Henry Aldrich Haunts a House (1943)

Article #1070 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-18-2004
Posting Date: 7-17-2004
Directed by Hugh Bennett
Featuring Jimmy Lydon, Charles Smith, John Litel

A teen tries to impress a girl by taking a large dosage of a medicine that is supposed to give him the strength of three men. He loses consciousness from the drug while passing a haunted house. The next day, he wakes up in his bed and discovers that the principal of his school (who was in the haunted house last night) has vanished.

I didn’t expect too much from this movie; it seemed to be your basic example of the “haunted house” episode of any series comedy at the time. However, much to my surprise, I ended up enjoying this one thoroughly. Part of the reason may have to do with the fact that this was my introduction to the Aldrich characters; I’d heard about them for years, and was familiar with parodies of the characters (the comedy album by the Firesign Theatre called “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers” is in part a parody of the series), but this was my first direct experience with them, and there is something rather archetypal about them . Another thing I like is that some of the gags are quite inventive, including two mirror gags; one is of course the classic one-person-imitating-the-movements-of-another (they’re wearing suits of armor), and a second in which a character talks to his reflection. It also helps that the haunted house is actually a bit scary, and gives us a real “monster” despite the fact that the ending is all too typical for this sort of movie. It also manages to fit a mummy’s curse into the mix. All in all, this is actually one of the better haunted house comedies I’ve seen.


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