Scared to Death (1980) Poster

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Average monster movie
Trooper8-229 December 2000
This film was a very typical monster movie that incorporated all of the usual dumb cliches. It's got a slow moving, fake looking monster, really stupid victims who deserve to die, and a lame story about the monster resulting from a genetic experiment gone awry. (Why did the professor even make the monster in the first place? It never really says why. I guess that's just what scientists do.) Still, this movie is an okay time-waster if you happen to enjoy bad sci-fi or horror. It's certainly not the best, but I have definitely seen worse. I give it a 5/10 rating.
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fun low budget sci flick
CLEO-829 April 2003
I thought this movie (for being so bad) was very entertaining. The main characters are the biggest geeks! Especially the male lead. I'm talking about Dorkenstein with a capital D. It was fun making fun of them while hoping the monster eats them. This film seemed to merge cheesey 50's Sci Fi elements with 80's slasher gimmick to create a movie that worked on some level. Mystery Science Theatre would have a field day on this one. I must give it props though. The creatures actually looked good and were indeed creepy.
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Good low-budget sci-fi/horror
lastliberal19 August 2008
While Star Wars Episode V and The Howling were winning awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, this film was also a winner as Best Low-Budget Film. Low-Budget filmmakers could do worse in watching how William Malone (House on Haunted Hill ) managed to make an interesting film with award winning special effects for $74,000.

It was Malone's first film and it starred Diana Davidson, whom I am sure no one remembers as they girl who was shot in the swimming pool in Dirty Harry. It also stars John Stinson, Jonathan David Moses, and Toni Jannotta, in her only film. Malone made sure that he had a good selection of beautiful victims to keep your interest.

The staging was good in the respect that terror was built up gradually with a lot of suspense, and the creature was only partially shown until it got towards the end. You never really knew what you were dealing with.

And, of course, when it is all over, you don't really know if you solved the problem.
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Cheap and tacky thrills
mylimbo26 January 2005
An ex-cop who's a writer now, gets brought back on the job after a string of weird murders with the killer leaving a web like substance… Is it human or not?

Really this is nothing but cheap (and that's very cheap) z-grade trash, but still 'fairly' amusing… well that's if you're in the right frame of mood. This is no more than a "Alien" rip-off, but set on earth. There are certain shots that resembled some of those from "Alien" and as well the creature looks very similar too.

The story is extra ordinary. The usual scientific creation that's on the loose killing victims and an ex-cop who's the only one that can stop it. So don't expect anything special or original. Sometimes the pacing is a bit tedious; like a slasher film.

The acting is not that bad from a bunch of nobodies... with a pretty charming and gawky heroine. Although there is one or two annoying characters which you have to deal with. Added to the film's script is some sharp humour and witty one-liners, especially from the geeky lead. A very gritty and grim atmosphere is found throughout the picture, with a lot of the film taking place in dark and dim lighting. While the special effects are hilariously shoddy and cheap, which gives it a sort of charm... well I think so.

I found this more enjoyable than the glossy, but bland "Ghost Ship (2002)" I watched before it.

This film is unoriginal, campy and cheap... but I found this schlock watchable and rather fun.

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Typical regional low budget horror filmmaking
William22 July 2000
This is your typical regional horror sci-fi filmaking from the late 70's early 80's period, the ones without any "names", with slow pacing, foggy cameras, poor lighting, and music that can actually put you to sleep! In fact it reminds me of another small town sci-fi film called ALIEN FACTOR! This creature, SYNGENOR, is actually cool looking, so cool someone made another film with the syngenor titled, what else, SYNGENOR, but with a better budget, and a professional cast (not sure why William Malone didn't get involved in this one.). This film the violence is very tame, not really scarely, the random act of attacks by the creature to nameless victim is few and far between, in between you get a boring cop and his partner trying to solve the crime, losts of talk, overall a slow film that probably bored the audeince to tears! This film actually got a decent release back in 82, but didnt play here in Seattle, but was playing in Oregon as a double bill with SCREAMER! The creature is really cool looking for its time, so I don't know why they didn;t show it more often.`
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There is little chance of being scared to death watching this film...bored to death, well maybe.
Aaron137528 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I got this movie as I love watching horror films and I normally enjoy the horror of the past a lot more than the horror of today. This one though was just not what I was expecting. I had high hopes at the beginning when the film opened up and we are greeted with a point of view shot of the monster peeking in on a girl totally nude. However, this would not be the norm in this film, and the cynical part of me thinks this scene was added in to spice things up as the quality of this movie screams television. As did the guest starring portion of the credits. Other than this scene and one where the lead character and his new lady friend hook up, there is nothing all that risqué in this film in terms of nudity or even gore.

The story has a creature lurking the city streets of L.A. killing its victims. Wait a minute, that sounds awfully familiar doesn't it? Oh yes, it is a lot like the film "The Dark", in fact this film could be "The Dark II: This Time it Actually looks like an Alien". Seriously, it is almost the same movie other than the fact the monster looks different. We get a kill, we get lead guy Tim doing scenes establishing him, another kill, and then more boring scenes that go nowhere and are pointless. Then a final showdown with said creature in a factory setting that is so slow and plodding. At least that portion of "The Dark" was fairly well done, here it just takes to long as there are to many monster walking toward our intrepid heroes. The only curve ball this movie throws is when they take out the lead guy's girlfriend and substitute her for this nerdy, but very cute girl. A nice upgrade, as the lead guy's girl wore way to much eye makeup and reminded me of that hooker from "Mitchell".

