Hillbillys in a Haunted House, or, if you will, Hee Haw Meet the “Weirdwolf”, is a silly as shit horror comedy concoction that I can only believe was conceived and financed by a 1960s real life version of The Rich Texan character from The Simpsons. Yet, I’m recommending you watch this farce of fright.
I originally took note of this turd while browsing through the filmography of an actor whose performances I love: Basil Rathbone. Sadly, Hillbillys was his last film.
The movie “stars”: Ferlin Husky, Joi Lansing, and Don Bowman. I have no idea who they are either.
Also starring: John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., and Rathbone. Not familiar with Linda Ho, but now we’re talking.
...and for some true country cred, Merle Haggard, ladies and gentlemen.
The premise of this haunted house hootenanny is that a country and western group are on a road trip to a Nashville music jamboree (a swingin’ one, mind you). The trio consists of singers Woody Wetherby — a redheaded Johnny Cash-lite, Boots Malone (as in, stop staring at my “boots”), and their skittish, dingbat manager simply known as Jeepers (and he’s considered the comic relief — ha!).
Oh, and our Scooby Doo-ish group are driving — and singing in — a massive, white whale of a boat of a ride, adorned with sweet, sweet, cowboy pistols and rifles. But of course, they don’t get far before a thunder storm is about to dump all over the open convertible of country sunshine and corn pone crooning (sorry). Thankfully, a roadside gas station attendant advises there’s an old abandoned mansion they can take refuge at, except Gas Rag-Grease Face forgets to tell them it’s haauunnnted! *thunder clap*
What follows is just over an hour of Scooby Doo-like high jinks (did I tell you the haunted house is a ruse for international spies?!) interspersed with random occasions for various members of the cast, many of which are sporting the same type of technicolor sweaters, to burst into country and western music, because hey, you can take a hillbilly out of the Grand Ole Opry, but...well, you get the picture.
Via certain very special effects, there’s also some nods, or perhaps you may prefer to call them insults, to classic horror movies such as House on Haunted Hill and The Wolf Man.
To top everything off, the last 15 minutes of this Grand Ole Awfulness is an actual, albeit very staged, mini concert that includes performances from our three hillbilly heroes, as well as more Merle Haggard and a few other performers of the day.
Throughout all the wackiness, the scenes with Lon Chaney Jr., Carradine, and Rathbone are as solid as they ever could be in such a movie. In fact, you’ll notice Carradine and Rathbone are practically clinging together for dear life in every second of screen time, toughing it out like the pros they are until the director finally calls it a wrap and the paychecks are cut.
Just beware that if you find your way into watching this movie, don’t be surprised if you’re watched back...