Hillbillys in a Haunted House
(1967), 80 min. color

 

Basil Rathbone and Linda HoAt last, my search for the worst movie ever made is over! With the exception of the performances of Basil Rathbone and John Carradine, "Hillbillys in a Haunted House" appears to have been cast with amateurs. Ferlin Husky sings well, but can’t act. Unless you love country music, you’ll probably hear way too much of it in this film. Just about everyone except Basil sings a pitiful song. The tag line for the film is: "They’ll scare your pants off . . . and give you a chill for life!" This film is definitely NOT scary, and NOT funny. It’s just plain NOT good.

In this film three country-western singers, Woody (Ferlin Husky), Jeepers (Don Bowman), and Boots (Joi Lansing), are on their way to a Jamboree in Nashville. They are riding in a convertible when they notice that a storm is coming up. Since the top of the convertible is broken so that they cannot put it up, they decide to stop and rest in Sleepy Junction. They are told that there is no hotel in town, but that they can stay in the old Beauregard mansion.

Rathbone looks menacingThe Beauregard mansion is supposedly abandoned (and haunted), but a ring of spies, working for the evil Dr. Foo, has set up headquarters in the basement. Their goal is to steal a secret formula for rocket propellant from a nearby military installation. They have created some special visual effects and sounds to make the mansion appear haunted, and thus keep nosy visitors away. For some unexplained reason, the spies also keep a gorilla in a cage in the basement. (Why would spies have a gorilla?)

The "good guys" in the movie are agents with the Master Organization To Halt Enemy Resistance (MOTHER). (This film was made during the time that "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." was a popular TV series.) Following a lead that the spies are in the haunted house, a MOTHER agent arrives to investigate.

Meanwhile the gorilla gets out of the cage, goes upstairs and grabs Boots, carrying her back to the basement. There she is tied up and interrogated. Woody and Jeepers then start looking all John Carradine, Joi Lansing and Rathbone around the house, trying to find Boots. The MOTHER agent joins in the search and discovers a secret entrance to the basement headquarters. While attempting to flee, the spies encounter a REAL ghost. After a silly chase scene and a tussle on the floor, the hillbillies and the MOTHER agent capture the spies. The three hillbilly entertainers then continue on their way to Nashville. The last ten minutes of the film is a real treat for country & western music fans. At the Jamboree, songs are performed by the three stars, Ferlin Husky, Joi Lansing, and Don Bowman, as well as Merle Haggard, Marcella Wright, and Molly Bee.

The spies are played by John Carradine, Basil Rathbone, Lon Chaney, Jr., and Linda Ho. Merle Haggard and his band make an appearance at the mansion as neighbors, curious about the lights and noise they heard. They sang two songs at that point in the film and another song at the Jamboree at the end of the film.

Linda Ho and Rathbone
"But I saw a REAL ghost!"

Rathbone sees a ghost

Unfortunately, "Hillbillys in a Haunted House" was Rathbone’s last film -- a sad epitaph for one of the world’s greatest actors. It would have been nice if the films Rathbone made in his final years were at least good films. 

Cast

Credits

Ferlin Husky............Woody Weatherby
Joi Lansing........................Boots Malone
Don Bowman................................Jeepers
Basil Rathbone..............................Gregor
John Carradine........................Dr. Himmil
Lon Chaney, Jr.......................Maximillian
Linda Ho.........................Madame Wong
George Barrows.............................Gorilla
Richard Webb.......Agent Jim Meadows
Production Co. ................Woolner Bros.
Producer......................Bernard Woolner
Director..........................Jean Yarbrough
Screenplay...........................Duke Yelton
Cinematographer..........Vaughn Wilkins 
Editor...............................Roy Livingston
Music Composer.....................Hal Borne
Music Director.......................Igo Kantor
Art Director........................Paul Sylos, Jr.

Images on this page are from the film "Hillbillys in a Haunted House," copyright Woolner Bros.

 

 

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All original content is Marcia Jessen, 2007