Collectively deemed “the Queen of B-Movie Horror” by the horror film community, the stunning Ms. Linnea Quigley was recently given the honorary title of Ambassador-at-Large for the Third Annual Calgary Horror Convention in Calgary, AB. The Calgary-based Con, which is just around the corner (August 3rd & 4th at Calgary’s reputed BlackFoot Hotel), and boasts an impressive line-up of horror stars. The celebrity guest roster includes: esteemed veteran horror actors Bill Moseley of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and The Devil’s Rejects, Tony Todd of the Candyman and Final Destination series, and Michael Berryman of The Hills Have Eyes; legendary SFX wizards Tom Savini and Cleve Hall (along with his daughter Constance); the Godfather of Gore himself, H.G. Lewis; actress Patricia Tallman of Army of Darkness and Night of the Living Dead (1990); rising scream queen Jessica Cameron of Silent Night; horror comic illustrator extraordinaire Nat Jones of the ’68 and Spawn series; acclaimed Alberta-based prop and SFX designer Travis Shewchuck of Ravenous EFX; SFX makeup designer and prop builder Dave Trainor of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil; SFX makeup design trainer Ashley Marie Godick; and of course, the lovely Linnea Quigley of Night of the Demons and Return of the Living Dead fame, returning to the Calgary Horror Con for her second year as a guest of honor and her first year as Ambassador-at-Large.
Quigley is a strong supporter of independent horror conventions, which are sadly few and far between in the western prairie provinces of Canada. She believes that it is important for veteran genre stars such as herself to reach out to the international horror community and promote the smaller, less-known conventions as a means of drawing fans in from across the continent and, hopefully, from all over the world. Diabolique recently had the opportunity to chat with Quigley about her involvement in the Calgary Con, her new position as Ambassador-at-Large and the horror convention scene as a whole.
DIABOLIQUE: So how did you initially get involved in the Calgary Horror Con?
LINNEA QUIGLEY: I was just really impressed by the way that it was put on and just how everyone was dealing with it and taking it serious, not like a lot of cons where they con you. It’s just a really straight forward, fun convention. Jim [Saito] asked if I wanted to [be the Ambassador-at-Large] and I said I would love to. And that’s how I got in involved, because I really believed in it a lot, too.
DIABOLIQUE: What does your position as Ambassador-at-Large entail?
QUIGLEY: Just making connections with different filmmakers, producers, other media, things like that, so that everybody comes together.
DIABOLIQUE: Will you be promoting any of the upcoming movies that you’re in at the Calgary Con?
QUIGLEY: I probably will. I’ve done a few and I’ve got some on the horizon just coming up like crazy right now, so I probably will be promoting Into the Ether and one that’s going to come out on Showtime, Girls Gone Dead, and The Unquenchable Thirst for Beau Jernoose… It’s a musical so it’ll be a lot of fun. So I’ll be doing that when I leave the con.
DIABOLIQUE: Are you actually singing in it?
DIABOLIQUE: Do you have a background in music?
QUIGLEY: Yes, I was in a band called The Skirts in the ‘80s. We also played after that too, but we really played a lot in the ‘80s in L.A. When we got into it, it was a lot of punk, and then we went to punk with rock & roll in it. I actually got some of my songs in movies and documentaries, which was a big deal for me.
DIABOLIQUE: What are some of your favourite bands?
QUIGLEY: I like AC/DC, I like White Stripes, I like Bush. I like Madonna, Fleetwood Mac. There’s so many I really love.
DIABOLIQUE: From the position that you’re in with the Calgary Con, and as someone who obviously has a fairly significant fan following within the horror community, what kind of feedback have you received regarding this event?
QUIGLEY: Really good feedback. James got a called from a 21-year-old today who heard from the grapevine I might be there, so she’s really excited. I’ve been getting a lot of people on Facebook wondering if I’m going to be there once they made the announcement of me being the ambassador. So there’s been a lot of good feedback.
DIABOLIQUE: How does a smaller, younger and ultimately lesser known convention such as the Calgary Horror Con compare to the larger conventions you’ve been a part of throughout the span of your career?
QUIGLEY: Some of the bigger ones lose the real essence of what a convention should be, and the Calgary Horror Con keeps the essence of what a horror convention should be—pleasing the fans and the guests. Whereas a lot of bigger ones don’t please the guests or the fans; They’re just a number. At this one, they really treat you right.
