Tuesday, February 22, 2022


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: horror-comedy royalty, Abbott & Costello! It all happens on Sunday, March 13th at 2PM when I return to speak at the festival after a three-year hiatus (due to a brief stint living on the opposite coast as well as the pandemic shuttering the event last year). It will, in fact be my sixth year speaking there.

It all began for me in 2014 with a sold-out screening of ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, and now I’m honored to present New Jersey’s favorite sons Bud and Lou once again in the film that put them on the map, BUCK PRIVATES.

As always, I’ll be introducing the film and doing a Q&A afterward. It’s one of Abbott & Costello’s best, and in my opinion simply one of the greatest comedy films of all-time.

Thanks go out once again to the festival’s organizers, Ken Mandel and John Chasse for inviting me to take part. Thanks also to Pat Mitrano and the West Orange Arts Council under whose auspices the festival screens forward.

The event takes place at the AMC-Dine-In Theaters, Essex Green Shopping Center, 495 Prospect Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052. One thing that has changed from past years is that tickets for this year’s West Orange Classic Film Festival are not available through Fandango or the box office. Instead, this year’s tickets are being sold exclusively through EventBrite. If you have trouble with the online transaction, you can tell someone manning the table out front of screening room 7 and pay on the spot in cash.

Tickets for this special event are $14 per person and are available to order at the following link:


Just click on the link above to order.
I should also mention that BUCK PRIVATES is the final film for this year’s festival. The festival is halfway over as I post this, but there are still a couple of films to go before Abbott & Costello return, including one that will be of particular interest to Scared Silly fans, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. Noted film critic Stephen Whitty will speak on that Mel Brooks classic on Sunday, February 27th and will return again on Sunday, March 6th for the Billy Wilder opus, SOME LIKE IT HOT. All showtimes are 2PM.

BUCK PRIVATES is the final film of the 2022 West Orange Classic Film Festival, which has featured an "All-Comedy" theme. The theme was chosen due to everything we've all faced the past few years. And speaking of which, please note the following:

The West Orange Classic Film Festival and AMC Theaters are dedicated to ensuring audience safety during the ongoing pandemic as follows: * Adherence to all CDC and Essex County, NJ guidelines. * Maximized fresh air flow and enhanced cleaning procedures using HEPA filter vacuums. * Clorox disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer available throughout the theater. * Limited tickets sold to Classic Film Festival screenings to increase social distancing.

I hope to see you on Sunday, March 13th at 2PM for Abbott & Costello’s BUCK PRIVATES!

Monday, February 14, 2022



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)!