Scared to Death (1981 film)

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Scared to Death
Scared to Death-1981-Poster.jpg
Promotional poster artwork.
Directed by William Malone
Produced by Rand Marlis
Gilbert M. Shilton
Written by William Malone
Robert Short
Starring John Stinson
Music by Thomas Chase
Dell Hake
Cinematography Patrick Prince
Edited by Warren Chadwick
Distributed by Lone Star Pictures
Release date
  • 1980 (1980)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $74,000[1]

Scared to Death, also known as The Aberdeen Experiment and Scared to Death: Syngenor (DVD sleeve re-title), is a 1980 B horror/science fiction film directed by William Malone and starring John Stinson.[1]


A monster stalks Los Angeles as a Bio-Engineered creature called a Syngenor (which stands for SYNthesized GENetic ORgansism) takes refuge in the city's sewer system and then hits the streets at night in search of human spinal fluid.[2] The only person who stands in the way of the creature's unstoppable killing spree is Ted Londergan, a former detective turned Private Investigator. When he is offered a job to look at the case by his former partner, several people on the police force doubt he can help solve it, as he is regarded by many to be a hotshot who has a loose temper. As time goes by, however, and the body count begins to mount, Ted is eventually brought in on the case. The police and the public become astonished by the fact that whoever is committing the murders possesses strength far beyond that of a human, such as actually being able to rip the doors off of cars. But when his newfound love interest Jennifer is nearly killed by the creature, he soon experiences a change of heart. After Jennifer is hospitalized after being attacked by the creature, a young woman named Sherry comes forward with information that could help solve the case. She explains to Ted that the fact that the young woman was missing spinal fluid may mean that it was drained by a creature known as a Syngenor that was being created at a lab where she worked. Ted goes to the lab to investigate, and finds the young woman in a state of panic. The two descend into the sewers, where they find the Syngenor's lair and it's victims, whom it is harvesting for their spinal fluid. They are pursued by the creature as they flee back into the laboratory, and eventually Ted's former partner shows up and shoots the creature, causing it to fall back onto a press machine. Sherry then activates the press machine, crushing the creature and ending its reign of terror once and for all.


Wanting to become a director, William Malone decided to make a monster movie because it was the type of film one could get a lot of production value for very little money. He also had experience with monster designs as he had previously worked as a designer at a Halloween mask factory so he knew he could design the monster himself. In order to raise enough money for the film Malone had to sell most of his personal belongings including his car and mortgaging his house. After raising enough money he began building and sculpting the monster suit. Being inspired by H.R. Giger's design from the movie "Alien" he took 3 months to build the suit. During this process Malone began casting the film and surprisingly he originally cast actor/pop star Rick Springfield in the lead role. Springfield however called up Malone the night before filming began saying he could not be in his film because he was going to miss too many acting classes. Malone then called up actor John Stinson whom he remembered from an improv class and begged him to be in the film, to which he agreed. Filming began in February 1979 and the shoot lasted a total of 4 weeks, a rather long time for a low-budget film.[1]

Lone Star Pictures, a Texas-based company, provided $40,000 for the budget and picked up worldwide distribution. After the premier, the first sale made by Lone Star Pictures made was to Malaysia for $90,000. They were already making a profit since the film only cost $74,000 to make.[1]


The film was first released by Lone Star Pictures International Inc. in all worldwide markets.

The film was released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment in the 1980s.[3]

The film was released on DVD by Retromedia Entertainment in 2010.[4] The title on the box art was changed to Scared to Death: Syngenor to show a connection to the film's 1990 sequel Syngenor.


  1. ^ a b c d Director Interview on Retromedia DVD, 2007. Last accessed: September 2009.
  2. ^ Retromedia DVD Case, 2007. Last accessed: September 2009.
  3. ^ "Company Credits for Scared to Death". Retrieved 2011-04-13. 
  4. ^ "Scared to Death (DVD)". Retrieved 2011-04-13. 

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