From the film’s IMDB.com page citation:
“Linnea Quigley plays Malicia Tombs, a well-known horror actress who dies in a car accident under mysterious circumstances after leaving the set of her latest movie. Fans and co-workers alike reflect on her life. But someone believes she was murdered and sets out to get revenge for her death!”
Readers, I have occasionally taken IMDB’s plot summaries to task over their (cough cough) inaccuracies; and, sadly, that’s the case this morning. While the provided synopsis has a modest element of truth to it, I might argue that it’s also blatantly misleading. Now, I’ll not spoil it directly, but I would caution you that the summary feels like it was written to kinda/sorta deliver a classic misdirection: in fact, such a misdirection is probably a necessary component of getting viewers to watch this incredibly low-budget slasher production. Otherwise, I wonder if anyone would’ve shown up at all.
Well … okay. Maybe that sounded a bit harsh. Apologies.
The name of Linnea Quigley brings with it a certain aura. This celebrated actress long ago earned the title of ‘Scream Queen’ for her resume, one rich in the realm of Horror and Fantasy. She’s definitely fashioned a career out of blood and guts on screens big and small, but – and this is only my observation – it would seem that of late she’s been relegated to increasingly smaller independent Horror outings, the likes of which tend to end up shuffled to pay cable channels or direct-to-video are that rarely gets authentic media coverage. Yes, it sucks getting older, but Quigley’s fans understandably appreciate all that the lady does, so her reputation and appearance alone does guarantee a small measure of success for budding auteurs who might cast her in their forthcoming frights.
I have read a bit about Scream Queen (2002), and I’ve come to understand its production was somewhat fractured. As I understand, it began life in the late 1990’s, but filming stalled at some point over what was likely a loss of capital. Eventually, the project was completed, and it was released on home video with, probably, very little fanfare. Though I’ve no way of knowing, I suspect this one was overlooked by a mainstream crowd, perhaps only finding embrace from the most ardent purveyors of the Horror section in Blockbuster stores of the day. Such a thing happens to many small(ish), independent works, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Still, it’s kinda/sorta hard to muster up any serious praise for the effort expended.
Thankfully, it’s lean, clocking in at just under 80 minutes; and it largely sticks to what might say is an almost ‘classical’ slasher structure. Following the format of an Agatha Christie outing, it’s basically a mildly bloody yarn about folks called to one mansion on a dark and stormy night wherein they’re dispatched to the afterlife one-by-one as viewers have to figure out whodunit. (This is what I mean when I suggest it’s ‘classical’ in nature.) Alas, it ain’t all that hard to reach that conclusion – again, trying to avoid spoiling any major details – but maybe I’ve seen too many iterations of this formula, leaving this one with a decided lack of freshness.
So … despite the fact that – quite literally – Scream Queen looks like it had no extraordinary budget (it could’ve been shot in any residential home by an assortment of gathered friends), it’s hard to fault this cast and crew for showing up and giving it an honest attempt. It sticks too closely to meeting expectations of the narrative – the kiss of death for damn near any low-budget chiller to break into profitability – and never tries anything new, different, or inviting. This kinda thing has been done to death in the Scream franchise alone, and I’m not sure those storytelling mechanics truly lend themselves to modestly budgeted knockoffs. Quigley’s involvement alone – as welcome as that may’ve been – was just not enough to ‘burn the barn’ over such a bland concoction.
A noble attempt, true. Just not revolutionary by any measurable standard.
Scream Queen (2002) was produced by … well, unfortunately I’ve no idea. The usually reliable IMDB.com has no information and not even this release’s packaging gives me the specificity I look for. DVD distribution (for this particular release) is being coordinated by the fine folks at Visual Vengeance. As for the technical specifications? Ouch. This is a tough one, readers, because what you’re looking at – from the original – is some very dated and underattended source material. While I’m no trained video expert, I can assure you that the provided sights and sounds are well below the bar for what’s available today. But if you’re looking for special features? Wowza! Visual Vengeance has certainly rolled out the red carpet with this collection, and I’m doing the copy-and-paste for those interested in this sort of detail below. It’s a fabulous assortment that should be the envy of any genre nut worldwide. Take a gander:
- NEW SD MASTER APPROVED BY THE DIRECTOR
- NEW Linnea Quigley Interview
- Audio Commentary with Writer / Director Brad Sykes
- Once Upon A Time In Horrorwood: Behind the Scenes Documentary
- Second Feature: Original Producer's Cut of Movie
- Editor Mark Polonia Interview
- Behind The Scenes Image Gallery
- Linnea Quigley Image Gallery
- Original Script Selects
- Original Trailer
- Visual Vengeance Trailers
- Six-page liner notes by Tony Strauss of Weng's Chop Magazine
- Collectible Linnea Quigley folded mini-poster
- 'Stick your own' VHS sticker set
- Reversible sleeve featuring original home video art
- Optional English subtitles
Alas … it’s hard to give this one a ringing endorsement on any level. I would say that Quigley’s fans will find it mildly delightful – a bit of a stretch – and why not? Scream Queen stars one of the truly original scream queens ever to grace the screen, so I can appreciate the obvious irony of casting a major Horror talent to star as a major Horror talent in a low-budget send-up of indie-set slasher scene. Sadly, it’s only occasionally fun and really only rarely finds a tone deserving attention … and by this time you can see whodunit from a mile away … which, incidentally, I think the camera may’ve been located a mile away from some of these fuzzy shots.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Visual Vengeance provided me with a complimentary Blu-ray of Scream Queen (2002) by request for the expressed purpose of completing this review. Their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.