Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Scared Stiff (Richard Friedman, 1987)

I know the place is big and all, but how do you not notice the dead house painter hanging outside by your son's bedroom window? Actually, I assumed the police were removing the dead house painter's body when they came over to take away the skeletal remains of the two people that had been languishing up in the attic for the last hundred years. In other words, the police were like: We'll gladly remove these badly decomposed bodies for you; it's what we get paid for. Oh, and, by the way, we couldn't help but notice, as we were approaching the house, that there's a dead house painter hanging outside your son's bedroom window. Do you want us to get him down for you? It's no trouble. We got plenty of body bags. [End scene] But it turns out the police didn't notice the dead house painter either. (Did it ever occur to you that maybe the dead house painter's body was obscured a large tree branch?) Excellent point. (Anyway, do you think the house painter committed suicide, or do you think there's something sinister is afoot?) Well, with a title like, Scared Stiff (a.k.a. The Masterson Curse), I'd put my money on the latter. Truth be told, if I were to inform you what really caused the house painter, Wally (Tony Shepherd), to accidentally hang himself, you wouldn't believe me. (Try me.) Nah, I don't want to ruin the surprise (coo, coo). Besides, I've wasted enough time talking about dangling, unnoticed corpses. (You got that right. The new wave elegance that is Mary Page Keller in this movie needs to be thoroughly examined. And I elect you to be the one to perform the examination.)

Great, you make it sound like homework. (You of all people should know that writing about the bold fashion choices Mary Page Kelly's character repeatedly makes over the course of this movie is not even close to being homework.)

Outfit #1, the most important outfit Mary Page Keller, or, I should say, pop singer Kate Christopher, wears in this movie is the one she sports in the opening scene. Well, technically, the opening scene takes place in the made-up-sounding Charlesburg in the year 1857 (a slave owner, George Masterson, shoots a slave while his wife, Elizabeth, holds up some sort of protection stone). Anyway, after the prologue firmly establishes that George Masterson is not a nice guy, we're introduced to Kate Christopher, who is wearing a yellow dress with a black belt, black nylons, and a pair of black heels in 1987.

Preparing to move into a spacious old house with her doctor boyfriend, Dr. David Young (Andrew Stevens from 10 to Midnight), Kate gives us a good look at her yellow and black outfit, as she stands around in a feminine manner while waiting for Dave to get some wine. As she's waiting, most people will no doubt start to wonder what's going on underneath that yellow dress of hers. (Are you sure most people will start to wonder that?) Okay, a small handful of  people will start to wonder that.

In the middle of shooting a music video for her big comeback single, "Beat Of The Heart," Kate is debuts Outfit #2, a silky white slip with a lacy top. Judging by the set, it looks like the director is going for a heavenly theme, as Kate is surrounded by white columns and fake clouds. Fans of Outfit #2 should take note, as it makes a second appearance later on in the film. However, the circumstances are much different, as Kate is now a frazzled mess who thinks she's being stalked by the ghost of a dead slave owner.

As Kate is seeing her son Jason (Josh Segal) off to school, she wows us with Outfit #3, a red blazer (with the sleeves rolled up) and a white and black music note shirt. If you're wondering if Dr. Dave is Josh's father, he's not. And according to the scene that follows the bus stop scene, Dr. Dave works at a psychiatric hospital, and can be seen talking with another doctor about Kate's "condition." Yeah, it turns out Kate used to be Dr. Dave's patient. It's a good thing there was no TMZ in 1987, as this would probably be the big story of the day. Headline: Mentally Unstable Pop Singer Seen Canoodling With Her Doctor!

I'm going to skip over Kate's next outfit, as I'm not a big fan of the one she wears when she moves in with Dr. Dave. Though, it will give me the opportunity to bemoan the fact that Kate, a hip and stylish, Pat Benetar-esque pop singer, is dating such a colossal square. Even he thinks she can do better (he actually says so at one point).

Going back to the yellow and black combo that served her so well in the early going, Kate can be seen wearing Outfit #4, a yellow and black striped top, in the next couple of scenes.

Am I crazy, or does Scared Stiff have the same basic plot as The Shining? Think about it. A super-stylish mom and her mildly creepy son are forced to fight for their lives when an ancient curse threatens to engulf their relatively cushy existence. Only problem is, director Richard Friedman is no Stanley Kubrick. And Andrew Stevens is no Jack Nicholson. The little kid in this movie is, like I said, is creepy (he likes to carry around a lamp that is supposed to look like Cochise). But he's nowhere near as creepy as the kid from The Shining ("Danny's isn't here, Mrs. Torrance" *shudders*).

While I won't say Mary Page Keller, who some of you might know from the show Duet, while others, like me, know her from Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane, is as compelling as Shelley Duvall (no one can top the devotion Duvall displays toward her son during the harrowing finale). She does, thanks to costume designer, Beverly Safier, have a better wardrobe.

I mean, check out Outfit #5. It's a red shirt covered in black dots.

It would seem that Kate likes to mix the colours red with black and yellow with black, as she appears in both multiple times over the course of the film.

Remember the opening scene in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace when Dr. Liz Asher first enters Darkplace? Well, if you don't, that's okay, 'cause I do. She can be seen walking down the empty halls in a pink sweater-dress. Well, in Scared Stiff, Kate Christopher wanders the halls of a psych ward in a red sweater-dress. Actually, Outfit #6 is more of a shirt-dress. Either way, their hall wandering technique is eerily similar.

I would have to say Outfit #7 is my second favourite new wave outfit Mary Page Keller wears in this movie (Outfit #1 is my favourite). Rocking the red and black combo that has served her so well in the past, Kate wears a long black jacket (with the sleeves rolled up, natch) with red tights and heels. You could say she's employing colour blocking with this look. (Yeah, but, if I were you, I wouldn't say that.) Why not? (Heterosexual men don't say, "colour blocking.") They don't? (No, they drink wine coolers and watch shows about bidding on storage lockers.) Oh, really? Well, I'm changing all that (I drink green tea and watch Girls).

At any rate, I dig the way she looks in these two colours. In addition, the diamond-shaped pendant she wears on her jacket lapel really ties the outfit together.

In case anyone is wondering, the reason I'm not delving into the film's plot like I usually do is because it didn't interest me. No, it turns out, I was more interested in Kate's new wave outfits. That being said, the final ten minutes are pretty crazy, as the film goes into overdrive, inundating the audience with surreal and gory imagery. In fact, as I watched the nuttiness unfolding, I got this sudden hankering to watch the original Hellraiser, which I've never seen(!). So, that's something to look forward to.


  1. At first I really did think these were stills from a Pat Benetar video.

    You should watch "Hellraiser." Its good.

    1. Reviews of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II coming soon.

    2. Yay!
      Again, two more films I watched due to their featured role in SKINNY PUPPY samples or the "Too Dark Park" backing vid.