Scared Stiff (1953)

Approved   |    |  Comedy, Horror, Musical

Scared Stiff (1953) Poster

Fleeing a murder charge, a busboy and a nightclub singer wind up on a spooky Caribbean island inherited by a young woman.


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10 January 2017 | TheLittleSongbird
| Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis sure do make a "spook-tacle" of themselves
As someone who loves Dean Martin's voice, and always have done, and who finds Jerry Lewis entertaining 'Scared Stiff' intrigued. It was enough for me to see with just one of them, but it's even more so with them together.

'Scared Stiff' has garnered comparisons to 'The Ghost Breakers', the general consensus being that it's inferior to that film. It is agreed that 'The Ghost Breakers' is the better film, funnier, scarier and combines those two elements together a little more strongly. This said, 'Scared Stiff' in no way disgraces it and works well on its own two feet too.

The story does jump around a little, with the shift to the darker and scarier elements slightly abrupt (emphasis on the slightly) and creaks in some parts. As alluring as Lizabeth Scott is, she is also a rather bland presence, not looking entirely comfortable in comedy or romance. The production values, apart from some very atmospheric sets, do betray a rushed production and that it was made in haste.

Conversely, 'Scared Stiff' has many positive elements. Regarding the songs, while not classics or ones that will necessarily stand the test of time, they are still pleasant enough and suit Martin's wonderful singing talents and Carmen Miranda's unique stage presence and such well.

George Marshall's direction is nifty and he and the nicely crafted script neatly combine genuinely funny comedy and suitably eerie and suspenseful chills. Miranda, in her final film, lives up to her nickname as "The Brazilian Bombshell", even if she has been much better before with material that adds more to the story than 'Scared Stiff' does.

Martin and Lewis are a very well matched double act, their talents well-utilised and contrast with each other deftly. Martin effectively plays it straight against Lewis' very kinetic energy (Lewis' impersonation of Miranda is not particularly good but still pretty hilarious, and his scene with Frank Fontaine is a scream).

In conclusion, a fun film that has made be interested in more of Martin/Lewis collaborations. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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