A newlywed is terrified when her husband brings her to live in the old house she’s been seeing in her nightmares.
“The first motion picture in… Psycho-Rama! The fourth dimension! Subliminal communication!”
I was excited to see Terror in the Haunted House (1958) last week because it appeared to be a haunted house movie which I had never seen before. I noticed that it was also known as My World Dies Screaming (1958), but I didn’t think anything of that (other than that it was kind of a cool sounding alternate title). When the movie began, I was immediately in haunted house heaven as a woman’s voice started speaking overtop of black and white images of an old mansion in the country:
“And then, through the branches of the old trees, I see the house again. It sits there waiting for me, silent, malignant, a place of unspeakable horror. There’s no one there now. On a mailbox beside the driveway, I can make out the name of the people who lived there once: Tierney. But the Tierneys must have all gone away a long time ago. And the house stands like a mouldering tombstone, to a world that died…”
I could hardly believe it. This movie seemed to to channeling The Haunting (1963), one of the greatest haunted house films of all time. And this movie came out five years before it!
Coincidentally, my friend Seán Weathers and I discussed The Haunting (1963), as well as nine other essential haunted house films, in a podcast and a series of YouTube videos. You can check out the entire show here:
and the specific section on The Haunting here:
As I watched the opening of Terror in the Haunted House (1958), I couldn’t help but think of the voice over speeches by Julie Harris in The Haunting. And I was excited by the prospect that Terror in the Haunted House might be a similarly scary and entertaining movie. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t really live up to that promise.
It’s not that Terror in the Haunted House is a bad movie. It’s actually pretty good – especially for a low budget B-movie from 1958. The problem is, that it isn’t really a haunted house movie. It’s much more like film noir, or maybe Gaslight (1944) or even Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion (1941). I love film noir, and I also love those two movies, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed that there were no ghosts in Terror in the Haunted House. I also started to understand why it may also be known as My World Dies Screaming, which is more of a film noir-ish title.
Come to think of it, My World Dies Screaming might also be a bit like Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945), as both deal with psychology and dream interpretation.
In any case, Terror in the Haunted House (1958) or My World Dies Screaming (1958) is some kind of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. I enjoyed it once I got over the no ghosts thing and I suspect I would have liked it more if I had gone in knowing that it wasn’t really about a haunted house. Either way, it’s worth checking out if you like any of the movies I mentioned, or if you just like old B-movies from 1958. You could do worse than give it a shot on some future #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.
— Angus Kohm (@AngusKohm) September 23, 2023