Scared Stiff - Scared Stiff(Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2019]Scared Stiff is a soapy, at times-unintentionally amusing haunted house romp from the late 80ís- it features big hair, tacky 80ís fashion, a few effective chills, and later-on some nice OTT effects. From Arrow Video hereís a new Blu Ray release of the film- taking in a new 2k scan, some worthy extras, and a new commentary track from the film's director & producer.
Appearing in 1987 Scared Stiff was the directorial debut from Richard Friedman, who in the same year went onto make Doom Asylum- a decidedly tongue-in-cheek slasher, which got reissued on Arrow last year. And though the story-line/ flow of the film is a little muddled at times- Scared Stiff is a good enough 1980ís horror debut, which stands up fairly well against similar haunted house films of the time.
The whole thing begins with a flashback to the age of slavery in the deep south- when a rather unpleasant & wife beating slave master is secretly cursed by a group of slaves. Then we flash forward to 1987 where we find big-haired pop star Kate Christopher (Mary Kate Keller), her young bowl cut-sporting son Jason, and her psychiatrist boyfriend David Young (Andrew Stevens) moving into the house. Kate starts seeing flashbacks to the house's past, and disturbing nightmares- so we become unsure what is reality or dream. Added to this David personality starts to change, as itís clear heís been affected by the spirit of the evil slave master.
Itís fair to say, like many haunted house pics- Scared Stiff has a fairly slow, at times dragging build-up, with it been about halfway through before you get any chills & fleeting gore like a throat silt. From here on the pace & atmosphere starts to build, going towards a fairly nuts final half hour/ twenty minutes; where the characters seem to jump through different times & dimensions, with some fairly fun & OTT effects/ creature designs. I guess if anything Iíd compare it to a less humorous version of the first House movie, but with a lot of í80s fashion & camp-less piled on. As for the two leads, Keller is passable if a little bland and Stevens comes across like a low-rent David Hasselhoff, without any of the charm or humour. So while itís far from a haunted house masterpiece, Scared Stiff is an enjoyable 80ís horror romp- which is certainly better than a lot of straight to VHS chillers from the time.
Moving onto to this new Blu Ray- and first off the new 2K print from the original film elements, looks good enough for an 80ís film- though it does still look a little dark in places. Next, we get a commentary track from director Richard Friedman & producer Dan Bacaner- which is lead by film historian Robert Ehlinger. This track is most informative & worthy- with the pair recalling a lot of interesting detail from the film's production, as well as discussing the films location, actors, and later on the films special effects/ creature make-up. After this we get Mansion of the Doomed: The Making of Scared Stiff- this is a new thirty three minute doc about the film- featuring interviews with the producer & the director, effects artists, and two of the cast lead man Andrew Stevens, and Joshua Segal who played Kateís seven-year son in the film- again this is most worthy, and really manages to be the perfect length- covering everything you want to know about the film. Lastly, we get a six-minute interview with the film's composer discussing the films score, an original trailer, and image gallery. All told another great job from the guys over at Arrow Video.
Scared Stiff is an effective enough slice of 1980ís horror cheese- sure itís not as scary as it could have been, and the acting goes from effective-to- unintentionally amusing. But itís at least memorable & at times quite creative with its effects. So in conclusion, if youíre a fan 80ís horror, and can appreciate camp-ness, Big hair & fashion of the decade- I think youíll get a kick out of Scared Stiff, and this new great Blu Ray from Arrow Video. Roger Batty