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Album Review: DISNEY'S CHILLING, THRILLING SOUNDS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE

Album cover
Album cover
Disney

In 1964, Disney released the very first "scary sound effects" album, entitled "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House". It became an instant hit. The record was perfectly timed to be released around the opening of one particular Disneyland attraction, The Haunted Mansion. No doubt, this album did much to get all of the right people into those doom buggies.

If you know the album well, you probably have the opening narration from Laura Olsher committed to memory:

"You are a bold and courageous person, afraid of nothing. 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 night, a light appears in the topmost window in a tower of the old house. You decide to investigate. And you never return..."

With that, we are led into what is probably the best track on entire record, entitled "The Haunted House". Some of the sound effects may seem familiar, as you may have heard them on various Disney shorts. The rest of side A consists of "stories", as Olsher gives an opening narration before each sequence of sound effects to jump start your imagination. These tracks have titles such as "The Very Long Fuse", "The Dogs", "Your Pet Cat", "Shipwreck", "The Unsafe Bridge", "Chinese Water Torture", "Timber", "The Birds", and finally "Martian Monster". Some of these are far more effective than others, but every single one of the tracks are great fun!

Side B is basically everything from side A without the narration, making it ideal for background ambiance come Halloween night.

This album is out of print, but you can find it on eBay and Amazon for reasonable prices. Those of us who love it are kind of obsessed with it. It was a staple of my childhood that has become a Halloween tradition in my adult years. Of all of the albums that I own, this one sits in my top ten. It is a marvelous curiosity and something that I will always treasure.

In 1979, Disney released an altogether different "Chilling, Thrilling" album. Some have labeled this album a shameless cash grab, but I disagree. It's just as fun as the first album, and it even has a nifty little "parental guidance" warning on the back of the cover! Side A consists of macabre soundscapes, with titles like "Night Creatures", a brand new "Haunted House" track, "The Dungeon", "Witches", my personal favorite entitled "Encounter in the Fog", "The Grave Robbers", and finally, "Mad Scientist's Laboratory". As with the first album, Side B consists mostly of sound effects.

I own both of these LPs. They are equally spectacular. If you're a fan of this type of album, I suggest that you seek them out before October!