Wednesday, October 31, 2018

HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM SCARED SILLY & FELIX THE CAT!


Happy Halloween, everyone! In the spirit of fun-filled, light-hearted, spooky hijinks, please enjoy this public domain silent cartoon from 1927, featuring the animation world’s first cartoon superstar, Felix the Cat! Directed by Felix’s creator, Otto Messmer. It’s the purr-fect Halloween treat!


Monday, October 29, 2018

GET SET FOR HOWLS OF FRIGHT & DELIGHT AS YOU CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN WITH THE BOWERY BOYS!


As Scared Silly fans well know, I’m a huge fan of the Bowery Boys (and their other iterations including the East Side Kids). In fact, I’m helping produce a documentary on the comedy troop thanks to Colette Joel, who came up with the idea of celebrating this motley crew of goofballs who began life on-screen as juvenile delinquent toughs (albeit it oft-used as comedy relief) in hard-hitting crime dramas like Dead End, Angels with Dirty Faces, and Mob Town (under monikers including the Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys).

By the time they became the East Side Kids, more and more of the comedy began seeping into the proceedings, and shortly into their stint as the Bowery Boys, the laughs would ultimately overtake the drama by 100%.

Of course, the Boys are of primary interest here because they dabbled in spooky situations a number of times, as both East Side Kids and Bowery Boys. The night before Halloween, and early Halloween morning, Turner Classic Movies is showing some of the more upfront entries in the Bowery Boys’ horror-comedy canon. The fun starts at 8PM (check your local listings to find TCM’s channel number for your television service, and to confirm start times, which may vary depending upon time zones).

It’s a great line-up showcasing the team at various points in their careers, including a film made after their loquacious leader, Leo Gorcey departed the series (that would be Spook Chasers, with Stanley Clements taking on the role of Huntz Hall’s foil). Several critics have accused the Bowery Boys horror-comedies of having a “sameness” about them, but I beg to differ; most of them have something unique to offer. For example:

- Spook Busters features a wonderful slow-motion fight due to ether, and (together
with the Disney Mickey-Donald-Goofy cartoon, Lonesome Ghosts) was so obviously an inspiration for Ghost Busters.
- Ghost Chasers features an amicable ghost character that befriends Sach
- The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters was clearly inspired by the Addams Family cartoons which Charles Addams began drawing in the late 1930s. The 1954 film predated the Addams Family TV show by a decade.

My only wish is that they had scheduled Master Minds for an earlier start time. The unique factor in Master Minds is that, for a change in a fright flick (humorous or otherwise), the brain/personality transplant actually happens, and we’re treated to a pair of hilariously entertaining performances as monster man Glenn Strange (the Frankenstein monster in several films including a little number starring Abbott & Costello) impersonates Huntz Hall’s Sach character, and vice versa.

Following are the trailers for each of the films that will be shown, with titles and start times indicated. Can’t think of a better way to bring in Halloween… can you?!

Tuesday, October 30th at 8PM -- Ghost Chasers:


Tuesday, October 30th at 9:30PM -- The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters:


Tuesday, October 30th at 10:45PM -- Spook Busters:


Wednesday, October 31st at 12:15AM -- Spook Chasers:


Wednesday, October 31st at 1:30AM -- Master Minds: I couldn’t find an embeddable video of this trailer, but you can watch it at the Turner Classic Movies website by clicking here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: the Bowery Boys horror-comedy films running on Turner Classic Movies are starting EASTERN time. That means if you live in a time zone other than EASTERN time, you will have to check your local listings (for example, the film starting at 8 on the East Coast is actually starting at 5 on the West Coast).

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

HERE WE GO 'RONDO-GAIN!


Springtime means new beginnings... and another round of Rondo Award nominations! The latest nominations (for achievements in horror entertainment, merchandising, journalism and fandom during 2017) were recently announced. And yes, for at least the seventh time (!!!), this humble little blog about spooks and kooks, ghouls and fools, and creeps and clowns has been nominated for a Rondo award!!!

