Public Domain Movies

Public Domain Movie: Scared to Death (1947)

Scared to Death (1947) – Movie Review

Scared to Death starts off in a morgue. What better place could there be for a horror movie to begin?

As a woman’s body lies  stretched out growing ever colder on the slab, the two medical examiners wonder what her last moments might have been like. Then the screen goes suitably wavy and dream-like and the scene cuts to a time before the dead gal was a dead gal and finds her stretched out on a doctor’s examination couch instead.

The doctor is her father-in-law and, like his son, he is anxious to get her out of the family. The not-yet-dead-gal has other ideas.

Bela Lugosi in Scared to Death (Movie Poster)
Bela Lugosi in Scared to Death (Movie Poster)

Scared to Death is the only colour movie with Bela Lugosi in a starring role but he did have non-starring roles in two other colour films.

Lugosi plays a stage magician who turns up at the not-yet-dead gal’s father-in-law’s front door with a rather strange-looking dwarf beside him. It is quite a memorable sight when the maid swings the front door open to reveal Lugosi standing there in a black cape and a trilby hat, while the dwarf appears to be getting ready for a conversation with his companion’s kneecaps—it’s worth watching the Scared to Death for that alone.

The not-yet-dead-gal seems to be being haunted. Either that or someone is trying to drive her out of her mind. That’s what she seems to believe is happening. It adds more than a little credence to the idea when the maid delivers a parcel to her that seems to contain a woman’s severed head (scream!) but turns out to belong to a decapitated mannequin.

However, the matter of the blue face that keeps appearing outside the windows and floating in and out of view is harder to explain. It looks as if someone has decapitated the mannequin’s husband as well, gone to work with some blue chalk, and then stuck his head on a long stick with the intention to terrify.

But do you know what? It also looks pretty darn creepy and, if you decide to watch this Bela Lugosi horror movie, you might even get a shiver or two from it. Will you be scared to death? That’s not likely.

That’s about all I have to say about Scared to Death. If you want to know more, you will just have to go back to the top of the page, press the play button, and watch the movie yourself.


Additional Information

Director: Christy Cabanne


Bela Lugosi … Prof. Leonide
George Zucco … Dr. Josef Van Ee

Nat Pendleton … Bill ‘Bull’ Raymond
Molly Lamont … Laura Van Ee

Joyce Compton … Jane Cornell
Gladys Blake … Lilly Beth (the maid)

Roland Varno … Ward Van Ee
Douglas Fowley … Terry Lee

Stanley Andrews … Pathologist
Angelo Rossitto … Indigo

Lee Bennett … Rene the Killer
Stanley Price … Intern