Story: Luther (Don Knotts) works as a typesetter, but he has bigger dreams, as he wants to be a reporter at the newspaper. He is convinced he just needs a break to make it, though he doesn’t expect to find a break that involves the supernatural. A local mansion that is purported to be haunted is back in the local news, as the owner plans to return to town and demolish it, which of course sparks a renewed interest in the house and the rumors of ghosts. The newspaper would like to get one last exclusive story before the home is bulldozed, so the story is offered to Luther, who is not the bravest soul, but a break is a break and he is tired of being teased. But will Luther be able to turn this into the break he has needed or will the ghosts be too much to handle?
Entertainment Value: Just when you think you’ve seen it all, here comes a movie about Don Knotts in a haunted house. As with most of Knotts’ films, I think your interest in the premise is likely a good gauge as to how much entertainment you’ll find here. Obviously The Ghost and Mr. Chicken isn’t a horror movie, despite the haunted house elements, but Knotts does indeed spend some time in the creepy abode, with some spookiness mixed in. The narrative is passable, putting a decent story behind the desire to see Knotts get scared and panic, which means even outside of the haunted house, there are laughs to be had and some narrative drive. The humor is about what you’d expect from the lead, silliness and physical comedy, with a lot of verbal barbs and of course, Knotts’ eyes working overtime. The pace keeps things tight and moving forward, so even when a joke falls flat, the movie has already moved onto the next attempt to pick up some chuckles. I think this is a fun movie and to me, one of Knotts’ most enjoyable pictures, so this one is recommended.
As you can imagine, Don Knotts in a haunted house can be a lot of fun, with his wild facial expressions and over the top reactions. Even the build to him spending the night in the mansion is quite funny, as Knotts is superb at emoting, especially nervous or paranoid energies. I do wish there was more time inside the haunted house, as Knotts really shines in the jump scares and weird moments, but there is a good amount of time devoted to that, at least. Outside of the creepy mansion, Knotts turns in his usual performance and for fans of his work, that means reliable laughs and perhaps not much in terms of fresh touches, but dependable Knotts comic vibes. I hold this as one of his best efforts, so I am sure his fans treasure this one. The cast also includes Liam Redmond, Dick Sargent, Joan Stanley, Harry Hickox, and Charles Lane.