Working with a hesitant ivory quality, model Laura Schaefer imbued a couple of late 1980s Full Moon ventures and a 1989 episode of Freddy’s Nightmares with soft understatement. Her range wasn’t huge but (like early era Maria Ford), she enlivened the screen with a sensitive creaminess – and it would have been interesting to see what she could have done had she continued her career past her final bit roles in 1991.
As Elizabeth in 1988’s Catacombs (recently released on DVD by Scream Factory – but known for years, on VHS, as Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice), Schaefer seems far too beautiful and soft natured to fully inhabit the role of a research loving, elementary school teacher. But her lightness strikes a nice balance against the cantankerous layers of the accomplished character actors, all playing distinguished monks. She, also, quite ably personifies the demonic qualities invested in her character once Elizabeth is possessed by the demon, the old (not so) holy men have been hiding in the monastery’s basement jail for centuries. Of course, things eventually end well for Elizabeth and the young priest, the story’s platonic romantic interest, ably portrayed by Class of 84’s Timothy Van Patten.
The same can’t be said for Etta, the blacksmith’s daughter Schaefer portrays, in Ghost Town (also 1988). Haunted for years by a ravaged, demonically powerful gun man, Schaefer’s hesitant lass soon attaches herself to a contemporary officer of the law, played by swarthy Frank Luz, when he finds himself hijacked in her misty, spirit ridden town. Graduating from almost mute silence, Schaefer/Etta eventually persuades Luz to help her “feel again” – providing viewers with a bit of female flesh and Luz’s character with the first dialogue cue that all is not as it appears to be. Etta’s loyalty to her white knight does cause her downfall, though, and Schaefer’s quiet quality makes her character’s outcome all the more potent. (Especially as Jimmie F. Skaggs is so supernaturally vile as the evil outlaw.)
The 1989 Art of Death episode of Freddy’s Nightmares gave Schaefer her most eclectic role of the trio. As Joan, a popular college student, she undergoes a terrifying transformation after being kidnapped by the cartoon creation of an ardent admirer. Shaky, and eventually hallucinating an attack from a handsome fellow student (menacingly played by Deadly Friend’s Andrew Roperto), Schaefer believably pulls off the character’s shocked hysteria. This is the last major role of her career and, thankfully, it ends on a tremblingly high note.
So, until the next time – may the spirits of horror’s forgotten femmes be with you always — and SWEET love and pink GRUE — Big Gay Horror Fan!