“She says only evil spirits come here.”
Two guys in a bar are talking about the local haunted house, The Hanley House. One guy, Dick, owns the place. He says he is trying to sell it but can’t get any takers due to the house’s reputation. Hank says he doesn’t believe in ghosts. Dick makes a bet with Hank. He will put up his Ferrari if Hank will spend the night in the house. If Hank doesn’t make it through the night then Dick gets his MG.
Trying to get some information, Hank talks to Miss Lucy, an older woman that he knows, about the house and its reputation. She relays a few rumors about the house and tells Hank a couple stories about the only two people who ever made it through the night at the place. One woman went crazy and the other, a man, hanged himself a few months later. The couple that owned the house, Tom and Annabelle Hanley, moved out and left everything there. They just disappeared.
Hank decides that the best way to pass the time at Hanley House is to have a party. He has trouble finding people who are willing to spend the night at the house with him. Eventually he finds four friends that are willing to give it a try; Gabby the medium, Sheila who is new in town, Morgan and Dick. Dick didn’t really want to stay, but he couldn’t find his car keys so he was stuck there. When things start to get spooky and everyone is about ready to run in panic they decide to have a séance.
“Ghosts of Hanley House” was released in 1968 and was written and directed by Louise Sherrill. This is her only credit for writing or directing. The film was produced by Victoria Productions. As far as I could tell, Victoria Productions only made one movie. This one. They also did one TV series, “A Peaceable Kingdom”.
The film is very amateurish. You know it was done on a shoestring budget. The sound is uneven, the picture fuzzy and the editing is choppy. The acting is also quite stilted. The actors themselves are mostly, if not all, amateurs. The only one who has any acting chops is Miss Lucy, (Elsie Baker). It also looks more like a movie from the 30’s or 40’s than something done in 1968.
Still there is something “Old Dark House” here. It is a haunted house movie with all the trimmings. The rattling chains, the bumps in the night, the footsteps over head and the knocking on the doors when no one is there. Adding to that you also have the cold spots, the cold hands, the spooky basement and an actual real life ghost. Or is that an oxymoron?
The production values are from the 30,s, the plot is from the 40,s and the script is from the 50’s. It’s very slow paced but, for some reason, I found it compelling. It’s not a good movie but I can’t pan it altogether. It’s a very odd little film. If it wasn’t for Alpha Video and Sinister Cinema I think this movie would have ended up lost. It’s not really an obscure gem, but it is obscure.