So there really is not much going for this movie other than a nice nude scene at the beginning and a scene with a cute couple of skater girls later. The monster gets a lot of show too, what I mean is they are not hiding it as they must be proud of it. They should be, if this were a science fiction show like Star Trek, but this thing looks to much like an alien from a science fiction show more so than a bioengineered monster. It seems to be beating people to death at first, and I also thought it may be raping its victims because the first two victims are female. However, this is not a Roger Corman film, so is not raping anyone. Even when it is sticking its tongue in its victim's mouth it is not doing anything sexual. It just has an idiotic thirst for spinal fluid. I know you are trying to be creative, but really...why not simply do blood and that way the film is at least a bit more gory.

So what we have here is a film that is trying to capitalize on the success of "Alien", but rather than following that film's format, it instead thought it should be more like "The Dark" in that it is very slow, not tense and has a television movie feel to it. The lead guy is annoying, the lead female to hooker looking and the monster would look right at home in a science fiction show, but not a monster movie. You do get to see a bit of nudity, but nothing good after the first initial scene (trust me, you do not want to see the one involving the lead guy). To much awkward flirting, not enough gore! To much monster coming down hall, not enough action! To much nerdy but cute girl screaming, and not scenes of her naked! This film just does not have enough going for it to be an entertaining film and it just has a been there, done that feel for me. It not only borrows from "Alien", "The Dark", but it does the same things countless films from this era did and it brings nothing new to the table. Unless you count watching a girl skate down an entire parking garage and then slowly dressing in more clothes while feeling threatened as something new.
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Cool humanoid creature and... uhm, that's about it.
Vomitron_G29 February 2012
William Malone didn't exactly deliver a good movie here. Far from, actually, but heck, it was his first one. Still, you'll have to tolerate some atrocious 'chop-chop' editing, some bad acting and a plot way too basic for its own good. All the events in this film move at the pace of a snail that's stuck in the mud. The whole story is played by the book, and it's one with not many pages in it (just enough to write down the premise: a murderous creature is loose in the city and two people must stop it). Surprisingly, things do remain watchable most of the time, somehow. The creature design is pretty cool, but also nothing more than a man in a rubber suit. A bit of full frontal female nudity during the opening-scene and a lack of gore throughout the entire film is what we get. But my guess is that it's still worth a watch for lovers of obscure creature features (honestly, I myself didn't mind watching it). "Scared To Death" always seemed to me a bit of a stupid, unsuitable title for this kind of film though. Given the place where the creature resides, why not dub it... "The Sewer Dweller"? Malone's first outing even got some sort of a semi-(un)official sequel nine years later, called "Syngenor" (1990). Would have been much easier if they had called that one "Syngenor 2" and this one simply "Syngenor". Aw, what the hell am I talking about.
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One of the first ever ALIEN clones
DigitalRevenantX72 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Former detective turned private eye Ted Lonergan & his girlfriend / assistant Jennifer Stanton are approached by one of Ted's former colleagues, Detective Lou Capell, to help with investigating a rash of killings where the victims fall into a coma after being drained of their spinal fluids. Jennifer manages to find a lead when a genetic scientist calls her with information but is attacked by the killer & left in a coma. Ted & the scientist discover that the killings were the work of the Syngenor (an acronym for Synthesised Genetic Organism), a genetic cyborg creature that was created by a dead scientist & that has escaped from the laboratory & is lurking in the sewers in order to feed on human spinal fluid in order to survive.

Believe it or not, Scared to Death is probably one of the very first ALIEN templaters to have come out in the 1980s, alongside other similar films such as THE INTRUDER WITHIN & the el bizarro British entry XTRO. The film was the debut of director William Malone, a makeup effects artist who has designed the mask of serial killer Michael Myers from the Halloween films whilst working at Don Post Studios. Malone raised $74,000 in order to make the film & co-wrote the story with another effects wizard, Robert Short.

Scared to Death is an interesting film, although nowhere even near the stature of the original Alien – while the Syngenor looks a bit like a H.R. Giger creation, it still is kept to the shadows to disguise its shortcomings (although the creature's body suit looks quite impressive). The rest of the film is basically Alien melded with Friday the 13th – plenty of undressing girls & shenanigans going on in the dark. The idea of a genetic cyborg (a being made from synthetic DNA) is quite good – indeed the film's attempt at setting the template on Earth & providing a reasonable explanation for the monster's nature earns full marks for being innovative despite the ultra-low budget. The only problem being that Malone is nowhere even near the skill set & vision of Ridley Scott, with his handling frequently turning the film's pace into a hard slog & having no idea on how to create suspense. Still, it was one of the earliest Alien templaters & the Syngenor still looks cool, enough for a sequel-remake to come out a decade later.
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Pretty boring, even if you like bad movies
darkblood5516 September 2007
(Warning: I'm not fully bilingual, so please forgive me for my poor English vocabulary) This one was awful from start to finish! There was no notable action: the main characters were in a big investigation, full of dull dialogues, and the creature was just wandering around in the sewers doing some cheap kills once in a while, nothing too original, entertaining or gory.

Not absolutely painful, just plain boring.

If you want to see something a little better with the same creature, try Syngenor instead. I'm a big fan of the genre, especially the "so bad it's good" sub-genre, but this one is definitely not in that league. Avoid.
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