2/25/10

Ladies Night Celebrates Women in Horror Month with Brinke Stevens' Teenage Exorcist (1991)

Once a Month, T.L. Bugg takes a day off and hands the keys of the Lair over to his lovely wife, Miss Directed, and best friend, Fran Goria. The Ladies of the Lair take this chance to shine a spotlight on some of the best and worst films out there, and you never know what might happen when it's Ladies Night! Take it away Fran....

Miss Directed and I were originally going to review a completely different movie this month, but in honor of Women in Horror month, we decided on a film that showcased one of our beloved scream queens, the lovely and talented Miss Brinke Stevens. So, without further ado, Ladies Night presents.....

Teenage Exorcist (1991) Directed by Grant Austin Waldman. Written by Fred Olen Ray (story), Brinke Stevens (screenplay). Starring: Brinke Stevens, Eddie Deezan, Jay Richardson, Elena Sahagun, and Robert Quarry.

Diane (Stevens) is a meek and mousy graduate student who just moved into an old mansion. It seemed like a dream come true until odd things started happening. Diane calls her sister, Sally (Sahagun), and brother-in-law, Mike (Richardson), to stop by and keep her company. When the two arrive, they find Diane has gone from meek to sexpot. They soon realize that Diane has been possessed by the evil spirit of the house. With the help of would- be suitor, Jeff, and Priest, Father McFerrin (Quarry), they try to exorcise the spirit. When the situation becomes more dire, an unsuspecting pizza boy (Deezan) arrives, and all hell breaks loose.


I love a film with its own theme song, and Teenage Excorcist has just that! The movie captured my attention right off the bat, with this rockin’, eighties style opening theme. Things just got better from there. From the subtle sight gags, to the slap-stick comedy, to the slightly absurd story line, and to the fine acting, this movie pleased me from beginning to end. The film is essentially a comedy with horror overtones. All elements worked together to create a piece of cinema that is just plain fun.

Miss Stevens has been a scream queen ever since she appeared as Linda in 1982’s Slumber Party Massacre. She refers to it as the movie that launched a thousand screams. She is the total package scream queen with both talent and looks. But she is more than just a pretty face, Brinke has a Master’s Degree in marine biology, she majored in both biology and psychology, and she studied 7 foreign languages. In tonight’s feature, Brinke Stevens stars as Diane, the grad student who becomes possessed. Miss Stevens does a fantastic job as the meek, boring, probably still a virgin, grad student. Then, after the possession, she plays a seductress/ dominatrix, and she great in that role too, and she delivers the comedy well. She does all this while rewriting the script, and looking fantastic in a black leather bikini. Brinke Stevens is a wonderful actress who is truly worthy of the title scream queen.

The rest of the cast was talented as well. Especially Jay Richardson, he really stood out for me. As soon as he said “I have a feeling this isn’t the last gag we’ll see tonight.” I knew it was the truth. Richardson delivered the one-liners and slapstick with perfect comedic timing. Then there was Robert Quarry. His Father McFerrin was a joy. I honestly could not picture anybody else performing card tricks for zombies, but Quarry really owned it. Many may remember him as Count Yorga, but I remember him most from his roles in the Vincent Price films Madhouse (1974) and Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972). There is also a tasty appearance by Michael Berryman from Weird Science (1985) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977).

The one liners and funny storyline were not the only comedic elements of the film. There were also some sight gags I fell in love with. First, the “rats” on the stairs were great. Each character reacted to, and referred to them as rats, but they were obviously a pair of ferrets, and just to drive it home, there was a close up of a cute little ferret face. This made me giggle. Then there was the bird cage with a stuffed penguin hanging in the demon’s lair. This also made me giggle. The whole film has hidden elements to deliver the funny. I highly recommend this movie. It is an all around good time. Teenage Exorcist really delivered it all. I had a great time watching it, and I am sure it will be just as great the second time around.

Brinke Rating

I make no secret of the fact that when it comes to the vast world of horror, I am not as knowledgeable as Fran Goria or TL Bugg. Over the years, I have learned to trust their judgment on what to watch. After all, why would you go out to a 4 star restaurant with a sommelier and order the wine yourself? Most the time when Fran tells me about a movie I am on board. This was not the case with Teenage Exorcist. It looked to be a poorly made, badly dated low budget horror film. While it wasn’t just a clever look, Teenage Exorcist is a lot better than a lot of horror comedy out there.

First of all, the cast is outstanding for a movie this low budget. Staples actors of genre film permeate this cast. Robert Quarry, who my lovely husband has just reviewed in Sugar Hill, does a scene stealing job as the Irish catholic priest. I was also happy to see a bit of Michael Berryman as the creepy landlord. I really enjoyed the performance of Jay Richardson as the quintessential 80’s guy, always checking on his stocks and talking merger. This however was a little less impressive as a plot point when I found out the movie was made in 1991.

Topical humor aside, I did like the script. It seemed to owe more to Abbott and Costello than to The Exorcist. Brinke Stevens is credited with the screen play which reportedly had to be change several times on set. In spite of this, the jokes were still funnier than anything I saw in scary movie. Almost ever scene is constructed with a straight man and a funny man delivering the lines. Consider that the same year Hot Shots! was the big budget parody Americans ran out to see, Teenage Exorcist starts to look a lot better. The throwback to classic comedy is charming, even when mixed with lower brow sexual banter.

Doing research I found out a whole lot about Brinke Stevens. Did you know her shoe size is 8? I do now. I can’t remember her measurements but I have seen them at least on 2 web sites. She also has a masters degree in Marine Biology. She has no problem posing nude. It makes me wonder why she hasn’t been on Oprah yet. Where is the Brinke Stevens, fearless female in my woman’s magazine? In a world where I have to heard everything a Kardashian thinks, why no props for Brinke? Now here’s a woman who went into a male dominated field and made a name for herself as an actress, a writer and a producer. That is impressive enough, but she did it in heels and a garter belt. Nothing succeeds like success, and career spanning over 100 movies should speak for itself.

The biggest problem with this movie is its look. 'Til I found out better, I thought I was watching a film from the mid-80’s. There never seemed to be enough light in the interior shots. It wasn’t just moody dark, it was we ran out of money to pay for lights dark. Even the wardrobe just looked old. The filmmakers did okay with what they had, but it wasn’t one of those brilliant low budget movies that managed not to feel limited. Grading on a curve Teenage Exorcist gets a higher grade. I would still say if you like your comedy, your horror, and your Scream Queens all mixed up together, this one may be for you.



Brinke Rating

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