Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout

In 1990, scream queen Linnea Quigley released Horror Workout, which was a parody of her B-movies, horror tropes, and the exercise video craze. At the time, she was famous for appearing in low-budget fright fests, including: The Return of the Living Dead (1985); Creepozoids (1987); Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988); Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988); and Witchtrap (1989).

In these films, she often battled monsters, screamed at the top of her lungs (naturally), and found herself in various states of undress. As such, you can expect much of the same from her workout video--think of it as Jane Fonda (as Barbarella) meets Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Written and directed by Hal Kennedy (Kenneth J. Hall), the video begins with a disclaimer that's typically found at the start of such videos--with a twist: Warning: the activities depicted in this video are strenuous and highly physical in nature. They should not be attempted without first consulting your doctor. Since they can also become violent, you might also seek advice from a psychiatrist, clergyman, or criminal attorney. In any case, we accept no responsibility for any harm you do to yourself or to others after viewing this tape. Whatever happens, IT'S NOT OUR FAULT!

Ms. Quigley begins her routine by first showing us the most important step: proper hygiene. This leads to an extended shower scene, where she makes sure that every nook and cranny is as clean as a whistle. But being the Queen of Scream isn't as easy as it looks! In the next segment, she laments on her past movie roles and the challenges that she faced. This leads to a highlight reel of her performances in the aforementioned movies, where she's often featured in over-the-top fight scenes.

This proves that it's not all glamour--which is why she really needs to stay in shape! The best way to do this, of course, is a long, hard workout--next to the fireplace. She notes that, first of all, it's important to wear comfortable clothes when exercising. A metal-studded bra and fishnet stockings may not be the first choice; but, she adds, would you want to watch her work out in a baggy sweatsuit? This is followed by an extended series of stretching exercises, which warms her up considerably (which, I'm sure, is helped along by the roaring fire).

Now that she's all limbered up, a healthy jog outdoors is in order--which includes a jaunt through an old cemetery. Alone. It isn't long before the walking dead are hot on her trail. The chase culminates back at home, poolside, but before the zombies can attack the voluptuous vixen, she chides them for being such a sorry lot. "Straighten up!" she cries, "Just because you're dead, do you think you can just let yourself go?"

These poor restless souls are falling apart...literally! Obviously they need to get more exercise. Thus begins the highlight of this production: a zombie poolside workout. Not only do these undead prove to be quick learners, but they also have rhythm--it's as if the dead from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (1982) were resurrected, once again, to bust a dusty move or two. It's doing them a lot of good; before long, they no longer seem to have any interest in tearing their trainer to pieces. Clearly, more exercise equals less craving for brains.

Yet all work and no play is just no fun at all. So in the next segment, she invites some friends over for a slumber party! The glamorous gals include Cynthia Garris, Amy Hunt, Victoria Nesbitt, and Kristine Seeley. Pillow fights ensue. Then it's movie time, where the gang watches clips from some of her other films, including Nightmare Sisters (1988). They can't help but wonder how she keeps in such great shape, so Linnea gives them a first-hand look--by leading them in an exercise routine.

Unfortunately, these ladies aren't quite as coordinated as their zombie counterparts. Oddly enough, the nightgown-clad calisthenics reminded me of a similarly-themed staple on Canadian television back in 1983/84: the 20 Minute Workout. It goes without saying that both productions are targeted to men--who aren't likely using them for exercise. But I digress. Their workout is cut short after a power outage. Zoiks! Linnea, always the heroine, offers to go check the fuse box--leaving her four, half-clothed (and unarmed) friends behind in the dark. The story then segues into full-on slasher mode; one-by-one, each woman meets her doom in stereotypical, 80s-era goriness (which even includes a twist ending!).

All in, this self-aware production has a lot of laughs, made during an era that featured countless horrible horror movies. Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout was released on DVD in 2013, and limited-edition, autographed copies are available through her website. But one has to wonder, when served on digital media instead of VHS tape, does this production lose some of its nostalgic appeal?

There's only one disappointing thing about this production--there's a promo for a follow-up instructional video, which sadly never came to pass: Cooking with Linnea Quigley.

I should note that she also appeared in more well-known horror fare, including Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988), and Innocent Blood (1992)--as well as other sci-fi and thriller movies.


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