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House on Haunted Hill (1959) – Episode 17 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Whatever got her wasn’t human.” That is not what you want to hear while locked overnight in a haunted house. Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era crew – Erin Miskell, Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, and Jeff Mohr – as we brave an overnight in the House on Haunted Hill (1959). William Castle, Robb White, and Vincent Price? What’s not to like.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 17 – House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Directed by legendary gimmick-meister William Castle, House on Haunted Hill is a standard story about folks challenged to stay the night in a haunted house, but with a few twists provided by writer Robb White. Millionaire Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) carefully chooses five guests for his invitation only event — Lance Schroeder (Richard Long), Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig), Dr. David Trent (Alan Marshal), Ruth Bridgers (Julie Mitchum), and Watson Prichard (Elisha Cook Jr.) — and offers them each $10,000 if they survive the night. Also in attendance are Frederick’s wife Annabelle (Carol Ohmart), caretaker Jonas Slydes (Howard Hoffman), and his wife (Leona Anderson).

House on Haunted Hill is great fun and has some legitimate scares, but don’t spend too much time thinking about the plot. If you do, you might become obsessed with its holes and miss all the fun. The music by Von Dexter is suitably chill-inducing and is as good at setting the atmosphere as it is at setting the standard for horror films of its period.

Chad Hunt recounts his experience watching this in a theater that tried to duplicate Castle’s gimmick for this picture, which he called “Emergo.” Erin Miskell’s first memories of watching House on Haunted Hill are during a sleepover as a 10-year-old. Imagine the shrieks!

House on Haunted Hill treats its guests to the usual haunted house fare, including floating apparitions, mysteriously slamming doors, a hanging body, an unattached head, secret passages, a seriously scary old woman, an animated skeleton, blood dripping from the ceiling, and a conveniently placed vat of acid in the basement.

We also send out a hearty handclasp to our steadfast listener, saltyessentials for calling Decades of Horror: The Classic Era a podcast “you can’t do without.” Check out salty’s blog, which he calls Dead Man’s Brain or, what I watched last night.

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is The Univited (1944), hosted by Chad Hunt.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!


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The Tingler (1959) – Episode 5 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic! But SCREAM! SCREAM FOR YOUR LIVES!”  Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue-Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as we get all touchy-feely with The Tingler and find out exactly what all the screaming is about. Don’t forget to bring your date and watch them TINGLE!

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 5 – The Tingler (1959)

Some films cannot be denied and 1959’s The Tingler is just such a film. With William Castle at the helm and Vincent Price as the lead, you can’t go wrong, right? But what about the implausible plot, you wonder? Or the ridiculous creature effects? And who can believe Ollie’s (Philip Coolidge) scared-to death plot that ends in a literal bloodbath. Our response to such queries? WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU?! This is William Castle and Vincent Price! What do plot and special effects have to do with anything? By the way, we see nothing implausible about a microscopic creature that lives in your spine, feeds and grows on fear, has the power of a “hydraulic press,” and is thwarted by and shrinks at the sounds of your screams. At least, that’s the way it works most of the time. All things become possible with William Castle.

Yeah, yeah, you’ve seen The Tingler a dozen times. But have you really SEEN The Tingler? How did Castle’s House on Haunted Hill (1959) inspire Robb White’s writing of the screenplay for The Tingler? Do you know what real world creature The Tingler is modeled after? It might be even more horrific than the film’s titular worm.  What influence did Aldous Huxley have on the story told in The Tingler? What cinematic first is found in The Tingler? (It has do with a drug that’s not a drug – nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)  Why would Darryl Hickman take a part in this film without pay? What’s the connection between Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) and The Tingler? Is it even possible that Alfred Hitchcock drew inspiration from William Castle?  What’s the connection between The Tingler and the animated productions, Woody Woodpecker and Gumby?

And which of us made these memorable comments:

  • – “We need a monster arm, boys! A monster arm!”
  • – “He found these war surplus motorized vibrators.”
  • – “Did he have the little, scare-’em-to-death fairies working for him?”
  • – “Let’s throw this in at the end boys, get one last scare out of them!”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming schedule includes It! (aka Curse of the Golem, 1967), The Thing from Another World (1951), Freaks (1932), and The Queen of Spades (1949).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the movies we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you, a great big “THANK YOU FOR LISTENING!” from each of us!