DIABOLIQUE: Have you noticed any significant differences between Canadian and American horror conventions and the people who attend them?
QUIGLEY: [Canadian conventions] are a ton better! They’re done a lot better with a lot more thought and a lot more care and things like that. The American ones are a little bit more commercial and kind of the same. You lose track of which ones you’ve been to and you kind of forget them.
DIABOLIQUE: What would you say is the most enjoyable aspect of attending these kinds of fan conventions?
QUIGLEY: Just meeting the different people and hearing their stories and just being able to meet people that have watched and have enjoyed my movies.
DIABOLIQUE: You’ve been a part of the horror community for over three decades now. How has it changed for better or for worse?
QUIGLEY: Film-wise, it’s changed a lot. We used to shoot on 35 or 16 mm, and now everything’s on HD, where you’re in front of a tiny little camera type thing. So it’s changed that way. The whole medium has changed. And I’ve noticed a lot of the actors aren’t as prepared as they used to be. They used to give us the script and people would just knock the scenes out. I’ve noticed a lot of the newer people are a little bit more jaded and they think they can be a star for maybe doing a not-seen low, low, low budget film… or even just taking pictures with some blood on them. That’s changed a lot because before it was really disciplined. It’s really about ego now.
DIABOLIQUE: How has the convention scene changed?
QUIGLEY: Con-wise, it used to be that the promoters would pay you a substantial amount to come in and be there. And then people would come up and you’d give them free autographs. But now with the advent of like eBay and things like that you can’t give a picture away for free, signed, because people will sell it on eBay. And the promoters can’t afford to have a big convention and pay everybody. So there were less celebrities at the ones that first began—like FANGORIA and CHILLER and things like that. But now everybody makes out good.
DIABOLIQUE: Can you share some of your favourite convention memories with Diabolique readers?
QUIGLEY: When FANGORIA inducted me into the horror Hall of Fame, that was a really great memory. I remember Bruce Campbell presenting it to me and making jokes. It was a really great time at a convention. I remember one girl crying when she met me and I was kind of startled. That’s happened a couple times. You know, you just don’t know what to do [when that happens].
DIABOLIQUE: Tell us about some of your craziest encounters with overzealous fans?
QUIGLEY: I remember some of the crazy people that would just take their stuff and put it on your table and talk to you for an hour and you’d be like, “Oh my God, this person won’t leave.” That’s another thing. One time a guy was escorted out finally because he was bothering so many people. I remember vividly once at a CHILLER convention when Christopher Lee was walking out and this fan of his—this woman who was probably about 45—just jumped on his back. And they had to pry her off his back. That was pretty weird.
I’ve been lucky. I haven’t had anybody going over the top, except just not leaving. And if they do leave, they just stand to the side. A lot of them will stay in the hotel secretly because they don’t have money. They’ll just shower in the waiting room or something like that—if they do shower. They’ll be sleeping in chairs or out of the way because they can’t afford to get a room. But I’ve never had anybody jump on me, thank goodness! I did have a guy once, I was about to go up and do a panel, and somebody warned me he was trying to shoot up my skirt. That was pretty weird.
DIABOLIQUE: What made you commit yourself and your acting career to the horror genre specifically?
QUIGLEY: I really liked horror when I was growing up. My friends and I would stay up late and watch the creature features on Saturday nights. We’d have pizza and mimic the different movies that we saw, especially like Night of the Living Dead; we got a kick out of that. We love that film, and The Birds, too, and just all of those really good films. So I think I got addicted to it at a young age. I’d stay up late to watch Alfred Hitchcock Presents and whatever other horror film was on, or The Wax Museum with Vincent Price and Murder in the Rue Morgue and all of those [films].
DIABOLIQUE: How does it feel to be referred to as the Queen of B-Movie Horror Movies? Did you ever think that your career as an actress would lead to that title?
QUIGLEY: Oh no. I thought, “Oh, this job that I get will probably be my last; I’ll never work again.” [Acting] is so competitive. It’s just a lot of luck and some skill and things like that to get to where you’re going. But I think I embraced it, so people liked that, especially the horror fans. You can tell if someone really doesn’t like what they’re doing. Or if they put it down and say “Oh, I’m just doing horror films, but I want to do better films.” If you say that a lot [the fans] are insulted too.
DIABOLIQUE: And who are your favourite scream queens?
