Julie Benz: always the wicked friend, never the evil leader

julie benz 1

Julie Benz might fall under your scream queen radar because she’s often cast beside more infamous scream queens. Her horror career goes as far back as 1990’s Two Evil Eyes, she played Darla on Buffy and Angel…

julie benz darla

She was Dexter’s lady, she was in Saw V (that’s like looking for a needle in a hypodermic pit), and she was in the parody film Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth, which got overshadowed by its own ridiculous titleand Scary Movie. Julie also had a streak of films in which she was one of the be-otches in a clique of schoolgirls: Jawbreaker, Satan’s School for Girls, and Bad Girls from Valley High.

JAWBREAKER (1999)

julie benz jawbreaker

Dark comedy Jawbreaker comes from that amazing period in the late 90s/early 2000s that brought back the spirit of 80s teen flicks while paying homage to classic horror films as well. The familiar faces are delicious: Carol Kane, Pam Grier, Jeff Conaway, Marilyn Manson, Tatyana Ali, and if you don’t blink you’ll even see Carrie alums PJ Soles and William Katt.

But it is the awesome cast of girls that make this the dastardly little film it is. The popular girls include Rose McGowan as the bitch, Rebecca Gayheart as the level-headed one, and Julie Benz as the ditzy blonde. When a prank on one of their friends, involving a jawbreaker, goes horribly wrong, they try to cover up the murder. But Cursed werewolf Judy Greer, playing a total loser, discovers what they’ve done, so they offer her the opportunity at a makeover and a position in their clique if she keeps her mouth shut.

Everything about Jawbreaker and these girls RULES: the slow-mo strut down the hall, Rose McGowan’s “I’m PE-trified” line, Jeff Conaway breaking into Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” classic tracks like “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by the Scorpions and “Let the Good Times Roll” by The Cars, the Carrie homage prom scene, and Rose McGowan’s “big stick.”

julie benz jawbreaker big stick

It even features the band The Donnas—pretty much known only for their commentaries on VH1 pop culture shows.

I’ll let Rose McGowan’s anorexic joke about Karen Carpenter slide simply because I’m always happy when a movie remembers Karen Carpenter. And because Rose makes this happen:

 

 SATAN’S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS (2000)

julie benz satans school

In 1973, Aaron Spelling produced a film called Satan’s School for Girls featuring pre-Charlie’s Angels Kate Jackson and Cheryl Ladd. In 2000, he remade the film (again for TV), starring his Charmed “angel” Shannen Doherty and with Kate Jackson now playing the dean of the school.

And look! There’s Julie Benz as Shannen’s roommate when Shannen enrolls at the school under an assumed name, trying to find out what happened to her sister, who supposedly committed suicide at the school.

julie benz and shannen

Sure there are sinister goth chicks on Shannen’s radar (one looks curiously like Alyssa Milano). But her real concern should be her pal Julie and the sorority sisters whose eyes go all demon right before they turn into ravens and wolves!

Satan’s School for Girls is obviously trying to cash in on the popularity of The Craft and Charmed. You can’t help but think “Prue!” when Shannen gets into some witchcraft situations complete with cheesy fire and lightning effects. If only Shannen’s power was to see the future, she would realize that Julie Benz appeared a year before beside the chick who would replace her on Charmed!

Highlights of this goofy film include the use of Fat Boy Slim’s “The Rockafeller Skank,” the token black chick calling out the racist all-white girl sorority (she’s clearly just busting chops considering the much cooler sorority of witches is open to more than just black magic), and some dude getting tossed into a tree by the witches…at which point his shirt pops open!

On the plus side, it does look pretty cool when the shadow of an animal turns into one of the witches….

BAD GIRLS FROM VALLEY HIGH (2005)

julie benz bad girls

Finally! Julie is front and center…on the DVD cover of a movie pretty much no one has heard of. Basically, Bad Girls from Valley High is Jawbreaker and Satan’s School for Girls combined.

Julie is the leader of the cool girls…who killed a chick a year ago (using a plunger instead of a jawbreaker) because Julie wanted her man. But he’s interested in the new Romanian girl in school.

So Julie and friends try to sabotage her, but things start going horribly wrong for them instead. They are convinced the Romanian chick is the girl they killed, back from the dead to exact supernatural revenge!

The cast in this one includes the dirt bag boyfriend from the short-lived sitcom Whitney as a buff dumb jock, Christopher Lloyd as a bumbling teacher (leading to loads of horrible slapstick physical comedy that wouldn’t even make a tween laugh)…

julie benz chris lloyd

And finally, Janet Leigh, in a small role…in which she totally steals the show.

julie benz janet leigh

In fact, Janet Leigh’s final monologue is the best reason to watch this movie. Because it is really bad. It lacks charm, the dark humor isn’t edgy or funny enough, the plot is all over the place, and even some horror and pop culture references—I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Bobby and Whitney, “Disco Inferno”—aren’t enough to raise a smile.

Bad Girls from Valley high really is a poor man’s Jawbreaker. I’m sure Julie was thrilled to be stepping into Rose McGowan’s shoes, but she had to realize it was only after they’d been worn out and tossed in the garbage.

julie benz 2

If you want to see more of Julie—literally—just search images of her on the Internet. It was difficult for me to find a pic of her in which she wasn’t half dressed with her ass or tits in the air. Guess she really does crave attention the scream queen world just isn’t giving her.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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