Every film genre has its heroes. I’m referring to the legendary actors who brought stories to life. There are the horror film greats, for instance. Too many to name! Wouldn’t it be great if some of the signature actors of the horror films of the 30s and 40s contributed their talents to some 1960s haunted house films? For instance, what if Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine and Boris Karloff starred in such films, what would the result be? Answer: a waste of talent. An ineffective ploy to make terrible films interesting.
To their credit, the trio mentioned in the paragraph above did their jobs well. But their talents just couldn’t save Hillbillies in a Haunted House and The Ghost and the Invisible Bikini, two Horrible Haunted House Ha Ha films. Both of these movies try to mix music and comedy with horror. It doesn’t mix well. Not in these instances. Not at all.
Hillbillies in a Haunted House
*If the above youtube clip is unavailable, sorry. Copywriters claimed it.
Let’s begin with the Hillbillies. Yeeeeeee Haw! This film stars Lon Chaney Jr and John Carradine. Merle Haggard makes an appearance or two as well. It seems as if the goal of this film was simply to publicize a bunch of country music acts, so a couple of producers decided:
“Hey, let’s git us some musical acts in a film, throw some kind of story around them or something. All we need is a writer with a low-budget kind of mentality. Maybe like a haunted house plot or something.”
The comedy, I’m convinced, just naturally flowed from the stupidity, a kind of “Gee this is so stupid. Uh, maybe it’s funny?”. But it wasn’t funny, damn it! It certainly isn’t a “It’s so bad it’s good” movie either. It is just bad.
The film opens with real life country singer Ferlin Husky (playing the role of Wood Wetherby; a fictional country singer), driving with singing partner Boots Malone and manager Jeepers. They are headed to a Jamboree in Tennessee. Of course, they have to sing about it with the song “We’re headed to the Jamboree” or something.
On their way, this trio stops for the night at a haunted house. The source of the haunting is really a gang of international spies! Oh, but it turns out the house really is haunted by some Civil War solider! The End…NOT! The last thirty minutes are all Jamboree stuff. UGH!
- A gorilla takes part in the scares. Olden days movies, they just love to put an actor in a gorilla suit and have him run around and scare people.
- Lon Chaney Jr., what the hell happened to ya? You were this handsome, dashing thin man. You changed!
- There is one good part of the movie. An excellent musical performance by Sonny James doing the song When the Cat Came Back
Rottontomatoes score: 15%
The Ghost and the invisible Bikini
*If the above YouTube clip is unavailable, sorry. Copywriters claimed it.
This film is a little bit better than the first. Replace hillbillies with beach teens. Replace country music with 1960’s beach pop songs.
Here are the elements of this film:
Two Ghosts (Boris Karloff and Some Girl, who “wears” an invisible bikini. But sorry, you still won’t see nuttin’ fun) / An eccentric lady who screams sometimes / Her dumb blonde beach bum nephew / A horde of his beach friends / A young couple that start off as strangers, but we all know they’re destined to be lovers / A shady, evil lawyer and his accomplices / Nancy Sinatra, one such accomplice / A motorcycle gang / A gorilla. You have to have a gorilla. It was the law back then.
Throw this whole mess into a haunted house and let the zany antics begin!
This film is part of a series. According to Wikipedia it’s the “seventh and last of American International Pictures’ beach party films”. But wait a minute! If you follow the link to American International Pictures beach party films,
it lists twelve such films and “Ghost/Invisible” is number 10! Wiki! You contradict yourself! Anyway, it’s funny how all the films released before The Ghost and The invisible Bikini star Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello (okay, Funicello skipped out on the one of them). Wikipedia states that Avalon and Funicello appeared in marketing promos for this ghostly, beachy film, but they were not cast in it. These beach party films had reoccurring actors but the only actor that appeared before is Deborah Walley, and she did not get on board until the fifth film Beach Blanket Bingo . So THAT is why, I guess, Ghost/Bikini gets to be included inthe “beach party film” club! Good Grief!
This film has its fun moments. But it’s not good enough to be a “so bad it’s good” movie. Perhaps it’s a “so bad it’s okay” movie? Maybe.
Rottentomatoes score: 48%