My World Dies Screaming (1958) Poster

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Much better than the low rating shown here
Tracy Winters8 October 2017
This is a good film. Anyone who disses it doesn't know jack about good horror movies.

Cathy O'Donnell deserved a solid career. She was always an understudy of sorts. This was possibly her finest film as her performance is first-rate. Scares abound in this movie, though some reviewers stupidly refer to it as a low-budget failure.

Probably the most interesting thing about this film is that it was photographed in 'Psycho-Rama', a process which involved subliminal images of scary faces that flashed on the screen periodically.

Recommended for horror film aficionados.
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Psycho-Rama - what a lame idea.
bensonmum224 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Sheila Wayne (Kathy O'Donnell) has reoccurring dreams about an old, foreboding house. Recently married, she and her new husband move to Florida. Their house . . . well, it's the house of her nightmares. She quickly learns that this house is a place of evil, a place where bad things have happened. But how did Kathy end up in this house? How is it that her husband just happened to find this house? Who's crazy, who's sane, and what actually happened in the house?

Terror in the Haunted House (or My World Dies Screaming - which i prefer) is like cross between Hitchcock's Rebecca and the dreadful The Screaming Skull. Unforutnatley, our movie has more in common with the latter than it does Hitchcock's masterpiece. I'll start by saying it's not the worst movie in the world. This isn't much of an endorsement, but you could certainly do a whole lot worse. But make not mistake, it's still pretty bad. Here's a quick list of some of the things that bothered me:

1. Sheila Wayne - The screaming got old real quick. And for a woman in peril, she's not very sympathetic. After a while, I didn't care what happened to her. She was just so annoying and stupid.

2. Acting - Some of it is plain old bad. In particular, William Ching gives a totally wooden and unnatural performance. No one talks like that in real life.

3. Gerald Mohr - He's a decent enough actor, but he's miscast here. The New York accent really got in the way. No way was I buying the notion he grew up in Florida.

4. Predictable - The director does everything he can to throw the viewer off the track regarding who's crazy and who's not. But it's all so obvious that it backfires. I could spot the baddie almost immediately.

5. Psycho-Rama - Was William Castle associated with this movie? The constant subliminal images were about as annoying as Sheila Wayne.

With all the problems I had with the movie, I think I'm being generous in rating Terror in the Haunted Hiuse a 4/10.
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Pause button on standby.
BA_Harrison9 September 2017
Married couple Sheila (Cathy O'Donnell) and Philip (Gerald Mohr) travel from Switzerland to Florida for a relaxing break in a rented property. To Sheila's horror, the house is identical to that which features in her recurring nightmares. Coincidence? Or does hubbie Philip have a hidden agenda?

The plot for Terror in the Haunted House feels extremely dated, like a product of the '30s or 40's rather than the late '50s (remember, the groundbreaking horror of Psycho was only two years away). In order to add a little pep to proceedings, the makers resort to one of those lame gimmicks so prevalent of the time, in this case 'Psycho-Rama', subliminal images (a cartoon face with a rat in its mouth!?!) and words (Scream Bloody Murder!) designed to unsettle the viewer. They don't work.

With its uninspired story-line, overly verbose script and overwrought performances, this film is unlikely to set chills running up the spine. Psycho-Rama might be wholly ineffective as a way of creeping out the audience, but it at least provided me with the challenge of trying to pause the film every time an image or phrase appeared—far more fun the film itself.

4.5 out of 10, rounded down to 4 for some of the worst day for night filming I have seen: it looks like they didn't even try.
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Plot Twists Kept It Interesting
Rainey Dawn25 January 2017
This one has some historical value do to the Psycho-Rama, all that means is it's the first movie ever that tries to add subliminal messages and images to the film. It's a bit comical to watch, at times almost distracting but the movie is good nevertheless.

This one has a two or three plot twists that will keep it from getting dull - pretty interesting story. The ending is not exactly what one would expect from a film like this... they didn't use the standard ending in a way that I expected anyway.

