When one thinks of the term "Scream Queen", the image that immediately springs to mind is that of a gorgeous woman in a scary situation. Sometimes it's the horrors of the inhuman. At other times, it's the darkness of the human spirit. The Scream Queen faces it all, and leaves an imprint on anyone who watches her.
Such is the case with my next interview subject.
She is the one and only Linnea Quigley.
For retro movie fans, she is one of the women who defines the term "Scream Queen", and as you'll come to find, she's had a very interesting career.
She agreed to do an e-mail interview with me, so without any further ado, here's:
The RetroJunk Interview With Linnea Quigley!
Caps: What were your pop-cultural likes growing up?
Linnea: I grew up in Iowa, but liked the bands like NY Dolls. I loved the drive-ins. My dad would drive us and watch "Billy Jack", "Boxcar Bertha", all those classics, but I was very very shy.
Caps: What were your school days like?
Linnea: Like I said, I was shy and also hated school. It seemed like a waste of time. I had panic attacks, a lot going and was never popular. It was so bad I'd mouth the words in music class.
Caps: What inspired you to become an entertainer?
Linnea: I wanted to be an entertainer, but didn't see how since I couldn't even stand up in class and answer questions without getting red and feeling funny.
Caps: What jobs did you hold before becoming an entertainer?
Linnea: I worked at a office that my dad was head of the college, Palmer College of chiropractic, but hated office work, then i changed to working at health clubs. I did a short stint at 16 as a bus girl also, and would hate when prom happened cuz it was a classy restaurant and all the kids would come in and i had this stupid German girl outfit on with a cap.
Caps: You made an uncredited appearance in the 1978 movie "Deathsport". You'd already been given on-screen credit in 2 movies before that, so what was the case with this film?
Linnea: I don't know why i'm uncredited in "Deathsport". It was the first time I realized how cheap sets were, all plastic and styrofoam, but I was happy and felt cool. I was, I guess, a courtesan or something just standing there. I got a box lunch out of it.
Caps: "Savage Streets" is one of the most celebrated B-movies of the 80s. Considering the content of the movie, though, did you find it difficult to work on? As an extension of the previous question, this movie, along with several other of your early titles, including "Graduation Day" and "Young Warriors", deals with school violence in an action-oriented manner. Considering what's ensued in the years since these titles, from Columbine in the 90s to the rise of the "It Gets Better" movement, do you think such a topic will ever be played as popcorn material again?
Linnea: It was difficult to work on "Savage Streets" with having to be in the not hearing world, and know I couldn't act like a hearing person, so the rape scene was difficult. I didn't know how much you use your voice to display emotions, so I just had my face and body to rely on and it was strange feeling. Most of the guys stayed in character and you get to a point where you don't hear and you just feel that way. Danny Steinman was a great director to work with and made it easier for me, talking to me beforehand. As for school violence, wow, that's a good one. Who thought you'd have metal detectors and guns in schools back when I made "Savage Streets"? Now things have gotten so bad I think the studios are afraid to push that and be blamed for something happening. It should be made since it's reality and things have changed. I guess just not making the guys with the guns heroes and show them for the cowards or problems that people should pay attention to but don't.
Caps: In 1984, you also had a role in "Silent Night, Deadly Night". Because of the idea of a serial-killing Santa Claus, the movie ended up under heavy criticism. What was your reaction to the criticism, and has it changed in the years since the film's release?
Linnea: It's funny. I was in Mexico with Don Calfa shooting a comedy, "Treasure Of The Moon Goddess", and my manager said people were on TV picketing the movie, and I couldn't understand since it was another slasher film, but I guess putting Santa in it threw the do-gooders off and made the movie more popular, which is funny. I think now it's just a Christmas staple, and if not for all the uproar, it would have passed under the radar. I just did a music video and the one guy wore a "Silent Night, Deadly Night" shirt in it.
Caps: "The Return Of The Living Dead" is another cult favorite from the 80s. I'm sure you had seen the original "Night Of The Living Dead", so when you came across this script, what did you think of it?
Linnea: I was thrilled to be called in for the movie. Stanzi Stokes, the casting woman who had me in for "Silent Night" had me in for this, and then I went to the directors and producers, and at first I didn't go "Oh, it's a Night Of The Living Dead", since the script was so different. I loved "Night Of The Living Dead", and was really loving my character, but wow, I never thought years later people would be loving it, almost like the original zombie movie. I loved my character, was so off and just kinda in her own world.
