Scared Stiff (1987)

The fact that Scared Stiff has been given all of the care of a Criterion release is a testament to why Arrow Video is one of the best labels out there in the rapidly dying world of physical media and the fact that there are still movies out there waiting to be discovered.

Kate Christopher (Mary Page Kellar, Pretty Little Liars) is a pop singer who had a nervous breakdown but is now getting it back together thanks to David (Andrew Stevens), her psychologist boyfriend. Together with her son Jason, they move into an old colonial mansion that comes packed with secrets, like a horror-filled diary and a trunk filled with the mummified bodies of a woman and her son.

Scared Stiff started as a Mark Frost script (the second Frost written movie we’ve covered this week, along with The Believers), but grew into complete lunacy, packed with every single shock tactic possible, from exposed brains to body horror style transformations and pre-CGI digital effects. It was directed by Richard Friedman, who went on to direct Doom Asylum, Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge and the recent Acts of Desperation.

I love that this movie also features MTV-style videos, a ridiculous Native American lamp that grows gigantic, the goopiest of gore, a lynched handyman that doesn’t show up again until the perfect time in the film, a hallway filled with fog that sends people back and forth through time, a villain who sells slaves when he isn’t choking out little kids and turning into a literal monster, dead babysitters in a fountain and a shock finale that made me laugh out loud in the best of ways. I’ve said it so many times here, but how do basically forgotten movies from 1987 end up being better than anything released today?

Want to see it for yourself? If you grab a copy from Diabolik DVD, you get an exclusive slipcase! This gets a big recommendation, as it comes complete with Arrow’s usual high standards, including a thirty-minute documentary that covers every aspect of the creation of Scared Stiff.

I was inspired to watch this after watching Good Bad Flicks, who always do an expert job of getting me excited about movies.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by Arrow Video, but we’d have purchased it anyway. That has no impact on our review.

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