Sheila Wayne and Philip Tierney have just gotten married in Switzerland where she had been living for most all of her life. She's been seeing a psychiatrist while there about her bizarre nightmares but her new husband wants to take her to Florida so they go. Driving some back roads they come to a house, she screams in terror because that is the house in her nightmares. Philip insists they go inside and they meet up with a strange caretaker of the old house and then Philip insists to the caretaker they will take the place (rent it). And then our bizarre story begins.

I will say that Sheila is weird but Philip is even weirder even though he's the one that seems sorta normal yet very odd from the beginning.

I would say this film is worth watching if you like the older mystery films. Again, plenty of twists that are a bit unexpected.

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Don't Look Too Closely
Hitchcoc6 July 2015
Pretty easy to figure out if you've seen a lot of movies where the poor wife is left to decide whether to go in "that" room. In this one a couple newlyweds come to live in a house. It turns out that the woman has been in Switzerland since she was seven. She has been having recurring dreams and they take place in "this" house. When they get there they are greeted by a spooky caretaker who makes cryptic comments about previous residents. We suspect the husband is up to something shady. Of course, one must question why he would get married just to bring this poor neurotic woman to the place occupying her incredible fear. The owner of the house wants her out of there because he knows it can't be healthy for her. But, while a lot of clichés are here, this is a decent movie with lots of twists and turns. I won't even comment on the stupid subliminal junk that is imposed on the video.
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Your Hopes Die Silently
Robert J. Maxwell3 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is drive-in fodder. Cathy O'Donnell, born Ann Steel in Siluria, Alabama, appeared in some impressive movies in the post-war years -- "The Best Years of Our Lives" and "They Live By Night." The role of the girlish, loving figure fitted her. She was always winsome and delicate and had an attenuated but compelling beauty. She'd never have done "Mommie Dearest" or "MacBeth." She looks as youthful as ever here. Any normal man would want to mutter vacuous reassurances in her frightened ear, while cuddling her and biting her neck. Alas, she didn't have much of a life ahead of her and died at 48 of cancer and a stroke.

Unfortunately, her husband here, Gerald Mohr, is only barely normal. You have to stretch the definition. He turns sinister the moment they arrive at the isolated mansion he's rented for them. He delivers his lines as if reading them for a male enhancement product and he has a high forehead. I immediately suspected him of being an illegal alien. All the aliens from outer space in the 50s drive-ins had overdeveloped frontal areas. But, no. I should have known. The aliens always have names like Gort, while his name is just plain Phil. His motives are benign. It's just that he believes in psychoanalytic mumbo-jumbo about repressed memories.

Well, O'Donnell is scared to death of the house. This is not an old haunted mansion with cobwebs all over the place and Victorian tchotchkas on the shelves. It's a pedestrian modern house, only bigger than most. John Qualen has been the day caretaker but all he does is gulp, bug his eyes out, and act half crazy.

The movie was shot in "Psycho-Rama," meaning there are instantaneous inserts of Halloween masks, unreadable subtitles, and other jokes. The 50s were the age of subliminal perception. The unconscious mind can grasp an image that's so brief that the rest of the mind doesn't see it. It seems to work, too, within limits but no one is playing with their stachistoscopes anymore.

I won't get into the plot because it's so twisted I couldn't really follow it and because the entire movie is not worth the effort it would take to paper over the holes. O'Donnell gets to scream four times, I think, and faints once.

It's hard to imagine what the kids were doing in their cars while this cheap and ill-written garbage unfolded on the drive-in screen. Maybe playing canasta.
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The house I live in
kapelusznik1810 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** The movie "My World Dies Screaming" also known as "Terror in the Haunted House" is a real scream in how long for a 76 minute movie it takes to get to its point in just what's bugging Sheila Wayne Justin, Cathy O'Connelll, about a reoccurring dream she's been having of late about this house of horrors for the last few weeks. It's Sheila's husband the seemingly totally out of it, in whats going on around him, Philip Justin, Gerald Mohr, who has her see a shrink to keep her from being sent back to the sanitarium that she spent, until she met Philip, her formative years in. Flying down from New York to Southern Florida to get her head screwed on straight the place that Philip chose for his wife to recuperate in is the very house that she's been seeing in her nightmares!

