Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on August 26th, 2021 | Movie Review | Comedy, Campy, Haunted House

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It’s a movie assembled so haphazardly that the producers misspelled the first word in the title.

Hillbillys in a Haunted House was “directed” by Jean Yarbrough (She-Wolf of London and The Creeper) and stars – amazingly – Basil Rathbone (Queen of Blood, The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, and fourteen Sherlock Holmes films), Lon Chaney, Jr. (The Wolf Man and Spider Baby), and John Carradine (The Astro-Zombies, Satan’s Cheerleaders, and many, many others) alongside Ferlin Husky (alias, Simon Crum) (Swamp Girl and Forty Acre Feud), Joi Lansing (Bigfoot), and a man who needs no introduction, in his debut movie role, the late, great Merle Haggard who only appears in a pair of screen-within-a-screen segments.

If the horror-comedy-country-musical genre is your thing, then to Hillbillys in a Haunted House should you cling.

Hillbillys in a Haunted House Review

I expected the hillbillies to be snaggle-toothed hicks, but they were friendly, well-groomed entertainers – Boots, Woody, and Jeepers. Granted, they’re a bit backwoods-simple, and they do like to mount longhorns on the hood of their convertible, but they’re heroes, not cannibals. What’s more, these hillbillies can burst into song when you least expect it, and often do.

Hillbillys in a Haunted House is a sequel to Las Vegas Hillbillys, released one year prior, also starring Ferin Husky as Woody Wetherby, but with Mamie Van Doren in the supporting role of Boots Malone. In that film, Woody and Boots made it big.

In this film, they’re on their way to a jamboree. Halfway there, Woody and Boots (along with their twitchy business manager, Jeepers, who also sings) decide to spend the night in a deserted mansion and wait out a storm, despite the rumors that the place is haunted. Before the end of reel one, we realize it’s not. The mansion boasts a Scooby-Doo spookiness, manufactured by communist spies to keep the locals from snooping about their hideout, from which the spies will embark on a formula-stealing gambit against a nearby rocket installation. And they would have gotten away with it too, but for the hillbillies’ quick thinking – and nimble guitar picking.

We have here everything we could ask for in a horror film. We have an Asian woman wearing the mantle of a dragon lady villain. We have a gorilla in a cage, played the way a gorilla should be played; not with CGI but with a man in a gorilla suit. We have Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine, and Basil Rathbone. We have more than one dozen country songs. We have lines that perhaps, in some lost age, were funny enough to generate a laugh from a drive-in audience.

Hillbillys in a Haunted House has earned a reputation as an awful film. But it’s also admirably unique. The producers of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 must have decided that Hillbillys in a Haunted House was just too gloriously unapproachable to spoof. If any of the MST3K hosts had ever experimented with a test screening, I imagine the silhouettes of Tom Servo and Crow sitting in mute, stunned silence until the ending credits, too overwhelmed by the spectacle on the screen to even crack a pun or drop a reference; wowed by it.

Worth Watching?

Shore! Y’all better. And while you’re at it, keep ‘yer eyes peeled for the scene where Ferin Husky forgets his line and covers it up by improving and asking Joi Lansing for it.

Hillbillys in a Haunted House Review (1967) Worth Watching? - ALL HORROR Tweet it

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