Saturday, July 10, 2021

ANNOUNCING MY FIRST-EVER COMMENTARY TRACK... AND YOU HAVE 2.5 DAYS LEFT TO PRE-ORDER IT!

Hello, Scared Silly fans! Boy, do I have some news for you: very soon, I'll be recording my first-ever commentary track! I'll be providing commentary on the Haunted House episode (aka The Haunted Castle) of THE ABBOTT & COSTELLO SHOW TV series, which is getting a 4k restoration from Bob Furmanek, Jack Theakston and team for release on both DVD and Blu0Ray from ClassicFlix!

Now, here's the deal: the crowdfunding campain to pre-order this set has been going on for a while now, but I just came on-board the other day, and as it stands, there are just two and a half days left to get a pre-order in (the campaign ends Mon, July 12 2021 11:30 AM EDT). If this is something you'd like, even though this will eventually be publicly, I highly encourage the pre-order route to ensure you have a copy reserved (especially since donors will receive their copies well before those who order from online or brick and mortar retailers).

Here are all the pertinent details per Bob Furmanek, straight from the Kickstarter page:

"Seventy years ago, on the morning of May 21, 1951, cameras rolled on Stage #1 of the Hal Roach Studios on what would ultimately become one of the most iconic television shows of all time.

I am thrilled to announce that we are working with TCA Television Corp. and the Lou Costello Estate to restore and preserve THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW from the original 35mm camera negatives!

Season One includes twenty-six timeless episodes with classic comedy and dozens of great routines that still endure today, including “Who’s On First?," “Mustard,” "Slowly I Turned,” and “The Susquehanna Hat Company." The quirky cast of characters include Mr. Fields (and his many brothers and cousins), Bingo the Chimp, Mr. Bacciagalupe, Stinky, Mike the Cop and their inexplicably cultured neighbor, Hillary Brooke.

Fans have enjoyed this great show for decades but have never experienced it as originally photographed by George Robinson - in crystal clear 35mm quality!


There are twenty-six episodes of 35mm picture and track elements in Season One which total nearly 120,000 feet of film. Needless to say, this is a VERY laborious and expensive project. The goal of this campaign is to secure enough pre-orders to ensure a break-even point. We need to guarantee advance sales of approximately 624 units for the first season.

We are asking you to pre-order now to show your interest and support. We are currently past the halfway point with our 4K scanning and this release will be in your hands no later than December 2021. The Blu-ray or DVD set would make a wonderful gift for anyone that loves vintage television and classic comedy!

The same creative team responsible for last year’s critically acclaimed restoration of AFRICA SCREAMS and our current work-in-progress restoration of JACK AND THE BEANSTALK will be collaborating on this venture.

Jack Theakston is Producer and Thad Komorowski at Cineaste Restoration is doing the digital image clean-up. Greg Kintz will handle audio restoration and ClassicFlix will be distributing the Blu-ray and DVD.


I (Bob Furmanek) was official Archivist for the Abbott and Costello Estates for many years and there is nobody better suited to the task of overseeing this project. Among my accomplishments were saving many of the original 35mm camera negatives from this series (some were nearly destroyed) and co-authoring the definitive book on their feature films, "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood" with Bud and Lou expert, Ron Palumbo.

Thanks to your very generous support through two recent Kickstarter campaigns, I have ensured 4K digital restoration and preservation of both AFRICA SCREAMS and JACK AND THE BEANSTALK."

I encourage all Scared Silly fans to click here to check out the full campaign link for more details on pledge bonuses, technical details, region codes, retail sales and more. And don't forget, you only have until Mon, July 12 2021 11:30 AM EDT to pledge and pre-order!

Now, please take a look at this short video wherein producer Jack Theakston gives you a preview of just how good this restoration will look... ENJOY!

Sunday, July 4, 2021

THE SPIRITS OF '76 - 2021 EDITION!

Bud Abbott Lou Costello

NOTE: This is an encore edition of a post I originally wrote in 2010:

Here’s a film that will be going into the “horror-onable mention” section of my book. It’s not a “horror-comedy” per se – it’s more of a fantasy-romance, but it does involve ghosts (albeit friendly ghosts) who take the opportunity to put a good scare in some folks as needed. For me, Abbott & Costello’s “The Time of Their Lives” is every bit as classic a movie as “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein;” even if it has more in common with “Topper.”