It soon becomes apparent that the house was no stranger to Philip in that he was brought up in it as little Phil Tierney of what was known as the "Mad Tierney" clan. Being that his family has a history of madness in it can it be assumed the Philip is just as mad as they are and is planning to do something very mad and dangerous towards his sweet and naive, in what a possible nut he may be, wife Sheila. Added into the mix is the caretaker of the house Jonah, John Oualen, who's kept the place fit & tidy over the last 17 years despite nobody, but himself, having lived in it. There also pops in the owner of the place Mark Snell-or fast in German-Bill Ching. It's Mach Snell Mark, or Make Fast Mark, who wants Sheila to make Snell in both her and her husband Philip to check out of the house, as Snell as they can, before he calls the police in order for them to throw them out.

***SPOILERS*** As it soon comes out Jonah & Mark are really father & son who plan to get their hands on the Tierney family fortune that Philip & Sheila are entitled too. What's even more crazy or sinister is that Sheila in fact knew Philip when they were pre-teenagers which somehow is the reason for her nightmares. Not in what Philip, who was in love with her at the time, did but what she saw happen in the attic of the house that caused her to have a nervous breakdown. And it's both Jonah and his son Mark who want that terrible memory on Shiela's part to be kept hidden even if they have to murder her to do it!

Filmed in what at the time was called Psycho-Rama which with its crummy imposing images, of weird looking people, on the screen made it even worse that he already was. It was the ending that more or less made the film worth watching in the knock down and drag out fight between Philip & Mark over who of the two will end up with the Tierney family fortune that ended up with one of them left hanging out to dry!
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The Viewer Will Be the One Screaming
Michael_Elliott19 October 2013
My World Dies Screaming (1958)

* 1/2 (out of 4)

Better known as TERROR IN THE HAUNTED HOUSE, this is a pretty bad film that's only separation from other bad films is the fact that it was filmed in "Psycho-Rama," which allowed subliminal images to appear on screen throughout the picture. The actual story revolves around a woman (Cathy O'Donnell) who suffers from a continuous nightmare surrounding a house that she sees in her dreams. Soon her new husband (Gerald Mohr) takes her to America and sure enough they end up staying in the house from her dreams. MY WORLD DIES SCREAMING might have worked under better conditions but as it stands here the film is just a complete boring mess. There are so many issues with this film but we can start with the story. The idea of someone seeing something in their dreams and then it becomes a reality isn't anything fresh or original but there's so much more they could have done with it. Instead we're just given non-stop dialogue scenes that go back and forth on whether or not the wife is crazy or if she's normal and the husband is just trying to drive her mad. Then we get some really melodramatic moments that often come across more funny than anything else and I assure you that wasn't the intent. Even worse is that the performance from O'Donnell is just downright bad. Everything from her reactions to her line delivery is just so over-the-top that you have to wonder what director Harold Daniels was doing. He certainly should have brought her back in or at least did a second take. Mohr comes across much better and John Qualen adds a few laughs as the strange caretaker. As far as the subliminal images go, they're quite pointless and come across more of a bad gimmick than anything that actually adds to the entertainment value. MY WORLD DIES SCREAMING will have the viewer screaming by the time the end credit roles.
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Overacted and overwrought.
MartinHafer12 August 2013
Apart from the novelty of 'Psycho-Rama', I cannot see much reason to watch "My World Dies Screaming". It's a pretty bad film--with many reasons to dislike it.

