Friday, October 30, 2009


Welcome to the “Scared Silly” blog! This is the place to both revisit and discover classic Hollywood horror-comedies.

My name is Paul Castiglia, and I’ll be your ghost… er host! I’ve been writing and editing comic books and pop culture articles for 20 years. Some of you may know me from past horror-comedy efforts including writing the comic book series based on the “Archie’s Weird Mysteries” animated series and contributing a chapter to a book of essays on the films of Vincent Price (naturally, I wrote about the comedic horror films where Price teamed with Peter Lorre).

This blog is meant to be a companion piece to an upcoming book I am compiling. My goal is to post one or two entries every two weeks. This will help me keep ahead on my writing. While the book will ultimately be a compendium of the entries I post here, note that there will be additional content in the book that does not appear on this blog, the entries may be modified in the final book and the entries will appear in a different order than they do on the blog.

One of those “additional content” goodies is a foreword by noted character actor Daniel Roebuck who has appeared in several movies and TV shows. Among his many roles, he played Jay Leno in “The Late Shift,” Gary Marshall in “The Unauthorized Story of Mork & Mindy,” had a recurring role on “Matlock,” and a brief role on “Lost” (until his character accidentally blew himself up with nitro glycerin!).

Roebuck is no stranger to horror-comedies. He did a series of running joke blackout gags as a hearse driver in one of the most acclaimed horror-comedies of the past decade, “Bubba Ho-tep” with Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. He has a recurring role as a nemesis of Jon Heder in the zombie web series, “Woke Up Dead.” He’s even appeared in such family-friendly horror-comedy fare as the short film, “How My Dad Killed Dracula” and a recent Halloween-themed episode of Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.” Upcoming is a film that’s right up Scared Silly’s alley: a spoof of spooky mysteries called “A Dark & Stormy Night.”

Dan Roebuck is a huge fan of classic horror movies in general, and horror-comedy films in particular. He has a massive collection of horror film memorabilia which you can see here:

Exclusive Halloween Tour Of Hollywod Actor's Monster Museum, Hau - Click here for this week’s top video clips

He has also created a stage act called “Doctor Shocker’s Halloween Spooktacular” which faithfully reenacts the live “spook shows” that used to accompany horror flicks at movie theaters. Here is a clip from one of his performances – you might recognize some of his famous co-stars!:

The other purpose of the blog is to hopefully interest any potential publishers, so if you fall into that category, please drop me a note at

For the uninitiated, the “horror-comedy” genre is a sub-genre of classic comedy. In classic comedy films, there were tried-and-true scenarios that always generated laughs. Drop your comedians into the workplace, high society, the military or especially a haunted house setting and you were guaranteed laughs! It’s a movie tradition that dates back to the 1920s when famous silent comedians including Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd made “spookhouse” comedies.

The horror-comedy genre proved so popular that it continued into the sound era, where comedy teams like Laurel & Hardy and the Three Stooges kept it going in the 1930s. It reached a peak in the 1940s when Abbott & Costello perfected the form, and other comedians including The East Side Kids (who later morphed into The Bowery Boys) made it a standard of their repertoires.

I consider the last “traditional” horror-comedy to be “The Ghost & Mr. Chicken” starring Don Knotts. While other films mixed horror and comedy after that 1966 release, in my opinion too many “modern sensibilities” (namely too much gory violence and cheap sex jokes) mark a line of demarcation between those efforts and the traditional classic horror comedies.

Because of the sheer number of horror-comedy short subjects and feature films coming out of America between the 1920s and 1960s, I have made a conscious decision to exclude short subjects and feature films made in Europe, Mexico and anywhere outside the United States. Likewise, although I am a huge fan of such cartoons, space prohibits me from including the animated horror-comedy shorts that proliferated on movie screens in the 1930s and ‘40s featuring such characters as Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Flip the Frog.

A NOTE ABOUT THE RATINGS I GIVE TO THESE MOVIES: The author assumes that if you’re reading this blog in the first place, you have a fondness for the horror-comedy genre and all its trappings and conventions to begin with. With this criteria in mind, the films have been graded based on their merit and entertainment value as compared to other films within this same genre. Therefore, most of the films on this blog have achieved an “above average” rating of 3 stars, even though mainstream movie review books often cite such films as “Zombies on Broadway” and “Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla” as average or even poor.

So there you have it. I thought it was appropriate to launch this blog on Halloween, and even more appropriate to have my initial entry be about the ultimate classic horror comedy. So without further ado…

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