Jean Yarbrough started in the silent era of film, first as a prop man, then rising through the ranks of RKO throughout the 1930’s until his feature debut, 1938’s Rebellious Daughters. Throughout the 1940’s, he was behind some of the most famous horror movies, including The Devil Bat and She-Wolf of London. He also directed Abbott and Costello in Jack and the Beanstalk and Lost in Alaska.
He soon moved on to television, where he continued working with Abbott and Costello, as well as TV series like Gunsmoke, The Addams Family, My Favorite Martian Petticoat Junction. This is his last theatrical movie, a strange mix of comedy, horror and musical numbers.
This is a sequel to 1966’s The Las Vegas Hillbillys, which also featured Country Music Hall of Famer Ferlin Husky. You may not know him, but you may know his song “Wings of a Dove.” That movie features Richard “Jaws” Kiel, Mamie Van Doren and Jayne Mansfield, so you know I’m already hunting down a copy.
Joi Lansing, who famously dies during the first tracking shot of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, takes over for Mamie and Jayne here, which is quite a feat. She’s certainly got the looks to pull it off. She’s also way taller than most of the men in this movie!
She and Ferlin Husky, along with their manager Jeepers (Don Bowman, a novelty country singer), are on their way to Nashville when their car (Webb Pierce’s “silver dollar” convertible) breaks down and they end up staying in a haunted house that has Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine and Basil Rathbone (in his last role) working in the basement as mad scientists. Country stars Sonny James, Merle Haggard (Husky lived with Haggard’s ex-wife until his death, by the way) and Molly Bee (who sang “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”) all show up as well.
There’s also a gorilla, some James Bond spy agencies and evil Asian people. Basically, if you liked Hee Haw and Abbott and Costello meeting monsters, this is the movie for you. I mean, I enjoyed it.
You can watch the Rifftrax verison of this on Amazon Prime.