Terror In The Haunted House AKA My World Dies Screaming (1958)

Terror In The Haunted House AKA My World Dies Screaming (1958)

Opening Statement
Did I go up the stairs this time, doctor?

 

Review

 

Sheila Wayne is an American expat living in Switzerland. Newly married and heading off to a new life in Florida. Things seem perfect, except for a recurring nightmare she suffers from. In her dreams she approaches a creepy old house that she knows is the source of some kind of evil. Numerous doctor visits are unable to determine the cause of the dream.

my world dies screaming nutsrobert odierna florida
I’m not nuts, honest doctor.
my world dies screaming psych robert odierna florida
Do all movie psychiatrists come equipped with Freudian facial hair?

To her terror, the new house her husband is taking her to is the exact house in her nightmare. Will she figure out what’s really going on before it’s too late?

 

my world dies screaming screeeech robert odierna florida
Get used to this folks. Every 10 minutes or so, SCREEEECH!!! Her co-star looks like he can barely control himself from laughing.

Mostly set and shot in Florida, this film is a typical example of the lower budget films of the era. All of the usual issues with low budget film come into play. Shots switching from day to night to day. Indifferent sound work. Shaky camera work, sloppy cuts and poor editing are all on display. Parts of the film are narrated to reduce the number of actors and mask the lack of effects budget.

 

Like many of its low budget brethren, Terror In The Haunted House makes use of gimmick marketing to try to improve its appeal. This film was the first attempt at what Hollywood called Psychorama. A type of subliminal messaging, where single frames of images are inserted into the film at certain points to invoke a particular response. Theoretically the audience would not see the images but would react to them with the emotions desired by the director.

 

my world dies screaming psychorama robert odierna florida
Psycho-Rama in action. Marketing in the 50s seemed to demand adding “Rama” “Vision” or “Luxe” to the end of any new piece of entertainment terminology.

Personally I found Psychorama to be more distracting than effective. Despite the claim that you can’t see these single frames, I was able to make them out multiple times and they do little more than distract, once you know what’s going on.

 

While this could have been an interesting little suspense number, the film has a problem deciding what genre it is. Is it a horror film, psychological suspense, haunted house film? All three apparently, and it doesn’t really do any of them very well.

 

Verdict 1.5 Gavels out of 5 The film tries to be too many things at once. Too slow paced and talky to be a horror movie, not paranormal enough for a ghost story and the goofy gimmicks destroy any psychological suspense once you know what’s going on. Only recommended for hardened hecklers of bad films.

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