Spooky, scary, creepy, crawly mp3s after the jump.
Monster movies are great, but there is nothing like the imagination, jolted by a dose of cheesy drama, to really bring on the shivers. As a kid one of my favorite things to do every Halloween was to scan the record bins at the department store looking for scary records. Sound effects, ghost stories, novelty song compilations - I would save up my allowance for weeks in preparation of the night when I could hide in the basement den with all the lights out, except for a few flickering candles, and scare myself until I pissed my pants (not that ever actually...um, just forget I mentioned the last part).
When it wasn't Halloween season, there was always the local library. There I could find copies of old horror and thriller broadcasts from those golden years of radio drama. Again, late nights, darkened room, wet pants (doh!).
As I grew older I became obsessed with making Halloween mix tapes that combined everything from garage to punk to spooky blues to old horror movie trailers to...well, Thriller. You kinda have to have Thriller in there somewhere. By this point I had a firm grasp on my bladder.
I thoughtlessly left my childhood treasures behind and those mix tapes were all given away. But thanks to this new-fangled thing we call the "internet", I can relive those glory days of spooks and thrills as I complete the cycle of life and head into my Depends years (did I really bring that up again? Sorry).
Many spooky souls have taken it upon themselves to share their love of the season. Here are my favorites for each of my three categories of aural Halloween fun: kiddie records, radio thrillers, and mixes. Take some time, turn out the lights and hasten thee to the following bloggers....if you dare!
Halloween Kiddie Records:
Named for the classically useless kiddie make-up, this is the number one site for spooky Halloween music of old. Jason Willis never got rid of the great records he got as a kid, and has since amassed a truly extensive collection of Halloween recordings. I don't know Jason personally, but this interview makes him sound like a heckuva guy. He is all about spreading the love, er, fear, as each album post features a truly informative essay, as well as a non-expiring zip file of the WHOLE DARN ALBUM. Plan a whole night to sit up late and download 30 or 40 classic chunks of Halloween fun.
In preparation for the season, Scar Stuff recently posted a handy guide to all the Halloween records available on his blog (but check the current posts, cause there are still more new ones). A few of my favorites (with mp3s of some sample tracks) include:
Sounds Of Terror
Wade Denning and the gang at Pickwick made a ton of great Halloween records, but this is one of their all-time classics. I say this not only because I grew up with it, but because it still holds up as a great listen. Each track combines a simple scenario with lots of unique sound effects, a potent combination for letting your imagination run wild. For marketing purposes the album starts off with a rather sedate version of Monster Mash, which does little to signify the real horrors within. Scar Stuff's memories about this album are priceless kiddie lore.
Phantom of the Opera Buried Alive
Ah, Gershon Kingsley. On the whole, you can't go wrong with his electronic bleeps and bloops.
But who knew he had such a grasp on terror? The narration by Peter Waldron is creepy and effective, and this is just another example of how great the Peter Pan children's records could be. Heck, all of side one is pure genius.
Night Falls Goblin Dance
Great Ghost Stories & Scary Spooky Stories
Two of my absolute favorite ghost story records as a kid, this series from Troll Records (love that name) came into my hands through the Scholastic Book Club (which also landed me all those CYOA books). Mostly classic ghost stories, they are told in such a simple, straightforward style that they just come to life - even when they don't make a lot of sense.
Try The Golden Arm or a nice variation: The Skinny Toe
And just for fun, I took one of my childhood favorites, "The Guitar", spliced it up, and mixed it over the Billy Childish instrumental "The Axeman Cometh". Enjoy.
The Axeman's Ghost
Vincent Price on Caedmon
Caedmon tapped Vincent Price to do a series of simple by delightfully eerie spoken word records in the 1970s. Because they emphasized folklore, these albums were the only scary ones allowed in my elementary school library. This was my first encounter with Vincent Price, and I was instantly enthralled. With a hefty emphasis on witches and ghosts, these records mix longer stories with short readings of spells and other occult "facts" (How To Become a Werewolf, To Raise the Dead). It makes for a great listen, and they are pretty swell to have for the album art alone.
Baba Yaga To Make a Witch Pockmarked
How to To See Ghosts or Surely Bring Them To You.
And it is nice to compare these readings to Vincent's recipes from the Vincent Price International Cooking Course: Viennese Stuffed Eggs
Okay, that's just a taste. There are so many nice albums up there, I'm sure you'll be up all night downloading. I was.
Update, Dec 06: The Scar Stuff site is currently having sever problems, so nothing is downloadable. Keep trying back though...I'm sure he's not going anywhere yet.
There are lots of old-time radio show sites out there with a huge variety of shows, but we just want Halloween and horror, right? Well, then, I recommend heading over to Old Time Horror Radio at Monster Club, which has many of the best shows available on mp3, all for free, and all an easy click away. All the big guns are here: Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, even the Father Knows Best Halloween Special and, of course, The War of the Worlds broadcast.
I recommend giving a listen to the Suspense episode "Ghost Hunt" - which follows a hipster disc jockey, Smiley Smith, who stages an on-air stunt to stay the night in a haunted house. Never ever ever a good idea, and the drama as our DJ goes slowly crazy is pretty intense.
Best of all, they have a ton of my absolute favorite horror show: Lights Out. Host Arch Oboler (the second host, actually) was a true maverick who conquered every medium in his own inimitable style. Oboler was as big a radio personality as Orson Welles, and he went on to make Bwana Devil, the film that started the 3-D craze in the 1950s. In 1962 he returned to recorded drama and made what I consider his crowning glory: Drop Dead - An Exercise in Horror. This is the absolute perfect after dark listen, mixing all the horror styles in a "best of" selection from his radio shows (though from what I can tell, rerecorded for this album). But most of all - what a title! And just look at that cover. What more could you possibly want from the front of a horror record? Sheer genius.
No blog to link you to for this one other than the one you're on right now. So, here is the full album.
Drop Dead - An Exercise in Horror
01 Introduction to Horror 02 I'm Hungry 03 Taking Papa Home 04 The Dark 05 A Day at the Dentist's 06 The Posse 07 Chicken Heart (Yes, Cosby fans, that one) 08 The Laughing Man
Spread The Good Word
Okay, so all those albums are great, but you're having a party. You need a good Halloween mix that isn't just filled with those obvious songs. Have I got the solution for you...
The great Reverend Frost, who as far as I can tell really does live in South of Hell, France, runs one of my favorite music blog sites. His constant flow of obscure rockabilly, r&b, and what-have-you is not only incredibly informed - the songs he posts are almost uniformly great! Every day is like Halloween over at his blog, thanks to the always gogeous horror movie images that accompany each post, so it makes sense that the Halloween season is when he really starts to go hog wild.
A few times a year, the Reverend pops out a "Bloody" mix, which
features a high concentration of music, movie trailers, sound effects,
and everything else pureed together and poured into an mp3. This year
he has taken his annual Halloween mixes one step further and offered up
5 new mixes (four of which have already been posted - the final one is
coming on Saturday). He uses RapidShare for downloading, which is free
but pesky, but then he archives them all for download on his Bloody Mixes site. I've re-posted two of my recent faves below. Get your Halloween party started right.
A Bloody Halloween Mix Part 7 Playlist
A Bloody Zombie Soundtrack Mix Playlist
Again, I'm just listing a sampling of my favorites - my desert island websites if you will. Of course there are many other great sites for Halloween music (for instance, I haven't even had time to start pouring over Senses Working Overtime's 31 Days Of Halloween). You can find the best horror music sites by following the suggested links from Scar Stuff and Reverend Frost.