Like some previous years, I don't necessarily think this blog is worthy of such an honor for my 2016 output. Due to working hard on Colette Joel's Bowery Boys documentary which I'm helping to produce, as well as a Thomas & Friendsweb series I'm co-writing, 2017's Scared Silly efforts were limited to "encore posts," vintage trailers and cartoons, and just a smattering of new reviews. 

The Rondo Awards are the brainchild of David Colton. They are named after Rondo Hatton (you can learn more about Rondo Hatton by watching the video clip below) and are awards given to those who in some way are keeping the love for and appreciation of classic horror alive.  You can learn more details about the Rondo Awards and view this year's ballot by clicking here.

"Scared Silly" has been nominated in the "best blog" category, and it is my hope that if you like this blog, you will vote for it.

There are TONS of friends of Scared Silly who have been nominated in various categories, and before the voting is through I hope I can post more about them and encourage you to check out all their great projects, and to vote for them if you're so inclined.

Votes are due by midnight, Sunday, April 8th, 2018. All voting is done by email only so you must email your picks directly to David Colton at taraco@aol.com

Until then, here's a nice piece on Rondo Hatton courtesy of Me-TV's resident horror movie host, Svengoolie - ENJOY:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

LOVE MEANS... 2018 EDITION!!!

HEY THERE ALL YOU LOVERS... HOPE YOU ENJOY THIS SPECIAL ENCORE PRESENTATION OF MY VALENTINE'S DAY POST FROM 2010:


One of my all time favorite films is the Vincent Price classic The Abominable Dr. Phibes. I won’t be reviewing it for the “Scared Silly” project because it really isn’t a horror-comedy – it’s more of a horror film with some comedic aspects - dark, black comedy (juxtaposed against some wonderfully colorful art direction). And even if it was a full-fledged horror-comedy it was made in 1971, a full five years after my cut-off date of 1966 (which I’ve designated as the year of the last traditional horror-comedy, Don Knotts’ The Ghost & Mr. Chicken). “Phibes” really is a one-of-a-kind not to be missed film, however – check out its trailer:



The reason I’m talking about Dr. Phibes on Valentine’s Day is because the Phibes movie poster based its wonderful “Love means never having to say you’re ugly” tagline on the tagline of one of the biggest hits of the prior year, Love Story starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw.


That melodramatic weeper’s tagline “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” became a mantra for many men who were sorry they had to sit through the whole treacly affair, but too afraid to admit as much to their wives and girlfriends! Years later, a shopping mall offered free La-Z Boy recliners to any man who could actually sit through the whole Love Story - multiple times in a row - without falling asleep or bailing out completely... or BALLING OUT completely... as detailed in this news report:



I’ve always found it hard to warm up to love stories about dullard and/or self-centered humans – and there seem to be so many. When love stories show up in comedies, action or horror films, they just seem more real to me (even if the trappings are pure fantasy) because the mettle required to truly sacrifice yourself for your loved one just seems more sincere when you have to face a horrible monster, dangerous villain or even a guy in a bad gorilla suit to do so.


Here’s one of the all-time great examples of unrequited love. It comes from a sublime classic among horror films, The Bride of Frankenstein. Again, this isn’t a horror-comedy, but it is a horror film with ample doses of comedy thrown in (along with fantasy, sci-fi, romance, tragedy and all sorts of underlying meanings and themes). And it is required viewing.



There’s an offshoot of the “horror-comedy” film genre that I like to call the “supernatural romantic comedy.” These are films involving one or more partners in a love story who are either ghosts, witches or some sort of supernatural creature. They aren’t always “horror-comedies” because they tend to be on the light breezy side without any of the requisite creepy trappings although sometimes they do have scenes where those supernatural powers are being used to frighten an antagonist deserving of comeuppance. Some examples of films in the “supernatural romantic comedy” genre include I Married a Witch, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Bell, Book & Candle and the Topper movie series.



