Tuesday, January 31, 2023


Greetings Scared Silly fans! As I mentioned in my previous post, the West Orange Classic Film Festival is back on again! In the past I’ve spoken there about vintage Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello films, but this year is a little different. This year we have a cohesive them and it is “Fabulous Fables & Magical Myths.”

Now, we were still able to throw some Abbott & Costello in there due to Bob Furmanek’s 3D Film Archives’ stunning 4k restoration of JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, and man, did that go over great! Bob had his “Abbott & Costello in Hollywood” co-author, Ron Palumbo with him and both Jack Theakston (visuals) and Ray Faiola (sound) from his film restoration team. I got to introduce the quartet and a splendid time was had by all.

Since then, the festival has enjoyed further enthusiastic crowds at screenings of YELLOW SUBMARINE and Jean Cocteau’s live-action BEAUTY & THE BEAST, both with wonderful guest-speakers.

This Sunday, it’s my turn to speak again, and it’s a little bit of a departure for me. After all, I’m usually the “classic comedy guy” at these screenings. But this time I’ll be speaking at a screening of THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD, the spectacular fantasy-adventure featuring magnificent stop-motion animation by the legendary Ray Harryhausen.

In retrospect, this isn’t too much of a departure for me as I am a little bit of an animation historian and animation script-writer, too, and this film in addition to being a rousing romp is absolutely most noteworthy for its beyond-imaginative animated creations.

Likewise, my forays into both writing and editing comic books as well being a comics historian fit the same milieu. After all, comics are as filled with daring heroes and hideous creatures as mythology and fantasy literature! So unlike my favorite superhero, Plastic Man perhaps this isn’t such a stretch after all!

...but seriously, it does promise to be a wonderfully fun time and if you can make it out at all, I’d love to see you there. We’ll be raffling off autographed copies of my "Vincent Price" and "Archie’s Weird Mysteries" books, too, to help support the festival. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll win the books!

It all happens this Sunday, February 5th at 2PM, at the AMC Dine-In Theater at the Essex Green Shopping Center in West Orange, NJ. Tickets are only available on Eventbrite, so click here to order yours before they’re gone!

In the meantime, please enjoy this exciting featurette that was produced to help promote the film when it was originally released. It will definitely raise your interest in the wonders of Ray Harryhausen’s “Dynamation!”

Wednesday, January 11, 2023


Greetings Scared Silly fans! It's that time of the year again... time for the West Orange Classic Film Festival once again! This year’s theme is “Fabulous Fables & Magical Myths” (click here to see the full array of films) and I’ll be participating in two of the screenings. One I’ll be hosting, and the other will feature me as a guest-speaker.

In years past, I’ve spoken at Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello screenings, but this year it will be a little different. This year we are showing an Abbott & Costello film, but instead of me speaking I’ll be introducing a wonderful group of guest-speakers: Bob Furmanek and Ron Palumbo, co-authors of the book, “Abbott & Costello in Hollywood,” along with two members of Furmanek’s team from his 3D Film Archives movie restoration team, Jack Theakston who handled the visuals and Ray Faiola who handled the sound.

The Bud and Lou opus being featured this year is JACK AND THE BEANSTALK. While not a horror-comedy per se, it does feature one heck of a (at least semi)-frightening giant! Best of all, it is being presented in a stunning new 4k restoration that restores the film to its original SuperCinecolor splendor.

Some quick facts about the film, courtesy of Mr. Furmanek: Production of Abbott and Costello's first color feature film, JACK AND THE BEANSTALK began on July 9, 1951 at the Hal Roach Studios in Culver City, CA. This is the famous studio where Hollywood's other legendary comedy duo, Laurel & Hardy filmed the majority of their movies. Taking a page from the famous WIZARD OF OZ, the film was noted for having short sepia opening and closing sequences that bookended a rousing, comedy-fantasy adventure in-between that was filmed in the vibrant colors of the SuperCinecolor process.

