Disc Reviews

80s Scream Queens Blu-ray Review

The latest release from 88 Films is a three film set featuring low rent performances by Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer with all three films directed by David de Cocteau (in a couple of films under an alias). They were all low budget films, in some cases released direct to video. Each have a glam 80s California look, but like the fake facade of much of California they were made on a very low budget. The first two films: Nightmare Sisters (1988) and Murder Weapon (1989) have a grindhouse style to them, whereas Deadly Embrace (1989) looks more like a soft core thriller with minor titillations.

The main actress in all three is Quigley who became the very embodiment of cheap B movie horror films in the 1980s and deserving of the monikor of Scream Queen. Her credits had included Graduation Day (1981, released on 88 Films in their slasher collection), festive shocks in Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), Return of the Living Dead (1985), Creepozoids (1987) and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988, the last two also released by 88 Films). She had also appeared as the ‘Spirit from Freddy’s chest’ in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988). The three on this collection are even lesser and minor films to the aforementioned.

The first film, Nightmare Sisters is the only one of the three with any supernatural elements. A fortune teller passes on a curse in a crystal ball now owned by three nerdy college girls. Once they are possessed by the spirit in the crystal ball they turn into nymphomaniacs and, erm, molest three college boys. I personally can’t see what the problem is until they get their sharp teeth out.

The second film is a slasher, but Murder Weapon is more like a giallo with a leather clad killer killing off a bunch of guys invited for a house party. Two sisters, dark haired and curvy Amy (Karen Russell) and blonde Dawn (Quigley) are the daughters of a dead mafia boss and live in their large house. One day while one of the girls is in the shower she murders a lover of Amy’s with a knife. I’m not sure where she hid the knife though. Years later the sisters are released from mental care and invite a bunch of guys over for a house party. One by one are murdered. The murders are also not too dissimilar from giallo thrillers in their graphic bloody visualisations.

The final film is more of an erotic thriller. In Deadly Embrace a young buff teenager, Chris (Ken Abraham) begins working as a gardener for Charlotte (Mindi Miller), a sexy older woman. Charlotte is lonely and married in a loveless relationship to a philandering businessman (big name Jan Michael Vincent). She begins an affair with the gardener and grows jealous when Chris invites his girlfriend over (Quigley).

What all three films have in common are lots of shots of lingerie clad women with fake boobs, dreadful acting, cheesy dialogue that when it gets the opportunity throws in a couple of innuendos. One of the problems is that the films are framed and targeted to a teen market and particularly male teens. Some of the special gore effects in Murder Weapon are not bad, but the make-up effects in Nightmare Sisters are pretty poor and look more like they could be picked up in any Halloween gore store, which they probably were. In all the films too, the acting has long scenes of dialogue, which one suspects is present to pad out the films, all of which are just over 80 minutes.

Unlike other 88 Films releases there are no extras on the disc other than subtitled versions, but does boast a fantastic new slip case and cover artwork by Graham Humphreys.

Chris Hick

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