21 user 16 critic

Scared to Death (1980)

R | | Horror, Sci-Fi | March 1981 (USA)
An ex-cop, now working as a hack novelist, is called out of retirement to help investigate a string of deaths that appear to be the work of a serial killer but soon are revealed to be the ... See full summary »


William Malone


William Malone, Robert Short (story) | 1 more credit »
2 wins. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
John Stinson John Stinson ... Ted Lonergan
Diana Davidson Diana Davidson ... Jennifer Stanton
David Moses David Moses ... Detective Lou Capell (as Jonathan David Moses)
Toni Jannotta Toni Jannotta ... Sherry Carpenter
Walker Edmiston ... Police Chief Dennis Warren
Pamela Bowman Pamela Bowman ... Janie Richter
Mike Muscat ... Howard Tindall (as Michael Muscat)
Freddie Dawson Freddie Dawson ... Virgil Watson
Tracy Weddle Tracy Weddle ... Kathy Sperry
Joleen Porcaro Joleen Porcaro ... Kelly - Victim #5
David Daniels David Daniels ... Michael, roller skater (as Joseph Daniels)
Stephen Fanning Stephen Fanning ... Scott, roller skater
Greer Justin Greer Justin ... Sandy, rollerskater
Johnny Crear ... Victor Colter
John Moskal John Moskal ... Police Lab Man (as John Moskal Jr.)


An ex-cop, now working as a hack novelist, is called out of retirement to help investigate a string of deaths that appear to be the work of a serial killer but soon are revealed to be the work of the Syngenor - the synthesized genetic organism! Written by Brian J. Wright <tyrannorabbit@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They wanted to create a new form of human life...They failed. See more »


Horror | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Director William Malone said in an interview that actor/performer Rick Springfield was originally cast in the starring role of Ted Lonergan. He however called up Malone the night before filming began saying he couldn't be in his film because he was going to miss too many acting classes. Malone called up John Stinson whom he remembered from an improv class and begged him to be in the film. See more »

Crazy Credits

[Before the film commences, this is placed across the screen] PROLOGUE: The events portrayed in the film, although fictional, are based on scientific fact. If they have not already happened, they soon could. Genetic engineering is real, and soon we may all have to deal with new values and definitions for life and death. See more »

Alternate Versions

A TV print that aired on USA Network included a scene not included on Media's VHS: a group of teens searching for their lost friend in a parking garage find her body hanging upside down much like a scene in Halloween (1978). See more »


Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! Part 2 (2006) See more »

User Reviews

A Waste Of Time And Talent...
6 March 2020 | by stephenabellSee all my reviews

This film had a lot going for it, unfortunately, it has much more that doesn't.

The basis and synopsis of the story are solid. It the old story of science trying to better mankind and force our evolution by genetic manipulation. As this is a horror flick you can guess the results are far from optimistic. What science gives the audience is an a-sexual beast with a penchant for killing and kidnapping humans. The lucky ones are dead. The cop assigned to the case wants to bring his old partner in on the situation. The partner, now a writer, wants no part of the investigation... until his girlfriend becomes a victim.

Sounds good, doesn't it(?) Well, it is too good to be true. Writer and director William Malone and writer Robert Short meander all over the place. This wouldn't have been too bad if they had built up the characters is this time, but they don't. In all honesty, all of the characters are flat and unappealing. For most of the film, I wanted to slap the main character, Ted Lonergan. He is pretty obnoxious, at best.

Malone then brings his meandering ways to the direction of the film. Add to this the slow pace and you get a yawn-fest. There are a couple of decent shots but not enough to renew my attention, which was drifting all over the place.

The acting was below average. That isn't surprising though, as I stated above the characterisations are rubbish. The actors can only work with what they're given and how they are instructed.

One good thing is the monster. The super-human is nicely designed and constructed. It definitely could strike fear into somebody. I even liked the tongue, which would slither out into the throats of its victims to impregnate them. Shame I couldn't get the idea out of my head that it had been stolen from Alien. It would have been better had the tongue moved faster and snaked more. Speaking of "borrowed" ideas the ending is right out of Terminator.

I cannot recommend this to any horror fan out there. I don't want to be blamed for wasting your time, so do yourself a favour and stay away from this flick.

Feel free to come on over and see where this film charts in my Absolute Horror list. You should, at least, be able to find something more interesting and entertaining to watch.

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Release Date:

March 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Scared to Death: Syngenor See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA


Box Office


$74,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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