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 chat 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 that 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 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. 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 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 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.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Scary songs to sing in the dark.

Only one week until Halloween! The suspense is terrible... I hope it lasts.

On this last theme weekend before I retreat into my velvet-lined year-long slumber, we're going to honor songs that scared the crap out of me when I was a kid, and maybe did the same for you. Over the past couple years, I've been revisiting my favorite scary books from childhood, and although there are lots that I loved--the supernatural mysteries of John Bellairs (illustrated by Edward Gorey!), the surreal weirdness of Roald Dahl (especially The Witches), the anti-conformist sci-fi odyssey A Wrinkle in Time--the scariest by far has to be Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

I still remember the exact location of this series of books in my elementary school library, and the feeling of dread when I would go near them. That dread couldn't overpower my curiosity, however, and despite my fear, I read and reread all three. It's not the stories in these books that are especially scary, though. They basically retell folklore and legends that have been spun around campfires for decades, or even centuries. What is scary here is the art, and even when viewed as an adult, it is truly horrifying! 

While Alvin Schwartz collected tales from all over the country to fill the books, illustrator Stephen Gammell came up with some of the most terrifying images ever to be printed in children's literature. As a kid, I imagined the ghastly figures in these drawings had been carved out of lard--they have a spongy, waxen quality that makes them look like they would smell really, really bad. Gammell used pure grade nightmare essence as his medium, and because the pictures are so disturbing, the books have often been banned. For the series' 30th anniversary, the publisher went so far as to replace the art with less horrific fare, much to the outcry of longtime Gammell fans.

The originals can still be found in many used book outlets, however, and the video for today's song includes several of Gammell's most well-known works. It's a version of "The Hearse Song," which is featured in 1981's first volume of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The band Harley Poe, which lead singer Joe Whiteford aptly describes as "Voilent Femmes meets a slasher flick," does the song spooky justice. I can just imagine hearing this around a campfire, right before something really, really horrible emerges from the woods...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

At the late night double feature picture show.

After six years of living in Knoxville, the Tennessee Theater's annual showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is finally falling on a weekend when I am not out of town, so today's song is going to celebrate it! I am super-excited to see Rocky Horror this Saturday in such a magnificent movie palace, which will also include a shadow cast performance and a dude in drag playing the organ--sounds dirty, hope it is.

As mentioned in previous years, the influence of this film on me is difficult to quantify--it gave me a world outside the high school and small town I hated, and also jump started my film education. Once I became obsessed with Rocky Horror as a teenager, I began searching out all the old B-films mentioned in its theme song, and fell in lifelong love with horror. I know the movie has done the same for lots of other folks, and some ambitious fans are in the process of documenting the phenomenon in their Rocky Horror Saved My Life film.

Today's song is once again the show's theme, "Science Fiction, Double Feature"--yeah, I know I've used it twice already, but this time is different! This time it's by Joan Jett! I was lucky enough to see Joan play Columbia and the Usherette during the 2000 Broadway revival of the musical, which also featured Lea DeLaria(!) as Dr. Scott and Eddie, and Dick Cavett(!!) as the Criminologist. Needless to say, it was a magical night.

Joan Jett was rocking a shaved head back then and instead of doing the traditional Columbia tap dance, she did a bitchin' guitar solo. Unfortunately, she didn't perform on the cast album, but she did record "Science Fiction, Double Feature" on her 2004 album Naked. Naturally, she rocks it out and makes it her own. And for the complete listening experience, she also includes the song's wistful reprise that plays over the movie's credits. Now you just need to go out and see all the rest that happens in between those two bookends--you can bet that's what I'll be doing this Saturday!



2000 was way before the days when everyone had a decent-quality video camera in their pocket, but here is a shaky, blown-out video of "The Time Warp" being performed by the 2000 Broadway cast. Show us how it's done, Dick!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

All our tentacles entwined.