"My World Dies Screaming" begins with Sheila (Cathy O'Donnell) working through some recurring dream with a hypnotherapist. However, like in all the other attempts, she is unable to see how this all ends. After her discharge, she is taken by her new husband, Philip (Gerald Mohr) to Florida ostensibly for their honeymoon. However, soon it becomes obvious Philip has some agenda, as he ends up taking her to the very same old home she keeps seeing in her dreams! What gives? This film has several serious problems working with it and the novelty of Psycho-Rama* isn't enough to save it. Cathy O'Donnell, who could deliver a nice performance (such as in "The Best Years of Our Lives") was just awful here--as she way overplayed her character. It was almost laughable when she emoted and the director SHOULD have coached her through this or re-shot the scenes. Other scenes he should have re-shot involved nighttime scenes--which ranged from daylight to dark night alternative--just like Ed Wood infamously did in "Plan 9 From Outer Space"! Additionally, the film alternated from very boring to being very, very talky. Most of the plot was actually explained near the end through exposition--a very, very sloppy indicator that the writer was not competent. All in all, I wanted a fun, campy horror film but it was only dull.

*Psycho-Rama consisted of supposedly subliminal pictures appearing throughout the film--such as warnings that a scare is about to occur. With a DVD machine, it's easy to stop and see them clearly. However, in a funny twist, Rhino Video added one of their own--encouraging the viewer to watch more Rhino releases! Cute but also completely disproved to have any real impact on audience behaviors.
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Your World Will Die Screaming From the Terror in the Haunted House!
michaelasiclari24 March 2013
This was one of the better B movies of the 50's. The film " Terror in the Haunted House " from 1958, is a creepy little movie with some fine performances by Gerald Mohr and Cathy O'Donnell. She plays a newlywed to husband Mohr, who has recurring dreams about a house she has never been to, or so she thinks. While this house isn't haunted, there is plenty of terror associated with it. With "weirdo" caretaker Jonah lurking about, you can understand why O'Donnell thinks she is losing her mind. I won't spoil the fun, and there's plenty of it in this film, so sit back and enjoy the plot twists and turns and the creepy and foreboding atmosphere! Try to ignore the "Psycho-Rama" gimmick, which flashes subliminal images and words across the screen. It might have been cutting edge back in 1958, but seems silly and unnecessary today.

I have included this film on my list of Ten Best Horror Films of the 1950's. Enjoy!
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ferbs5431 October 2011
Although the practice of using subliminal advertising--that is, flashing messages on a movie or TV screen for a fraction of a second, too quickly to register with the human brain but capable of having a subconscious effect--was banned by television stations and by the National Association of Broadcasters in 1958 (and, years later, was claimed to be ineffective), it wasn't in time to prevent the first big-screen film from using the technique. That picture, originally released under the artier and more appropriate title "My World Dies Screaming," and years later, for home viewing, as "Terror in the Haunted House" (a somewhat misleading appellation), turns out to be an interesting enough little film that hardly requires this tiresome gimmick (presented as "Psycho-Rama" here!). In it, we meet a pretty newlywed, Sheila, who has been going to a psychiatrist in Switzerland to cure her of recurring dreams involving an old house, and, most particularly, of a flight of steps in that house leading to a cobwebbed attic. And when Sheila's new husband, Philip, brings her to America to stay at that EXACT SAME HOUSE, her nightmares become a living reality, and the viewer is thrown into a state of confusion about whether Philip is trying to help his new bride or, a la "Gaslight," perhaps drive her insane....

