"A psychotic killer?
A sado-masochistic song?
A film crew on a deserted island?
The plot thickens as, one by one, bodies are found - each mutilated in a style all of its own.
For lovers of truly traumatic titles, 'Scared Alive' delivers!"
For once a tagline that isn't lying! I could well imagine that in the case of SCARED ALIVE that watching it really is "... worse than dying". Certainly, slowly winding my genitals through a meat grinder would invariably be less painful that ever sitting through this abomination ever again. I'm shocked - genuinely shocked - that is that this steaming pile of cack-ka ever got a UK cinema release. It did - I know because I saw a poster for it up for auction the other day on Ebay (no-one bid on it- now I've got a good idea why).
Often films like the FRIDAY THE 13TH series are accused, by mainstream critics, of being filled with identikit characters who can't act, stumbling around in the dark, terminally sunk by cliché. But, heck, even the most perfunctory FRIDAY sequel looks like the work of Ingmar Bergman next to this tripe!
SCARED ALIVE has no plot - well, to be fair it does have a sliver of a plot, one that is roundly flinched from Agathta Christie and her TEN LITTLE INDIANS. Here, a group of thespians (and I use the term loosely): the director, producer, and a few crew members, head for an isolated island where they plan to make a film utilising an abandoned school. The film, according to the director- the up-in-lights named Franklyn Phlem (Ron Gardner), is going to be a full on feel-good movie- a film for the youth, and not one of those "... going up in a holocaust." numbers. This sure-shot Academy worrier is set around a bunch of bubbly students (presumably the cast- although none of them look a day under 25), who want to fight for their school's future- "Look guys and gals, the only way to save our school scholarship fund is to put on a rock musical- we can all be performers and we can all use my Uncle's barn!", drones one of nonplused actresses in rehearsal (a part tailor made for Dana Kimmel).
The rag tag bunch of actors, dancers and bag carriers settle in to their accommodation and we get the usual assortment of mild t&a, false (and very tame) scares and puerile banter as they pad out the running time before the first murder on the island. They are informed not to annoy Bert (Red McVay), the especially crotchety caretaker who keeps on moaning on about how he can't stand their generation- and who is especially annoyed he has to cook for them, spitting out "I'm not going to mess with a bunch of food picky drug freaks!" ... As it is we don't have to wait too long for the first of them to bite the dust (although a nighttime dipper met with a shotgun blast pre-credits for reasons that are never quite clear)- one of the attendants is pushed into a red hot Jacuzzi whilst a portable tape player swings in the air, blaring out a punk-rock lite tune (more of which later). Now, although this death is seen as a tragic accident it hits the group hard, causing a few flair ups- " I'm sorry, it isn't every day that I find someone boiled to death!", bleats one of them as they start to bicker. Old Bert comes to the rescue and, showcasing his sensitive side he reveals dinner- boiled lobster!
Now, that song. If there's one thing that you can be sure it's that (if you make it to the end of this film) you'll be humming this tune- it ain't no darned good, but considering it's played about a hundred frigging times throughout it's practically etched into my brain- like it or not. It's played over the opening credits, and is played every time there's a murder by the killer carrying around a portable tape player- actually, it's probably harder to pinpoint a time when it isn't playing! And, with lyrics like: "Lonely as a child- you were wet, you were wild. You were ... selfish. Crying out late at night with your covers pulled up tight- you were ... helpless.", and, "Fear me! Fear me!", well, you can probably imagine the aural torture for all concerned.
It isn't long before, after the bodies start to pile up, that the surviving group, who've also been taunted with this bloody song, come to the not particularly momentous conclusion that: "The song- the lyrics are boil me, set me on fire!" - "Someone's killing according to the lyrics!" . This information doesn't seem to do them much good, as they wander off like lambs to the slaughter into the darkest corners of the abandoned school and fall victim to the demented (but not very scary) killer.
OK, I may have made SCARED ALIVE sound like a lot of fun. To be fair there's a modicum of entertainment to be had courtesy of a healthy dollop of cheese: one of the characters confronts an adversary and, lit candle in hand, barks "Stay away- or I'll burn you" (Ooooh!); a protracted chase scene with the victim hobbling away on crutches; plus there's some great dialogue: "This is bizarre ... this is worse than bizarre!". The trouble is that the whole thing is seriously hampered by all-round amateurishness- from some appallingly flat acting (if it was any more stilted it'd be staccato); the majority of the action (again a term I use loosely) taking place in murky, appallingly badly lit night scenes; with a terminally confused script - it's just a mess - there's nary a scare to be had, it's just done by the numbers, (and badly done at that). You just wouldn't think that a film with such a colourful bodycount, featuring multiple nailgun shots to the head of one victim, and dismemberment by chain saw for another, could be this dull, but the makers of SCARED ALIVE manage it. Even, if you in the unlikely event make it to the end, a passably loopy twist ending can't save it.
This could just be the worst of the early 80's slashers (and I know it faces fierce competition!) - one thing's for sure, though, it's the horror movie equivalent of watching paint dry. To be roundly avoided by all but the most desperate of bad movie sado-masochists. Consider yourself warned!
BODYCOUNT 11 female:3 / male:8
1) Female shot in the face with gun
2) Male boiled to death in jacuzzi
3) Male has spike pushed into his face
4) Male blown up on boat
5) Female frazzled in battery acid shower
6) Male run through with machete
7) Male dismemebered with chain saw
8) Male Killed method unseen
9) Female found nailgunned to death
10) Male nailgunned to death
11) Male shot with shotgun