It’s also tied into the American Revolution, hence this post falling on America’s Independence Day. The film’s script is very well written. It tells the tale of Horatio Prim (Costello), a bumbling but masterful tinker in 1780 who longs to marry Nora, the housemaid of wealthy estate owner Tom Danbury. To that end, Horatio procures a letter of commendation from General George Washington in hopes of obtaining permission to marry Nora from Tom. Unfortunately, Horatio has a rival for Nora in butler Cuthbert (Abbott), who causes him trouble no end. But the real trouble comes from Danbury himself, who is secretly a traitor out to aid Benedict Arnold. Both Nora and Danbury’s fiancé, Melody (the luminous Marjorie Reynolds) learn of Danbury’s plot. Nora is captured and Danbury confiscates the commendation letter from her (she had been holding it for Horatio) and hides it in the mantelpiece clock, but Melody manages to escape on horseback in an effort to warn George Washington. She soon encounters Horatio, and the two are framed as traitors, executed and dumped into a well.

It’s here that the fantasy element kicks in. Horatio and Melody are now ghosts who haunt the grounds of the estate and will continue to do so until they can prove their innocence. They just need to somehow get the letter into the hands of the authorities who can rewrite the history books so the truth can be known. This becomes a more hopeful quest 166 years later when the estate is restored to its original condition, and that includes the original furniture. When the restoration is complete, the new owner invites some guests for the weekend to celebrate. Among the guests are psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenway, a descendent of Cuthbert (also played by Abbott). Horatio and Melody decide to have some fun “scaring” the guests. Horatio takes particular delight in spooking Greenway. A séance is held wherein the identity of the ghosts and their plight is revealed, resulting in the living doing what they can to help set Horatio and Melody free.

The film has grown in status over the years and has quite a following (and may have even inspired a line in the classic Gordon Lightfoot song, "If You Could Read My Mind"). In fact, while embraced by many Bud & Lou fans, it’s also been touted as “the Abbott & Costello movie for people who hate Abbott & Costello movies.” This is due to the exceptional dramatic acting of both Lou and Bud that full-bloodedly brings their well-written roles to life. They are both so good in this that it’s hard to say whether one outshines the other (although I might give the slight edge to Abbott whose rarely used talent for character acting is on full display here). It stands out from the majority of the team’s other films which primarily feature a variation on their con man/patsy burlesque characters. It’s one of the few films where the team stretched beyond their usual archetypes and managed to pull it off (for examples where this departure from the norm didn’t work in my opinion, catch “Little Giant” and “Dance With Me Henry.” Or don’t). It also includes a wonderful supporting cast, including horror-comedy stalwart Gale Sondergaard as the maid of the restored estate who definitely believes in ghosts. And it features beautiful sets, wonderful costume designs and marvelous special effects - a top-notch production all around.

If you haven't guessed by now, I consider "The Time of Their Lives" a wonderful film to watch on Independence Day... or any day, for that matter! Here’s the trailer for your enjoyment:

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

GET "SCARED SILLY" THIS SUNDAY: YOUR CHANCE TO HEAR ME SPEAK LIVE IN-PERSON OR ON ZOOM!!!

Hello, Scared Silly fans. I want to let you know about a special event happening this Sunday, June 13th at 7PM Eastern/4PM Pacific. My friend Denny Daniel, owner and curator of the Museum of Interesting Things, will be doing what he does weekly since the pandemic hit: presenting a live presentation on Zoom that can also be safely attended in-person (with masks and social distancing). The theme for this Sunday's event is "Scared Silly." Denny's presentation will include a plethora of 16mm films projected onto a screen, as well as demonstrations of inventions, gadgets and gizmos relating to filmmaking, photography, entertainment and more. The thrust will be both classic horror-comedy films as well as straight-up horror films (including many of your Universal monster favorites). I know for a fact that Abbott & Costello and the East Side Kids will be represented, and there will be other surprises, too... including a little talk from yours truly!
Since Denny's endeavor is educational in nature, he is able to bring you the finest entertainment from yesteryear to present an historial time-capsule. Many of the films Denny will show were released by Castle Films and other similar companies, who catered to customers who wanted to watch snippets of their favorite films, cartoons, newsreels, sports highlights and more via projectors in their own living rooms. Remember, these were the days before VCR's, and in some cases, some home movie hobbyists didn't even have television sets (especially pre-1950s when TV's became more prevalent in households).
The Museum of Interesting Things is a traveling museum that goes to schools, events, conventions, other museum and gallery spaces, private parties, camps and more. Denny's goal is to present to the public of all ages things both common AND rare, while explaining the evolution of where it all came from. For example, Denny might start with showing a music streaming service on a device, then travel backwards to iPods, CD Walkmans, cassette Walkmans, portable cassette players, 8-track players, reel-to-reel players, record players, wax cylinder players, and more. Popular topics Denny presents include wind-up toys, quack medical devices, the history of the women's suffrage movement and more. Best of all, whenever Denny does an exhibition, you can actually touch the objects he's presenting, and operate them, too!

