Tonight Grueheads, your Keeper has a most delectable offering of you. It comes courtesy of a certain Linnea Quigley. Growing up in the eighties was a goddamn pleasure; John Carpenter was at his formidable prime, Justin Bieber was yet to have been conceived, everything was hunky dory in my book. And then there was Linnea; this flaxen-haired goddess took me by the short and curlies and dragged me through adolescence, with no resistance from my part I must add.
My first foray into a Quigley wonderland was Dan O’Bannon’s Return of the Living Dead. Anyone who has perused my appraisal will know that it ranks only marginally behind even Romero’s works. And it was here that I got my first glance of those legwarmers. As Trash she pretty much ate up the screen and her sassiness and voracity left an impressionable mark on my young mind.
It wasn’t long before I had scoured her back catalogue and was waiting on a bed of rusted nails for her next excursion into horror. She didn’t disappoint!! With a résumé as long as Donald Sutherland’s wonderful face, she has worked tirelessly in the Industry she loves for well over three decades now and is still grinding away as we speak. That kind of longevity is not something to be taken lightly, her commitment is a shining light to young auteurs looking to cut their teeth in Horror.
I have the exclusive pleasure of bringing you insatiable Grueheads an Interview with this scream goddess and in true Keeper form I am setting a scene in my head. I’m sitting by the open fire, scribing my latest piece whilst watching Dan O’Bannon’s Return of the Living Dead ironically. All of a sudden I hear a tug, followed shortly by a whirring sound all too familiar from my time with Leatherface and his fucked-up family of fruitcakes. It is a chainsaw no less…I should be losing my bowel contents but instead all I can do is grin wildly, eyes wide and palms clammier than Swamp Thing.
I glance toward the source of the audio and a silhouette appears in the doorway. That’s not Leatherface!!! Hasn’t got Ash’s defined chin. Instead the outline of an angel is stood before me, light dancing around her as she revs her vicious tool. It could only be one person…..Linnea ‘Motherfucking’ Quigley. It is time to rejoice Grueheads, as we are joined by true majesty. I bring you all the original Scream Queen.
I want to begin by stating that you adorned my bedroom walls through my entire filmic upbringing and I spent many an evening perusing your extensive back catalogue. Why horror, what was it about the genre that intrigued you so?
Thanks for putting me all over your walls. What attracted me to the genre was a love of horror from watching films late on Saturday nights, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, and all the old horror movies I watched with my girlfriends when I was young, and of course “Night of the Living Dead”.
You have cited your turn as Trash in The Return of the Living Dead as being your intimate favorite role. I’m a huge fan of the sadly passed Dan O’Bannon and his colossal contribution to the industry. How was your experience working alongside such a talented screenwriter?
It was amazing working with someone like Dan O’Bannon, he was the writer of such great flicks and was so clear in his vision. I didn’t have trouble with him, but I know some in the cast did. He was probably close to an Alfred Hitchcock, he had his odd ways, but that’s what made him good and so looked up to.
You took on the world (and won I hasten to add) during my favorite epoch, those wonderful Eighties. Naturally Horror suffered a lull during the following decade and really took about twenty years to reclaim its voice, in my opinion. What is your take, are there any of the current crop of filmmakers that you have a particular fondness for?
I didn’t work a lot during that period. It was just a bunch of great looking people running around in designer clothes, with no good stories or ones that had already been told many times before. It was a bad time for horror I agree. I like a lot of film makers. I can’t just say one, that is too hard since there are so many genres that I like. Woody Allen, Oliver Stone, and Martin Scorsese to name a few, but there are many, many others. I do love Quentin Tarantino, he’s done some great stuff.
I know it’s a tad clichéd but which ten horror films stoke your personal fires. Not necessarily the best, but the ones you have an intimate connection to?
I guess the top ten would be “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “When A Stranger Calls”, “Jaws” (which is horror to me) “The Devil’s Rejects”, “Murder in the Rue Morgue”, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane”, some of the “Saw” series, “Night of the Living Dead”, “The Birds”, and “Carrie”. There are so many more, but that I would say those are my top ten.
