DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Richard Friedman
Andrew Stevens, Mary Page Keller, David Ramsey
Writing Credits:
Mark Frost,Daniel F. Bacaner, Richard Friedman

Strange visions come to haunt a singer when she and her boyfriend move into an old house haunted by the ghost of a slave owner.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English LPCM 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 84 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 4/23/2019

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Richard Friedman, Writer/Producer Dan Bacaner and Historian Robert Ehlinger
• ďMansion of the DoomedĒ Documentary
• Interview with Composer Billy Barber
• Image Gallery
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer.


Scared Stiff [Blu-Ray] (1987)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 8, 2019)

Despite a title that sounds like it should headline a porn movie, 1987ís Scared Stiff actually offers a horror tale. Set in the American South, pop singer Kate Christopher (Mary Page Keller) moves into an old colonial house with her psychiatrist boyfriend David Young (Andrew Stevens) and her son Jason (Josh Segel).

As they explore the mansion, they find a historical discovery in the attic. The material points toward the houseís dark past, as Kate, David and Jason soon deal with terror inside this cursed abode.

Given that I was of prime horror movie-watching age back in the 1980s, Iím always a little surprised at how many genre entries I missed. I guess many of these obscurities got little theatrical distribution, but I never encountered them on VHS either, so it continually astonishes me that so many of these flicks went under the radar.

Stiff lands in that massive pile, as Iíd never heard of it until I read the press release for this Blu-ray. I admit that I often find that these forgotten horror tales probably deserve to remain buried in obscurity, but hope springs eternal that Iíll find some ďlost classicĒ.

Or maybe not. While far from the worst 1980s horror flick Iíve seen, Stiff never manages to become anything especially interesting.

The ďhaunted houseĒ genre goes back at least as far as 1932ís Old Dark House. Only a year prior to Stiff, 1986ís House became a moderate hit in that vein.

I suspect the latterís decent box office returns inspired the filmmakers to create Stiff, though the two donít share many similarities beyond the ďhaunted houseĒ concept. Stiff presents a darker affair than the semi-comedic House.

Unfortunately, it canít pull off any form of real terror, as the movie tends to feel cheesy. Some of this seems endemic to 1980s films, as few can overcome the excesses of that era, but I think the main problem stems from the flickís 20-cent budget and the lack of real talent involved.

Thanks to his generic TV soap opera good looks and his relation to semi-movie star mother Stella, Andrew Stevens enjoyed a decent career, but I canít claim he ever showed much talent. While not an incompetent actor, as seen here he lacks personality and he fails to bring much to his role.

Donít expect much more from Keller. Like Stevens, she also found work over the years, even if she never became a star. Also like Stevens, she canít muster a genuine sense of character or depth, so her take on Kate feels one-dimensional and unconvincing.

Of the whole cast, only Jakie Davisís turn as quirky Detective Whitcomb shows a pulse. This occurs not because Davis offers a good performance, as he also doesnít create a realistic character. Still, at least Davisís oddball take on the role adds some much needed life to the otherwise stagnant proceedings.

While the basic story comes with potential fright, the final product suffers from a generally amateurish feel. Itís not necessarily a cheap-looking production, but no one involved demonstrates much skill, so the final result feels ďCĒ-grade.

The biggest issue with Stiff remains boredom, though. It never becomes scary or dramatic or anything more than dull and forgettable.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

Scared Stiff appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I felt pleased with this largely solid presentation.

For the most part, sharpness appeared positive. A smidgen of softness occasionally interfered with wide shots, but those issues remained minor, so the movie usually appeared distinctive and detailed.

The image suffered from no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, and it also lacked edge enhancement. Grain remained appropriate, and the image showed no print flaws.

Colors came across as reasonably good. The film utilized a fairly earthy palette, and the Blu-ray replicated those tones with decent accuracy and range.

Blacks seemed similarly tight, and shadows showed fair clarity, though some low-light shots could seem a bit thick. Given the filmís age and origins, this was a consistently satisfactory transfer.

Though the Blu-rayís press release claims it includes a stereo mix, instead we find an LPCM monaural soundtrack. Speech was reasonably natural and concise, while music showed acceptable pep and clarity.

Effects brought us accurate enough material. This was never a memorable track, but it worked for the story and seemed fine when I considered the movieís era.

When we shift to extras, we launch with an audio commentary from writer/director Richard Friedman, writer/producer Dan Bacaner and historian Robert Ehlinger. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, effects and connected domains.

This becomes a pretty average commentary. While the participants discuss a good array of topics, the end result never feels especially insightful. We get some decent thoughts on occasion and thatís about it.

A new documentary called Mansion of the Doomed runs 33 minutes, 48 seconds and includes notes from Friedman, Bacaner, Ehlinger, special effects supervisor Tyler Smith, special effects assistants Jerry Macaluso and Barry Anderson and actors Andrew Stevens and Joshua Segal.

The program looks at the projectís move to the screen and its tone, story/characters, sets and locations, cast and crew, various effects, the home video re-release and general production notes. The discussion of effects works best, and a few other good stories emerge, but the overall program seems a bit inconsistent.

An Interview with Composer Billy Barber lasts six minutes, 33 seconds and features Barberís thoughts about his work for the film. He provides a short but informative chat.

In addition to the filmís trailer, we end with an Image Gallery. It offers a running montage with 66 examples of movie shots, publicity elements and behind the scenes stills. This becomes a nice collection of images.

A 1980s take on the haunted house genre, Scared Stiff lacks much to make it memorable. Slow, cheap and bland, the movie canít become anything intriguing or frightening. The Blu-ray comes with pretty good visuals as well as adequate audio and a pretty good set of supplements. Stiff lands with a thud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main