John Zacherley - Coolest Little Monster

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Look, we’ve all faced one of the truest horrors of this time of year more times than we care to count. Every party we go to, every radio station getting into the Halloween mood we tune in to, and every store we go into tend to play the same Halloween music pulled from a very limited playlist. Unless you have a buddy who’s really into the local indie music scene throwing a party, odds are you’re only around 15 days into October before you’ve heard pretty much every song you’ll hear on every playlist you’re near at least 100 times. So, in the spirit of keeping Halloween horrors to the more enjoyable kind, I want to help you avoid doing the same thing with your playlists by offering some song suggestions that you might want to track down before your Halloween bash.

Some of these are going to be goofy fun while some will be more lyrically serious. Some will be silly little tunes while others will have some heavier riffs to them. Some will be a piece of cake to track down while some, unfortunately, less so. With the ones not conveniently available on Amazon or iTunes, I leave it up to you to determine whether or not they’re worth the trouble to you to try to track down.

Now, let’s get to the list. Well, let’s get to the list after a quick note on a group that does really good horror music. If I don’t mention these guys, several of my friends will be posting about how in the blue hell I could have possibly forgotten about them. Well, I didn’t forget about them. They’re just not quite the right music for this specific list.

Two words, one name- Midnight Syndicate.

If you don’t know who the artists known as Midnight Syndicate are, you need to know. Midnight Syndicate does music that is, as they put it, horror soundtracks for films that never existed. Pop a CD in and you’ll have some of the best background music out there for a dark but enjoyable evening, a night working at the keyboard, or for greeting young ghosts and ghouls at the door on Halloween night.

Being a fan of horror hosts, I have to suggest this little ditty by one of the most famous hosts of his generation, Zacherley. “Coolest Little Monster” is a playful, breezy little song that’s safe enough for the younger set, but fun enough for the older party goers to enjoy as well. The single is off of 1960’s Spook Along With Zacherley album which is available in MP3 format as single tracks and as a full album on iTunes and Amazon.

Keeping with horror hosts for a moment, I’ll bring us forward several decades to Northern Virginia’s own Monster Madhouse horror host crew. Monster Madhouse is a crazy little show that’s one part improv, one part controlled chaos, and one part inspired genius. I used to describe it to people by saying that it’s what a Sid and Marty Krofft show would be like if it was built on a heavy metal act and they showed horror films. The heavy metal bit is important here as show creator Jerry Moore (Karlos Borloff) has been a longtime part of the DC area music scene and he brought that with him into horror hosting by doing all of the show’s music and creating the Madhouse band the Monsterminators.

Two of their songs really make nice little additions to any Halloween playlist. The one song, “Monsters Calling,” has a fun style to it while the other, “Die Monster Die,” has more serious leanings. Both play around comfortably in the metal genre.

Monsters Calling

Die Monster Die

Not available on iTunes or Amazon, you can purchase a CD directly from the source by contacting Jerry Moore on Facebook through his Karlos Borloff page or the Monster Madhouse page.

Keeping with the theme of horror hosts but leaving the actual hosts behind is “All Hail the Horror Host” by The Creeping Cruds. The boys from Nashville, Tennessee have put together a great tribute to men and women who served up the best and worst horror movies known to man, and it rocks to boot.

The entire album is available on Amazon and iTunes. It’s worth getting the album’s first track with this as it serves as a nice intro to the song.

Dipping back into the goofy fun end of the music scale is The Taters and their single “Wolfman Told Me Tonight.” The single, as well as the full album it’s off of, can be found at Amazon and iTunes.

One song here is the theme for one of the goofiest horror movies to come out of the 1980s. That’s actually saying a lot considering the competition for the title the 1980s created. It’s one that I’m honestly surprised I don’t hear a lot more often during the run-up to Halloween. This would be The Dickies contribution to horror music, “Killer Klowns from Outer Space.”

The song (along with “Eep Opp Ork (Uh Uh)” which was also in the film) can be found on Amazon and iTunes.

