Hillbillys In a Haunted House (1967) … Country Music Week Day 2
Try viewing this as a mixture of a rejected script from the Beach Party films crossed with an East Side Kids version of Ghosts on the Loose. Then throw in some country music singers and you wind up with this ultra low budget Bernard Woolner production. That’s the same Bernard Woolner who gave us Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman. Even then you may doubt this film actually exists.
Country Music star Ferlin Husky takes the lead role opposite knockout Joi Lansing and the not so funny comedy relief of Don Bowman. They are on the road to Nashville to play on a big jamboree show when they find themselves stranded in a town where the local gas station attendant suggests they find refuge from an incoming storm in an abandoned mansion. Haunted of course.
Once they get settled on the main floor and clear a few cobwebs Ferlin gets the chance to sing the haunting “Living in a Trance.” Not one of his better known hits. When Sonny James turns up to join in on a couple of songs he warns the trio that the mansion is actually haunted and makes a quick exit when a not so scary skeleton makes an appearance.
Time for the real reason for checking out this odd ball effort from director Jean Yarbrough. The decaying mansion is a refuge for spies who have rigged the house with bats and ghosts to keep people away. Basil Rathbone, John Carradine and Lon Chaney Jr. are working for Linda Ho at stealing a formula for the evil Dr. Fu. If they can just evade the agents of M.O.T.H.E.R. there mission should prove successful.
Time for some more music when Lansing gives us a tune and on the portable TV we even get legendary Merle Haggard belting out a number.
Chaney is leaning into his famed Lenny role at times as he was known to do while Basil and John do a fine job mugging for the camera. Basil is actually quite spirited here though at 75 he was in the final year of his life. Like any low budget haunted house picture we get the customary chain rattling, ghosts on strings and the guy in a gorilla suit that Lon’s character befriends while Carradine is constantly threatening to kill the beast.
In true King Kong fashion our large primate grabs hold of Miss Lansing (and who can blame him) spurring Ferlin and not so funny Don Bowman to search the haunted house and foil the plans of our famed trio of slumming stars.
Then it’s time to get back on the road to Nashville where Ferlin can emcee the jamboree featuring a couple singers I wasn’t familiar with but thankfully Merle Haggard turns up once more to sing one of his early hits, Swinging Doors. Joi gets in on the singing and our star of the show Ferlin brings down the curtain with That’s the One Bridge I Have Never Crossed. Like many others the one song I associate with Husky is On The Wings of a Snow White Dove.
Click here to see the full press kit over at Zombo’s Closet.
Sad as this production may seem there are three groups of people who may want to check this out. Merle Haggard fans. Merle is after all one of Country Music’s most legendary performers and this is a time capsule to his early years. Fans of our trio of stars will want to add this to their shelves if they want a complete library. Then there are those that just enjoy inept low budget features that cause chuckles for many of the wrong reasons though this effort isn’t to be taken all too seriously. Especially with Carradine and Basil pulling faces for the camera. Make that 4 groups, we mustn’t forget the Joi Lansing factor.
Our famed trio had careers that constantly came into contact with each other. Carradine had been in Basil’s first entry in the lengthy Holmes series back in 1939’s Hound of the Baskervilles. Chaney had Carradine appear with him in one of the Kharis titles, The Mummy’s Ghost back in 1944. All three got together previously in the 1956 creeper The Black Sleep.
This hillbilly curiosity was released years ago by VCI if you need to take a peek at this musical – comedy horror film oddity.