August 22, 2016
Review #835: Scared Stiff.
Jack Haley (Larry Elliot), Ann Savage (Sally Warren), Barton MacLane (George Markham), Veda Ann Borg (Flo Rosson), Roger Pryor (Richardson), George E. Stone (Mink), Robert Emmett Keane (Prof. Wisner), Lucien Littlefield (Charles Waldeck / Preston Waldeck), Paul Hurst (Sheriff), Arthur Aylesworth (Emerson Cooke), Eily Malyon (Mrs. Cooke), and Buddy Swan (Oliver Waldeck) Directed by Frank McDonald.
Scared Stiff (also known as Treasure of Fear) is the kind of movie that falls into someone's lap if one is either bored enough or just stumbles into public domain territory, with this being a comedy/murder mystery. Haley (who appeared in just six more films after this) plays a bumbling chess reporter (of course he does) who is assumed to be a murderer due to a dead guy on the same bus being found with a chess piece near him (seriously), alongside the other weirdo passengers, including his girlfriend, a boy genius (who throws a smoke bomb into a room at one point), and his mentor professor. Hijinks (and I put that extremely loosely) ensue in a mystery lumpier than mashed potatoes. There is a subplot about retrieving chess pieces from an antique chess set from the 13th century, which seems better than the main character, actually. Do you like a bumbling character played for some sort of laugh? Well, you'll have to find a better movie. Haley isn't very interesting to watch, becoming tedious to watch after a while. There really isn't much energy to the cast, which just go through the motions of a sluggish script. There really is no chemistry between Haley and Savage. The killer is in the movie briefly, to the point where he has no defining characteristics. The length of the movie is 65 minutes, which is some ways is it's own relief. On the whole, there are countless other movies from this time period that are more interesting to watch than this, ultimately. It doesn't inspire many laughs, nor elicit any interest in the mystery, simply put. You know the people that remake movies and the ensuing reactions over it? Try remaking this and see what happens, which is a better idea than watching the movie.
Overall, I give it 4 out of 10 stars.