Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Haunted House club (Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, 1977)

Here's another haunted house themed club, also called, simply, "The Haunted House". But unlike the one covered in my last post, which was an actual Hollywood hotspot, this one existed only as a series of sets created for the 1977 pilot episode of "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries".

The episode was "The Mystery of the Haunted House", and junior detectives Frank and Joe Hardy (Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy) find themselves at the unusual venue while pursuing a lead in a missing person's case. Let's take a tour, shall we?

The exterior certainly looks the part. Any similarity to the Pyscho house is purely coincidental.

You don't just stroll into this have to pass through a series of spooky (if impractical) obstacles. You'll first encounter this creepy organist.

He doesn't smile much, but he does direct you to the coffin in the adjacent room, which is surrounded by windows illuminated by artificial lightning flashes.

The coffin opens to reveal a hidden staircase that must be descended!

The staircase becomes a chute that deposits you in the next room, where you are immediately swung at with an axe by an animated suit of armor.

Both Hardy boys get a whack. Insert haircut joke here.

Next a face in a crystal ball intones...
Welcome to the Haunted House! If you survive the ordeal, we look forward to you joining us in the main crypt. If not, happy hereafter!
...before laughing maniacally and disappearing.

This room is draped with several curtains. Which one hides the door to the main crypt? Most are just dead-ends, like this brick wall.

Or this door that opens to another brick wall.

How about a giant animated spider?

Or a hovering skeleton?

Eventually the boys find the correct door, a small hidden panel that lets them into this midieval themed room.

They pass a few pieces of scenery, like this cackling skeleton in a rack.

And a flying ghost that whips past them.

The ghost leads them to this ornate sarcophagus which conceals another staircase that must be descended.

Again, the downward staircase becomes a slide that deposits us into the next room...a confusing maze of mirrors.

The boys find their way out of the maze by following the sound of some funky music emanating from the club. They are greeted by a Frankensteinesque maitre d' (played by Richard Kiel, better known as the Bond villian Jaws) who asks them if they have a reservation.

Luckily its not very busy and there is an available table.

Most staff members are appropriately costumed.

Luckily, getting out of the Haunted House club is a lot easier than getting just scale the staircase...

...and exit out the front door.

Even though I was not a reader of the Hardy Boys book series, I was pretty excited about the TV show when it first premiered. The premise of two kids (alright, being in grade school at the time, the Hardy Boys seemed like adults to me...) who went out at night in their van, snooping through graveyards, abandoned buildings and haunted houses while solving mysteries was awfully enticing.

The surreal opening sequence promised plenty of adventure and intrigue. It started with this mysterious maze, which is not merely an abstract graphic, but is presented as an actual structure located somewhere in the desert, under a full moon.

This is followed by a series of book cover illustrations that suggested a deep treasure chest of spooky adventures just waiting to be uncovered.

Unfortunately all this anticipation and excitement didn't amount to much, as I quickly lost interest after only a few episodes. Why? Because with the increased popularity of Shaun Cassidy amongst teenage girls, the show was quickly diverted away from midnight trips to the graveyard and haunted lighthouse investigations, to scenarios built around Cassidy's budding singing career...

...and decidely "cool" topics like dunebuggy racing and surfing contests.



Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wings said...

Wow - What a great post! I was a big fan of the show when I was a kid. Not sure if it would hold up now, but it was fun then. I was also a fan of the Hardy Boys books, but the show was like a completely different entity. Fun stuff, though. :)

John Rozum said...

I'm putting together the list of participants in this year's Halloween Countdown, and wanted to know if you wanted to be included. Please contact me and let know.

By the way this post really took me back. I remember that episode, and thinking it was really cool at the time. Like Wings, I'd be afraid to watch it now.

Brother Bill said...

John Rozum,
Thanks for asking; however, I'll be following my standard, leisurely posting schedule throughout October.

Brother Bill

FilmFather said...

Hardy Boys show = one of the best theme songs ever. And I love me a good Richard Kiel sighting.

Brother Bill said...

Film Father:
It did have a great theme song, and you can find it on the CD Television's Greatest Hits Vol. 6-Remote Control, along with the themes from Dr. Who, Mystery! and The New Twilight Zone.

pJ said...

I highly recommend the DVD's of the show - they have some great episodes in there. Like the one they shot out at the Proud Bird out near LAX - great episode.

Propagatrix said...

The scariest-ever Hardy Boys series moment: Paul Williams as a rock impresario in "The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew Meet Dracula."

Mr Bloody Mojo said...

Mannnnn, I used to watch this show ever Sunday when it came on. We got a second television right around the same time so I didn't have to compete with my father while he watched 60 Minutes!

Brandonscofield said...

Be kind of cool if someone knew how the maze scene was shot. Guessing it was on a tabletop, fake shrubs and grass around it and bright light at the back for the moon? Anyone out there know?