The final film was released in 1952 and distributed by Warner Brothers. Lou Costello's Exclusive Productions owned this film but sold off the rights in the mid-1950's. Unfortunately, the original 35mm master materials (camera negative, color separations, fine grain master positive) no longer survive, however Bob Furmanek and team were able to create a restoration mastered from archival 35mm SuperCinecolor positive print elements and released just in time for the film's 70th anniversary.

The film held its 1952 premiere at the Fabian Theater in Paterson, NJ - the birthplace of Lou Costello. Now, the restored version of the film also gets a New Jersey premiere at the West Orange Classic Film Festival on Sunday, January 15th at 2PM, at the AMC Dine-In Theater at the Essex Green Shopping Center in West Orange, NJ. Quite fitting, as Bud Abbott was born in New Jersey (Asbury Park), too!

Starring alongside Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in the film is Buddy Baer as the giant. Baer was a championship boxer-turned-actor, just like his brother Max, and he was also the uncle of Max Baer, Jr. - "Jethro" on TV's THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. Other cast members familiar to fans of vintage films include Shaye Cogan, Dorothy Ford, Hank Mann, Joe Kirk, Bobby Barber, and in a special bit of casting, Mel Blanc, famous for voicing countless cartoon characters including most of the legendary Looney Tunes gang, doing the voices of forest animals.

Tickets for this are selling fast, and only available on Eventbrite. Click here to order yours now – these won’t last!

Quick plug for my other upcoming appearance at the festival: On February 5th I’ll be speaking at a screening of THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD, the spectacular fantasy-adventure featuring magnificent stop-motion animation by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. Check back here soon for more info on that.

In the meantime, enjoy this trailer for the 4k restoration of BEANSTALK we’re screening this Sunday. I’m sure you’ll find this stunning… and even better if you come by on January 15th to see it in all its glory on a huge screen, the way it was meant to be seen!

Sunday, January 1, 2023


Welcome to 2023... 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!


Saturday, December 31, 2022


Hmmmm…. Father Time is kinda’ scary, isn’t he?

Speaking of time, I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for making the past few years so much fun for me. Thank you to all those who have tweeted about my blog, chosen to “follow” the blog, have left comments on posts and told others about the project. I am especially grateful to all the blogs and websites who have publicized this wacky endeavor over the years. Special mentions for 2022 go out to Patrick Vasey and the Laurel & Hardy Podcast, Jennifer Churchill’s Movies are Magic radio show/podcast, Ben Model and Steve Massa’s Silent Comedy Watch Party, and Michael Spedden’s Fowl Players Radio. And of course, the West Orange Classic Film Festival. Plus huge thanks goes to Rob Stone of Split Reel LLC for deciding to publish the eventual Scared Silly book, and to Bob Furmanek for recommending him. Most of all, there's no blog without you readers out there so thank you to ALL SCARED SILLY FANS!

It goes without saying that the past few years will go down as one of the most challenging times in history for the majority of us. My hope is that no matter what you’ve gone through or what you’re going through, you have a support system to turn to, for to have friends and family help you through such times as these is a blessing indeed... and in all cases, we all should just be loving each other. If enough of us go forth each day with love in our hearts, I am confident the year 2023 will end on a positive upswing, an upward trend from all we’ve endured the past three years. So... love.

As always, it wouldn't be New Year's Eve here without Vagabond Opera performing “New Year’s Eve in a Haunted House,” composed by avant garde jazz legend Raymond Scott, the man behind many of the melodies heard in Looney Tunes cartoons - enjoy everyone in your life and all your blessings as you enjoy your New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 26, 2022


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).


Saturday, December 24, 2022


Here's a curio: a rendtition of A Christmas Carol featuring as narrator one of our Scared Silly favorites, the Prince of Horror (often with tongue placed firmly-in-cheek), Mr. Vincent Price himself!

