Scream Queen

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 08/02/03 06:49:22

"A B-movie about a B-movie actress who doesn't want to be in B movies."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Scream Queen is like drunken sex with an ex. You know it's going to be bad when you decide to put it in, yet when you actually go through with it, you have this strange feeling of enjoyment, a little guilt, but mostly a strong desire for more. Sure, it'll never fully please you, but it will at least help you fall asleep satisfied. Okay, maybe I'm pushing the analogy a little far here, but I'm sure you get the idea: Scream Queen is a fun diversion - far more fun that it should be, especially for what was spent making it.

Dana Lewis (Liz Lavoie) is known in B-movie circles (at least so far as this fantasy world goes) as 'the Scream Queen'. She's found in such cinematic classics as Angel Killers 5 and Put It Where It's Snug 3... okay, that last one might have been from a dream I had shortly after watching Scream Queen, so don't quote me on its authenticity. Regardless, she's a B-movie goddess, which means she spends her days dating the hammiest actor of all time, appearing at freaky-geek sci-fi conventions, and being bitched at by her mother for having wasted her life. It's perhaps no surprise that Dana wants out of this existence.

And even less of a surprise when her terrible agent offers to send her to a legit audition, but only in return for a handjob. The audition ends up being a nightmare as Dana turns up totally unprepared, and a later job working for a fanatical first time director on a low budget flick in the desert takes things from bad to worse. But no matter where the story goes, it's the hand-job scene that sits far too long in memory.

This scene serves to demonstrate both the best and worst of Scream Queen in one hit. The writer-director, Tatiana Bliss, is absolutely fearless and more than happy to break with convention, but she generally manages to do so at times that don't serve her story, or character well. Dana is portrayed as a good actress, a strong woman and a hard-done-by soul just trying to get by in the world, but then that portrayal is blown to smithereens as we watch her tossing off a sleazy agent, and graphically vomiting afterwards. Now, I'm not one to 'prude out', but scenes like that are the stuff of the kind of films Bliss' characters are trying to get away from, not the film she's trying to make.

Which is a shame, because Scream Queen, for the most part, is entertaining stuff. Sure, the acting is generally rough (though Lavoie does manage to hold things together in the lead role), some of the writing is a little shaky, and the production certainly looks like it was shot on the cheap (it was), but there's a sense of fun about what's on the screen that comes from not taking it all too seriously.

Lavoie, whose credits include an episode or two of Silk Stalkings, but not a lot else, is as easy on the ear as she is on the eye, always keeping a nice mix of ham and grace going as she treads the line between comedy and drama. Perhaps the inadequacies of the rest of the cast only serve to make her look better, but she's most certainly good enough in the title role to keep all but the most cyncical viewer watching and smirking.

The production itself obviously suffers from being a low budget, small crew job, but not to the point where it interferes with your enjoyment of the flick. This is a movie made with barebones ingredients and the end result is far better than it should be, considering what went into it.

The problems come when the humor goes from smart to stupid to gross-out. Perhaps the core audience that this film was created for are into the gross stuff more than this reviewer, but when your writer/director is obviously smart enough to deliver quality humor, it's a little disappointing to see the opposite come through.

In summation, Scream Queen could maybe use a little tightening in the editing room, and it certainly could have used more production budget, but as a finished product I had more fun watching this then I did yawning through Bad Boys II. Talking about stupid humor...

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