I found this on VHS at a thrift shop and couldn't believe I hadn't heard about it previously. I was super excited to watch this film since it starred Patrick Swayze, who is one of my guilty pleasures with a trio of his movies: Dirty Dancing, Road House, and Next of Kin (overlooked in Swayze's canon of films, as good, if not better than Road House). Unfortunately, Black Dog didn't live up to my expectations, especially with Swayze doing some of his weakest acting.
The plot is about an ex-trucker pulled back on the road to haul a load of contraband to save his family from being killed. Meat Loaf plays a bad guy trying to intercept and steal the load for himself. Randy Travis is a would be country song writer, who is riding shotgun with Swayze and his motives as to which side he is on remain suspect.
While Swayze was never the greatest actor, he usually could tear up a role that called for over the top tough/sensitive guy histrionic acting. In Black Dog, Swayze's acting is weak, either he didn't have the right direction or his heart just wasn't in this film. Meat Loaf is his dependable self as the bible verse spouting bad guy, but the real revelation here is Randy Travis. He's so good that the film would have been better with Travis as the lead. Maybe the part of Earl, "a good-ole boy wanna-be country song writer", just came too easy for him, whatever it was, he is superb in his role and is the only reasson I would recommend watching Black Dog.
Scared Stiff turned out to be a major disappointment for me. I bought this video sometime back and held off watching it until Halloween, since it was a remake of The Ghost Breakers starring Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard, which was really a great movie.
Through a series of mis-adventures, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis wind up on a boat headed for Cuba and agree to help a damsel in distress, Lizabeth Scott, with a castle she has inherited. Is the castle really haunted or is there some other reason people don't want her to assume possession? Well, you can probably guess the answer to that question.
Produced by Hal Wallis with additional dialogue provided by Ed Simmons and Norman Lear, this film looked like it would be a sure winner. While Dean Martin was good as the smooth swinging lover boy character and Jerry Lewis was probably good as the idiot character, that's where my problem lies. I just don't get Jerry Lewis (maybe I should have been born in France). I assume Lewis' man-child acting must amuse plenty of folks, the humor is just lost on me. Scared Stiff was a long drawn out unfunny film for me with only a few bright spots.
Dino sings a couple of tunes, as does Carmen Miranda (in this her final film) and although I really was just in a hurry to get to the end of the film, these musical interludes were better than most of the movie. In a uncredited part, Frank Fontaine (Crazy Guggenheim from the Jackie Gleason Show), pops up as, what else, a drunk and this is probably the best comedic scene in the film. However, the very brightest spot in Scared Stiff was a brief cameo by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, in their few seconds on screen, they out shined Martin and Lewis by a mile.