Lady Gort
If your idea of romance is hanging out on an asteroid and watching B-movies with your partner by virtue of his/her/its ever-multiplying antennas (and really, whose isn't), then perhaps you should call in and request today's song as a dedication for your special someone/something. "Doris Daytheearthstoodstill" by the Future Bible Heroes is a tender love song that pretty much sounds like its title--a mix of the wholesome fun of Doris Day and the world-weary wisdom of The Day the Earth Stood Still.



Unlike the classic movie, however, this time the humanoids are keeping their distance from the advertisement-glutted Earth. Instead of coming down to warn earthlings of their destructive ways, as Gort unsuccessfully did in the 1951 movie, Doris and her partner are kicking back and enjoying Earth's late night movie offerings (but probably muting the commercials). Guess it's a sad state of affairs when even the aliens have given up on us, but what can you do. Que sera, sera.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Welcome to the Museum of Natural Horrors!

Keep walking, keep walking, keep walking...ah! Here we are. At the Vincent Price/Alice Cooper exhibit. Surprised that "Thriller" wasn't Price's first foray into pop music recitations? I'm afraid you have much to learn, young spider.

Alice Cooper's first solo album, 1975's Welcome to My Nightmare, is a concept album that chronicles a journey through a little boy's nightmares. The title song was profiled here a few years ago, and while its video features adorable Muppet monsters, today's video stars that adorable master of the macabre, Vincent Price. The footage comes from a TV show called Alice Cooper: The Nightmare, which was made to accompany the album. Alice Cooper plays Steven, the little boy whose nightmares we are viewing, and Vincent Price is the "Spirit of the Nightmare," little Steven's guide through this underworld of no escape.

"Black Widow" begins with Price's demented diatribe on a world takeover by black widow spiders, and Cooper's song basically reinforces that plan. The scariest thing about the video might be Vincent Price's shirt, though--check out all those silky ruffles! Surely that fashion choice would be deadly on someone less sinister.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Raven hair and red lips, subtle wicked smile...

Go ahead and get excited now because the hardest working ghoul in showbiz (during October, anyway) is at it again for your Halloween viewing pleasure! That's right, your mistress and mine, Elvira, is back in the saddle--er, on the couch--and hosting horror movies for the 13 nights leading up to Halloween. 

Except for Night of the Living Dead, which premieres Halloween night, these are all movies she has never hosted before, like Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, Puppet Master, and Evil Bong. A new one will be streaming on Hulu each day, which seems like the perfect outlet for Elvira. Since there are no standards and practices for streaming content as there are for broadcast TV shows, Elvira can be as bad as she wants to be. And honey, you know she wants to be bad.

To celebrate brand new Elvira shows, today's song is an homage to her and her horror hosting legacy. "Mistress of the Dark" is a theme song written especially for Elvira in 2009 by Texas gothabilly band Ghoultown. They met when Elvira was signing autographs at the same Texas horror convention where the band was performing. Elvira's manager happened to see the performance and told her Ghoultown would be perfect for composing her new theme. After she checked them out, both she and the band (all Elvira fans, naturally) agreed.

Other than mirroring her punk/goth/B-movie aesthetic, Elvira was excited that Ghoultown's sound wasn't death metal because in her experience, most Halloween music seems to be death metal. Instead, Ghoultown plays a dark brand of western Americana, sort of like undead outlaw country. But all of this really begs the question: why isn't Elvira reading my blog?!? Not that there's anything wrong with death metal, mind you, but there's quite a low quotient of it here. I mean, c'mon, Elvira, give a ghoul some credit.
Gris Grimly DVD art

The video for the song is just as spectacular as the song itself--it was filmed at L.A.'s legendary Magic Castle, directed by acclaimed horror artist Gris Grimly, and features both Elvira and her Macabre Mobile! The plot involves the band invading Elvira's humble dungeon through a magical portal in her TV. In the end, Elvira turns the tables on the lead singer by pulling off her own reverse magic and riding off with him into the sunset.

