Thursday, May 5, 2011

Haunted Hits: An Hour Of Scary Songs & Sounds (Halloween CD Review)

Compilation contains both great Halloween songs and cool horror sound effects, making it an excellent CD for a Halloween party.

Haunted Hits: An Hour Of Scary Songs & Sounds is one of the better Halloween compilations available. First of all, the songs are all the original recordings. Several other Halloween compilations use some unknown band covering classic songs. Not so here. On this album are tracks by Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Warren Zevon, The Cramps and even Elvira.

Secondly, this compilation contains Halloween sound effects. It's called An Hour Of Scary Songs & Sounds, but it's actually only fifty-three minutes long.

"Haunted House"

"Haunted House" is a strange song by Jumpin' Gene Simmons (and no, that's not the Gene Simmons from Kiss). It starts off like a normal Halloween haunted house story, with these lyrics: "I just moved in my new house today/Moving was hard but I got squared away/Bells started ringing and chains rattled loud/I knew I'd moved in a haunted house."

But then it gets weird. Check out these lyrics from later in the song: "In the kitchen my stove was a blazing hot/Coffee was a-boiling in the pot/The grease had melted in my pan/I had a hunk of meat in my hand/From out of space there sat a man/On the hot stove was pots and pans/'Say that's hot,' I began to shout/He drank the hot coffee from the spout." What is that about?

This is also possibly the only song to contain the word "haint," which means "ghost." The line is, "Ain't no haint gonna run me off." And indeed, this is one guy who will not be scared off by any ghosts.

"Monster Mash"

"Monster Mash" is probably the most famous of all the Halloween-related songs. This CD has the original recording by Bobby "Boris" Pickett, which was released in 1962.

For the two or three people on the planet who are unfamiliar with this song, here are the first several lines of the lyrics: "I was working in the lab late one night/When my eyes beheld an eerie sight/For my monster from his slab began to rise/And suddenly to my surprise/He did the mash/He did the monster mash." This song is basically a requirement for any Halloween party.


The movie Ghostbusters (1984) still totally holds up. It's a fun film starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver. And the theme song by Ray Parker Jr. is likewise a lot of fun. It actually reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. And it's still a seriously popular tune. Just walk up to any stranger on the street and say, "Who you gonna call?" Whether or not the person answers, you can be sure he or she knows the proper response: "Ghostbusters."

D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

"Nightmare On My Street" is a song from D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's second album, He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper (1988). It is of course based on the popular A Nightmare On Elm Street film series, but was not featured in those films. This song was the second single released from that album (the first being the outrageously successful "Parents Just Don't Understand"). "Nightmare On My Street" reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. It features snippets of music from the score.

"Werewolves Of London"
"Werewolves Of London" is one of the two greatest and coolest of all the Halloween-related songs (the other being "I Put A Spell On You"). It's by Warren Zevon, and was included on his 1978 release Excitable Boy. This song is so much fun and it has some great lyrics. Really, it's worth it just for the line, "I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's/His hair was perfect." But there are also these lines: "He's the hairy-handed gent who ran amuck in Kent/Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair/Better stay away from him/He'll rip your lungs out, Jim/Huh, I'd like to meet his tailor."

And the lead-in to this song is a sound effect of a wolfman howling. It's titled "Wolfman Growls #1," though there is no "Wolfman Growls #2." Go figure.

"I Put A Spell On You"
"I Put A Spell On You" is of course the other of two coolest Halloween-related songs. What a wild voice, and what a great scream. He's not called Screamin' Jay Hawkins for nothing. This is a guy not to be messed with. He sings, "I don't care if you don't want me/I'm yours/Right now." This song also features some cool horn.


Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark is the horror hostess character name of Cassandra Peterson. She hosted b-grade horror films on television, introducing the films, and often poking fun at them just before and after the commercial breaks. She also starred in a few movies as this character, and even recorded some horror-related songs. Two of those songs are included on this compilation: "Haunted House" and "Monsta' Rap."

"Haunted House" is not a cover of the Jumpin' Gene Simmons song. This "Haunted House" starts with Elvira admonishing the ghosts to keep it down because she's trying to sleep. "Was that just the wind or someone creeping up the stairs/You get so nervous that you nearly mess your underwears." Underwears? Sure, it rhymes. This is actually a pretty damn good song. Plus, it has a reference to Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart."

The second Elvira song is "Monsta' Rap" It's the last song on the album, with lines about Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, Gamera, The Blob and other horror favorites. It also mentions actors who became famous for their roles in horror films, such as Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

The Cramps

The Cramps provide a darker sounding Halloween song with "I Was A Teenage Werewolf," a song about a typical teenager with typical teenage problems. He complains, "No one understood me/All my teeth were so long."

Allan Sherman
Allan Sherman provides one of the silliest Halloween songs, "My Son, The Vampire." Allan Sherman is famous for his song parodies, so it's no surprise that this song is seriously funny. In this song, he sings, "My son, the vampire/He will leave you pale/All is does is drink your blood/'Cause he don't like ginger ale." The title is also a joking reference to his earlier album titles, such as My Son, The Folksinger (1962) and My Son, The Celebrity (1963).

Sound Effects

Though this album contains a lot of great Halloween music, there are a lot of Halloween sound effects included as well. In fact, thirteen of the twenty-three tracks are sound effects. The album both opens and closes with sound effects.

The opening track is just as it says, a howling wind. The second track, "Welcome," is a somewhat creepy voice saying, "Welcome. We have been expecting you" and then laughing. That's it. It, like most of the sound effects tracks, is short.

"Very Scary Mansion" has a child arriving at a house, saying "Grocery delivery." This kid is then ushered inside, where there are lots of creepy sounds, and the child screams and is chased around by all sorts of ghouls and monsters. It's one of the best of the sound effects tracks on this CD. And this one is a little longer, at three minutes.

"The Theremin Orchestra" is a very cool and eerie sound. A theremin, by the way, is an electronic musical instrument with two antennas. The player determines the tone and pitch by moving his or her hands closer and then farther away from the antennas.

"More Monsters In A Large Bat Cave" provides a nice scary atmosphere, and would be a good background track for a haunted house. "Pipe Organ And Ghost" is more of an instrumental track than a sound effects track. It's just under three minutes in length, and is actually a cool track.

The album concludes with "Go Home," which is just a few seconds long. A voice says, "Go home. We have no treats for you here."

CD Track List

  1. Howling Wind
  2. Welcome
  3. Haunted House - Jumpin' Gene Simmons
  4. Very Scary Mansion
  5. Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers
  6. Monsters In The Bat Cave
  7. Ghostbusters - Ray Parker, Jr.
  8. Little Girl Walking
  9. A Nightmare On My Street - D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
  10. Wolfman Growls #1
  11. Werewolves Of London - Warren Zevon
  12. The Theremin Orchestra
  13. I Put A Spell On You - Screamin' Jay Hawkins
  14. A Haunted House
  15. Haunted House - Elvira
  16. More Monsters In A Large Bat Cave
  17. I Was A Teenage Werewolf - The Cramps
  18. The Vampire Bats Are Waiting
  19. My Son, The Vampire - Allan Sherman
  20. Evil Laughs
  21. Monsta' Rap - Elvira
  22. Pipe Organ And Ghost
  23. Go Home

This compilation was released in 1996 by Rhino Records.

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