Linnea Quigley + Kenneth J. Hall Talk Horror Workout October 27 2014
Twenty-five years ago a horror writer and a horror star teamed up to make a spoof of their beloved genre. Kenneth J. Hall (Puppet Master, Critters) and Scream Queen Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons, Silent Night Deadly Night) created a send-up of two popular tropes at the time—fright films and exercise videos.
That video was Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout and until recently, it was owned only by the most devoted cult collectors. Found in old video collections, rabid fans would grab up copies at conventions and vintage stores. It was almost an urban legend of sorts to many people, but as video clips surfaced online it only spread current interest. Recently the video was released for the first time on DVD, along with brand new features, in a special edition run.
First things first: how did this crazy idea for a mash-up of fright films and exercise videos come about? Did it take convincing for anyone involved to actually get it made?
KH Dave DeCoteau (Creepozoids, Sorority Babes in the Slime Bowl-o-Rama) was doing pickups on a film called Murder Weapon at an insert stage in Hollywood. I dropped by and he was filming a shot of Linnea attacking someone with a (rubber) sledgehammer. To stay in frame her aim had to be precise, so the up and down movement looked very mechanical.
I joked that it looked like an exercise routine and said “We should do Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout.” Everyone laughed, but it wasn't long before I convinced Dave to produce it.
Part of the charm of the video is it's lo-fi, B-movie quality found with independent productions. Nowadays digital technology makes it easier to shoot and edit a video, but I imagine it wasn't that simple back then. How was the filming process?KH It actually was shot with state-of-the-art (at that time) Betacam equipment on a two day shoot. But shooting and editing old-school linear video was an absolute nightmare. Everything technical that could go wrong did. I go into detail about this on the commentary and interviews in the new release.
LQ I remember the second day all the sound was off on this huge bit I had to do, so we had to film it all over again.
One of the stars of the movie, besides Linnea, of course—is the hair and wardrobe on the actresses. Linnea, if you have still have that studded bra and underwear set I bet that would sell! And the 80s crimped hair, the nightgowns, cut-up tees... was this a personal style, a style of the time or was more thought put into it ?KH Linnea is better to answer this than I, but I do remember our makeup artist, Cindy Warren, not only was responsible for the big hair—but she was cutting the t-shirts as well.
I still have my studded bra, but I am attached to it! And I still have the belt and bottoms. You see that belt in a lot of movies.
Kenneth, what was the scriptwriting like? The film spoofs zombie films, slasher movies, exercise videos, slumber parties, and more. It's almost set up like vignettes. Was there a certain thought to the narration? Did you every think of making a feature length movie?KH The project was always conceived as a novelty video, so I never thought about making it a feature. I just wanted to make something fun that Linnea's fans would enjoy. Remember, it was still the 80s and most horror films had some degree of humor in them. It was very different from today, where these movies, in my opinion, take themselves far too seriously. Anyway, I liked writing comedy so the entire script was written in a matter of days.
Once we got into it, I realized that the exercise sequences would have to be long if the running time was going to hit 60 minutes. At one point, I suggested we cut it down to 30 minutes. The producers wanted to keep it at an hour, so that's the way it stayed.
How was the original video released to the public? Was it put out in theaters? Without the help of the internet, like in this modern era, how did you promote it?
In the case of the workout, there was never a question of theatrical because it was shot on video. Video did not play in movie theaters… period!
LQ I remember we did a lot of PR through Entertainment Tonight and E! channel too. It got out there that way to the public, then it kind of took on a life of its own.
Linnea, you've been titled the “Queen of Scream”—did you look at this video as sort of a “stamp of approval” to being an official (if not the ultimate) scream queen? Or was that status already achieved before filming?LQ I did it to do something fun; not to cement myself into “Scream Queen-dom”. That wasn't a thing back then. It became one a few years later—people wanting to become scream queens. However, I am glad to say Playboy just voted me “Sexiest Scream Queen of All Time” this month. So get your workouts in now while you can stay in shape! Haha.
Did you two ever think that 25 years later people would still be interested in a vintage horror workout video? What prompted you to put out a re-release on DVD?
KH We weren't looking to the future back then. Over the years since, the VHS has been in constant circulation and it's been bootlegged shamelessly, even on YouTube. I wanted to put out a better-quality version on DVD for a long time and was finally approached by some people to do so. They produced the extra features and went back to the original 1" tape master, which hadn't been opened since the 80s, to digitize it.
LQ No, never even thought there would be a 25 years later. I was really proud of it and that Ken and I had thought of this great idea, but didn't know who would buy it. It was in VHS format and I get a lot of people bringing the original up to me at conventions. Now we have the new DVD! It's good memories.
Some people even do it on their birthdays every year and I have pics to prove it! They'll have a cake of me... its very flattering! Guys and girls too.
Linnea, you seemed to step out of the spotlight a bit in the past decade. Now, your career is having a resurgence with doing more film work and classic movies you starred in like this one getting releases.LQ I am working, but the problem is I'm not in LA. My parents got sick and since I'm an only child I had to move back home to help. I miss LA like crazy where it is easier to get stuff going. I gotta get back there for more!
Any chance you two will team up again for a new feature? Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout: The Sequel?!LQ Yes, I'd team up with Ken to do another. It would be a lot of fun! This was so original, it would be hard to beat it, but I'd love to try.
KH I would love to work with Linnea again, though a sequel would hardly be my first choice. This was something we did for a laugh many years ago, and it's nice to know it's still remembered; with a new generation of fans discovering it.
On a side note, Linnea informed us she actually wrote and recorded a song with her band The Skirts called “Strange Ways”! A video for it was filmed as a part of Beverly Hills Girls.You can see the excerpt here.