I wonder if I stare at the computer screen hard enough over the next few days while watching Huluween: 13 Nights of Elvira, the same fate might befall me? If so, please don't mourn or come looking for me. I'll be in a much better place.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A cry of terror, a honeymoon scream!

So many Creature from the Black Lagoon songs, so little time! Unfortunately I already used my all-time fave"Creature from the Black Leather Lagoon" by The Cramps, on a previous year's post, so that one won't be profiled this weekend. Its absence leaves space for another Creature classic, though, and this one is pure 70s magic.

Dave Edmunds' "Creature from the Black Lagoon" appeared on his 1979 album Repeat When Necessary, which came near the end of a stellar streak of albums made with his band Rockpile. Edmunds is a man after my own heart--he was heavily influenced by 50s and 60s rock & roll artists like Elvis, the Everly Brothers, and Phil Spector, but despite being Welsh, he never fell in with the British Invasion sound. Instead, he created multi-layered power pop with a rockabilly tinge. Many of his songs, like "I Hear You Knocking," "Slipping Away," and "Queen of Hearts" (which later became a mega-hit for Juice Newton) are 70s rock classics. 

Even after Dave Edmunds slowed down on recording his own albums, he continued to work behind the scenes with similarly-styled artists. He produced the Stray Cats' first album, the Everly Brothers' comeback, and k.d. lang's major label debut. Edmunds is still out there shake, rattle, and rolling, and just last year released his first new solo recordings in twenty years. Here he is during his classic period, though, singing a 50s-style song about a 50s-style monster looking for some 50s-style love.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Up from the depths of unknown waters...

...comes a creature to confound science and terrorize the world! The Creature from the Black Lagoon will shock you with its stark realism of perfected 3-Dimension! Or so promises its provocative trailer:



Pass Creech popcorn! And Sno-Caps!
Many people don't realize the film was shot in 3-D because by the time of its release in 1954, the fad was already close to running its course, so many theaters projected it in 2-D. Even so, Creature's sequel, 1955's Revenge of the Creature, was also filmed in 3-D in an unsuccessful stab at reviving the format. Renowned horror/sci-fi director Jack Arnold helmed both projects, as well as Universal's first-ever 3-D film, 1953's It Came from Outer Space. Although Arnold's films certainly contain fun, campy elements that align them with other so-bad-they're-good sci-fi/horror films of the era, his are genuinely good and often artful. Along with Creature, his Tarantula, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and It Came from Outer Space are classics.

To continue our celebration of Creech's birth year, today's creature feature is performed by Switzerland's garage punk kings The Monsters! This one is from The Creature's perspective, 'cuz everyone deserves their say, right? Even if they are an aquatic man-beast from the dawn of time.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Happy birthday, Creature!

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the release of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, so this weekend we're going to honor that horror classic with songs about Mr. Gill-man! We all know he's more a lover than a fighter, so he lends himself quite nicely to wistful tunes of love, longing, and amphibious carnage.
Milicent Patrick
Other than being a sort of aquatic King Kong, Creech is an extra-special monster to me because he was designed by a lady! Former Disney illustrator Milicent Patrick not only created this one monster, however; she also designed the mutants in This Island Earth, the mole people in The Mole People, the masks in Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Xenomorph in It Came from Outer Space. She wasn't given credit for much of her work, and the make-up artist in Creature from the Black Lagoon, Bud Westmore, went so far as to claim The Creature was entirely his own design and later refused to employ Milicent Patrick again.


The Creature takes a call
while carrying Ginger Stanley.
In recent years, however, Patrick's name has resurfaced in connection with her accomplishments, probably in some part due to female horror fans searching out the women who helped shape the genre. In fact, Creature from the Black Lagoon features yet another notable contribution from a woman, stunt swimmer Ginger Stanley. Stanley was a stunt double for lead actress Julia Adams, and appeared in many of Creature's underwater shots. She was discovered by Ricou Browning, the man who would play The Creature, when Stanley was performing as a mermaid at Florida's Weeki Wachee park. After Creature and its sequel, she would go on to appear in various underwater film/photography projects, and to perform as Esther Williams's underwater stunt double.

