Gayle House Records "The Haunting" (Gayle House, GH-101, 1971)
You know, the last year of my life has been absolutely amazing in terms of fulfilling my childhood comic-book dreams. Nearly everything I’d ever lusted for in those (already) out of date pages has fallen into my lap. Abstract art paintings done by a chimpanzee? Check! That Super-Cool “Giant ‘Life Size’ Moon Monster Poster” I’d dreamt of for so long? Check! With all of this good fortune sailing my way, what could be left?
Well truth be told, there was only one more “top of the list” type thing I could think of. One more thing that (casually but persistently) still preyed on my comic-book-ad-loving imagination. That’s right — the record described in the ubiquitous early 1970’s ad with the cloaked ghoul commanding the reader to “Invite Your Friends Over For A Haunting”. Sooooo rad looking; it just HAD to be great. I mean — how could it not deliver the goods? Just look at that fantastic copy:
“Just imagine how scared your friends will be when you flip out the light and they start hearing creepy sounds like the howl of a wolf, a creaking door, chains rattling, and then a man’s voice telling them that the house is haunted and they are to die — one by one. They’ll be scared stiff when they hear footsteps coming across the floor, the sound of people fighting, glass breaking, hideous laughter, terrible shrieks and screams, eerie moaning and then more footsteps, more screams… Each person in the room will think that he is going to be the next victim.”
Man. How fucking awesome was this record going to be? Why, completely and utterly off the scale of awesomity, naturally. So yeah; I’d poked around for this one pretty frequently over the years, but the few people I could find who’d actually heard it assured me that it was both “pretty bad”, and that it was “basically the same as the Johnson Smith Novelty Company ‘Horror Record’“. Naturally the first statement made me want it all the more, but the second statement actually gave me pause. In fact the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me that a single company might well have churned out just one 7″ 33 RPM record’s worth of spookiness in the early ’70’s, and then licensed it off to a few mail order companies simultaneously. Yeah, that’s probably what happened. Oh well, it was still a cool ad.
Well as it turns out that’s not what happened at all. In fact as you’ll soon be able to discover, not only are the sounds on the Gayle House single unique, the record has a freakishly lame and astoundingly perfect charm all its own. It even manages to scrupulously follow the rules of the mighty Rip-Off Halloween Record genre (those being: a totally half-assed “story telling” side, and a banded “sound effects” side using most of the same audio library just without the narration), while still happily amplifying both their cheapest AND most exploitive qualities! Yeah! I honestly don’t want to spoil it for you too much (Threadbare plot! Terrible narrator! One sound effect repeated ad nauseam! Children in peril!), but believe me, as far as I’m concerned it was more than worth the 30+ year wait. And hey, it even works just like the ad said it would!
Oh, and one more side note, here’s a link to the current owner of the PO Box featured in the ads. My guess is that they probably don’t have a lot of leftover “Haunting” records laying around but hey — you never know.