If you're interested and able to purchase a ticket, you'll be aiding a great cause which helps Denny keep this vital educational endeavor running, especially now that he's back to doing masked, socially-distanced live shows in the museum space in-person, that are simultaneously streamed virtually. Click on this link to order advance tickets to the Zoom stream or the live-in-person event, or you can also purchase tickets at the door (The Loft at Prince Street, 177 Prince St, 3rd Floor, between Thompson & Sullivan streets in Soho NYC) when you arrive. You can also call 212 274 8757 for more details. Hope to see you there!

Until then, please enjoy this mini-documetary about Castle Films and other home movies!

Monday, March 22, 2021

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 2020) were recently announced. And yes, for at least the tenth (I think) time (!!!), this humble little blog about spooks and kooks, ghouls and fools, and creeps and clowns has been nominated for a Rondo award!!!

Like everyone else in 2020, I was hit by some setbacks. Still, I did have some good opportunities to get back into this project a bit, and as things are evolving, it's looking like I'll be able to dig deeper again in 2021 if logistics land in the right places. I have been giving a lot of thought to the best ways to move forward on this, so that's a start.

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 website" category, and it is my hope that if you like this blog, you will vote for it.

Votes are due by April 25th, 2021. 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 video providing some history on Rondo Hatton including a visit to his graveside - ENJOY:

Sunday, February 14, 2021

LOVE MEANS... 2021 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)!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

STARTING THIS WEEKEND, WATCH SOME CLASSIC UNIVERSAL MONSTER FILMS FOR FREE... INCLUDING ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN!!!

Now here's something this early new year for all classic monster fans to get excited about: this weekend, Universal Studios is going to run some of their most legendary and popular horror films in their entirety on their "Fear: the Home of Horror" YouTube channel. And the fun will last the whole week through! 

Prior to this weekend, Universal has run trailers, clips, and other short videos about their classic horror films, but this is different: these are the films from beginning to end, in their entirety! 

There are some amazing movies scheduled, and of course, I encourage any Scared Silly fan to be sure to partake of these essential entries, for if it wasn't for their effectiveness and popularity, the horror-comedy films spoofing such terrors wouldn't be as enduring. 

Some personal favorites of mine are a pair directed by James Whale: The Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man

The former is just a total work of art on multiple levels, mixing horror, comedy, social commentary, fantasy and more. Many have dug deep into its contextual layers, and I recommend anyone read up on what makes the film so unprecedented in its time... but of course, I recommend you watch it, first! 

As for The Invisible Man, well, it's just wow... the juxtaposition of its humor against the homicidal madness of its protagonist is jarring to the max. 

The centerpiece for Scared Silly fans, of course, will be Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. You can read my in-depth review of the king of all horror-comedies by clicking on the title... and if you're anything like me, I'm sure you won't mind watching it for the umpteenth time when it appears on YouTube! 

The way this will all work is that Universal's YouTube Fear channel will premiere specific films Friday, Saturday and Sunday... and thereafter, the films will be up on the site to view again throughout the following week! 

The times for each of the days are: 

Eastern Time – 3pm 
Pacific Time – 12 noon 
Central Time – 2pm 
Mountain Time – 1pm 
Argentina Time – 4pm 
UK/England – 8pm 
Europe/Scandinavia et al – 9pm (21:00) 
Eastern Australia – 3am (the day following each date below)
Western Australia – 6am (the day following each date below)
Japan (Tokyo) – 4am (the day following each date below)

Here is the schedule: 

January 15, 2021 Dracula (1931), The Mummy (1932) 

January 16, 2021 Frankenstein (1931), Bride Of Frankenstein (1935) 

January 17, 2021 The Invisible Man (1933), The Wolf Man (1941), Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) 

Click here to access the YouTube channel where these films will be available. You'll have a monstrously good time!!! 

Until this weekend, enjoy this featurette from Universal's YouTube page about Abbott & Costello's multiple meetings with monsters!!!

 

Friday, January 1, 2021

HAPPY NEW YEAR - 2021 EDITION!


Welcome to 2020... in the real world! Here in our world of reminiscing of decades past, welcome to 1950!:



No matter how much time marches forward, let's always remember to keep the very best of the past alive... especially when it comes to classic horror-comedy films!

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