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Scream Queen (Visual Vengeance) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Scream Queen (Visual Vengeance) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Visual Vengeance
    Released on: November 28th, 2023.
    Director: Brad Sykes
    Cast: Linnea Quigley, Jarrod Robbins
    Year: 1998
    Purchase From Amazon

    Scream Queen – Movie Review:

    Brad Syke’s SOV horror cheapie, Scream Queen, has a movie within a movie thing going in in that the story introduces us to a popular horror movie actress named Malicia Tombs (Linnea Quigley) who is working on director Eric Orloff’s (Jarrod Robbins) latest low budget genre offering, Scream Queen! Malicia is, to be blunt, quite full of herself and spends most of her time on set acting like an entitled brat. When she storms off the set after not getting her way and leaves without finishing her scenes, she’s soon found dead in a car accident that provides all involved, and the local authorities led by Detective Hammer (C. Courtney Joyner), with more questions than answers. When this happens, the collective careers of the other cast and crew members are ruined.

    After some time has passed, Eric and his cast and crew - Squib (Bryan Cooper), Christine (Nicole West), Devon (Nova Sheppard), Runyon (Kurt Levee) and Jenni (Emilie Jo Tisdale) – receive an invitation to a remote mansion from, you guessed it… Malicia! She does this under the guise that she wants to finish the scenes that she never got to complete and even throws a whole bunch of money at the others to convince them to oblige her. Malicia’s got a bit of a specific rider, however, and that’s that everyone invited must stay inside the mansion for the duration of the production.

    As it turns out, there’s more to this than just an egotistical actress wanting to reclaim past glories. Rather, Malicia believes that someone from the set planted a bomb in her car in an attempt to kill her, and she wants revenge. When they arrive and once again start work on Eric’s soon to be horror masterpiece, a masked killer that mirrors the one in their script shows up on scene, killing people off in reasonably grisly fashion.

    Shot in 1998 but not finished until 2002, Scream Queen rises above its obvious low budget and technical limitations to make for a pretty entertaining SOV slasher. Quigley is obviously the top draw here, and she’s in pretty fine form, looking great and seemingly enjoying playing her queen bitch character but the supporting players are all fairly entertaining as well. That said, Linnea’s role is more of a supporting part than a starring role, despite her top billing. Granted, no one is taking home an Oscar for their work here but Sykes gets better than average performances out of his players, at least by the standards of decades old analogue pictures made with no real budget.

    The story has a decent sense of humor behind it and not only plays with slasher movie motifs, which were feeling pretty overused by the time this movie was made, but also with giallo tropes and even elements of old timey William Castle-esque horror films and old dark house thrillers. There are some pacing issues here and there where the movie feels a bit padded, but overall, the movie is pretty entertaining and worth seeing if for no other reason than it features a song sung by Linnea called ‘This Chainsaw’s Made For Cutting!’, even if it isn’t a lost masterpiece.

    Note that this release not only contains the original version of Scream Queen but also the original producer’s cut of movie that runs five minutes longer and seems to feature additional footage from a completely unrelated movie to pad out the running time.

    Scream Queen – Blu-ray Review:

    Visual Vengeance brings Scream Queen to region free Blu-ray with a “new director-approved 480p SD master presented on Blu-ray from original tape elements.” Presented in AVC encoded 1080i, the image shows its tape-sourced roots but it’s watchable enough and those accustomed to watching low budget shot on video movies from this era will have no problem with the picture quality. This isn’t the type of release you buy to show off your new 4k TV, as the picture is inherently soft, but the authoring is fine and compression is alright.

    Scream Queen gets an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, with optional subtitles provided in English only. Audio quality is on par with the video quality in that it’s limited by the source materials but perfectly acceptable given the film’s low-fi roots. Sometimes the dialogue is a bit muffled but aside from that, it’s all fine for what it is.

    Extras start off with a new commentary with Writer/Director Brad Sykes that was actually recorded back in 2020. He talks about how this was his first professional movie, what it was like shooting in Los Angeles only a few months after he moved there, locations that were used, getting Quigley for the movie and what she was like to work with, shooting the lengthy opening in one take, details on the different cast and crew members he worked with, why the movie is structured the way it is, why the movie was shelved as long as it was, how certain elements of filmmaking never change and plenty more.

    There are a few featurettes here too, starting with Once Upon A Time In Horrorwood, a thirty minute talk with Skyes where he talks about the movie’s complicated release history, working with Quigley and the rest of the cast, what went into finishing the movie and how he looks forward to finally getting the movie a proper release with this disc. We also get a new Linnea Quigley interview that runs twelve minutes where she talks about how she landed the part in the movie, memories of shooting specific scenes including the music video and how much she liked working with the cast and crew. Editor Mark Polonia Interview speaks for just over two minutes about how he came to work on the movie and how he feels about the movie.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc is a behind the scenes image gallery, a Linnea Quigley image gallery, some selections from the original script, an original trailer for the feature, bonus Visual Vengeance trailers, menus and chapter selection options.

    Visual Vengeance has also, once again, included some fun physical bonuses here as well, starting with a folded mini-poster of Linnea Quigley tucked away inside the keepcase, as well as a sticker sheet of vintage VHS-style rental stickers and, for the first pressing only, an insert book containing six pages of liner notes from Tony Strauss of Weng’s Chop Magazine where he gives us an overview of the movie and his thoughts on it. The disc also comes with some nice reversible cover sleeve art featuring original VHS art on the reverse as well as, for the first pressing only, a limited edition slipcase.

    Scream Queen – The Final Word:

    Scream Queen is pretty entertaining and you’ve got to appreciate how Sykes and company do more than just deliver a by the numbers slasher movie with their efforts, even if the end result is less than perfect. Visual Vengeance has done their typically stellar job bringing this SOV obscurity to Blu-ray in a special edition that looks and sounds as good as it can and which is, once again, stacked with interesting extra features.



    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Scream Queen Blu-ray screen caps!

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