(aka ' My World Dies Screaming')
"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!
Theatrical Release: June 1958
DVD Review: Rhino / Wea - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
CLICK to order from:
|Distribution||Rhino / Wea Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
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.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
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.