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Scared to Death

USA 1947
produced by
William B. David for Golden Gate Pictures
directed by Christy Cabanne
starring Bela Lugosi, George Zucco, Nat Pendleton, Molly Lamont, Douglas Fowley, Gladys Blake, Joyce Compton, Roland Varno, Angelo Rossitto, Lee Bennett, Stanley Andrews, Stanley Price
written by Walter Abbott, music by Carl Hoefle

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Laura Van Ee (Molly Lamont) lies dead in the morgue, but from here she recounts how she was put into this unhealthy state ...

There is something not quite right in the Van Ee household, both Laura's husband Ward (Roland Varno) and his father Josef (George Zucco) think little of Laura, in fact they seem to be conspiring to get rid of her ... or is this just in her mind. Then there's also the maid Lilibeth (Gladys Blake) who treats Laura with disrespect and Bill Raymond (Nat Pendleton), a private cop so incompetent he wouldn't know a crime if he stumbled over one.

But as if that wasn't enough yet, the weird Doctor Leonide (Bela Lugosi) and his dwarf Indigo (Angelo Rossito) show up too, to ... well, attract suspicion. And then there's also the much too nosey reporter Terry Lee (Douglas Fowley) and his utterly naive girlfriend Jane (Joyce Compton) ... and soon things start happening, like Lilibeth walking around in a state of trance, and Laura overreacting everytime she sees a blindfold, she acts as if she was really scared of them. And then a weird mask keeps flying around, and everybody acts mighty suspicious ...

Only in the end is the whole mystery revealed: Laura was a part of a stage act in Germany, where she, blindfolded, would look into the future and answer questions of her masked partner Rene (Lee Bennett). But eventually, during the war, she sold her partner to the Nazis and left for the US ... she thought her partner would be killed in a concentration camp, but he survived and had since tracked her down, and now, with the help of Doc Leonide and his dwarf (who essentially does nothing, actually), he scares Laura to death ... and in the end, everyone is asking was it murder ?

 

This film is mainly known at all due to the fact that it is Bela Lugosi's only colour film (even though in my opinion it would have worked much better in black and white).

The film itself starts out great, with the dead woman remembering the events that led to her death ... but it's downhill from here on: suspects seem to be thrown into the proceedings rather at random, plottwists most of the time lead to nowhere and the final solution of the case is more than silly.

Not even genre faves Bela Lugosi and George Zucco can save much here despite their valiant attempts.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD