Blu-ray Review: SCARED STIFF

SCARED STIFF was directed by Richard Friedman who co-wrote the screenplay with Mark Frost and Daniel F. Bacaner and stars Andrew Stevens, Mary Page Keller, Joshua Segal, David Ramsey, Nicole Fortier, Jackie Davis and Bill Hindman. The music was composed by Billy Barber.

TV star Mary Page Keller (Pretty Little Liars) appears alongside Andrew Stevens (10 to Midnight, The Fury) as a couple terrorized by an age-old curse in this much-underrated late-80s offering from director Richard Friedman. Keller plays Kate Christopher, a singer who moves into an old colonial mansion with her son and psychologist boyfriend David (Stevens). But when they make a strange and gruesome discovery in the boarded-up attic, it soon becomes clear that the mansion carries with it a dark and blood-stained past – and one that is about to terrorize them in the present. The second feature helmed by Richard Friedman, who went on to direct such genre favourites as Doom Asylum and Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge, Scared Stiff (AKA The Masterson Curse) builds to an astonishing practical FX-laden climax sure to please fans of 80s horror.

The opening scene of this 1987 supernatural thriller takes place in Charlesburg back in 1857 and shows the shocking events that sets up everything. The movie then fast forwards to 1987 and follows pop singer Kate Christopher (Mary Page Keller) and her son Jason (Joshua Segal) who move into an old massion with her boyfriend David Young (Andrew Stevens) who was also her psychiatrist when she suffered a nervous breakdown a year earlier. Poor Jason is already an introvert so moving into a gothic location like this doesn’t help things at all. The kid can tell something aint right and when he tells his mom about something she just plays it off as his imagination running wild.

They make some shocking discoveries in the attic – like pigeons that have taken up shop, a broken talisman that’s actually the key to the past and a couple of corpses. The questions that surround these findings that are ultimately answered and it’s all linked to the sinister plantation owner George Masterson (David Ramsey) who had a voodoo curse put on him back in the 1800’s and now he’s back haunting his old house and looking for a new lease on life. This is where things finally get good because Kate and Jason find themselves up against this supernatural force that possesses David. They have to fight off all kinds of creepy and kooky obstacles as well as David and even though they find a way out of this nightmare it leaves Karen traumatized and back in the hospital where they first met.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back include movie details and list of special features. The reversible sleeve features some alternate artwork and movie credits so you have your pick of which side you’d like to use as the front cover. There’s also a fully illustrated collector’s booklet inside with new writing on the film by James Oliver. You can see the artwork down below and this will only be available on the first pressing. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. Scared Stiff was given a brand new 2K restoration from original film elements and features the original uncompressed Stereo audio. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, Scared Stiff ended up being another first time watch for me and it’s kind of a strange one. This 1987 supernatural thriller reminds me of some of the more popular “MTV Generation” movies because of its style and music. The main character for this one here is a singer who ends up becoming an accidental victim with her son as they fight for their lives against the ghost of the sinister plantation owner that takes possession of her boyfriend. The movie is an extreme slow burn but the final moments help make up for it because things get really cool. We’re talking wild and crazy practical effects, lots of blood and gore and impressive makeup effects! Scared Stiff isn’t edited well at all and it’s too bad that some of the horror goodies weren’t inserted throughout the movie to make it a better watch. It’s still a cheesy fun watch by director Richard Friedman plus it stars Andrew Stevens who was one of the B-movie go-to guys in the 80’s. Mary Page Keller did a really good job with her character and I read somewhere that she was actually a singer who got the gig so that’s pretty neat. Young Joshua Segal had a lot on his plate for this horror outing and I thought he delivered a strong performance. It’s not a great movie by any means but Scared Stiff has enough cheesy horror goodness in it that makes it worth a watch. Scared Stiff will be available on Blu-ray on April 23rd.

Distributor: Arrow Video

Run Time: 84 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English LPCM 1.0 Stereo

Subtitles: English

Special Features: The extras include some new audio commentary, a making of featurette, new interview, image gallery and original theatrical trailer.

  • Brand new audio commentary with director Richard Friedman, producer Dan Bacaner and film historian Robert Ehlinger
  • Mansion of the Doomed: The Making of Scared Stiff – brand new documentary featuring interviews with Richard Friedman, Dan Bacaner, Robert Ehlinger, actors Andrew Stevens and Joshua Segal, special effects crew Tyler Smith, Jerry Macaluso and Barry Anderson. (33:48)
  • Brand new interview with composer Billy Barber (06:33)
  • Image Gallery (06:00)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (01:28)
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