Friday, January 14, 2011
Turner Classic Movies has been offering a smorgasbord of classic horror-comedy this January! Their festival of Hal Roach Studios films has thus far resulted in marathons of Our Gang (aka The Little Rascals) and Laurel & Hardy, including several great scare comedies from both teams. But TCM isn’t done – the rest of the month they have at least three more Hal Roach horror-comedy classics, plus a couple of bonus films for fans of spooky/kooky fare.
The fun starts this Saturday, January 15th at 6AM with one of those bonus films. Namely, legendary comic Red Skelton’s first starring role as radio announcer, Wally “The Fox” Benton in "Whistling in the Dark," holed up in a haunted house with beauteous Ava Gardner and Ann Rutherford as the intrepid trio try to solve a macabre mystery. Conrad Veidt and Rags Ragland are also along for the fun.
On Wednesday, January 19th we’re back in Hal Roach territory with two classic horror-comedy shorts. First, the great (and vastly underrated) Charley Chase gets the living daylights scared out of him (and then some) in “Public Ghost No. 1.” The horrific hysterics start at 10AM. Then at noon, one of Hal Roach’s attempts to duplicate the success of Laurel & Hardy with other resident comedy teams unveils. “Wreckety Wrecks” is a “Taxi Boys” short – the boys being Ben Blue and oft-Laurel & Hardy nemesis Billy Gilbert (who was also part of a comedy trio with Shemp Howard and Maxie Rosenbloom that made the horror-comedy, “Crazy Knights,” aka “Ghost Crazy.”)
One of TCM’s perennials gets another airing 10AM on Sunday, January 23rd. “I Married a Witch” falls into the “horror-onable mention” category. There are no overt attempts at “haunting” or horror trappings but you have to give it its due for being the antecedent to TV’s “Bewitched” and comic books’ “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” And it stars a solid cast of pros including Frederick March, Veronica Lake and Susan Hayward.
Wednesday the 26th brings an encore of the Hal Roach produced “Topper Returns” at 2:45 PM. This is an entry from the “Topper” friendly-ghost movie series – and as I’ve mentioned before it’s the one film in the trilogy with liberal doses of haunted house trappings. Well worth a look…
…as is this great trailer for the Red Skelton film we mentioned at the top of this article. And remember to hunker down or set the DVR to enjoy this veritable funny fright fest!
Monday, January 10, 2011
It's no secret that Laurel & Hardy are not only my favorite comedy team, but also my favorite comedians of all time. They are responsible for some of the funniest scenes ever committed to celluloid - including some prime entries in the horror-comedy genre.
This month, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is paying tribute to Hal Roach Studios by airing many of the wonderful shorts and features the company produced. Starting Tuesday night, January 11th at 8PM and running through the evening of Wednesday, January 12 the focus will be on Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy.
Included in the mirthful marathon will be some Stan & Ollie's short subject forays into horror-comedy from their "talkie" years, and if you've read this far, you'll no doubt want to tune in. Here's what's on tap (Mark Evanier has done us all a great service by posting a schedule - and his comments - on all the Laurel & Hardy films TCM is showing in this marathon- I encourage you to check it out by clicking here. Of course, to stay on-point for this blog I'm just listing the horror-comedies here):
TUESDAY, JANUARY 11th:
9:30 PM: "The Live Ghost" (read my review of this classic short by clicking here).
11:00 OM: "Oliver the 8th" (aka "The Private Life of Oliver the 8th").
11:30 PM: "Dirty Work" (not really a horror-comedy per se but it does feature a benevolent mad scientist with a wacky scheme that comes to play in the film's finale).
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12th:
9:30 AM: "The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case" - this is the short (soon to be reviewed here) that my dear departed friend and fellow "Son of the Desert," Allen Schottenfeld cited as his favorite Laurel & Hardy film, calling it "a wonderful spoof." The book edition of "Scared Silly" will be dedicated to Allen.
Special bonus: Wednesday at 11:00 AM also brings the Roach-produced "Topper Returns," the second entry in the "friendly ghost" series and the only one that truly has a "horror-comedy" element to it, with spooky going-ons in an "old dark house."
The Roach marathon runs throughout the month and there are more entries ahead including Charley Chase and Taxi Boys shorts - I'll blog on those as the air dates get closer. Until then... here's something to whet your appetite for Stan & Ollie - enjoy!
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Hello fright fans - just a head's up that today (Wednesday, January 5th, 2011) Turner Classic Movies is running two of the classic Our Gang horror-comedy shorts I've previously reviewed here on "Scared Silly."
First up at 12:45 PM is "Shootin' Injuns." You can read my review by clicking here.
Later, at 5:15 PM TCM runs "Shivering Spooks." Click here to read that review.
Both of the above are from the silent era. Not long after the talkies came in, the shorts introduced arguably the two most well-known Rascals, George "Spanky" McFarland and Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer. Spanky was so popular in fact that the Speed-O bike company used him as a pitchman (pitchkid?) in this rare newsreel footage - enjoy!
Monday, January 3, 2011
Recently I reviewed the Laurel & Hardy classic "Babes in Toyland" (aka "March of the Wooden Soldiers" - click here to read the review) - the holiday perennial that's become a Thanksgiving and/or Christmas tradition for many.
Well, the holidays are over now, but I've just learned that Hulu is offering folks a chance to watch the entire feature for free through their service, by special arrangement with MGM. Pretty good deal, huh? It's their pristine black & white print with the original titles, which makes it an even better deal.
I'll keep this post up as long as Hulu keeps the film up (Hulu usually takes films down after a certain period) - if at any point it's down and I still have the post up, just shoot me an email and I'll remove it.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Welcome to 2011, Scared Silly fans! Here's wishing you all the very best and every blessing for the bright new year ahead.
I was scratching my head trying to think of an appropriate clip to share this New Year's Day... and then to see if I could find said clip. I came up with some maybe's, but they were either unavailable or unusable for one reason or another.
I did stumble upon the following clip, and I think it's appropriate.
The clip below is a montage of scenes from classic comedy films set to the song "Those Were the Days" by Sandie Shaw. It includes Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Fatty Arbuckle, Laurel & Hardy, Charley Chase, Edgar Kennedy, The Marx Brothers and others.
New Year's Day is a day to look ahead but also reflect on the year gone by. Here at Scared Silly, we reflect upon the YEARS gone by, so it's only natural to revisit these clips from seven plus decades ago.
This is not a stretch when you know what the traditional New Year's song "Auld Lang Syne" really means. The song began life as a Scots poem by Robert Burns. The title literally translates into "old long since," which in turn becomes "long, long ago," "days gone by" and "old times" in today's English. Furthermore, the lyric "For auld lang syne" can be translated as "for (the sake of) old times." Perhaps the songwriter behind "Those Were the Days" intended their tune to be a sequel to "Auld Lang Syne?"
So... between the nature of the clips in this video montage and the lyrics of "Those Were the Days" that seals the deal for me.
Now none of these clips are from horror-comedies, but some of the folks within this montage did appear in horror-comedies, and besides, we like to celebrate classic comedy in general from time to time here, so without further ado... let's ring in the New Year with some classic, kooky memories!