A decapitated head arrives at the sanitarium of Dr. Von Ee and his daughter-in-law collapses in a spasm of terror. The woman is driven insane with fear by haunting memories and villainous strangers. A ghastly green mask materializes in the windows of the manor and a hypnotist (Bela Lugosi) arrives with his sadistic henchman, a mute dwarf. The doctor and his family fall victim to violent attacks and the household is rocked by a shocking and bizarre revelation that is both surreal and treacherous. Bela Lugosi's only color picture, Scared to Death is narrated by a corpse in a series of nightmarish flashbacks. The chilling sterility of the city morgue provides a puzzle-like contrast to the dramatic confrontations that lead up to her death by fright. This Screen Guild production also features horror mainstay George Zucco as the doctor and Angelo Rossitto as Lugosi's assistant.
The legendary Bela Lugosi stars in this sub B horror film about a woman who narrates the story of her own death from the morgue. Of interest chiefly because it is only one of two color films Lugosi appeared in, SCARED TO DEATH nonetheless features an excellent performance from its star, and laughable performances by the rest of the cast. Enjoyable for an evening of MS3K inspired viewing.
NOT SO BAD, AFTERALL
Movie Lover: henri donadille from
Clamart, Hauts-de-Seine FR -- March, 3, 2005
I must admit that I was confused the first time that I watched this film. Much of it seemed to make no sense, whatsoever. After a long while, I've watched it again and have found that it makes better sense than I gave it credit for when I first saw it (although, certain plot elements are still never explained). Very nice Alpha print!
Scared to Death Succeeds Despite Many Flaws
Movie Lover: Michael Eissinger from
Fresno, CA US -- October, 28, 2004
Talk about a happy jumble. On first view, this movie's a mess. The sets are cheap (something that really stands out, in this early color film), the score appears to be recycled stock music from other, much better films, some of the editing is choppy and rough (especially the cuts between the main thread of the movie and the interstitial cuts of the body in the morgue) and the camp comedy relief, instead of breaking the tension, becomes annoying after just a few minutes. And, then, there's the climax, where the "victim" is literally scared to death. Besides the stupidity of the premise, it's horribly staged, poorly shot and completely over the top.
All that said, this is one of those films that I just had to get for my library. I first came across it, years ago, late one weekend night and fell in love with this silly little movie. Zucco is perfect as the arrogant, pompous, self-righteous father-in-law. The interplay between Zucco and Lugosi is priceless and shows just how much refined talent these two men possessed. It's too bad that neither of these gentlemen were to have the career that their talent and ability could have given them, if they hadn?t been shunted into poverty-row productions, like this. The performances given by these two men makes owning this movie a must for every fan of early cinema - especially those of us who love the productions of the commercial underbelly of the industry from the 20?s-40?s.
Buy it, ignore the flaws, and enjoy the best parts of this strange, color, "B" picture.
Scared To Death
Movie Lover: henri donadille from
clamart, Hauts-de-Seine FR -- March, 29, 2004
Initially confusing but ultimately good mystery. I had to see it more than once to acually understand what was going on and would still like to know why when Lugosi was an inmate in the sanitarium was he able to engineer secret passageways and eventually escape! Also, why does he appear to be gazing up at the moon from Zucco's window? Does he or doesn't he recognize the couple in the photo from "The Green Room" in Paris? Does anyone out there know? It's anyone's guess! Other than that it was alright. The color was nice and so were the sets.
Classic mystery yarn
Movie Lover: Don Miller from
Lost Wages, Nevada -- November, 12, 2003
I have wanted to see this film for a very long time, but never had the opportunity to rent the video and wasn't willing to risk the money to purchase it sight unseen. Finally after buying a few other Alpha DVD titles, I realized that the image quality of their films is consistently good and the bargain prices are irresistible. I was very happy with "Scared To Death". It's exactly what you'd expect in a mystery-thriller from this period, with a little camp, some comedy relief and melodramatic mugging. Lugosi and Zucco's performances are great, as well as the supporting players. The story is a little muddled, but there's more than enough atmosphere to make it enjoyable. What sets this apart from other films of this era, is the rare use of color photography. Everything from the sets and costumes to the overall art direction, are coordinated to make a very colorful production. What really surprised me, was the quality of the video. The film print is excellent and the transfer is equally good. The color saturation remains as good as any modern film, and I have to say I was very surprised that a print still exists with this level of quality. My expectations were exceeded on all counts, and I'm proud to have this join my collection. The icing on the cake is the original theatrical trailer, while not as well preserved as the feature, is still much better than expected for its age. Kudos to Alpha Video for great package design on all their movies, and rare films at a bargain price.
Film Collectors & Archivists: Alpha Video is actively looking for rare and
unusual pre-1943 motion pictures, in good condition, from Monogram, PRC,
Tiffany, Chesterfield, and other independent studios for release on DVD. We
are also interested in TV shows from the early 1950s. Share your passion
for films with a large audience.
Let us know what you have.