“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…”
When it comes to Halloween, The Monster Mash may be the unofficial anthem, but Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House has served as the holiday’s soundtrack for nearly five decades. Released by Walt Disney Productions in 1964, this novelty record is beloved by millions of former kids for its spooky sound effects and campy skits, and has been played at countless Halloween parties over the years.
Back in the 60s, Disneyland was building a new attraction that would eventually be called The Haunted Mansion. Being that they had amassed a respectable collection of sound effects for their many movies, and perhaps looking for a little promotion, they released Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. They likely didn’t realize it at the time, but they were creating a classic record that would sell millions of copies in the decades that followed.
The album opens with the words quoted at the beginning of this article, narrated by Disney voice artist Laura Olsher (who sadly passed away in 2012). She wonderfully paints one spooky scenario after another, first introducing the house, then taking the listener through a variety of scenarios that include a burning fuse, wild dogs, a sinister pet cat, shipwrecks and creaky bridges. Listeners may also recall a somewhat culturally-insensitive track called “Chinese Water Torture” (serving to remind how different the times were when the album was recorded). Much of the record is as silly as it is spooky, with various humorous gags throughout to lighten up the mood and keep the youngest listeners from getting too frightened.
Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House has been out of print for quite a few years now (although it is available for download on iTunes). The record has become a collector’s item, and there are a number of versions each sporting different cover art. Be forewarned though; Disney also released another album in 1979 (not pictured above) with the exact same name, but none of the classic content, nor the charm.
Meanwhile, the original can still be heard every time the holiday rolls around, in haunted houses and Halloween parties around the world. To many people, the season wouldn’t be the same without giving this iconic recording a spin, with its ample supply of shrieks, groans, growls and screams. Classic stuff.
Do you give this recording a listen each year? Was Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House a cherished part of your festivities each year? We’d love to hear your recollections of this classic recording in our comments section, as we tip our hats to Walt Disney for this Halloween gem that’s been chilling and thrilling us for almost half a century.