If I’d thought about this a little longer, we probably should have watched a Hardy Boys segment called “The House on Possessed Hill” after sundown for maximum creepiness effect instead of in the early evening before supper. But perhaps this was for the best. Michael Sloan’s story is a delightfully classic haunted house adventure, using the facade of the Bates House from Psycho on the Universal lot, and even with the sun baking our living room and counteracting the attempts of the air conditioner to keep us cool, our kid still stayed very creeped out and hid. “If we had watched that after dark, I’d have stayed behind the sofa all night,” he protested.
I haven’t seen Psycho since I was in college, but of course I recognized the house immediately in the pre-credits scenes from the episode. However, I didn’t recognize Melanie Griffith, who plays the main guest star, until her name popped on screen. Lloyd Bochner is also in this one, playing her character’s doctor. I’ve seen Melanie Griffith in a dozen or more movies, and only seen Psycho and one of its sequels maybe twice. I guess sometimes houses are even more iconic than people!
I have to give all credit to Universal on a couple of points here. First, as anybody who’s followed this category has realized by now, they were insanely good at picking future Hollywood superstars for guest star parts in this series. And second, we all know that house is an empty facade on a backlot that can only be shot from a couple of positions without spoiling the illusion, but their dressers did an amazing job making it look like the creepiest, most lonely and isolated old haunted house for ten miles.
Griffith plays a girl with psychic powers. Frank’s able to find rational explanations for just about everything that happens in the episode, but not quite all of them, and once again, Joe sees something supernatural and bizarre right at the end that his brother misses. I enjoy the reverse symmetry with Universal’s Six Million Dollar Man, where all the ghosts and witches were hoaxes and the aliens and UFOs were genuine, while here it’s the flying saucers that are fake but the vampires and parapsychology are real.