(aka ' My World Dies Screaming')

Directed by Harold Daniels
USA 1958

 

  "Terror in the Haunted House" (aka My World Dies Screaming) comprises two things that I have an interest in - Cathy O'Donnell and subliminal communication. I've always been sweet on Cathy since The Best Years of Our Lives where she played the 'girl next door' (literally), Wilma. Her career had an abrupt turn when she married producer Robert Wyler, older brother of director William Wyler. Amidst a Wyler disagreement with Sam Goldwyn - the studio mogul virtually blacklisted her and hence she had no lasting association with studio or producer despite her obvious radiant charisma in films like They Live by Night (1948) and Detective Story (1951). Cathy was offered roles in other thriller /horror film like The Amazing Mr. X (1948) but of her 17 feature credited films (the last being Ben Hur), 7 are film-noir or quasi-film-noir, marking her a strong contributor to that now exceedingly popular stylistic label.

"Terror in the Haunted House" was a limited production and its big come-on was being 'The First Picture in Psycho-Rama!". This involved the use of subliminal overlays - amounting to frame insertion (see below) - the prevailing theory being that at 1/25th of a second although your conscious mind might not pick up the suggestive imagery - your subconscious mind will. This was to heighten your sense of fear. The technique actually works (see William Friedkin use of it in The Exorcist) but was done far too ham-fisted in "Terror in the Haunted House" as it has been hence proven that the human subconscious can pick up even more 'subtle' cloaking. The overlays in "Terror in the Haunted House" are visually bold and cartoonish - quite visible if you are looking for them.

As far as a film goes "Terror in the Haunted House" works because of its storyline and performances. After a whirlwind romance a newlywed bride is escorted by her husband for a Florida vacation to recover from nightmares, only to discover that their rented house is the very one she's been dreaming of. The weaknesses are the production limitations (only 5 cast players and no special effects). Accepting those lack-of-attributes and you have a decent film. The subliminal inputs are obvious and because of this it elevates the film's camp value to a desirable level. I think this is a lot of nostalgic fun and I recommend!

Gary W. Tooze

Posters

Theatrical Release: June 1958

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DVD Review: Rhino / Wea - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Rhino / Wea Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:16:42 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.73 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Rhino / Wea Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none 

DVD Release Date: August 14th, 2001

Snapper Case
Chapters: 12

 

 

Comments:

This DVD is much better than I expected. Firstly it appears to be progressive (not interlaced) - for such a cheap price, marginal film and not a major digital production company, it is quite unique. Detail, although not pristine, is more than acceptable and contrast too is far better than one might anticipate. It is coded for region 1, in the NTSC standard, and has no subtitles or supplements.

The bare-bones DVD is certainly priced right and the film is better than many have painted it. It is no masterpiece but for has some charm and, considering the subliminal content, I can't see you not being entertained to some degree. 

Gary W. Tooze

 

 



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Distribution Rhino / Wea Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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