Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

It's the most wonderful day of the year, and as prophesied on last year's Halloween post, today's song is a brand new one from Elvira, together with a brand new video!

The song is "2 Big Pumpkins," written by Fred Schneider of the B-52s, and the video was produced as a result of Elvira collaborating with Ryan Adams on his new video, "Gimme Something Good." In exchange for her appearance in that one, the producers filmed a video for her song as well. Talk about doubling the fun! Double videos, double pumpkins, double Ds... 
Me and the Mistress

It was one year ago today, on a day just like today, that I reported I was on my way to see Elvira perform her Knott's Scary Farm show Sinema Seance. Last year I was lucky enough to meet the Mistress of the Dark after the show and get my copy of "2 Big Pumpkins"/"13 Nights of Halloween" signed. At that time, the record had just come out, and since it was released so close to Halloween, Third Man Records decided to pull it and hold out for an earlier October release this year. As it turned out, I was one of the very few who ordered the record on its release day last year, so Elvira herself hadn't even seen it yet! We had a fun little conversation about it and she rubbed the heat reactive ink on the sleeve to make the Elvira image appear--yes ghouls, Elvira's fingers were all over my 7". With that tit-illating image in mind, here she is with her hands all over those prize gourds she's famous for:


Like an awesome sequel to the best horror film, I am once again just hours away from seeing Elvira in her new Knott's Scary Farm show, Elvira's Big Top. I already know my Halloween is going to be a blast, and I hope yours will be, too. So get your costumes ready, put razor blades in your apples, and forget those pesky morals! Until next year, happy Halloween and stay turned, my fine fiends!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Something wicked this way comes.

Are carnivals the new zombies or something? Seems like everywhere you turn these days, there's another roving band of freaks, creepy clowns, and tetanus-inducing thrill rides. Just this month has seen the beginning of the carnival-based American Horror Story, as well as Elvira's new carnival/circus-themed Knott's Scary Farm show, Elvira's Big Top. It would be just fine with me if carnivals are the new hip thang, because if there's one thing I love more than actual carnivals, it's carnival-based horror.

The kid-friendly band Jelly of the Month Club were so inspired by the wonders/horrors of carnivals that they wrote a song about them that is now being used in the Elvira show mentioned above. "Welcome to the Carnival" is from the band's debut album of last year, and while the rest of the songs on the album are cute fun about dolphins, lemonade, and waffles, this one is a spooky roll call of all the weirdness one will see upon stepping foot on the midway. Its driving gypsy beat would get Gomez Addams dancing the Mamushka, and the chorus of back-up singers sound like they are moaning their ghostly harmonies from beyond the grave. 

The song is full of wondrous sights/sounds, so step right up, the show's starting now! But do not enter if you are weak of heart or mind--no refunds, no exceptions. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

There's no nicer witch than you.

If it hasn't become obvious in four years of doing this blog, I will just say it outright--it's really great to be having such a fabulous childhood as an adult. Witness: if I was still a kid, could I fly across the country and see Danny Elfman perform songs he wrote for all my favorite Tim Burton movies, along with a full orchestra? I feel sure my mom would've said no. Good thing I had the foresight back then to make an unholy trade of eternal childhood in place of maturity. Think of all the amazing things I would've missed! Horrifying.

Today's song is from Tim Burton's most recent film (which Elfman scored), 2012's magnificent return to form Frankenweenie. Frank Sinatra made the song famous, but here "Witchcraft" is performed by everyone's favorite mop-topped sad sack, Robert Smith from The Cure. He got left out of last year's classic goth weekend (since most of his songs are more scary in an emotional way rather than in a horror way), so it seems appropriate to get him in here.

Frankenweenie marked a positive turn away from Tim Burton's string of day-glo remakes, and hopefully points toward the future of his films. This Christmas, he'll release a biopic called Big Eyes about the strange creators of the even stranger Keane paintings, and after that he'll be working on a film adaptation of Ransom Riggs' wonderful novel Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I know Danny Elfman has scored Big Eyes, and hopefully he'll be on board for Miss Peregrine, too, so perhaps there will soon be a new Burton/Elfman golden age! Until then, let's all enoy Robert Smith doing "Witchcraft" his way.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Put a (dead) bird on it.

Straight outta the land of Portland comes a terrifying tale of carnage and woe--what if the zombie apocalypse comes and instead of lusting after our brains, the undead want something much more precious? What if they want our beer?!? 