For a cheaply made "B picture," "My World Dies Screaming" is surprisingly effective, and most of the credit for the film's success must surely go to Cathy O'Donnell in the lead. O'Donnell, who most viewers might remember from the 1946 classic "The Best Years of Our Lives" as well as for appearing in the cult item "They Live By Night" and the excellent film noir "Side Street" (both from 1949 and both costarring Farley Granger), is truly excellent here, lovely and appealing, and appearing in every single scene of the film. Gerald Mohr, playing Philip, gives a nicely ambiguous portrayal (many viewers will remember him from the following year's "The Angry Red Planet"), and the film's other three performers (Barry Bernard as Sheila's shrink, John Qualen as the house's uberstrange caretaker, and Bill Ching as Philip's cousin) are all fine as well. Harold Daniels directs his picture competently, eliciting chills on a regular basis, although it must be said that the film seems a bit eerier in its first half. Still, the mystery of Sheila's nightmares, and her familiarity with a house she's never been in, is a fascinating one, and keeps the viewer involved throughout; to the film's credit, the resolution of that mystery entails a surprisingly complex backstory that does manage to tie up every loose end. As to those subliminal messages, they ARE visible, although only a frame-by-frame viewing on your DVD player will reveal their contents. Basically, they consist of demon masks with the following captions: "Scream." "Scream Bloody Murder." "Prepare To Die." And "Die Die Die." (One message, very amusingly inserted by the DVD manufacturer, exhorts us to "Buy Rhino Videos Every Day"!) As I mentioned before, these flashes of...something become hokey after a while, and the film is good enough to stand on its own without them. It's nothing great, surely, but is an engaging entertainment nevertheless. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd like to wrap up this little review and run down to the grocery store. For some strange reason, I've just developed a sudden urge to purchase popcorn, Goobers and Raisinets....
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Gothic story
zee24 August 2011
Adding the review because no one seems to have noted that this is a pure Gothic romance story: a relative-less, advocate-less female with what may or may not be mental illness, two men, one of whom is good and the other evil, but we can't tell which is which, all at an isolated old house, the hereditary curse, the oddball retainer, blah blah blah. Straight to the Gothic formula, only missing fog.

This is not a very good treatment of the genre, however. We know all along which man is the nice one and which the evil. The female is so stupid and weak, I can't care if she dies or not (this is the most dated part of the movie--you couldn't get away with a female lead like that today). Lots of exposition disguised (but not well) as dialog and the ludicrous cartoon "subliminals." Taken seriously, the plot doesn't work at many levels. In particular, that psychiatrist needs to get disbarred. The casting is odd--the female and male hero played together as children, but the actors look 15 years or more different in ages. The woman screams far too often, and it's just irritating.

Not so bad it's good for a laugh. Just bad. Want a decent Gothic movie? Rebecca or your choice of Wuthering Heights. Or read Barbara Michael's charming metagothic novel, Houses of Stone (a Gothic novel about hunting for an old Gothic novel manuscript). Want a bad 50's horror movie that makes you laugh at how bad it is? Lots to choose from. This is neither fish nor fowl.
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Terror in the Haunted House
kynolan9713 May 2011
SOO SPOOKY!!! "Terror in the Haunted House" is a really great movie! that i highly recommend! It has great acting, good special effects, and is scary(at times) but also has a funny twist to it. At times there were flashing funny cartoon

faces that would pop out

during some of the scary, suspenseful scenes, but they were out of place

and didn't really go with the plot of the story. Besides that, Cathy O'Donnell was excellent in the film! I think that this movie and "The Best Years of Our Lives" were her two

best films. If you want a thrill but also want to laugh, then I recommend this movie!
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My World Dies Screaming Under the Terror in the Haunted House
Serpico Jones9 October 2010
I saw this under the title Terror in the Haunted House. I didn't know anything about this movie and I didn't bother to look up any information about it. So, I presumed it could be some creepy ghost story like The Haunted. But nevertheless I didn't have to disappoint. Well, maybe a little bit because I learned what is the Psycho-Rama and subliminal message in the film.

The story first seems simple but as more the movie grows the more peculiar and more complex it goes. It has so much plot twists that even M. Night Shyamalan would be envious. The film builds up the tension and pace so fast that the ending seems to comes too abruptly. And I will go that far and call this movie little bit Hitchcockian.

But remind, this is more a suspense-thriller than a horror film. Otherwise it would have been decent movie but those ridiculous subliminal messages(?). Why were they needed anyway?