A goofy fun song with some wonderfully clever lyrics is a song that I would hope any regular attendee of Dragon Con would be familiar with as the DCTV crew did their own parody video to the music some few years back now. This isn’t their video, but, hopefully, you recognize the tune. Available on Amazon and iTunes is Jonathan Coulton’s undead masterpiece “Re: Your Brains.”

Bringing the tempo up a bit is my one suggested rap song on the list. I’m not a big fan of rap, but “Zombie” by Family Force 5 has a good beat and some fun lyrics. Besides, it’s about zombies. Even if you’re not a rap fan, you can still love it for the zombies. The song is available on Amazon and iTunes.

Moving into the more alt tempo arena, the Burning of Rome gives us a catchy little ode to one of our favorite psychotic killers from the cinema with “Norman Bates.”

It’s easy to find on either Amazon or iTunes.

Along the same lines of being a no-brainer for a Halloween CD mix is “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus.

My next two recommendations go old school and seem to have been largely forgotten; especially by the under 30 set. Both can be found at Amazon and iTunes.

One of the most famous acts in horror rock met one of the most famous killers in horror movies back in the 1980s to create this little ditty. The artist is Alice Cooper, the Killer is Jason, and the song is “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” from Friday the 13th Part IV.

Dokken was tapped to do the theme for Nightmare on Elm Street 3, and the song they came up with was “Dream Warriors.”

An old-school rocker with (semi) new music makes the cut for my list. Dee Snider created a horror concept album a little over ten years back playing with the idea of the fate/destiny of the Van Helsing family. The result was Van Helsing’s Curse – Oculus Infernum. The first track (hell, the whole album) rocks heavy as it takes (mostly) classical music and reimagines it for the story. The first track is “Tubular Hell.” It’s dark, it rocks, and fans of the late, lamented Fangoria Radio should recognize it as the basis for their intro music.

You can find it as a studio CD or a live concert DVD at the Midnight Syndicate’s webstore. (http://midnightsyndicate.com/vhc.htm) I’d recommend looking around while there. Midnight Syndicate, as noted earlier, creates some of the best horror soundtracks (for films that have never been made) that you’ll likely ever find.

Staying with old school and new sounds, did you know that John Carpenter, who composed the music for most of his films over the years, recently released an album of original music known as “Lost Themes?” It’s available on Amazon and iTunes and sounds a little something like this.

Then there is… VOLTAIRE! (http://www.voltaire.net/music/) Seriously, for a guy as well known in geek circles, he seems to be left out of a lot of Halloween music discussions. Most of his songs are custom made for Halloween playlists and should be in way more playlists this time of year.

Vampire Club

Brains

I love this. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to find, but it’s a fun, rocking favorite of mine. Ghost Train.

Along the same lines as Ghost Train while not quite as Rockabilly in some of their influences is The Heavy with “Can’t Play Dead”.

Changing the tempo just a bit is Marilyn Manson doing a cover of Danny Elfman’s “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s actually a fairly old cover, but I’m including it because I still run across people who have never heard of it. Usually its people who are not the usual MM fans but end up liking the cover all the same.

This one is a little less obvious since there really isn’t any specific hook in the lyrics or the style in which the song is played. However, this one falls into horror by association as most people that have heard Richard Cheese’s cover of “Down with the Sickness” likely only ever heard it in the Dawn of the Dead remake and think of that when they hear it.

You’ve gotta love Terrance Zdunich this time of year. Don’t recognize the name? He’s the guy behind Repo! The Genetic Opera and The Devil’s Carnival. Both have soundtracks available out there that, depending on your tastes, have some tracks with both nice beats, wickedly fun lyrics, and a more than just a little-demented nature to them.

And now I leave you with this.

Now

Jerry Chandler is a lifelong geek who, while enjoying most everything fandom has to offer, finds himself most at home in the horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction genres. He has in the past contributed to websites like Needless Things,  Gruesome Magazine, and others while occasionally remembering to put up the odd musings on his own blog. He’s been a guest on several podcasts from the ESO Network, on Decades of Horror, and on the Nerdy Laser. He is also a regular co-host on The Assignment: Horror Podcast as well as the primary writer for its affiliated blog.