One of the all-time best “supernatural romantic comedies” also happens to be one of the best Abbott & Costello movies ever made as well. It’s a movie a lot of people remember - just check out the message boards at www.abbottandcostello.net – at least once a month a visitor stops by to ask “what was that film where Costello was a ghost trapped in a wishing well?” Gordon Lightfoot even referenced it in a song – at least I think he did, as he sings “just like an old time movie ‘bout a ghost from a wishing well,” and I still haven’t found another film that fits that description (believe me, I’ve tried).



So to all my “Scared Silly” readers, here’s wishing you a very happy Valentine’s Day. And if you want to watch a good supernatural love story, skip “Ghost” this year and watch Abbott & Costello’s The Time of Their Lives instead. Lou Costello actually makes a believable and quite likable romantic hero, and both he and partner Bud Abbott deliver some top-notch dramatic performances (and of course comedic bits as well). My experience has been that it’s the one Abbott & Costello film that people who don’t usually like Abbott & Costello actually enjoy. So what are you waiting for? Go enjoy it already!



(P.S.: It's a good one for President's Day, too)!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

COME HEAR ME SPEAK ABOUT LAUREL & HARDY AT THE 2018 WEST ORANGE CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL!

Greetings Scared Silly fans... it's that time of the year again. Once more I'll be speaking at the West Orange Classic Film Festival. Although I won't be screening any horror-comedies this year, I will be talking about two very dear friends of ours... Laurel & Hardy! I'll let the press release tell you all about it and give you the pertinent details... ENJOY! (and hope to see you there on January 28th!)

FILM HISTORIAN, PRODUCER AND WRITER PAUL CASTIGLIA TO HOST DOUBLE-FEATURE SCREENING OF RESTORED LAUREL & HARDY FILMS AT 11TH ANNUAL WEST ORANGE CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL

WEST ORANGE, NJ (January, 2018) – In a career spanning over 21 years and more than 105 films, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy became arguably the most popular and recognizable comedy duo of all-time... so popular that theater owners only had to place placards of the pair outside their venues for audiences to come pouring in. Their “short subjects,” running 20 to 30 minutes were consistently bigger draws than the feature-length films they accompanied. When Laurel & Hardy graduated to features of their own, their low-budget, “bottom of the bill” efforts were often better received than the main, big-budget offerings that topped double-feature bills.

While a constant presence in the pop culture zeitgeist of other countries, Laurel & Hardy’s current popularity in American has been more scattershot. This is due more to changes in the entertainment industry where classic movies are relegated to “niche” audiences, as well as shifts in ownership and distribution of the classic Laurel & Hardy films, than to any perceived negative reception toward the team.

“The idea that young people won’t accept vintage film comedy due to its age or being in black and white, is a misconception. Whenever the films of Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, The Marx Brothers, The Three Stooges, and others are screened for audiences, young adults and children are often the most receptive audiences of all,” says Paul Castiglia, a writer, documentary producer and film historian.

Castiglia should know. For five years in a row, he has hosted a screening in the annual eight-week West Orange Classic Film Festival, held every January through February at the Essex Green AMC Dine-In theater in New Jersey. Castiglia’s focus is on the more popular, “popcorn” films from Hollywood’s “Golden Age,” often featuring classic comedians from yesteryear like Laurel & Hardy and their successors, New Jersey’s own Abbott & Costello.

“After a screening of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, a little boy in the audience raised his hand to ask if there’d be sequels… what more proof do you need that audiences, especially young people, need merely to be exposed to the classics to appreciate them,” emphasizes Castiglia. “In fact, the joyous laughter of an audience when viewing such films is overwhelmingly infectious,” he adds.