Today's song, "Creature Stole My Surfboard" by The Dead Elvi, pays homage to The Creature's love of aquatic trickery, and the video features the work of yet another former Disney artist, Frank Dietz. The Dead Elvi have been around since 1993, when New Jersey's Chiller Theater Expo needed a scary house band to play their parties, and they're still letting loose their surf punk horror-billy on convention-goers today. Frank Dietz helped them get really stripped down for today's song... all the way to the bone!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vote Official Monster Raving Loony Party!

Although the BBC once named his debut album the worst of all time, Screaming Lord Sutch still laid the groundwork for later horror rockers like Alice Cooper and predated the Beatles for recording rock and R&B classics in England. Seriously, BBC? You would prefer listening to Phil Collins or Limp Bizkit? 

Lord Sutch started out in life as David Sutch, but after hearing Screamin' Jay Hawkins, he changed his name and took up Screamin' Jay's affinity for horror drag, too. He didn't have a lot of musical ability, but he made up for it by stocking his band with accomplished musicians, like Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Keith Moon, and putting on a killer (ha!) horror-themed show.

In the 80s, Screaming Lord Sutch forced himself onto British politics by founding the Official Monster Raving Loony Party and ran in several elections. He never won any, but gained a lot of notoriety and once prompted a party to dissolve itself after he received more votes than their candidate. Although Lord Sutch died in 1999, his party still exists and takes stands on important issues like making unicorns a protected species and attaching bungee cords to all vehicles so no fuel will be required for the return journey. 

"Jack the Ripper" is probably Screaming Lord Sutch's most well-known song, and the video for it features him in his classic Jack the Ripper get-up, with top hat, cape, and corpse-like make-up. You know, I never really understood Beatlemania--what about those four squares would make any girl need to faint?--but here I kinda get that reaction. If I was sitting in the first row of this performance, fainting might seem like just the right thing to do.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

And the Grammy for spookiest Halloween sound effects album goes to...

Who else, but America's favorite composers of imaginary horror soundtracks, Midnight Syndicate! Although the films are fake, each song evokes its own story through the group's use of sound effects and symphonic orchestrations. Just the songs' titles tell stories--who couldn't listen to "Haunted Nursery," "Mansion in the Mist," or "Inn of the Weeping Sparrow" and come up with some frightening scenarios?

Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka, the core composing duo that make up Midnight Syndicate, have been cranking out the fright together since 1998's Born of the Night. Since then, their music has gained a wide audience through its use in Halloween-themed events of all shapes and sizes, from local Halloween parties and haunted houses to Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. The group is credited with legitimizing Halloween music as a genre, and just this year they began their first residency of live multimedia performances at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. The show is called Midnight Syndicate Live! Legacy of Shadows. It's still running now, so if you're in the vicinity, go see 'em!

Today's song is from Midnight Syndicate's 2013 album Monsters of Legend. The theme of the album is based on classic movie monsters from various time periods and genres, from silents to Universal monsters of the 30s and 40s to Hammer films of the 60s and 70s. The title of the song is "It Lives!", and although there are no lyrics, I don't think you'll have any trouble conjuring up a monstrosity of your own horrific design.



Don't believe they give out Grammys for spookiest Halloween sound effects? Just check out last year's happy winner!

video

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Halloween is every day!

Since yesterday's post referred to Sharon Needles' version of "Every Day is Halloween," today's song is a long-overdue inclusion of the original by Ministry. It was first released in 1984, back when Ministry sounded more new wave than industrial, but clearly the band already had dark leanings. The lyrics give a little insight into those of us who live Halloween all year round, and make a strong case for why that is just as acceptable as any other lifestyle. We're all the same underneath, you know? Plus, Halloween is really fun, and Halloween all year round is even funner.

