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The closest Elvis Presley came to making a haunted house movie is this daffy dude ranch musical written by the man who brought the world The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters (1948) and Return of the Fly (1959). A one-off partnership with struggling Allied Artists, Tickle Me assured Presley a $750,000 paycheck - more than half the shooting budget - and a fifty percent profit share. Keeping the overhead down was a soundtrack of recycled Presley recordings, among them Leiber and Stoller's "Dirty, Dirty Feeling" and "(Such an) Easy Question" by Otis Blackwell and Winfield Scott, which hit the top spot on Billboard's easy listening chart. The plot finds Presley as an itinerant bronco buster, pursued by randy lady rancher Julie Adams (The Creature from the Black Lagoon) as he makes a play for comely Jocelyn Lane (The Gamma People), whose possession of a treasure map leading to a fortune in gold makes her a magnet for miscreants and monsters. Set in a ghost town, the film's third act is a rehash of gags Bernds had cooked up for the Three Stooges with Presley facing down a veritable spookshow of ghosts and werewolves who turn out to be all too human underneath dime store masks. Tickle Me was low hanging fruit for Presley fans but it saved Allied Artists from bankruptcy. Look for bits by scream queens Allison Hayes (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman) and Merry Anders (The Hypnotic Eye).
By Richard Harland Smith