To go ahead and confess, last night we went “out” so today I skipped the JFZ and ate Spanish omelettes instead. I doubt there will be any fitnessing this weekend, b/c tomorrow night is our party so all day tomorrow will be spent getting ready for it. I also doubt there will be a post tomorrow, due to this same reason. Aaaand I also doubt that I’ll get through all my Haunted Mansion records today because we have a couple friends coming into town tonight and soon we must leave to go have dinner with them.
the Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion (1969)
This could easily be my favorite record in my modest collection. I mean, just the cover art alone makes this one of the greatest albums of all time! But what really sets this record apart from other Haunted Mansion albums is that the album jacket is also an 11-page book, complete with amazing artwork.
And speaking of the cover art, check out who is front and center on the cover, at the gate to the Haunted Mansion… That’s right, none other than the infamous “HATBOX GHOST”. If you are at all familiar with Mansion lore and history, you already know about this guy. But if you already know about the Hatbox Ghost, then you already know about this record and thus should probably have moved on to another website by now.
The Hatbox Ghost was an illusion used in the ride for a very brief time when it opened. Basically, this guy was in the attic, holding a hatbox. His head would disappear from atop his shoulders, then reappear in the box! This effect was achieved through a lot of lighting effects and mirrors, but the doombuggies (the Haunted Mansion ride vehicles) passed so close to the Hatbox Ghost that the illusion was imperfect and guests could see the Hatbox Ghost’s head still on his shoulders, when it was appearing the box.
So the Hatbox Ghost was taken out, but he still lives on in the memories of Haunted Mansion enthusiasts such as myself. Not only does he live on, but I’ve heard that he will play a big role in the supposedly-being-made Haunted Mansion movie being made by Guillermo del Toro, which promises to be awesome, completely unlike watching Eddie “Sellout” Murphy ham it up in an extremely weak entry into the world of Haunted Mansion media.
Inside the book, the Hatbox Ghost also makes an appearance, since the book is basically a story of you going through the Haunted Mansion and it hitting all the highlights from the ride (unlike the record we discussed yesterday, this one was released after the ride was open).
When you open the book, you are greeted by the organ player from the dining room scene, an executioner, and a raven, who is the narrator of the story. As I mentioned yesterday, the raven was originally meant to be your guide through the Mansion, so now we have two lost things from Mansion lore: the raven narrator and the hatbox ghost. The raven is voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft (that’s his real name, I promise), who is the lead vocalist on “Grim, Grinning Ghosts” (the voice of the Ghost Host in the ride is veteran voice actor Paul Frees). Thurl was probably most famous for being the voice of Tony the Tiger in Frosted Flakes commercials, and for singing the song in the perennial holiday favorite, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the voice of the narrator of said cartoon was none other than Boris freakin’ Karloff!!!).
Just like in Disney’s version of Sleepy Hollow, the color blue is used here to great effect. Blue and green, as we know, always means that something supernatural or evil is afoot, even though the ghosts in the Haunted Mansion are not evil. I love this two-page spread right here, with the caretaker and his dog on the right discovering the ghost band in the graveyard.
The raven again. This is taken straight from the ride, with the raven perched there and everything. I love this artwork so much that I looked up who made it and apparently it is all done by a guy named Collin Campbell. I don’t know if he did the artwork in the highly-collectible Haunted Mansion board game by Lakeside, but it looks similar. See for yourself:
All of this Haunted Mansion artwork just kills me. I love it so much that if it could help me with the bills I might would really marry it. If people can marry pillows these days, I can marry a collection of artwork.
Either tomorrow or the next day, we’ll look at the 45rpm read-along record released in 1970, which also has great artwork and a fun story. Until then, hurry baaack…. hurry baaaack…
and be sure to bring your death certificate, mwa ha ha!