“High on a hilltop, near your home, there stands a dilapidated old mansion. Some say the place is haunted, but you don’t believe in such myths. One dark and stormy night a light appears in the top most window of the old house! You decide to investigate . . . and you never return…“
Those words, forever etched in my mind as a cornerstone of my childhood. I was fortunate enough to own a copy of the 1973 version of “Disney’s Chilling Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House” This delightfully dark collection of haunted sound effects and stories of misfortune would mold my love for scary music, sound effects and terrorizing my younger siblings.
(video compilation by Disney Parks Blog)
Today, for those bold and courageous readers who are afraid of nothing, we take the lid off the coffin and dig deeper into this creepy cool classic recording. The 10 track LP was originally released in 1964 and is identical to the subsequent 1973 version, with the exception of the album cover color.
The first release had a white jacket while the second, an orange one. Both versions had the same tracks and featured the same Paul Wenzel created cover art (which was also concept artwork for the infamous attraction). 3D model wizard Ray Keim, of Haunted Dimensions, meticulously re-rendered the album art. See the entire process, step by step on his website here.
The LP was an instant Halloween hit and even included an insert for “Spooky Party Games” (images courtesy of Haunted Dimensions).
Side one featured ten terror-ific stories of misfortune narrated by voice actress Laura Olsher. Olsher can also be heard as various characters in “The Pink Panther Show” “The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo” and as Mrs. Cratchit in “Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol.” Each with its own narrative and vivid sound effects, stories ranged from spooky (“the Haunted House,” “The Dogs,” “The Birds” and “Your Pet Cat”), misfortunes (“The Unsafe Bridge,” “Ship Wreck,” and “Timber”) to somewhat silly (“The Very Long Fuse, “Chinses Water Torture,” and “The Martian Monsters”).
Side two touts ten tracks of grouped sound effects: “Screams and Groans,” “Thunder, Lightning, and Rain,” “A Collection of Creaks,” “Fuses and Explosions,” “A Collection of Crashes” and more. Those with a good ear and strong memory might recognize many of the sounds.
Ever the collector of aural enhancement, the Disney Studios had already amassed a sizeable library of audio treasures. Distinct sounds lifted from the effects in the Haunted Mansion, to those heard in Disney shorts like “Lonesome Ghosts” and the 1964 movie “Great Expectations” (several screams), can be recognized.
“Disney’s Chilling Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House” went gold in 1972. In 1974 a British variant of the cover (containing the same record) was given a photograph of the New Orleans Square (original) Haunted Mansion. In 1979 a second edition of the Halloween classic was released with all new tracks and cover art (a more generic haunted house).
The “New Chilling Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House” contained seven “Frightening Situations” on side (more ambient settings than stories) and 26 tracks of “Eerie Sound Effects” on side two. Though the new release also went gold in 1988, it lacked the class and comedy of the original version.
Both versions of this vinyl vexation vitalized my imagination as a child. I can trace my love of audio plays and sound effects back to these dark discs and I am forever in debt to them for opening the door to Halloween haunting for me.
Recently the 1974 version of “Disney’s Chilling Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted Mansion” was re-released on vinyl!
Get your copy on Amazon by clicking HERE.
Did you own a copy of either of these fine recordings? What was your favorite track(s). Please share your tale in the comments below.