Overall My World Dies Screaming is nice entertaining B-flick with great performances.
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creepy good show
johnc214117 June 2010
Terror in the haunted house resembles a William Castle horror film it has gimmicks,subliminal messages during the film.they flash images of skulls and cartoon monsters and even the word scream in blood red colors,but this movie is pretty good without the subliminal messages.its creepy and pretty entertaining,it stars Gerald Mohr who a few years later starred in the great b movie the angry red planet.and Cathy O'Donnell(related to Rosie?)and William Ching.a new bride is having visions of a haunted house,well nightmares and is later on a trip with her new husband to America from an old plantation mansion that turns out to be the house from her nightmares, its kind of like the screaming skull only much better.i seen this years ago on VHS from rhino video when they redid all the subliminal messages.and if you run it in slow motion you can clearly see these goofy and cartoonish subliminal a fan of b movies and old horror movies i enjoyed terror in the haunted house,even though it is not as great as the infamous house on haunted hill.but alas it is better then the screaming skull and yes the really inept hillbillies in the haunted house.i recommend terror in the haunted house.7 out of 10.
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Psycho- Rama!
Mark Honhorst11 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This was originally titled "My World Dies Screaming", and that's a much better title. I don't even know why they changed it to "Terror in the Haunted House", because there are no ghosts or demons in this film at all. I thought this movie had a great plot and storyline, but it was somewhat marred by irritating "subliminal" messages of devils, skulls, etc. These "messages" are only slightly startling, and used in only three scenes. The best ones say "rent Rhino videos everyday", and they were added by the Rhino company once they released it to home video. This was probably only meant to be a joke, but they could have had more sinister ideas in their head... Some people have called this movie boring, and that it looked more like a play than a movie. Well, think about it. The movie only had five speaking parts,and not many locations. Listen to the dialogue and try to come up with a picture in your mind for all of the events they discuss. When I did that, I got creeped out. Other pros to this film: Good (over)acting, exciting climax, a beautiful actress, and clever plot twists. Psycho- Rama was canceled the year it debuted. Some people probably think it was because it was too scary, but I think it was because it was lame.
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Entertaining 1958 Film
whpratt127 July 2009
This film deals with a young gal who has bad dreams about a haunted house which have put her in a sanitarium and her husband is trying his best to help her with this problem.

The husband takes his wife to a house that looks exactly like the haunted house in her dreams and this is when the story becomes interesting with mysterious people making appearances who claim to be owners of the house and even the care taker of the house becomes a dark side to the story.

Good acting, with plenty of surprises and great for a 1958 film classic. Enjoy.
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Definitely grade B, but not bad
hoffmann-1317 February 2007
As a child this movie always scared the daylights out of my sister and me whenever we saw on TV. In fact, in my mind it has always been *the* horror movie of my childhood. After finally discovering its name and seeing it again decades later, I was relieved to see I don't have to be embarrassed to admit that. Sure it's 50 years old, has mediocre acting, and those hokey "subliminal" images, but I still find the situations, especially the woman's dream, haunting. And, though you'll probably think you know what the surprise ending is going to be, there's one or two little twists yet to go. You have to give the filmmakers credit for trying to produce something a bit more psychologically satisfying than the usual 1950's horror movie did.

Worth checking out if you like thriller movies. Just don't spend too much on it!
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A True-Love That Echoed Through The Ages...
johnmirramax18 July 2006
I will start off by saying that I, personally, enjoyed this movie VERY much. Yes...Sadly, I must place emphasis on the word "personally" because I seem to be the only experimental/nostalgic-viewer that shares this optimism...drag!

I praise this movie for it's decent, but at times in-consistent acting, music-score, and wonderful plot! The male-lead, Philip (Gerald Mohr) was VERY good through the picture especially. The female-lead (and ONLY feature female at that), Sheila (Cathy O'Donnell) had some dull and predictable character moments (characther moments not at all uncommon for Female roles in 1958).

