Country singers Woody Wetherby (Ferlin Husky) and Boots Malone (Joi Lansing) are headed to Nashville with their manager, Jeepers (Don Bowman), to perform at the Nashville Jamboree.
During their travels, they have car trouble and end up in a nearly deserted town where they end up staying at an old house with a reputation for being haunted.
Little do they know, the home isn’t haunted at all – but there is a ring of spies (John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Linda Ho and Basil Rathbone) working on a top secret project in the basement. And they don’t react kindly to a few country bumpkins encroaching on their headquarters.
Jean Yarbrough directs 1967’s Hillbillys in a Haunted House. Duke Yelton wrote the script. The film is a mix of spy spoof, horror spoof, cheesefest and musical.
If you’ve looked at this blog even once before you’ll know how much I love the cheese, and this film certainly brings the cheese, so I was in love with it immediately. The completely nonsensical cast… the car with horns on the front… a random shootout… the opening song… the awful gorilla suit… Ferlin Husky’s facial expressions when he sings!
There’s so much greatness going on here. From the first shot the film’s silliness is apparent, and those who hate silly comedy won’t enjoy it. For me, it was silly in the best way.
The songs are cheesy but extremely catchy. One of them includes an imitation of a cat’s meow. The somewhat drawn-out Jamboree scene features “your favorite country-western stars” such as Merle Haggard and Molly Bee.
One genuinely cool aspect of the film is the team of Rathbone, Chaney and Carradine. It’s great to see them together in such a light film that pokes fun at some of their more serious roles of the past. John Carradine is particularly awesome. (Isn’t he always?)
The leads of Husky, Lansing and Bowman also carry out their roles in such a way that they perfectly suit the film’s overzealous mood. Bowman as the easily scared, endearingly dumb Jeepers is the funniest in the bunch.
Hillbillys in a Haunted House is a film with very little suspense and very few true thrills, but by golly it’s a fun ride. It just might be one of the very best corny horror-comedy to emerge from the mid-20th century. It didn’t just fall off of the Corny Cliff, it invented that concept.
Catchy songs, funny gags and lovably terrified characters give this oddball piece of work a Corny Cliff Scale score of 5/5!