Everyone knows that Halloween is the holiday for fans of horror films. Aside from that unluckiest of days, Friday the 13th, no other time of the year inspires so much cinematic blood and gore. However, Halloween has a rich musical tradition as well. In fact, I’ll wager that Halloween has not only inspired better films than any other holiday, it has also inspired better music. How many of us can actually listen to Christmas songs year round? There’s only so much jingle-bell schmaltz and choirs of heralding angels you can take before you want to hear some good old-fashioned devil music. To this end, Evil on Two Legs is proud to recommend the following albums that every horror and music fan alike should own. You’ll enjoy them no matter the occasion, but they’re especially appropriate for Halloween.
#10. “La Sexorcisto – Devil Music Vol. 1” (1992), by White Zombie
Before he directed House of a 1,000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, and the 2007 remake of Halloween, Rob Zombie did what Rob Zombie does best: he made weird, but kick-ass music. Horror fans know that Zombie’s music is a testament to the golden age of horror films, as evident in the fact that White Zombie took it’s name from the 1932 film starring Bela Lugosi. But, more importantly, his music will make even horror fans with two-left feet want to dance. Credited for helping put the groove back into hardcore metal, White Zombie’s debut album is guaranteed to make your Halloween more fun. So if you need a break during the middle of your Nightmare on Elm Street marathon, play the song “Thunderkiss ’65.” But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Your guests might want to forget the films and go-go dance 1960’s style the rest of the night instead.
#9. “Beware, The Complete Singles 77 – 82” (1982), by The Misfits
Before Glen Danzig formed the band Danzig, he was front-man for the world’s scariest and hardest-working horror band, The Misfits. But behind all the chains, blood, leather, strange hair, and theatrics, Glen Danzig is actually a talented musician. He can croon as sweetly as Sinatra while confessing that he’s just committed murder. That’s no small feat. He also has considerable range as a musician. Songs such as “Hollywood Babylon” pulse with hard-boild, noir-ish menace, while “Teenagers From Mars” is just plain silly fun. He also sings what just might be the world’s greatest tribute to Halloween in the appropriately titled song “Halloween.” If you don’t believe me, let me provide a small sample of the song’s lyrics:
Bonfires burning bright,
Pumpkin faces in the night,
I remember Halloween.
Dead cats hanging from poles,
Little dead are out in droves,
I remember Halloween.
The Misfits are creepy, a little bit dangerous, and actually quite funny. You’ll scare yourself silly listening to them. If that’s not perfect for Halloween, then I don’t know what is.
#8. “Sewertime Blues / Don’t Touch the Bang Bang Fruit” (1987), by The Meteors
As with the Misfits, The Meteors are a band that are not for the faint of heart. Their claim to fame is being the world’s only truly authentic psychobilly band (“psychobilly” is that musical genre that brings together punk, horror, and rockabilly). The original members of The Meteors performed as both a rockabilly and punk rock act before forming The Meteors. And they’ve also made horror films. The songs on this album are loads of fun. But be warned. The Meteors are high energy and one tough band. They’ve been known to bloody themselves on stage and dive into the audience “wrecking ball” style. “Sewertime Blues / Don’t Touch the Bang Bang Fruit” is a double-album that features the band at their very best. Songs such as “Your Worst Nightmare,” “Sewertime Blues,” “Midnight People,” and “I Bury the Living” will definitely make you feel both scared and scarred this Halloween.
#7. “Halloween Hits” (1991), by Various Artists.
If listening to The Misfits and The Meteors makes you fearful that those bands might actually drive to your house and beat you to a pumpkin-orange pulp, you can always tone things down a bit with this compilation of classic Halloween party favorites. I promise you that this album is absolutely grandma friendly. The album features oldies such as “Monster Mash,” “The Purple People Eater,” and the always crowd-pleasing “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr.
#6. “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – Special Edition Soundtrack” (2006), by Danny Elfman and Various Artists
I could go on and on about how much I love Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s sweet, it’s creepy, it’s Burton at his very best. It’s a Halloween classic. This recently re-released soundtrack features all the original songs from the film, plus excellent covers by post-punk and goth bands such as Marilyn Manson, Fall Out Boy, Fiona Apple, and She Wants Revenge. “Sally’s Song” as performed by Fiona Apple is especially riveting. She captures the wistful mood of the film perfectly, and it’ll also help put you in good Halloween cheer.
#5. “Halloween 20th Anniversary Edition – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (1998), by John Carpenter
How could I not include this one? But it’s much more than a token gesture. The songs on this album are beautifully re-mastered. The soundtrack also includes choice dialogue and sound clips from the film that punctuate the songs perfectly and add to the overall ambient effect. Be sure to listen to the “Halloween Theme” and “The Boogie Man is Outside” with your lights off and your Halloween pumpkin a-glow. If that doesn’t send chills down your spine, I’ll refund your money.
#4. “Carmina Burana” (1935), by Carl Orff
The German composer Carl Orff based “Carmina Burana” on the medieval collection of poems of the same name. But don’t let that dissuade you. The Middle Ages took their charms, chants, curses, torture and demons very seriously. Listening to “Carmina Burana” is like listening to the soundtrack for the apocalypse. The first bit of the composition has been famously included in such films as Excalibur and The Doors. But it’s really better suited for building late-night Halloween ambience.
#3. “Songs the Lord Taught Us” (1980), by The Cramps
I know what you’re probably thinking. 1980…the popularity of disco hasn’t quite died yet, and Pat Benetar is just about to take off. However, The Cramps slithered their way beneath the mainstream radar for most of the early 80’s, leaving a radioactive goo of some wonderful music in their wake. “Songs the Lord Taught Us” is arguably their opus, with songs that combine rock ‘n roll pomp and sex appeal, with heavy doses of B-film camp. And their lead guitarist, Poison Ivy, simply rocks. Songs from this album include “I Was a Teenage Werewolf,” “Teenage Goo-Goo Muck,” “Zombie Dance” and “Behind the Mask.” If you feel like doing the “King-Kong Stomp” all night long this Halloween, then this album is for you.
#2. “A Night on Bald Mountain” (1887), by Modest Mussorgsky
This is arguably the most frantic music ever composed. It’s what I imagine the poor chap in Munch’s painting “The Scream” must be hearing inside his head. Mussorgsky described his composition as a “tone poem” that creates emotional upheaval and produces both visual and aural responses from the audience. He based this music on stories from Russian folklore involving witches, devil-worship, and other tales of the infernal. Don’t be fooled by the fact that Disney appropriated some of this composition for Fantasia. This is creepy stuff.
#1. “A-haunting We Will Go-Go” (1998), by The Ghastly Ones
Not only is this one of the best southern California surf albums ever recorded, it is absolutely required listening for any fan of horror films. Discovered by Rob Zombie in 1997, the band is comprised of Baron Shivers on drums, Dr. Lehos on lead guitar, Sir Go-Go Ghastly on bass, Captain Clegg on organ, and Necrobella as go-go dancer. Their sound is part surf-punk, part rockabilly, and 100% ghastly fun. The album features a loose narrative in which the band, while on the road between gigs, discovers the lair of the evil Dr. Diablo. Can they escape from his evil clutches and thwart his nefarious schemes? You’ll have to listen to the album to find out. In addition to an entertaining story and some very fine music, the album features plenty of guest appearances by zombies, werewolves, vampires, and evil space robots. Trust me on this. You need this album to make your Halloween complete. But if you don’t believe me, check out the band’s website.