Of all the classic comedians, Laurel & Hardy are Castiglia’s “cause celebre.” Coming upon the pair via TV airings in the early 1970s, Castiglia was immediately transfixed by the delightful duo. He’d scour TV Guide listings seeking upcoming broadcasts, borrow books on the team as well as Super 8 movies of their films from his local library, collect films of his own, as well as a host of items related to the team including books, toys, comic books, apparel and more. He’d even screen the films in his basement for the neighborhood kids to enjoy, complete with popcorn.

On Sunday, January 28th, Castiglia will introduce as well as do a post-screening discussion and Q&A on two of the team’s most famous films: the legendary Oscar® winner for Best Live-Action Short of 1932, The Music Box; plus the heralded feature film classic from 1937, Way Out West. These films offer a rare opportunity to see the master comedy duo on the big screen, in the prime decade of their careers, the 1930s. Best of all, the West Orange Classic Film Festival is privileged to show wonderful new restorations of the films from UCLA and Sabucat.

The Music Box
presents man’s Sisyphean struggle through life, as Laurel & Hardy attempt to deliver a piano up a long, long, long, long flight of stairs. Way Out West transports the reluctant heroes to the west to face cowboys, sheriffs and unscrupulous saloon owners. And YES… it is the film featuring the delightful dance routine that’s become one of the internet’s most famous animated GIFS.

“I have screened both of these riotous films for audiences before, and they never fail to bring the house down,” exclaims Castiglia. “They are true crowd-pleasers, suitable for the whole family, and a wonderful introduction to this pair.”

The restorations are part of a current renaissance helping to bolster the duo’s notoriety in America. There have been several Laurel & Hardy DVD and Bluray releases with more on the way, a steady stream of books as well as revised editions of some of the more essential texts including Randy Skretvedt’s Laurel & Hardy: the Magic Behind the Movies and Scott MacGillivray’s Laurel & Hardy: from the Forties Forward; a cover-featured article in nationally distributed Closer Magazine, and even a bio-pic starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, focusing on the act’s final days touring the world and delighting audiences live on stage.

“I encourage everyone reading who cares about these vital films to consider making a donation to the restoration efforts – all it takes is a visit to UCLA’s website for the project, www.savelaurelandhardy.com,” suggests Castiglia. “The best way to restore interest in the team is literally keeping the films themselves ‘alive’ for future generations to see.”

Castiglia, a writer of comics and animation, is involved in several projects related to film history. In addition to speaking at the West Orange Classic Film Festival, he’s contributed to a book of essays on the films of Vincent Price for Midnight Marquee Press, is writing a book called Scared Silly about classic horror-comedy films where comedians get mixed up in spooky situations, and is an Executive Producer of an upcoming documentary about the Dead End Kids and Bowery Boys.

The Laurel & Hardy Double Feature screening takes place at the 11th Annual West Orange Classic Film Festival on Sunday, January 28th from 2:00 to 4:00 at the AMC Movie Theater at Essex Green, located at 495 Prospect Avenue, West Orange, New Jersey. Tickets are available for purchase at Fandango.com.

Now, here's a man who's no stranger to horror-comedies, having made several fondly remembered efforts as An American Werewolf in London and Innocent Blood... director John Landis, lovingly speaking about Way Out West... ENJOY!


Monday, January 1, 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR - 2018 EDITION!

Welcome to 2018... in the real world! Here in our world of reminiscing of decades past, welcome to 1950!:



HERE'S WISHING YOU EVERY BLESSING FOR THE NEW YEAR!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

SOME DAY-AFTER-CHRISTMAS GIFTS FROM ME TO YOU - 2017 EDITION!

Hope your holidays were grand, friends! Here's a few additional goodies to keep you in the festive spirit!

(NOTE: Many of the feature films, shorts and animated cartoons discussed on this site, being from an earlier time, may contain elements considered insensitive and politically incorrect to us today. Any such controversial themes do not represent the thoughts and opinions of Paul Castiglia and the films discussed and presented here are done so purely for their inherent entertainment and historical value, apart from any such themes).

ENJOY!