Al Jourgensen, Ministry's lead singer, started out in a band called Special Affect, with guys who would later be in My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and Concrete Blonde (does that make them a proto-supergroup?). Ministry formed in 1981 and stayed together until 2008, morphing from synthpop to industrial metal along the way. I first heard them as a wee metalhead in the early 90s, when their most commercially successful album came out, Psalm 69. It was their first with guitarist Mike Scaccia, whose untimely death of a heart attack in 2012 sadly marked the end of a reunion period for the band.

Al Jourgensen says Ministry won't regroup in the future, so it seems we'll have to satisfy ourselves with the legacy they've left us, not least of which is "Every Day is Halloween." It's been covered and remixed countless times in its 30-year existence, but the original is still the most classic. Let's all raise our black-nailed fists in salute!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Hey baby, I'll be your Carol Anne.

Since last year's post about drag superstar Sharon Needles, not only has she released more sickening videos, but this spring I was able to see her perform LIVE as part of RuPaul's Drag Race Battle of the Seasons tour! The whole night was special, but Sharon Needles' performances were truly awe-inspiring, almost to the point of making me weep. No exaggeration--it's really something when someone just gets everything you're about, you know?

Sharon started with a performance of today's song, "Call Me on the Ouija Board," and then came back out a little later for an AMAZING rendition of "Sweet Transvestite"(!!!). As someone who was saved from high school hell by joining my local Rocky Horror cast, you can imagine this is about when the waterworks threatened to burst forth. Sharon closed the show in a Grand High Witch costume and sang "Every Day is Halloween," her somber song of resistance to those who might tell her to go back to Party City rather than dominate with her fearceness. She ended with a big thank-you speech to her fans for putting the drag queen superstar crown on her head and led us in a "Hail Satan!" chant, like the fear-full leader she is. 

I hope I'll be able to see her perform a full concert one day, but until then, let's enjoy this otherwordly love song with Sharon dressed as a good number of your favorite horror movie characters. Come on, let's dabble in the black arts!



Bonus! Here's Sharon Needles performing "Sweet Transvestite" with The Flaming Queens:


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Are demons really a species?

You know you've made it when The Log Lady agrees to be in your video--and not just in it, but in costume, with her log, and providing one of her trademark cryptic intros of unanswerable questions. 

Lydia Night and Marhly Murphy of Pretty Little Demons are shockingly young to already have that kind of clout (13 and 11 respectively), but even at such young ages, they're seasoned pros. Both had been playing music for several years by the time they joined forces at a rock camp in 2012, and have since become the youngest band ever to be invited to perform at Austin's South by Southwest festival.

The video for "Unknown Species" was directed by Lydia's father, Morgan Higby Night, who has directed videos for several other artists, like Joan Jett and The Asylum Street Spankers. Since Twin Peaks is one of his and his daughter's favorite shows, he not only recruited Catherine E. Coulson to reprise her role as The Log Lady at the beginning of the video, but also recreated The Black Lodge in his garage, where the girls perform the song. Do they just sell that Black Lodge floor pattern at Home Depot or something? If so, I've got some home decorating ideas I really want to get started on...

The plot of the video involves a scientist (played by The Kills singer Alison Mosshart) who peers into her microscope to discover the pretty little demons in question. The girls are an interesting specimen--they move in reverse, jump-switch wardrobes from frilly dresses to skeleton suits, and return a white powdery substance that the scientist sprinkles on them by throwing it back in her face. 

In true Lynchian style, everything in the lab isn't all as it first appears. Exactly which species here is the unknown one?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Crazy NSFW clown time!

I know it's Saturday, but seriously, if you're at work and the boss is around, you probably want to save this video for home viewing. Nudity? Yes. People spitting on each other? Yes. A dude with his hair on fire? Yes. David Lynch with a mohawk? Yes, and yay!

