Scared Stiff (1953)

Article #500 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-28-2002
Posting Date: 12-21-2002

A nightclub singer and his busboy friend get involved with gangsters and a haunted castle.

This is a remake of the Bob Hope movie THE GHOST BREAKERS tailored for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Now I’ve never really believed Jerry Lewis was without creativity, and there are a couple of nice bits of his here; one involves him talking to himself in a mirror in which his reflection ends up breaking the two-dimensional surface, and the other is his imitation of Carmen Miranda (who also appears in the film). However, putting him in a haunted house comedy is not a good idea; these types of movies sooner or later end up relying on having the comedian get his laughs by being scared in over-the-top ways, and since Lewis’ regular persona is already one of over-the-top mugging, this just makes it worse, and he is really tiresome in this one. I was hoping that I could say it was one of those movies that you would end up looking forward to the musical numbers just to get away from him for a bit, but besides the opening number with Dean Martin, Lewis is incorporated into all the other songs, so there’s no avoiding him. There’s a bit of nice atmosphere in the haunted house scenes, but compare the zombie here with Noble Johnson’s great zombie from the Bob Hope version, and you can’t help but come up disappointed. The best laugh I had in the movie is from an unexpected cameo near the very end.


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