The Return of the Living Dead came out in 1985. You might not know that because you’re a pretty young thing, but I am old and withering away. (I kid. Sort of.) I only saw the film a little over a decade later, when I was an awful brat who insisted on rollerblading to and inside the dépanneur that also doubled as a video store. I was for some reason allowed to rent this filth, and after carefully setting up a small mountain of sour candies on the carpeted floor of my parents’ musty basement, I was ready to indulge. The Return of the Living Dead was my introduction to horror. It was also my introduction to Linnea Quigley.
Linnea is an iconic scream queen who’s been in over a hundred movies. That’s a lot. (By comparison, I have been in zero.) Much like Trash, the character she played in the aforementioned flick, many of her roles required her to be a tough cookie who sometimes happens to get naked. Though she has expressed uncertainty and insecurities about having to disrobe so much, I can confirm that she gained at least one fan purely on the basis of her acting chops. Many of the films she’s been in have been so absurd, and so fun, that I couldn’t see any other actress taking on her part.
Simply put, if you like B-movies, you like Linnea. Below is a list of my personal favorite films of hers. They are often considerably low budget, sometimes laughably politically incorrect. If that’s not for you, that’s cool. If it is, then welcome to the freak zone.
1. Night of the Demons
The internet tells me that this movie was remade in 2009 and that Linnea was also in it, but make no mistake, I am talking about the 1988 original. It’s important to note that this isn’t one of those so bad it’s good deals; it’s actually genuinely good. On Halloween night, some teens go out to chug-a-lug and have coffin sex in an abandoned funeral parlor. Because séances are neat, they decide to have one. They awaken a demon that smells like shit and likes to possess people into doing elaborate dance routines and killing their friends. Linnea is featured in the most memorable part of the movie. I am debating telling you what it is because people hate spoilers, but am I really spoiling the movie if I say that (avert your eyes, you babies) she slides an entire stick of lipstick into her boob? No CGI here either, thank Satan.
2. Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama
In this David DeCoteau cheeser, a group of horny dipshits sets out to spy on sorority babes. It’s their initiation night or whatever it’s called. You know, that night where pledges are forced to do humiliating things in order to fit in with people they’ll lose contact with in a few years and who will in no way benefit their lives. So the guys sneak into the sorority house and secretly watch girls in black robes spank pledges. The spanking scene is very long. Someone online said it revolutionized spanking scenes. An iconic moment indeed. This is followed by some showering.
Anyway, the doofus spies get caught and are sentenced to steal a trophy from a bowling alley with the pledges. The catch is that it’s nighttime, so it’s closed. When they break in, they find Linnea robbing the place. She plays a bad ass biker named Spider. Anyway, the trophy contains an imp that sounds like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and tricks everybody. Fellow scream queens Michelle Bauer and Brinke Stevens are along for the ride.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Part quatro Freddy rarely gets the respect it deserves, so I’m sticking it on here. The dream demon is back and ready to torture some kids! I won’t bother detailing the basic plot since you no doubt already know it. Instead, I’ll go straight to the Linnea stuff.
What’s that, you say? She isn’t in it? While I admit that I’m cheating by even listing this movie, Linnea does in fact make a brief, but noteworthy appearance in it. Think back to the moment where Freddy sees himself in a mirror, and this for some reason causes the little souls inside him, his power source, his very essence, to escape. Linnea is one of these souls and can be seen, nude and covered in goop, popping out of Freddy’s chest. In real life, special effects artist Steve Johnson proposed to her right after shooting that scene. If that isn’t true horror love, I don’t know what is.
4. Savage Streets
This movie is trigger warning central. Linnea plays a street-smart tough chick and Linda Blair’s younger sister. She is speech impaired and gets graphically sexually assaulted by the Scars, a gang of shithead punkers who figure they can take advantage of this fact. The scene is as horrible to watch as you’d expect. As this happens, Linda is in a locker-room brawl that includes some naked women fighting in the background. The sleaze factor here is high. The Scars later throw Linda’s pregnant best bud off a bridge. Linda takes it upon herself to teach the no-good garbage dickwads a lesson by murdering them, sometimes with the use of a crossbow.
The rape-revenge subgenre is usually too exploitative for my tastes, but I love watching Linda’s dual role as the attentive, loving sister, and as the driven, powerful vigilante who takes on a group of scumbags on her own, without calling up Charles Bronson. That was a Death Wish reference for you.
5. Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout
This isn’t so much a movie as it is an especially fun piece of camp that parodies both zombie and slasher movies, and the ‘80s workout video trend. Oh wait, it also spoofs Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” This really is the full package.
After showering and exercising a little, Linnea runs into some undead peeps and decides to whip them into shape. She teaches them aerobics by the pool. She then calls her girlfriends over and has a lingerie slumber party, but a guy in a Ronald Reagan mask breaks it up. If anything will make you say, “I can’t believe this exists,” this is it.
Of course, with a repertoire as big as Linnea’s, I could go on. In Nightmare Sisters, she plays a song called “Santa Monica Boulevard Boy” with her actual band, The Skirts. They used to practice at Los Angeles’ notorious punk club, The Masque.
Speaking of music stuff, she was in Motorhead’s video for “Sacrifice” and in the Ramones’ video for “Substitute.” In the best Christmas movie of all-time, Silent Night, Deadly Night, she gets impaled on a set of antlers. In Witchtrap, a showerhead goes through her throat. I even suggest checking out some of the interviews she’s done, like her segment in Stephen King’s This Is Horror, or her 1989 MTV premiere.
I’ll cut to the chase as I realize I’m sounding borderline obsessed. Basically, Linnea is cool. She was a fan of creature features before going into acting. She did most of these movies for very minor pay. She’s always in on the joke. Her career is still ongoing, and is something to be celebrated.
This piece is part of Galloween, Cinefilles’ month of all-girl horror coverage. Click the image to read more.