You have made numerous cameos including A Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master. What’s Robert Englund like out of his dirty fedora? I will always think of him as loveable Willy from V, is he just as affable in the flesh?
Robert England is a bright fun guy out of the mask. I know he could do Shakespeare in a minute, and he is very funny. In Italy he was chased down the street by people who knew him from “V” and at Cons he’s known as Freddy so he’s always running.
What three things do you think are most vital to making a decent Horror flick worth its salt and what are your reasons for your choices?
You have to have a good director that has the vision, you have to have a director of photography that can capture everything beautifully and follow the director’s lead, and a talented cast to make it all believable.
I will be lambasted by the Grueheads if I don’t ask this next poser. You are clearly very proud of your body and have not been averse to shedding the linen to exhibit that magnificent frame from time to time. How do you stay looking so good, and are you ever tempted to bust out the Chainsaw and leg-warmers once in a while?
I am vegan and I still do a lot of exercise. I went awhile where I didn’t when I moved to a new State, but missed it. I’ve always tried to be active, and thank you for the compliment. I do have a penchant for legwarmers especially the grey variety.
You have recently ventured into Twitter and we’re all the benefactors of that decision. How are you finding it, evidently it’s a different ball game to the Eighties but do you see it as a positive change?
I think Twitter is a positive change. It gets you even more, not hands on, but “voice” on with your fans and friends. It’s a really positive thing that makes things tick even faster. Promotion wise it lets people know what you are doing at that particular moment, and where you’re at with various projects. In today’s film industry one’s social media relevancy is playing a larger and larger part, the first thing some casting directors do is check your social media numbers to gauge your current popularity.
In a career spanning five decades I can imagine there have been numerous highlights. What has been your proudest moment since setting out all those years ago?
That’s a hard one because there’ve been so many great moments. I think doing the documentary, “Screaming in High Heels: The Rise and Fall of the Scream Queen Era” was an honor to be involved in. But there’s such a vast number of highlights for me that I can’t just pick one.
The Eighties were a prosperous time for you, and censorship was a massive concern for Horror filmmakers wishing to put their work out there and push the envelope at the same time. What is your view on censorship, and the way it has slackened in recent years?
I’m glad that censorship has eased off in recent years. It’s getting more European in terms of the freedom of doing what you want on screen, and I think it’s a very positive movement in both film and television.
Whilst growing up were there any particular idols you aspired to emulate?
Oh yes, I was inspired by Nyoka, Queen of the Jungle from “Jungle Girl”, she was one of my favorite jungle women. I aspired to be her and would play act as her and my friend would play Nyoki as kids. Also the screaming girl who runs and gets away from the killers in films, I always wanted to do that.
What would you say is the most integral ingredient to becoming successful in the horror industry?
I think being able to scream well, being on time, knowing your lines, and just being a good sport are essential to any to success and longevity that one will attain in this industry.
You hit many conventions throughout the year to meet your legions of fans. How does it feel to be adulated by so many?
It’s an amazing and humbling feeling having people come up and tell you that they love your films and really, really like you and have been inspired by you. It’s a great feeling, but very odd at the same time.
You get a special buzz from playing tough girls in your movies as it is the polar opposite to your real persona. When was the last time you really had to use your fists?
I really haven’t had to use them in a long time, but I did have to fight off a machete years ago, but I use mostly my screams to fight them off…..
If horror hadn’t proved such a winning formula for you, what other aspirations did you have as a young lady?
At one point I wanted to be a Police Officer, I even wrote the exams for the L.A.P.D. In the end though I guess it wasn’t meant to be, show biz does get into your blood. I have produced, and I think in the next year I’ll be doing more of that, and will probably make my directorial debut.
If you had the ability to go back and change anything, is there anything you would do differently, and if so why?
I don’t think I would change anything. I think your destiny is just what it is, and if you change one thing everything else changes and you aren’t where you’re supposed to be.
I would like to take this opportunity to put a massive Scream out to the goddess that is Linnea Quigley. Not only is she a behemoth of horror cinema, but she is also a true lady. Gargantuan appreciation also to James Saito of HGB Entertainment for his assistance in hooking this shit up.