“A scream queen is an actress who has become associated with horror films, either through an appearance in a notable entry in the genre as a frequent victim or through constant appearances as the female protagonist. Jamie Lee Curtis is noted as a seminal example for her performances in the popular slasher films of the HALLOWEEN franchise.” – Wikipedia
That Wiki definition pretty much nails it. Though I suppose fans of generational horror may have varied opinions on the term Scream Queen. This article however is not about Scream Queens but instead will touch on an exploitation actress that is often cited as a Scream Queen due to numerous appearances in low-budget horror films. Since Linnea Quigley is a well-known actress in a well-known genre, I’ll try my best to keep this short and to-the-point considering the vast amount of information available regarding her long and successful career.
After graduating from high school in 1976, Quigley moved to the greater Los Angeles area with her parents. Shortly after enrolling in drama and guitar classes, Quigley found herself performing in a series of television commercials. With her natural beauty, blonde hair and amazing teeth, she was a shoe-in for the Close-Up toothpaste commercials. Quigley’s appearance in films up until 1985 were intermittent and she was uncredited in most of those films. In TOURIST TRAP (1979), she played a mannequin of all things. In STONE COLD DEAD (1979), she played “First Victim.” In both Cheech & Chong’s NICE DREAMS (1981) and STILL SMOKIN (1983), Quigley appeared as “Blondie #2” and “Blonde in Spa” respectfully.
After being impaled topless on a pair of wall-mounted deer antlers in SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984), Quigley landed the role of Trash in Dan O’Bannon’s comedic zombie romp THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985). In looking back from an outsider’s perspective, this is the film that put her on the A-list for B-movies. Trash is a crass, rebellious punk-rocker who lives life one day at a time. Like many films leading up to THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, Linnea’s character runs around topless throughout most of the film. Once she’s infected with the zombie virus she continues to run around in her birthday suit. I can say without hesitation, she’s the sexiest zombie to ever grace the silver screen.
Linnea would go on to appear in countless other low-budget films outside the horror genre. In the years between 1985 and 2000, she appeared in over 50 films across several different genres. DR. ALIEN (1989), DEADLY EMBRACE (1989), VICE ACADEMY (1989), and MURDER WEAPON (1989) are all solid exploitation films that venture outside of horror. Her close friendship with director David DeCoteau kept her extremely busy in the late 80s and early 90s. To this very day the two remain close and she occasionally works with him on current projects.
Quigley’s willingness to get nude in many of her early films was obviously a plus in terms of landing roles. She always seemed to remove her clothes with a sense of mischievous adventure. She’s clearly a funny, talented actress that didn’t need to do this, but her willingness to do so benefited her in the parts she received. One example where she keeps her clothes on is the David DeCoteau picture SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA (1988), proving nudity wasn’t necessary in securing her attention grabbing screen presence. She plays a streetwise thief in a campy, entertaining clothes-on performance. SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA and NIGHTMARE SISTERS (1988) both star Linnea Quigley, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that these two films also star Michelle Bauer (my dream interview) and Brinke Stevens. It’s the triple threat that exploitation directors dreamt about in the late 80s, but one that only a single director brought together.
Here’s a short list of films we think you’d like that feature the beautiful Linnea Quigley.
THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985)
SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA (1987)
HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS (1988)
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988)
NIGHTMARE SISTERS (1988)
ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS (1989)
VICE ACADEMY (1989)
ROBOT NINJA (1989)
LINNEA QUIGLEY’S HORROR WORKOUT (1990)
Linnea Quigley has championed her career in the film business and is still working in low budget films to this day. When she’s not appearing in movies, she’s standing up for the rights of animals with a particular love of dogs. We applaud Mrs. Quigley for doing so and are proud to have her inducted into our library commemorating the Ladies of Exploitation.
Contributed by: Mike Murphy