As for the ***"Subliminal Messages"***, they were nothing more than a minor headache at best, and were used VERY sparingly. (Incedently, I own this movie on a Rhino Home Video cassette and took the liberty to view the "subliminal messaging" in slow motion). I found some of the ORIGINAL messages were quite vivid and disturbing once they were slowed-down, but it seems that AT SOME POINT later on, after Rhino Home Video had apparently bought rights to this movie, decided to implement their own messages during the last ten minutes before the climax...("Rent Rhino Videos Every Day" was my favorite) HAHA! Very funny, guys at Rhino! You sure know how to use media...(Kinda scary if you think about it)...

Anyway, after looking beyond the fact that, YES, this movie is OLD, you will discover a VERY true and stirring romance that I REALLY was able to identify with. The idea that you might have met your wife, or girlfriend, or loved-one many many years ago, then became suddenly separated from them during childhood (when young-love is the most impressionable and dream-like)...and then to have met that same person again in the future, not remembering who they were, and yet you fall in love with them just the same :)...if that makes sense!

Seriously, watch this film and try to imagine yourself in Philip's position. What if YOU searched high and low for your long lost loved-one, only to find them decades later in a deteriorating mental state...and only YOU can bring them back to reality! Very moving indeed, I love it!
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technically ground-breaking but still unintentionally hilarious
bluebmwchick11 February 2006
I saw this movie years ago with a group of friends. It's been awhile but I can still remember what the basic idea of the film was. A guy we know swore on his life that this movie would scare the hell out of us because of the subliminal messages cut into the film. We realized about half way through the movie however that he may or may not have been high when he watched the film (he had a bit of a drug problem at the time). We found the movie more funny than scary due to the subliminal cuts being very noticeable and goofy looking, and the plot and overly dramatic dialogue was the standard fare for a 50's horror film. That being said though, I do remember the film being interesting as a technical ground-breaker for the genre. "My World Dies Screaming" would defiantly be worth a look to someone who was into the work of guys like Ed Wood (this film is better put together than Ed's work, but still unintentionally hilarious).
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"You see, I'm waiting for them to come back, that's why I keep it like it was, for them."
classicsoncall12 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The video box proclaims "The First Picture in Psycho-Rama! The Fourth Dimension! Using Subliminal Communication! For added emphasis, the movie was "Banned by the U.S. Government!" Having seen it this evening, I'm ready to ban it from my own video collection after one day in my possession.

The movie does have a pretty good set up though, and with some more work could have been a neat psychological thriller. After two years in a Swiss sanitarium, Sheila Justin (Cathy O'Donnell) has begun having nightmares about an old house that she's never seen before. Her husband Philip (Gerald Mohr) may have a cure; let's bring her to that very same house. Obviously, he knows something that his wife and the viewer doesn't, and his suspicious activity while there lead us to believe that something ominous will occur of his own doing. Though unoccupied for seventeen years, the home is tended by a caretaker named Jonah (John Qualen), and before long the home's owner shows up to discourage the guests from staying any longer.

The subliminal messages that the film touts come at you fairly early, and if you pause the action and proceed a frame at a time, you'll see some cartoony images that state "Get Ready to Scream" and "Scream Bloody Murder". The messages work for Sheila, she's the only one affected by events in the home enough to exercise her lungs.

It turns out that all of the participants in the old home's reunion have a relationship from the past, but I won't bother you with those details. If you're up for a late night fright fest though, here's a secret - the house is not haunted, and the story takes it's time revealing what the legend of the "Mad Tierneys" is all about.

