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Scared to Death (Matthew J. Elliott and Ian Potter)

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Was there ever a more seminal film than Scared to Death? You heard me, seminal. It's a word. Look it up, it's not what you think. By kicking off with a body in a mortuary narrating the story, this classy horror-­mystery served as the blueprint for Sunset Boulevard over a decade later.

Granted, Sunset Boulevard was an all ­time Hollywood classic while Scared to Death wound up being mocked by a couple of English guys, but that wasn't the only time it served as a basis for other more notable pictures. For a start, there's a reporter in it... just like Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in All the President's Men! Coincidence?

Well, possibly, but consider this – you've also got Bela Lugosi (in his only color movie) playing a foreign guy! Now ask yourself how many films made after Scared to Death feature foreigners? Hell, foreign films are full of 'em! Can you really afford to miss this, the wellspring from which all modern motion pictures1 draw their inspiration?2

1 Includes the Star Wars films (good ones only), Smilla's Sense of Snow, Battleships and Dunston Checks In.

2No, you can't.

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Poster art by Jason Martian
Poster art by Jason Martian

RiffMeter rating

Average: 8.4 (80 votes)

Content Rating



Movie Decade

Release date

August 4, 2014


68 minutes