As the resident Midnight Movie aficionado at Scifi4me, I’ve been asked to recommend some classic performances from legendary genre actress Brinke Stevens. Not familiar with Brinke? You should be.
From her debut in 1982’s iconic Slumber Party Massacre — after completing her Masters Degree in oceanography — to 2021’s upcoming Apex Predator, Stevens has appeared in more that 223 films, produced eight, directed four, written half a dozen, and it doesn’t look like she’s stopping anytime soon. Most recently she was nominated for the Best Female Actor in a Feature Film award at Georgia’s Something Wicked Film Festival for her work in Teacher Shortage in 2020 with her directorial debuting short film Personal Demons receiving the Platinum Award for Best Short Film at the 2018 Los Angeles Horror Competition.
With such a prolific resume how does one choose only a handful of standout performances? Luckily, four of her best have recently been restored, remastered and are ready to be rediscovered.
1. Haunting Fear (1990)
Written and directed by Fred Olen Ray, loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe’s Premature Burial, the film stars Stevens as Victoria Munroe, a nightmare-plagued wife with an intense fear of being buried alive. In order to pay off gambling debts, her gaslighting husband Terry hatches a plan with his mistress to inherit Victoria’s childhood home by slowly driving her mad. The only trouble is that they do too good of a job, turning Victoria into a psychotic wraith out for vengeance! A personal favorite of Stevens’, The Haunting Fear allows her to run the emotional gamut from love to paranoia. Her truly unsettling portrayal of madness in the film’s last act is a particular highlight that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
2. Grandmother’s House (1988)
In this daylight nightmare by Peter Rader, who would go on to direct Waterworld, Stevens plays a mysterious woman stalking a young brother and sister who have recently moved to their grandparents’ farm after the death of their father. Stevens exudes menace in a nearly silent performance, which only serves to ratchet up the tension as the brother discovers that his grandparents are harboring a sinister secret. A secret that could cost the children their lives. Anymore description risks spoiling the movie.
3. Nightmare Sisters (1987)
One of two horror comedies, the other being Sorority Babes in the Slimebowl Bowl-A-Rama, that cemented Stevens, along with Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer, as the unholy trinity of late night horror movie sirens of the 80’s and 90’s. They would single handedly redefine the term Scream Queen, introducing it to a whole new generation of film fans. This David DeCouteau slice of sexy spookiness centers around three socially awkward sorority sisters Marci (Stevens), Melody (Quigley), and Mickey (Bauer). Left alone in the sorority house for the weekend, the trio invite their equally nebbish would-be boyfriends over to party. A party with soda, cake, and a séance that causes the women to be possessed by an evil spirit, turning them into lingerie clad succubae. Stevens gives Marci a nerdy charm that adds heart to the lightly drawn character and gleefully vamps it up once possessed, adding to the film’s wacky charisma.
4. Teenage Exorcist (1991)
Stevens wrote the screenplay and stars in this delightful spoof of haunted house and demonic possession movies. Predating Scary Movie by almost a decade, Teenage Exorcist tells the story of Diane (Stevens), a college graduate who moves into an old mansion, only to become possessed. She’s transformed into the demonic minion of the mansion’s former owner, Baron DeSade. It’s up to Diane’s sister and brother-in-law, with the help of a whiskey-addled priest and Hollywood’s oldest teenage nerd Eddie Deezen (Grease), to rescue Diane from the Baron’s evil thrall. Boasting a witty laugh-filled script and fun performances by a cast of genre veterans including Robert Quarry (Count Yorga Vampire) and Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), the film is the perfect showcase for Stevens’ comedic talent. Teenage Exorcist is an overlooked horror comedy gem in the vein of Transylvania Twist and Saturday the 14th. Search this one out you won’t be disappointed.
Haunting Fear is available on Blu-ray from Makeflix.com and Retromedia’s Amazon store. Grandmother’s House and Nightmare Sisters special edition Blu-rays are available from Vinegar Syndrome Teenage Exorcist is currently available as a Blu-ray exclusive from Makeflix.com.
Slumber Party Massacre, and Sorority Babes in the SlimeBowl Bowl A-Rama are available on DVD and Blu-ray. You can pick up Teacher Shortage on DVD as well. All three are available through major online retailers.