Sheila Wayne Justin (Cathy O’Donnell) is an American who has been living in Switzerland since she was a child. In a whirl wind romance she marries Philip Justin (Gerald Mohr). They plan on moving back to the United States to live. Since her marriage Sheila has been having some strange nightmares. In her dreams she sees an old house.

Something about the house is evil. Inside is a staircase. At the top of the stairs is an attic. Before she climbs the final set of stairs to the attic she wakes up screaming. She’s been seeing a therapist to try to get to the bottom of why she is having nightmares and what to do to stop them but to no avail

In America they arrive at the house Philip rented. Sheila is in a sudden panic. This is the house in her dreams. Philip tries to reassure her but when she enters the house the inside looks exactly like her dream as well. The caretaker Jonah Snell (John Qualen) is abrupt and sinister. He is not happy to see people in the house. He tells them that that the previous owner of the house went mad and murdered his children.

“Terror in the Haunted House” AKA “My World Dies Screaming” was released in 1958 and was directed by Harold Daniels. It is a horror/psychological thriller movie. The film was notable for being shot with what the filmmakers called “Psycho-rama!”. What is Psycho-rama? Subliminal messaging. In the case of Terror in the Haunted House it consists of pictures lasting a second or less. The pictures are drawings of scary faces, skulls and cobra heads with text that says stuff like “Prepare to die” or “Get ready to scream”.

This film is supposedly the first to use subliminal messaging. It by no means was the last. At one point it was banned since attempted mind control is a no-no. Eventually it was discovered that the technique was ineffective anyway. Supposedly the original release also had a prologue and epilogue by Gerald Mohr. In it he explained what Psycho-rama was. I haven’t been able to find it. When Rhino Video bought the rights to the film they inserted their own subliminal messages to the film. Statements like “Rent Rhino Videos every day”.

I’m not sure what the purpose of the subliminal gimmick is supposed to be. At times you can see them. I found them to be more annoying than anything else. Despite the William Castle-esque device the movie itself was pretty decent for the most part. There were a couple slow spots but the story managed to have enough twists and turns to keep me interested. The plot may be standard but the execution of it had a few things added to it that made it different. It is low budget for sure but Gerald Mohr keeps the movie in the higher “B” movie category.

Gerald Mohr, as the seemingly (?) concerned husband was excellent. I’ve always enjoyed his acting style, casual but intense at the same time. No small feat. Cathy O’Donnell as the tortured wife was wishy-washy, but she usually is. I don’t remember ever seeing her in anything where she talks above a wide-eyed whisper.

There are only five characters in the movie and one of them is the therapist. His role isn’t much more than a cameo. Everything else happens in the house. It’s kind of an Old Dark House film but more on the thriller side of things. Altogether an enjoyable fifties style suspense movie.