Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Scared to Death - 1947

In what is to be my oldest movie review before the next movie review I do, I look at Scared to Death from 1947. This movie was Bela Lugosi's only starring role in a color film, he was in some other color things but not in starring roles apparently.  I am reminded of that last Lugosi film I saw, The Black Sleep, which turned out to be quite awful.

This movie reminds me of that one in some ways, in fact, this movie reminds me of just about every similar horror movie.  It's got its weirdo characters: the midget, always a staple in some of these horror movies (especially if they act like a savage beast, have no lines, and have a name like Indigo that makes no practical sense but sounds vaguely foreign).  It's got the hypnotist, again a common character (should always hypnotize just by voice and eyes, and have either a mystical name, or a "Professor" or "Doctor" preface such as in this film, Professor Leonide).  And at last it has the masked woman - slightly different maybe but it's really just a twist on the mystery monster/ghost thing, so it shouldn't get that many points.

By the way, what happened to the hypnotist?  I could just start naming movies at the drop of a hat from the 50's-70's that had hypnotists.  They totally disappeared.  I wonder what the last movie with a evil weird hypnotist was....

The plot centers around this woman who tells the tale of how she died (how shocking).  Her bizarre memories involve this hypnotist (Lugosi) with his midget sidekick.  There is the masked figure, and there is policeman Bill Raymond who is trying to figure out what's going on.  Bill Raymond is one of those typical B movie characters too, he's the "big dumb cop who has his heart in the right place" which is closely related to "the lovable idiot".  He has typically bad dialogue including "There were screams inside! You gotta admit that it's in the longitude of my profession to make with an investigatory reaction there to- What am I saying?"  See it's funny because he used all this professional talk but didn't actually know what it meant!!  IT'S FUNNY!

There is an equally bad line I wanted to put when he talks about his metabolism.  His love interest makes him some sort of food, maybe it was coffee and offers it to him.  He has some line about how it would be bad for his metabolism, then walks away saying "Interesting word, metabolism.  It'd be a lot more interesting if I knew what it meant."  Ugh, fucking stab my ear holes with pitchforks why don't you?  It's not funny, it's not clever, and it makes no fucking sense.  How did he use the word perfectly in a sentence, but not know what it meant?  He is so typically written too, just a thorough good guy, always doing the right thing and constantly after the girl, and we know that though she's smarter than him and a free spirit she'll settle with him and his down home, homespun childish charm.  Just fucking shoot me instead.

George Zucco is also in this movie, as the husband to the dead girl, and he really doesn't do anything memorable.  Sure, I may have not been paying the strictest attention but he is just super forgettable in this flick.  The whole thing kind of moves along at a quick pace at least, the movie is just over an hour so how long can it possibly feel?  Fortunately there are no more bad characters in this, Lugosi has a heavy presence in the movie, and the whole hypnotist thing is downplayed to where it doesn't get annoying.  Also the actress, Molly Lamont, was quite good.  She stopped acting 50 years before she died, I wonder why?  She was actually pretty decent.

So the movie has some entertainment value, and I think it's mostly due to the fact it was made in '47 that makes it kind of bad.  I mean, all things considered it didn't feel almost 70 years old.  Those things considered, I'll bump it to two stars.

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