigley, The Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons, Witchtrap, and many, many more) dies in a fiery car crash under those pesky “mysterious circumstances” one is so loathe to encounter.
Anyway, cut to some news footage about Tombs and then straight into a scene from that aforementioned picture… which is not in fact a scene, rather a music video featuring a horror appropriate cover of that ol’ Nancy Sinatra classic These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ performed by Quigley herself!
Flash forward a year and it’s revealed Tombs still lives… and she’s invited the cast and crew, all of which have fallen on hard times after the doomed film shoot, to her macabre mansion (realized by a miniature that I absolutely adored!) where she offers to help complete Scream Queen as long as it’s by her rules… starting with everyone now playing themselves! As you can guess we are well and truly in William Castle by way of S.O.V. (Shot On Video if ya didn’t know) territory here cats n’ creeps…
Of course the cast is reduced in numbers as the body count rises and it’s soon discovered they are actually living Malicia’s new script!
As mentioned, writer/director Brad Sykes brings us a Neo-Old Dark House tale viewed through a video camera lens (a late ‘90s one at that) with a dash of self-referential Scream-esque jabs at both horror tropes and the independent film industry at large.
This results in a fun, fast-paced flick with both dashes of Gothic ambience mixed with more traditional stalk n’ slay elements… hell, the killer would be right at home in a Giallo pic, what with the blank face and black gloves and all…
Adding to the fun is a game cast, a few gnarly practical effects, and a ton of heart (as is often the case with micro-budget horror productions)… but pound for pound the blending of straight forward narrative, “found footage”/faux-archival elements, and bizarrely enough, a music video keep things both delightfully off-kilter, as well as unique… while still dippin’ it’s terror toes in tried n’ true horror tropes.
While the picture at hand is well worth your attention on it’s own, the extras assembled here make this a must-own both for fans of shot on video fright flicks, as well as aspiring no-budget filmmakers!
Kicking things off we have an incredibly listenable commentary track courtesy of Sykes himself that details the challenges in making the film, dealing with some difficult actors, and even a connection between the film and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers of all things!
Next we have a retrospective “making of” where Sykes once again takes us behind-the-scenes of the film’s production (with rare stills included), followed by a “Producer’s Cut” of the film that runs roughly 5 minutes longer (and actually features an additional “scene” from the movie-within-a movie filled with nudity that was not present in the original cut).
After that we get interviews with Quigley and editor (and prolific independent filmmaker) Mark Polonia, a duo of behind-the-scenes image galleries (one provided by Quigley), script excerpts, and two trailers for the film (one the original, and the other the modern, Visual Vengeance version).
Other bonuses included in the package are: a six-page book of liner notes courtesy of Tony Strauss of Weng’s Chop Magazine, a folded mini-poster featuring Quigley front and center, a retro-styled VHS sticker set, and a reversible sleeve featuring original home video artwork!
Ambitious, entertaining, and a wonderfully “modern” (by late ‘90s standards) take on the “Old, Dark House” genre mixed with a lil’ inside baseball on the indie-horror scene, Scream Queen is a rollickin’ good time for both Quigley fanatics and D.I.Y. horror addicts in equal measure!