Linnea Quigley‘s Horror Workout isn’t really a movie. It’s not even a workout video. I don’t know what it is, but I’m sure glad it exists. The 1990 video begins, as it should, with a lengthy shower scene. Quigley‘s boobs make their first appearance before the opening minute is out.
The titles appear as Quigley soaps herself up to a synth-soaked soundtrack composed by John Vulich. Vulich’s score is, rather jarringly, out of time. Stepping out of the shower, Quigley breaks the fourth wall, looks right down the barrel of the camera, and screams.
With the opening titles wrapped up, Quigley settles down in front of her fireplace and discusses her career. She shows several clips from such as Creepozoids (1987), Assault of the Party Nerds (1989) and other stinkers they could get the rights for.
After a lengthy sequence of clips, the fitness workout finally begins. Sporting fishnet stockings and a metal-studded bra (“Would you want to watch me work out in a baggy sweatsuit?” Quigley asks. “No,” says I), she launches into a series of aerobic exercises, all of which showcase some part of her scantily clad body. While stretching and twisting, the 80s Scream Queen delivers provocatively charged instruction:
– “It keeps me limber, so I can get out of tight places… or into them.”
– “This one increases your ability to keep your legs in the air… I can do this one for hours!”
– “This one is great for the guys… I mean thighs!”
– “That’s right stretch those muscles… not that muscle!”
– “Deep breathing will increase lung capacity… as you can see I’m a real… deep… breather.”
The routine goes on for some time. Halfway through, Quigley is interrupted by a dirty phone call, which at first offends her but then seems to turn her on. The routine wraps up at the twenty minute mark, and we cut to Quigley jogging through a cemetery. She attracts the attention of a horde of zombies, which leads to a zombified version of “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?”
The zombies follow Quigley into her house. Telling the living dead stalkers that they need to get into shape, Quigley does an aerobic dance routine with them by her pool. At some point during this ten-minute sequence, something broke in my brain.
Quigley then decides she’s had enough of a workout and invites a bunch of her lingerie-sporting girlfriends over for a slumber party. Again, we’re treating to another lengthy clip parade as she and her pals watch scenes from her movies. To work off the popcorn, Quigley and Co. dive into another aerobics session…
The workout is interrupted by a power outage. Quigley investigates leaving her friends to the mercy of a Ronald Reagan-masked killer. Linnea Quigley‘s Horror Workout‘s final act is pretty fabulous. It even tosses a bit of cheap gore up on the screen.
It’s such a sadness that we live in a time where something like Linnea Quigley‘s Horror Workout could never exist. This is unashamedly gratuitous and campy silliness made with tongue firmly planted in cheek but without the eye-rolling irony of our current sneering times. And if nothing else, this makes one hell of a party tape. Thanks, Linnea Quigley, you are brilliant.
Dave Jackson, MOVIES and MANIA
Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout is one of those things that only makes sense if you have an understanding of what was happening (sub)culturally in the mid-to-late 1980s. At that time, there were two curious byproducts of the home video boom in the USA. One was T&A tapes which were usually an hour or so long, and featured blurry/soft focus (depending on how generous you feel) NTSC video footage of girls taking their clothes off to a lesser or greater extent. Such ‘films’ were mere titillation rather than p*rn or erotica, and though it’s hard to see exactly they were aimed at, they sold like hotcakes, presumably to the sort of people who bought Playboy strictly for the photos but found Hustler a tad too much.
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Also around at the time were cheap horror compilations like Zombiethon and Terror on Tape, which gathered together the best bits from gory horror films, usually with video-shot linking sequences; these too seemed to have a market.
Adding to these two niche video ideas, we can throw in a couple of other elements that make up this tape. One, of course, is the rise of the workout tape, aimed primarily at housewives who couldn’t or wouldn’t go to the gym. The second is the rise of the Scream Queen.
In the 1980s, thanks in part to horror magazines knowing what teenage boys like and in part to the rise of deliberately camp straight-to-video horror movies such as Sorority Babes in the Slime Bowl-A-Rama, several actresses with a willingness to take their tops off and scream loudly built substantial film careers. Most popular among them was Linnea Quigley, a diminutive rock chick with burning ambition, who seized the opportunity presented by her stage-stealing striptease in Return of the Living Dead to become something of a genre icon. She was far from being the best actress among the Scream Queens, and she wasn’t the sexiest – but Linnea had something, and even now has a following.
So it probably made sense to someone, somehow to throw all these things together. The result is 1990 video release Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout, which of course fails miserably as exercise tape and horror comedy. With the involvement of trash horror stalwarts David DeCoteau and Kenneth J. Hall (the latter using the name Hal Kennedy as writer / director) – it opens with Linnea soaping herself down in the shower and rapidly goes downhill. We get a long recap of her glittering career so far which helps gobble up the first ten minutes of the hour-long tape. Then we get into the workout footage, which is.. well, it’s lightweight aerobics, and sadly, no amount of “metal studded bras and fishnet stockings” can make it exciting.
The tape goes on to have Linnea working out by the pool with a bunch of zombies who had been chasing her, which kills another ten minutes. At this point, even the horniest teenage boy will probably be struggling. Eventually, Linnea is joined by a handful of linger-clad friends (none of them fellow Scream Queens) for more feeble exercise before the film introduces a slasher movie tone for the final section.
It’s hard to imagine who this was aimed at – there’s no nudity beyond the opening scenes, the workouts are, of course, pathetic, the humour feeble and the horror elements lame. But of course, you wouldn’t know that until it was too late, and presumably, the popularity of Quigley and the Scream Queen phenomena ensured healthy sales. And while you might have expected this to be confined to the dustbin of history, it did get a DVD re-release a few years ago.
David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA