HALLOWEEN NOVELTY SONGS: Music to Die For! (Part 1 of 3)

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With the end of Labor Day weekend also unofficially signifies the end of summer (even if the calendar says otherwise). This is actually my favorite time of year. The cooler nights, shorter days and Halloween decorations galore in every store. Yes…Halloween is my favorite holiday, even at my age. Growing up has many fond memories for me, especially at Halloween…carving pumpkins, dressing up as one of my favorite monsters, trick or treating and even listening to the Dr. Demento Show with his annual Halloween special. It’s a real shame that kids these days make little effort to keep the Halloween traditions alive (perhaps they should watch the movie TRICK ‘R TREAT to see what can happen!). Kids rarely dress up as scary things anymore. Witches, vampires and ghosts are a thing of the past, replaced with super-heroes, princesses and whatever top 40 music star is popular that year (or my favorite costume, wearing army fatigues and painting your face black…ooooh scaary! Could you tell that I was just extremely sarcastic?). Also missing these days is the Dr. Demento Show, at least in my area. According to the good doctor’s website he is in fact still broadcasting every week, just in more of a limited capacity. It’s too bad that Sirius/XM wouldn’t pick up his weekly show.

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For those of you of a more recent generation who may not know, Dr. Demento is a radio DJ who has a weekly program devoted to novelty songs (like what you would hear from “Weird Al” Yankovic). Annually he would do a one or two-week tribute to Halloween, depending on what day of the week Halloween actually fell on. The songs he would play were priceless, and very often hard to find. Thankfully over the years I have been able to track down many of these songs on album and cd so I now have an extensive library of Halloween-themed novelty songs. If you are planning a Halloween bash this year (or just like to listen to weird music) then these cd’s and lp’s are a must have for your music collection!

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First up is an actual Dr. Demento Halloween release, called SPOOKY TUNES & SCARY MELODIES. This disc, put out by Rhino Records, came out in 1994 and features 9 relatively easy-to-find Halloween party songs, all featured at one time or another on Dr. Demento’s show. This is the track listing: 1. “WEREWOLVES OF LONDON” – Warren Zevon 2. “A NIGHTMARE ON MY STREET” – D.J. Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince 3. “THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF ROCK” – Whodini 4. “ATTACK OF THE FIFTY FOOT WOMAN” – Tubes 5. “CASTIN’ MY SPELL” – The Johnny Otis Show 6. “HALLOWEEN SPOOKS” – Lambert, Hendricks & Ross 7. “BO MEETS THE MONSTER” – Bo Diddley 8. “MY SON, THE VAMPIRE” – Allan Sherman 9. “NATURE TRAIL TO HELL” – “Weird Al” Yankovic

This cd is a great disc to start with as it contains a good assortment of good songs. “A NIGHTMARE ON MY STREET” is probably one of the harder to find songs since at the time of its release D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince were sued by New Line Cinema for using the theme from their very popular movie A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET without permission.

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Elvira is basically synonymous with Halloween and she is no stranger to releasing her own brand of humor into song. In addition to three official cd releases and two LP releases (see below) you can also download ELVIRA’S GRAVEST HITS off of iTunes. It is pretty much a “best of” compilation of her three cd releases, featuring all of the songs that she sung herself, plus some other great musical additions to your Halloween music collection. The track listing is as follows: (1) “ELVIRA’S THEME” (to my knowledge this has never been available other than on the LP ELVIRA’S VINYL MACABRE), (2) “ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY” by Lori Chacko, (3) “3D TV” (previously only available on an EP by the same name) by Elvira, (4) “FULL MOON” by Elvira, (5) “MONSTA’ RAP” by Elvira, (6) “ZOMBIE STOMP” by Elvira, (7) “HAUNTED HOUSE” by Elvira, (8) “HERE COMES THE BRIDE” by Elvira, (9) “HERE I AM” by Elvira, (10) “LE MUSIC HALL” by Elvira, (11) “ZOMBIE KILLER” by Leslie And The Lys, (12) “MISTRESS OF THE DARK” by Ghoultown and (13) “ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY” by Lori Chacko. This compilation is interesting because it includes music from Elvira’s 1987 film ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK, most of which include voice-over work by Elvira herself. The only thing that would’ve made this collection perfect was if it had included the song “TRICK OR TREAT” that she did in the 80’s…I have only heard this song on The Dr. Demento Show and it is one of her best!

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This long out-of-print LP, ELVIRA’S VINYL MACABRE, was actually one of the first Halloween-themed albums I ever bought (and I really wish they would release it on cd). It is a great collection and features intro’s and outro’s at the beginning and end of each side of the record by Elvira herself! Here is the track listing: (1) “INTRO” by Elvira, (2) “MONSTER MASH” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett, (3) “HAUNTED HOUSE” by Jumpin’ Gene Simmons, (4) “THE MUNSTERS” by The Comateens, (5) “HORROR MOVIES” by The Bollock Brothers, (6) “PURPLE PEOPLE EATER” by Sheb Wooley, (7)” IT’S HALLOWEEN” by The Shaggs, (8) “END OF SIDE ONE” by Elvira, (9) “BEGINNING OF SIDE TWO” by Elvira, (10) “TWILIGHT ZONE” by Neil Norman & His Cosmic Organ, (11) “THE VEGAS VAMPIRE” by Jim Parker, (12) “OUT OF LIMITS” by The Challengers, (13) “HORROR MOVIES” by Dickie Goodman, (14) “DRAC’S BACK” by Red Lipstique, (15) “OUTRO” by Elvira. Even though the album cover says it is Volume 1, there were no subsequent releases unfortunately.

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Rhino Records released  ELVIRA’S HAUNTED HITS in 1999. This cd, shorter than the lp release by a few songs, features 17 songs including one by the Mistress of the Dark herself! Some of the highlights on this collection feature “THE MONSTER MASH” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett (a must have for any Halloween party), “GHOSTBUSTERS” by Ray Parker Jr., “THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON”, a hard-to-find song by Dave Edmunds, “DEAD MAN’S PARTY” by Oingo Boingo and Elvira’s song “FULL MOON”. Speaking of Elvira, she has since had two more cd releases, both also on the Rhino label. First up is ELVIRA PRESENTS MONSTER HITS!

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This cd, from 1994, features two songs by Elvira (as well as five others). There is also an intro and outro by Elvira. My favorite song on this cd by far is Elvira’s “MONSTA’ RAP”. I wish I could include a snippet here but that infringes on copyright. Let me just say that it’s a must hear song and you will quickly find yourself singing it also! Other songs on the disc include “LITTLE DEMON” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, “FEED MY FRANKENSTEIN” by Alice Cooper, “MONSTER MASH” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett, “A NIGHTMARE ON MY STREET” by D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, “THE ADDAMS FAMILY” by Joey Gaynor and the 2nd Elvira track “HERE COMES THE BRIDE (THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN)” This cd is worth buying just for the two Elvira tracks!

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The next release in this Elvira series is ELVIRA PRESENTS: REVENGE OF MONSTER HITS (1995). This disc also features two brand new songs by Elvira (“HAUNTED HOUSE” and a catchy little tune called “ZOMBIE STOMP”) as well as 5 other songs and new intros and outros. Besides the Elvira songs (worth the price of admission alone) three songs that stand out in rarity are “IT’S YOUR VOODOO WORKING” by Charles Sheffield, “MONSTERS’ HOLIDAY” (a monster Christmas song by Bobby “Boris” Pickett) and “WEIRD SCIENCE” by Oingo Boingo.

Since we are on the subject of Rhino Records, there are two more releases that should be noted:

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HALLOWEEN HITS (1991) offers 10 songs, most of which can be found on other compilations. Two songs of note are “ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES” by Lewis Lee and “MARTIAN HOP” by The Ran-Dells. BILLBOARD PRESENTS FAMILY SCARYTIME CLASSICS (1996) features 10 memorable songs from film and television. The tracks on this disc are “THE ADDAMS FAMILY: MAIN THEME” by Vic Mizzy and His Orchestra, “ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES” by Lewis Lee, “(THEME FROM) THE MUNSTERS” by Billy Strange, His Guitar and Orchestra, “THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN” by Kay Star, “THE BLOB” by The Five Blobs, “DARK SHADOWS THEME” by The Robert Cobert Orchestra, “BEWITCHED” by Peggy Lee, “CASPER, THE FRIENDLY GHOST” by The Peter Pan Players and Orchestra, “THIS IS HALLOWEEN” from the soundtrack of TIM BURTON’S A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and “TWILIGHT ZONE” by John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Another fun and recommended cd is called GHASTLY GROOVES (1994) and it features 12 songs, many of which have not been released on other compilations but are great additions to your Halloween music collection. Some of my favorite songs off of this cd are “SEASON OF THE WITCH” by Donovan, “NOSFERATU” by Blue Oyster Cult and “NIGHT OF THE VAMPIRE” by Roky Erickson.

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HAUNTED MOTEL (1989) is a rare and out of print treasure released by a company called Boffo Records. None of these songs can be found on any other compilation and some of them are just…well, a lot of fun. Songs of note are “I DON’T BELIEVE IN GHOSTS” by Tyri Schiek, “MY BABY LOVES MONSTER MOVIES” by The R.S. Fieldtrip, the title track “HAUNTED MOTEL” by Suzy Elkins and my favorite, “WERECOW” by Flippy T. Fishead with The Mighty Ground Beeves. It took me 15 years to find a copy of the cd but it was worth the wait!

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Another gem worth seeking out is MONSTER ROCK ‘N ROLL SHOW (1990) on DCC Compact Classics, Inc. discs. This compilation features 29 tracks, half of which are the audio of actual monster movie trailers. This is one of those discs that can be played from start to finish and you will enjoy every minute of it. Though some of the songs on here can be found on other compilations (like “MONSTER MASH” by Bobby “Boris” Picket and “THE PURPLE PEOPLE EATER” by Sheb Wooley), this disc also features some nice rarities! Among them are “MIDNIGHT STROLL” by The Revels, “WEREWOLF” by The Five Man Electrical Band, “THE GREEN SLIME” by The Green Slime (the main theme from the 1969 film), “LIL’ RED RIDING HOOD” by Sam The Sham And The Pharoahs, and my favorite, “MORGUS THE MAGNIFICENT” by Morgus And The Ghouls (a song about one of my favorite horror hosts).

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A song of interest I found thanks to the Dr. Demento song is called “I’M A VAMPIRE” by Future Bible Heroes on their 2002 cd ETERNAL YOUTH. I would recommend downloading the single off of either iTunes or Amazon.

One last disc of mention is called WAVE GOODBYE TO THE 80’S (1995). This compilation is put out by a company called Risky Business, who also released the cd GHASTLY GROOVES covered earlier. Though this is basically just a compilation of popular pop songs from the 80’s, it does feature one rarity that stands out called “BATES MOTEL” by The Hitmen. This disc is worth buying just for this song!

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~David Albaugh

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