Caps: The make-up for both the zombies and the punks were very well-designed. Did you know if Orion tried to get an Oscar nomination for the make-up?
Linnea: I don't think they tried to get an Oscar since the budget was so low and no one expected it to be the hit it was, and everything to look so amazing. They had to go up against heavy hitters with a lot of clout. I think the Oscars are a lot of politics, and they were not in the league. You look at it, and there is no CGI, and its amazing. The half corpse always gets me. It's like magic and very creepy.
Caps: Movies like "Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama" and "Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers" were released theatrically. Nowadays, a lot of movies like that seem likely to go straight-to-video. Do you think the time has passed for theatrical releases of movies like this, or could it still happen?
Linnea: Movies like "Sorority Babes" and all, which used to get out there, are just not able to. There was the explosion of people making video movies, still a few 16, but the wrong people right now. A big budget movie has very little time in a threatre and its all going to Netflix. It's cheap. You go nowhere and have a huge pick of movies. It's sad. My favorite way to see a movie is the drive-in. There is one by me, but I love that. Now I'd be heartbroken if drive-ins all went away. It's too bad about the other good movies not getting a chance on the big screen because it changes it to bigger then life and magical.
Caps: What roles did you audition for, but didn't get?
Linnea: I remember auditioning for "Teen Wolf", the main girl, and also the main girl in "Howard The Duck". There were plenty more, I'm sure, but those i remember.
Caps: How do you feel the entertainment industry has changed from when you started out?
Linnea: When I started out, people were trained, went to acting schools, worked on the craft...Now they work on their teeth and their looks more. The disipline has gone down a lot, and a lot of people don't show up on time, know their lines, know the script or know it's a unit working, not just them. I've done a lot of jobs in the industry to know it. Co-producing, craft service, wardrobe...I don't come in with an attitude or late and I've just noticed people not working together for the good of the project and less disipline and skill.
Caps: What are your opinions on modern horror films?
Linnea: Some of the new films are good. I must say I do like some of the "Saw" films. I guess I'm jaded since i feel I've seen it all. There are also a lot I need to see. Rob Zombie did great with "Devil's Rejects". It is creepy like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", but I feel most are a rehash of others.
Caps: Your IMDB filmography shows you to be a very busy actress, so what's your idea of the perfect day off?
Linnea: For a perfect day off is to be working on a great film. That's awful but true. I love to work.
Caps: Besides your acting, you also play in the band The Skirts. What does music provide you with that acting doesn't?
Linnea: I love recording. I do get stage fright, but music, since I write, gives you a chance to get your emotions and ideas out there. It's like writing and directing and editing a movie and then playing it. I got a song put in "Nightmare Sisters", and also in the upcoming documentry you cant miss, "High Heels: The Rise And Fall Of The B Movie Scream Queen", which was an honor for me.
Caps: What was the wildest gig you ever played?
Linnea: Mainly during the punk days, when we rehearsed at the Masque, we had crazy people coming in and out. The Go-Gos were on one side of us, very very punk then, and The Motels on the other. The Germs would come down and we would lock our door since they liked to break stuff. I got to play and write with drummer Sandy West from the Runaways, which was great, and Cheech Marin put us in a movie when i went in for an audition for "Nice Dreams". Oh, it reminds me. In "Clean And Sober", I didn't get the part of a dead girl in the beginning, and wondered "Why can't i do dead good?"
Caps: You've been an actress, a musician, a writer...What's the one talent that you've always wanted to show off, but have never really had an oppportunity to?
Linnea: Well, I went through one year to get on the LAPD force. and I wish I'd gone on with that. I really wish I had.
Caps: Have you ever considered mounting an effort to get Turner Classic Movies to play movies like "Savage Streets" and "Return Of The Living Dead" on their TCM Underground block?
Linnea: I'm not so aware of things here and hate that. I dont know if Turner would run it, but I'll check into it
Caps: If you could go back to your youth with the knowledge that you have now, would you do anything differently?
Linnea: I wouldn't have left L.A and had my house and friends and all, but i had to pretty much with my parents being ill. I just should have thought it out. I'm too much a jumper.
You have a great day and treat animals the best...They are the best. Love, Linnea.
I would like to thank Ms. Quigley for working with me. It was quite an honor to do so.
For further information of Ms. Quigley's work, here's the link to her IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001643/