Believed to be the earliest television version of A Christmas Carol, it was produced as an advertising vehicle for Magnavox and aired on 22 stations across the nation on Christmas Day, 1949.

Dickens' venerable tale endures, much like the A Charlie Brown Christmas TV special, due to its underlying themes befitting from whom Christmas' name derives. In this case, we have repentence, redemption and re-birth at the core, all told to us in those dulcet tones that only Mr. Price could so eloquently deliver.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


NOTE: This is an encore of a piece originally posted in 2011, with an added thought from 2019 regarding the song, "Here Comes Santa Claus"

What has to be one of the most surreal and (unintentionally) scariest children’s films ever made is director RenĂ© Cardona’s 1959 Santa Claus. Enterprising exploitation producer/distributor/showman K. Gordon Murray snapped this one up, dubbed it (poorly) into English and unleashed it upon an unsuspecting American public year after year after year.

I say “unsuspecting” because no one in America could have suspected the Santa legend was so different in Mexico. Or maybe it was just different for the writers and directors behind this cinematic oddity. I’ve read many articles about the film and I’m still not sure what the answer is. All I can say is that the differences are not subtle.

Some examples: In this version, Santa doesn’t live in the North Pole – he lives in a castle in the clouds! He doesn’t have real reindeer – they are mechanical! He doesn’t come down chimneys – he enters homes with a magic key. All this, plus he fights an emissary of the devil (no, the photo at the top of this post isn't photoshopped)!

It gets weirder… and scarier… from there. Santa watches over (or more accurately, spies) on the children of the world via a telescope whose unnervingly snaking appendage has a blinking eyeball for a lens! Santa’s right-hand man is Merlin (yes, the sorcerer from Camelot legends) and somehow Santa has gotten children from all over the world to perform for him in a lengthy and very politically incorrect sequence where he watches choirs from many lands sing to him. Oh, and speaking of children, Santa doesn’t have elves. He has children make the toys for him!

As if Merlin’s involvement wasn’t non sequitur enough, the film also shoehorns a distorted Christian sensibility into its core, as Santa basically works on Jesus’ behalf. Which of course makes Satan mad to no end and inspires the dark one to send his hench-demon Pitch into battle against Santa in both direct and indirect ways (in the form of recruiting bad little kids to bedevil the good ones who have Santa’s favor).

NEW THOUGHT I HAD IN 2019: Could this movie have possibly been inspired by the 1947 song, "Here Comes Santa Claus" by Gene Autry and Oakley Haldeman? I've always felt it had the same bizarre mix of secular and Christian Christmas concepts - "let's give thanks to the Lord above 'cause Santa Claus comes tonight!" I wonder what Esquivel would say about that?...

So it’s not technically a horror film… but it is quite scary. And it’s not a comedy... but it’s so bizarre and absurd that it can’t help but make you laugh in spots (even if that laughter is uneasy at times). For me as a Christian believer, there is an extra layer of weirdness in its cockamamie misrepresentation of the faith that is both scary and funny simultaneously (not funny “ha-ha” but funny as in, “I can’t believe what I’m watching!")...

...but enough of me talking about this film. It really has to be seen to be believed. That plus others have already done in-depth and entertaining examinations of the film which you can read when you click on the links below:

B-Movie Review of Santa Claus

Monster Shack review of Santa Claus

...and best of all, an official blog has been launched containing various articles and reviews of the film – not to mention your chance to vote on such pressing questions as “Which country featured in Santa’s Heavenly Workshop suffered the most ethnic stereotypes?” and “What is the creepiest gadget in Santa’s ‘secret’ lab?” Just click below to visit this new blog appropriately named...

Santa Claus Conquers the Devil: 50 Years of K. Gordon Murray’s Santa Claus

As we wind down the year here’s wishing everyone the safest, happiest and most blessed of holidays.

Now, here’s the trailer for Santa Claus – watch if you dare!