That's the horrific tale Red Fang spins in their video for "Blood Like Cream." Since the band is actually from Portland, they snagged Portlandia's Fred Armisen to bear the bad news about the zombie boozer uprising. Once the band is convinced of the gravity of the situation, they take up their guitars to shred against the onslaught. 

"Blood Like Cream" comes from Red Fang's most recent album, Whales and Leeches, and follows the same formula they've used for previous song/video combinations: sludge-heavy riffs combined with a hilarious story line. That's not to say the story lines always have a whole lot to do with the songs' lyrics, but if they're this funny and well-made, who cares? Just stockpile some PBR and settle in for repeat viewings.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Everyone's entitled to one good scare! (or two, or three...)

Having just spent the whole weekend watching a ton of awesome new horror movies at the Knoxville Horror Film Festival (plus a completely sold out Rocky Horror at the Tennessee Theater--1500+ people!), today's song pays homage to one of my all-time favorite horror classics, John Carpenter's Halloween.

"Halloween Medley" by The Electric Hellfire Club opens with the band's industrial/glam/goth take on Halloween's iconic theme, which sets the stage for a 14+ minute opus of selections from classic horror-influenced songs. From the Halloween theme, the medley moves on to a snippet of EHC's own "Incubus," Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead," "Black No. 1" by Type O Negative, and ends up with an "Incubus" reprise. The band's spooky-sexy sound gels the whole thing together, and gets across the wicked spirit of the original versions of the songs they cover while still making them their own.

If you didn't know that at least one member of Electric Hellfire Club had been in My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, you might guess by their affinity for B-movie samples, dance-y beats, and fuzzed out guitars. EHC's lead singer Thomas Thorn left Thrill Kill Kult in 1991, but he took his love of sin, sex, and the devil with him to his new group. Electric Hellfire Club might be a bit darker than Thrill Kill Kult (they're definitely more Satan-y), but the basic elements of the two bands are very similar. 

Unlike Thrill Kill Kult, however, EHC has been fairly dormant for over ten years. "Halloween Medley" appeared on one of their last albums, 2000's Empathy for the Devil. All that might change soon, though--just recently they announced they have signed a new record deal and are working on an album to be called Tech Noir. Here's hoping you'll hear something from it here next October! Until then, check out the their masterful goth curating skills below.


Scaring the old fashioned way.

Since I missed posting a song yesterday due to an onslaught of awesome Halloween/horror-related events, today gets two songs. And to honor how much this song truly frightened me as a kid, I'm posting it at the stroke of the witching hour.

"Skin and Bones" is an old folk song that has seen many incarnations throughout the years, with changes in both lyrics and melody. One version is included in the first volume of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but the one I know best is performed by legendary folk musician Jean Ritchie. I first heard "Skin and Bones" when my kindergarten teacher played it for our class before Halloween, and the "Boo!" at the end scared me so much that I dreaded going back to school the next day for fear she'd play the song again.

Jean Ritchie's plaintive voice builds just the right amount of woe and dread, and her "Boo!" is one of the best jump scares I've ever heard. It sounds like she even scares herself! Hope this one scars, er, I mean scares, you as much as it did me.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch

No, I'm not defecting to another holiday, despite the presence of the Grinch on today's post. The Grinch is such an iconic bad guy that even though I love How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I always thought it was a shame to waste him on that one feely-goody holiday. In recent years, though, I was happy to learn he wasn't wasted on just one special, but in fact has a Halloween special of his own!

Halloween Is Grinch Night premiered in 1977, eleven years after the Christmas special (which Grinch Night is a prequel to). It concerns the events on "Grinch Night," when a Sour-Sweet Wind blows through Whoville and incites the Grinch to terrorize the Whos. One little Who named Euchariah goes on a quest to stop the Grinch from bringing his Paraphenalia Wagon full of horrors to Whoville. Inside the wagon, Euchariah meets all sorts of spooky images and monsters, but he sticks it out until the Sour-Sweet Wind dies down and the Grinch must retreat to his mountain hovel.

Unlike the Christmas special, the Grinch doesn't go good at the end of this one, but his dog Max does desert him to go live in Whoville with the much nicer Euchariah. Still, like an evil Mary Poppins, the Grinch vows to return the next time the Sour-Sweet Wind blows.

Even though the show won the Emmy in 1977 for Outstanding Animated Program, it doesn't seem to have been rerun very often (at least in my region), so I didn't see it until I was an adult. I'm sure it must've scared some people as kids, though, thus its presence on this weekend's theme of scary songs from childhood. Just check out this little number called "Grinch Is Gonna Get You." I think the Grinch's heart may have shrunk three sizes the day he came up with it.