For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.

Movie Poster of the Week: “Scared Stiff”

For Halloween: a selection of posters for the Martin and Lewis comedy-horror vehicle.

I wanted to post something truly terrifying for Halloween this year—the first year I believe that Halloween has fallen on a Movie Poster of the Week Friday since I started—but then I came across this beautiful Boris Grinsson poster. Tu Trembles, Carcasse..., which translates very inelegantly as “You are trembling, corpse” is the French title for the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy horror musical Scared Stiff, which was the 8th of their sixteen collaborations (or 9th of their seventeen if you include their cameo in the Road to Bali, a gag appearance that was reciprocated by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in Scared Stiff). Scared Stiff was actually a 1953 remake of a 1940 Bob Hope film The Ghost Breakers, made by the same director, George Marshall, and it was made at the height of Martin & Lewis’s success, when they were the biggest double-act in America. It was one of four films that they would release in 1953 alone, and also a movie that they were famously reluctant to make.

What is notable about the Grinsson poster is that only features Jerry. Dean Martin would quit the double-act three years after the release of this film partly because he felt he was in Lewis’s shadow. Grinsson’s poster would not have helped. In the other posters for the film, and I have collected a bunch, Jerry and Dean have a much more equal presence. I especially love the Danish and German designs, both of which are very true to their national style: the Danish poster by Kurt Wenzel being very comic-book, pen-and-ink cartoony, and the German poster by Lutz Pelzer (for a 1965 re-release of the film) much more somber and painterly.

Notable also is the awkward inclusion of Carmen Miranda, tucked into the corner of the American and Belgian one sheets and looking as if she had cha-cha’d her way into the wrong film (sadly it was to be her last). Bosley Crowther in his pan of the film for The New York Times, wrote “Apparently aware of some shortcomings, Hal B. Wallis, who produced for Paramount, threw a net over Carmen Miranda and also got her into the film. The benefit isn't perceptible. Although the Cuban bombshell bounces out and does her particular type of singing and dancing a couple of times, her only appreciable service is to cue Mr. Lewis into an act of doing an impersonation of her—which he has done before and which isn't good.”

You can watch the trailer for the film here. “Those faces, those terrible faces, I can’t stand it!”

Above: The Danish poster by Kurt Wenzel.

Above: the 1965 German poster by Lutz Pelzer.

The US one-sheet, artist unknown.

Above: the Argentinian variant (with the title changed to The Cursed Castle).

Above: the Belgian poster.

Above: the Italian poster.

Posters courtesy of Dominique Besson, Heritage Auctions, Doctor Macro and the Movie Poster Database. Happy Halloween!

YAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEK!!! (Great stuff, BTW…VERY frightening!)
Like it!

Please to add a new comment.

Previous Features