For the past five decades, Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House has served as the unofficial soundtrack for Halloween. Released by Walt Disney Productions in 1964, this collection of spooky sound effects and scary stories became an annual tradition throughout the 1970s and beyond, heard at countless Halloween parties and at homes awaiting the arrival of trick or treaters.
Back in the early 1960s, the Imagineers at Disneyland in California were hard at work on what would become one of the most beloved attractions in the park’s history, The Haunted Mansion. Perhaps as a bit of cross-promotion, they decided to take all of the spooky sound effects they had amassed over years of movie and cartoon creation and present them via a novelty record. Little did they know that this little endeavor would lead to millions of copies of Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House being sold in the decades that followed.
Voice artist Laura Olsher provided the unnerving narration for the record, which opened with the following recitation:
“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…”
From there, she guides the listener through a collection of creepy scenarios – the approach of menacing wild dogs, a cat with a mean streak, a creaky old bridge, and the infamous “Chinese Water Torture” skit, which, although not exactly politically correct by today’s standards, is one of the more fondly remembered tracks. Disney, of course, always had the youngest listeners in mind, so the record mixes in plenty of humor to keep from scaring young kids half to death.
If you still have a copy of the record, take good care of it, for the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House is no longer in print and is now considered a collector’s item. Thankfully, it is possible to download the entire recording from iTunes or our own Long Island 70s Store, should you decide to enhance this year’s festivities with a little retro fright. One listen will bring you back to the days of trick or treating, when seemingly every house had this playing in the background. It is an iconic part of the Halloween tradition, one that we hope continues for decades to come.
Do you have fond memories of listening to Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House as a kid. Did your family play it each time Halloween rolled around? We hope you’ll take a moment to share your memories of this classic recording in our comments section below.