QUIGLEY: Michelle Bowers, Brinke Stevens, Debbie Rochon and Melanie Robo. I like all them very well. I think they’re really good at what they do. I’ve worked with all of them.
DIABOLIQUE: What are your thoughts on the current state of the horror genre?
QUIGLEY: Right now, I think there’s a lull in a lot of the good horror films. There’s too many of those Paranormal Activity type films, and I really don’t like those. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a really great horror film that really scared me. The Saw enterprise has been pretty good, I thought. They were very thrilling. I’m just not a real big fan of the newer ones and I haven’t seen one that scared me.
DIABOLIQUE: There’s a lot of hype over The Conjuring right now. Have you seen it yet?
QUIGLEY: Yeah, and the exorcism films; they’re all fake. I saw the ads for that and I thought, “That doesn’t look good.” It just doesn’t look good. It looks like they took a little bit of the Paranormal thing and a little bit of Insidious and a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
DIABOLIQUE: How do you feel about the people who are making horror movies now?
QUIGLEY: A lot of people do one little thing and they get a big head. The best thing is if a filmmaker shoots a film, gets it edited and at least gets it out to be seen. But a lot of people go out and film something, but then they never edit it because they don’t have the experience or they can’t get someone to do it for them because they don’t have the money. And the movie just sits on the shelf because they can’t put it together right. So at least if somebody puts something together and gets it out—even if it just gets the film festivals—give them some credit.
DIABOLIQUE: You’re quite the advocate for animal and human rights. Are you currently involved in any animal rights organizations or events pertaining to the promotion of animal rights awareness?
QUIGLEY: I do wherever I go. I used to, when I was in L.A., be able to do it a lot more where I would pick some fans and screen them, and ones that wanted to adopt dogs and cats I’d take them to the pound and we’d get animals. It’s been hard to do that in Florida where I am now because there aren’t really any conventions down there to go to and do that. But in L.A., there are a lot of conventions that go through there and I’d be able to do that.
I try, with interviews and press and things like that, to make it clear that I am an animal rights activist, and I try to talk the talk and live the life so that people can see it. On Facebook, I’m always promoting things to stop this or stop that. And I was involved with PETA, but again, being in Florida has been a detriment because I’m not in a major city to really get involved with them like I did when I lived in L.A. But I’m still vegan, and doing the whole thing. But when I go places I get a lot of feedback from the horror people—they really do love animals. It’s amazing.
DIABOLIQUE: Are there any particularly pressing issues in animal’s rights that you’re concerned about at this time?
QUIGLEY: Well, animal research has always been a big thing with me. I really don’t like it at all, so I wish that they’d get rid of that.
DIABOLIQUE: So you’ve been in the industry for over three decades. You’re obviously older now than you were when you first started out, but you still look great. How have you managed to stay so beautiful and sprightly after all these years?
QUIGLEY: I guess I just don’t think of age really, unless I have to. I go to the gym three times a week and do the elliptical, and then it’s just my diet and good genes. My dad was very, very active until his nineties. He was playing tennis and running and things like that. So I think I get it from him. My Mom and Dad both had great attitudes. And if you think you have to be a certain age to act and dress a certain way, then you’re in trouble.
DIABOLIQUE: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
QUIGLEY: Just keep promoting the animals rights. Everybody do just a little bit and it’ll add up to a lot. And I’m going to keep doing movies until they won’t have me anymore. I appreciate all the fans and the people that have watched the films and have followed my career. I really appreciate it.
You can see Quigley alongside Tony Todd, Michael Berryman, Tom Savini, Cleve Hall, Patricia Tallman, Jessica Cameron, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Bill Moseley and more at Calgary Horror-Con which, once again, takes place from Saturday, August 3rd to Sunday, August 4th at Hotel Blackfoot in Calgary, AB. For more on Quigley, you can visit her official website, her official Facebook or you can follow her on Twitter: @LinneaQuigley. For more on Calgary Horror-Con, and to purchase tickets which are still available, please visit the con’s official website, and you can visit their official Facebook and follow them on Twitter: @YYCHorrorCon.
– By Lacey Paige
Lacey is a devoted horror enthuasiast and movie collector. A recent journalism school graduate, she is currently a contributing writer for Diabolique, Cinesploitation, Absolute Underground and Fangoria. She likes taking long walks in dark, eerie places; reading true crime and horror fiction; and sharing her borderline-obsessive love of horror with just about anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter: @LaceyPaige88