Anatomy of a Scream Queen: Linnea Quigley

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - MARCH 30: Linnea Quigley attends the 2019 New Jersey Horror Con And Film Festival at Showboat Atlantic City on March 30, 2019 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - MARCH 30: Linnea Quigley attends the 2019 New Jersey Horror Con And Film Festival at Showboat Atlantic City on March 30, 2019 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images) /

While she may never win an Oscar, February’s Scream Queen will always win the hearts of fans around the world with her body of classic B-horror films and, of course, her body. Diehards may know her as vigilante Heather in Savage Streets (1984) or fornicator Denise in Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) but most know her best as death-obsessed punk rocker Trash in Return of the Living Dead (1985). So throw on your studded leather, head out to the graveyard and get ready to dance as we study Linnea Quigley in February’s Anatomy of a Scream Queen.

Linnea Quigley: In the Beginning

Born in Davenport, Iowa, the 5’2″ actress was known as the shy girl in high school and it wasn’t until her family moved to Los Angeles that Quigley came out of her shell. After getting a job at a health spa where Quigley was constantly surrounded by models and actresses, she soon befriended a few of them where they suggested she try acting.

The young Quigley listened and began taking acting classes. It wasn’t long until the Iowan beauty was cast in a toothpaste commercial (her first acting job) and from there the roles, though small, started rolling in.

She managed to nab a role in the supernatural horror film Don’t Go Near the Park (1981) when the actress originally cast refused to do nude scenes, something Quigley has been willing to do for most of her career. Next, she was seen in the Troma slasher Graduation Day (1981) where she was cast in a similar role. While these are considered among the first films to feature Quigley they are also considered to be the catalysts to her horror film career.

Linnea Quigley: The Silver Scream

With an IMDb page containing over 170 films, Quigley rocketed to the top of the B-list throughout the ’80s without having garnered a starring role.  She managed the get a strong foothold within the genre despite only landing bit parts, supporting, and even uncredited roles, most of which ended up with her character dying and naked.

Tourist Trap (1979) saw her play a mannequin, The Black Room (1982) had her playing babysitter, Milly, while Fatal Games (1984) cast her as an ill-fated athlete. The roles kept coming with, perhaps her most famous role as Trash in the 1985 cult hit Return of the Living Dead. Creepozoids (1987) found her fighting a genetically engineered monster, 1988 was a busy year for her as she worked on… (draws a deep breath) Sorority Babes in the Slime Bowl-O-Rama, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers,  Night of the Demons, Dead Heat, Nightmare Sisters, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master… whew!

Linnea Quigley: A Word From the Author

When Quigley wasn’t getting murdered on-screen she turned to pen a couple of memoirs. The first, simply titled, The Linnea Quigley Bio and Chainsaw Book (1991) contains stories about the cult actress from friends, colleagues, family and from Linnea herself.

The second, again simply titled, Skin (1993) features the other thing Linnea is famous for, her (and several of her friends) in various stages of undress. Some are classic photos from the vaults while others are specifically for the book itself and since it’s a Linnea Quigley book there are plenty of body parts, sharp implements of murder and blood to satiate most gorehounds.

The third (and so far final) book, I’m Screaming as Fast as I Can: My Life in B-Movies (1995) is a gossipy pulpy autobiography that outlines her life in the industry, warts and all. It’s as close to tell-all as you can get and it’s told with a tongue-set-firmly-in-cheek style that most fans have come to expect from Quigley.

Linnea Quigley: Let’s Get Physical

To say Linnea Quigley is something of a Renaissance woman would be a serious understatement. Not only had she gone from the shyest kid in school to a B-movie scream queen to a three-time author but she also released a workout video complete with everything you would expect from a Linnea Quigley workout video.

Aptly titled, The Linnea Quigley Workout Video (1990), the routine really only featured about 20 minutes of actual exercise in its 60-minute runtime. Its light cardio routine was mixed with signature Quigley moments such as a pause in the workout to take a sensual shower, her and workout buddies being stalked by a blood-thirsty maniac and enough slow-motion hair flips to make any Instagram influencer envious.

Linnea Quigley: She’s With the Band

Around the time that Quigley started taking acting lessons, she also started guitar lessons and soon she began auditioning for bands. The first band she joined was called Mad Whistle where she played guitar. This band had a connection with Graduation Day, one of Quigley’s first films. Turns out the husband of one of her bandmates was in the band Felony who was prominently featured in the Troma slasher.

Quigley went on to form her own band, The Skirts, a punk-rock outfit that featured Haydee Pomar on bass. Pomar was in Cheech & Chong’s Nice Dreams with Quigley in 1982. Some of their songs have been used in a few of Quigley’s movies. One song, in particular, Santa Monica Blvd. Boy was included on a compilation for Mystic Records called The Sound of Hollywood Girls.

Linnea Quigley: Renaissance Woman

Throughout the ’90s Quigley continued to make us scream and laugh with titles like The Guyver (1991), Innocent Blood (1992), Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993), Beach Babes From Beyond (1993), Jack-O (1995), and Death Mask (1998).

And in the early aughts, her reign of cheese-laced terror continued with more mature roles in The Monster Man (2001), Scream Queen (2002), The Rockville Slayer (2004), Voices from the Graves (2006), Each Time I Kill (2007), Trophy Heads (2014), 3 Scream Queens (2014), Hooker with a Hacksaw (2017), The Last Thanksgiving (2020) and the upcoming, in production Sorority Babes in the Slime Bowl-O-Rama 2.

In fact, she has four films currently filming, three films in post-production, one film in pre-production and one film announced. So be prepared for a lot more from Linnea Quigley. For a Scream Queen that’s been in the business for over four decades, it seems she’s just getting started.

Join us next month as we place another Scream Queen on the slab for another closer look at the Anatomy of a Scream Queen. Until then, horror fam, stay spooky!

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