Saturday, April 13, 2019

Review: Scared Stiff (1987)

It must be tricky trying to name an eighties horror film ... so many of them just try too hard and for every cult classic there's a host of wannabes waiting in the wings ... Scared Stiff is an interesting one. For one thing the title seems a complete misnomer until the very end. A better title might be Bored Rigid, but that might be doing this film a disservice as it does have some elements to commend it.

The basic plot is simple: A couple move into a house which was once where an evil Plantation owner lived with his slaves, his wife and child. The slaves revolted and summoned a demon which possessed the Plantation owner causing him to lock his wife and child in a casket in the attic.

Flash forward to present day, and our eighties couple: David Young (Andrew Stevens), apparently a psychiatric doctor, and his girlfriend Kate (Mary Page Keller), a singer who is making a pop video, and who happened to be David's patient up to a year ago, move into the house with her son Jason (Joshua Segal). Cue all manner of nasty happenings as the ghosts from the past are coming to get them ...

They find a boarded up staircase to the attic in the kid's room, wherein is the casket. Jason finds the key while playing and the bodies are discovered. And also a handiman hangs himself from a rope by the house, not to be discovered for days. Did noone wonder where he was or even look at the outside of the house? He eventually crashes through a window as David goes full on possession and Kate and Jason find themselves in an otherworldly realm of moving pianos and smoke and doors as David/the Demon tries to kill them until Jason joins two halves of a totem together and banishes him ...

It's all a bit confused at the end as before the demon is destroyed he seems to give birth to another demon from within him ... then there's eighties early CGI light effects and Kate is left a catatonic wreck, being visited by Jason. I guess she was scared stiff ...

Overall the film plays well, the soundtrack is passable, but it's slow ... so slow ... lots of talking and normal everyday stuff before the possession shenanigans kick in. The cinematography is good though, and the film looks great in this new transfer.

Interesting that the original script was written by Mark Frost, slightly before his Twin Peaks fame, but coming after The Six Million Dollar Man, Hill Street Blues and The Equaliser ... However in the Making-Of documentary, they explain that Frost's original screenplay was changed around a lot before it became the final film ... and one wonders if the original might have been so much better than the something of a pot pourri of ideas that got to the screen.

Again, kudos to Arrow for digging up another eighties horror that I'd never heard of let alone seen ...

• Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
• Original uncompressed Stereo audio
• English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Brand new audio commentary with director Richard Friedman, producer Dan Bacaner and film historian Robert Ehlinger
• Mansion of the Doomed: The Making of Scared Stiff – brand new documentary featuring interviews with Richard Friedman, Dan Bacaner, Robert Ehlinger, actors Andrew Stevens and Joshua Segal, special effects supervisor Tyler Smith and special effects assistants Jerry Macaluso and Barry Anderson
• Brand new interview with composer Billy Barber
• Image Gallery
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Limited edition slipcase featuring original Graham Humphreys artwork
• Reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully illustrated collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by James Oliver

Director: Richard Friedman
Cast: Andrew Stevens, Mary Page Keller, Joshua Segal

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