“In this business, you have to scream well, run well and die well. To die well, you have to open your eyes really wide and make gurgling noises. But it’s always degrading to have to take your clothes off. Everybody forms the opinion that you’re a slut. I’d probably think the same if it was someone else.” - Linnea Quigley, People Magazine, '89
Linnea Quigley was never an actress (at least, in the purest sense of the term). She knew that. Quigley was a Scream Queen, one of the reigning champions of B- C- and Z-Grade horror insanity during the '80s. In Silent Night, Deadly Night ('84), she was impaled (while nude) on a rack of antlers. With Return of the Living Dead ('85), she ignited sexualities across the globe while dancing atop a tombstone (again, while nude). In Night of the Demons ('88), she stabbed her breast with a stiff tube of lipstick. In Witchtrap ('89), she fell prey to a possessed showerhead. Yet the performer also occasionally got to punish her tormentors, like in Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers ('88), where her lady of the night turned the titular power tool on her abusive pimp. Sex and death were Quigley’s specialties, and during her first few years in the horror business, she churned out over 20+ films and netted a boyfriend in gore guru Steve "Splat" Johnson (Videodrome ['83]).
There's this girlish innocence about Quigley that helps balance her carnal sexuality and lends her an almost pixie-esque air. She’s also totally committed to the morbid art of dying, slathering herself in white makeup for three weeks during production on Dan O'Bannon's punk zombie classic, or almost contracting hypothermia while shooting Fatal Frames ('96) in an old Italian castle, sprawled out on an icy cellar floor with a machete stuck through her shoulder for hours at a time. It's the fans that kept her going, as she recalled (in a '15 AV Club interview) that a Fangoria convention appearance helped the Scream Queen realize she'd carved out quite the niche for herself: "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, people want my autograph?' I was totally incredulous. Like, what? I was shocked."
One of Quigley's greatest collaborators was David DeCoteau – a former gay porn director turned low budget horror maven (best known for helming titles under Charles Band's Full Moon banner, including Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge ['91]). The duo made several films together, and DeCoteau would often let Quigley pick the characters she wanted to play in his pictures, such as Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama ('88). Together, they were a regular pair of prodigious DTV smut peddlers, with Murder Weapon ('89) and Deadly Embrace ('89) acting as the combo's '89 trips into a murderous mafia playpen, and an erotic kidnapping scenario.
Murder Weapon  (d. Ellen Cabot [a/k/a David DeCoteau], w. Ross A. Perron)
A low budget DTV programmer of the highest order, David DeCoteau - along with screenwriter Ross A. Perron (American Rampage ['89]) - pad out most of Murder Weapon's barely 80-minute running time with lengthy scenes where characters discuss everything from the mental health of our two anti-heroines (Quigley and Karen Russell, from Vice Academy ['89]) to blowjobs to snorting coke in the driveway. Quigley and Russell are a pair of bimbette psychos, having just sexually blackmailed their way out of the nuthouse, and are now holed up in a party pad paid for by mafia hitmen with a group of mulleted frat boys - one of which is portrayed by Silent Night, Deadly Night 2's ('87) Eric Freeman (under his porno-ready alias Damon Charles).
Thankfully, a slasher shows up and starts destroying these plastic tableaus of pretty people talking and fucking, letting DeCoteau gleefully paint the walls with bright pink splatter. Heads are smashed with hammers, faces are blown off, and one guy has his chest torn open by an unforeseen fist that then feeds him his guts. It's the Z-Grade horror equivalent of a cum shot, as the former porno director isn't afraid to let full penetration take center stage.
Deadly Embrace  (d. David DeCoteau [a/k/a Ellen Cabot], w. Richard Gabai & Tony Malanowski)
A Skinemax-ready softcore erotic thriller, Quigley's mousy sex object actually plays second fiddle here to another Coteau queen. Michelle Bauer (Puppet Master III) plays a bored housewife, who hires Quigley's hunky man (Ken Abraham) to be her live-in houseboy, all while her cheating husband (Airwolf's Jan-Michael Vincent) tries to figure out a way to divorce the woman without losing half his assets (including his "left nut"). Complications abound when the newly hired pool boy actually develops a conscience - via visions of Quigley writhing naked in front of psychedelic lights - and backs out of the affair, causing Bauer's possessive cougar to lose her mind and kidnap his better half (after videotaping them having sex, of course).
If you grew up during the '90s and watched a ton of late night cable, Deadly Embrace will feel very familiar, but DeCoteau peppers the whole thing - much like he does Murder Weapon - with strange flourishes that are still mostly incompetent, yet still intriguing. A police interrogation that frames the entire story is only shown through cigarette-smoking hands, and the single location becomes disorientingly large thanks to a complete lack of coherent geography. It all ends the way you expect these lurid tales to, but getting there is most of the fun.
Murder Weapon and Deadly Embrace are just two of the numerous titles Vinegar Syndrome has on sale now for their annual Halfway to Black Friday blow-out. Visit their site to find out how you can get 50% off almost anything in their store, and order some of their secret Limited Edition releases.