My copy of the film is the Rhino Video version, with the "Psychorama" treatment restored by a character named Johnny Legend, if that's to be believed. My viewing of the film probably took almost twice as long as the stated run time of ninety minutes, as I couldn't help myself from investigating the subliminal text as they occurred. But like the lead character in "The Christmas Story" who was left demoralized when he decoded his Ovaltine message, I had to kick myself in the pants when a subliminal cobra head appeared to advise me to "Rent Rhino Videos Every Day".
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Terror In The Haunted House
MarcoAntonio121 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Firstly, I would like to say that this film was not banned by the US government for 26 years as was written by someone in a previous comment. I think that person was referring to the films " Psycho-Rama" gimmick because I've read that it was banned, but I'm sure that it's alleged banning was just hype anyway (The gimmick itself is awful!). This film actually used to play on local television an average of twice a year during the early to mid-seventies. I used to watch it. Now then, "Terror in the Haunted House" is an atmospheric little film about a young bride who is terrified of a house that has been tormenting her dreams. In the opening scene we are given a tour of the house as the bride approaches it (off camera) and narrates (sort of like the opening of Hitchcock's "Rebecca"). The front door opens and the camera moves through the house and up the stairs to the second floor and finally to the attic door which opens and we see to the top of the attic steps. That's all the wife can remember. She tells her psychiatrist that she knows that danger lies up there. Soon the wife is taken by her new husband to that very same house. There are nice touches that follow such as the wife discovering her and her husbands initials carved into the trunk of an old tree (which has been overgrown with vines) and as she slowly starts to remember that her childhood was indeed spent at that estate. The acting by everyone is acceptable. The house itself is a colonial plantation and is a very beautiful home to look at. My only gripes are those annoying subliminal messages ("Psycho-Rama") and the par for the course low-budget way that some of the shots that were supposed to be taking place at night-time were obviously filmed in broad daylight.
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Brilliant plot twists, thrilling by 1950s standards
thewag7776 July 2005
Many of the reviews I have read complain that this film is boring or mediocre. I think they are forgetting that it was made in 1958. Considering that, I thought it was very exciting for its time. I certainly loved the acting, but that too is very much in the style of the 50s.

It is the plot twists that make the movie worth watching today (That is, for normal people, not just nostalgics like myself.) You know that the woman is not evil, but what about the two men, Phillip and Mark, and that servant Jonah? Just when you think you have them figured out, the movie flips them again. If you follow it, and don't get too easily bored by the 1950s effects and black and white, I think you will be surprised by how it turns out.

I gave it 9 out of 10. It was a masterpiece of its time and still entertaining today, though I might suggest watching it more as a mystery/drama than a horror film. My only complaint is the title itself, for I was hoping for a haunted house, but there was nothing supernatural about it. No ghosts or ghouls or anything. Ah yes, and I stopped noticing the 'subliminal messages' about 15 minutes into it. They really serve no purpose.
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andy1111011 November 2002
This is neither a scary, nor funny bad movie. It's just plain bad.

That being said, I wanted to add something a little different than previous comments, a comparison. If you've seen The Screaming Skull on MST3K or, God forbid, by itself, then you have seen this movie in a way. Both movies deal with this supposed creepy house with this creepy girl (but not that hot kind of creepy girl). In both, somehow the newly married husband is the problem with the girl. Maybe they were ripping off Gaslight, who knows. Both are from 1958. Both have this caretaker in it (though I like the Torgo-esch one from Skull). However, this one doesn't have that worried/zoloft faced chic from Screaming Skull. I can only vaguely remember what the woman in this feature looked like. I rented this dull waste of time for the PsychoRama or whatever it was. Man... Though it has already been said, what a gyp! I stopped on some of them, and since I rented a Rhino release of it, one of these "subliminal" messages was to buy Rhino Videos. Rhino is going to have to release more CC era Msties if they want me to do that! Anyways, I saw this movie 2 years ago. So if some of this is off the mark, I'll blame it on that. However, I am not worried as no one should watch this piece.
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Interesting performances in a mediocre movie
funkyfry8 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers

Fairly average melodrama disguised as a haunted house movie (for this distribution on DVD, anyway). There are no ghosts here, just an insane family. Mohr plays a man who brings his new wife to his ancestral home (where, it turns out, she grew up also) so that she can lose her fear of its attic. It makes even less sense than it sounds like, but features a nice performance by O'Donnell and also by lead Mohr.

Good acting, solid direction, but with a script like the one this film's hobbled with, that can only go so far. A sincere, but mostly failed, attempt at a psychological thriller.
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