"Crazy Clown Time" comes from David Lynch's 2011 debut studio album of the same name--yep, he's a musician, too! The album conveys much of the same weirdness found in his films, like surreal wordscapes, noisy industrial backdrops, and haunting melodies. Lynch provides most of the vocals, along with Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He calls his music "modern blues." Just last year he released his second album, The Big Dream, which builds on the same sounds and themes explored in Crazy Clown Time, both of which have been critically well-received.

In today's song, Lynch sings in a little boy voice about a party gone really, really wild. The video bring that vision to life in no uncertain terms and is the nightmare fuel you'd expect from one of Lynch's films. Susie ripped her shirt off completely! Danny poured beer all over Sally! We all ran around the backyard! It was crazy clown time... it was real fun.

Friday, October 10, 2014

My log has something to say about this.

With new Twin Peaks episodes on the horizon, it's high time we all time warp back to the early '90s to reacquaint ourselves with the series' first two seasons. When we last left the denizens of Twin Peaks, Washington, the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer had been solved, Agent Dale Cooper (or his doppelganger?) had been possessed, and, uh, there was a giant. Up to speed? Good.

There's no telling what directions David Lynch and Mark Frost might take the new season, or which classic characters will return, but no matter what happens, it's bound to be interesting. The new series will not be a remake, but a reboot in the present time, so literally anything could've elapsed over the past 25 years in the mysterious but ever-charming town of Twin Peaks. Alien visitations? A proliferation of backward-speaking dwarves? Totally silent drape runners? All likely.

Undoubtedly the series' iconic music will return, and in anticipation of that, today's song is "Falling," sung by Julee Cruise. Otherwise known as "The Twin Peaks Theme," David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalementi wrote the song in 20 minutes. Lynch immediately knew it would create the wistful, off-kilter mood for the whole series, and the influence of its quivering synths and airy vocals can still be heard in current artists like Lana Del Ray and Au Revoir Simone. 

But here is the original, still as good (and spooky!) as ever, and ready to be put into service for a whole new Twin Peaks era.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

That gum I like is totally back in style!

In celebration of the very exciting announcement this week that Twin Peaks will return in 2016 (with David Lynch directing every episode!), this weekend's theme is going to feature songs from or inspired by that series and/or David Lynch. Since I love that show and David Lynch so, so much, though, I'm starting the weekend early by featuring a very Lynchian song/video--Lynda Kay's cover of "I Put A Spell on You"!

Twin Peaks is known for its torchy, dream-pop score and cabaret scenes, and Lynda Kay brings all that, plus her bold, Patsy Cline-like voice, to the the classic Screamin' Jay Hawkins song. She's been singing in and around L.A. for many years, after relocating from her native Texas, and has released a full album, 2010's Dream My Darling, and an EP, last year's The Allure of Lynda Kay. Today's video showcases her cabaret-meets-classic country style (high, high hair, sparkly, sparkly garments, and a sultry, sultry smile) and gives away a few of her magic secrets. Just a dash of Vampira's Tears, a pinch of Lizzie Borden's Eyelashes, and a generous spray of Aqua Net in a steaming pot will get you one hell of a night on the town!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dance, android, dance!

Are androids freaks for twerking in the mirror? Are they weird for dancing alone late at night? Do they dream of electric sheep? According to ArchAndroid Janelle Monae, the answers are no, no, and maybe.

Monae began her psychedelic soul/sci-fi odyssey with her 2007 EP Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), which follows her alter-ego Cindi Mayweather, an android on the run because she has fallen in love with a human. The futuristic drama continues on Monae's full-length follow-ups, 2010's The ArchAndroid and 2013's The Electric Lady, where Cindi Mayweather becomes a kind of messiah to the people of Metropolis.

While Monae's sound and style draw influence from a wide variety of sources, there's a considerable portion of Fritz Lang's classic 1927 sci-fi epic Metropolis in her sensibility. Both share common themes, like class disparity and the mechanization of humanity, and both feature leading lady androids. Monae's android is completely different in character from Maria in Metropolis, however. Maria is an evil double of her human counterpart who works to destroy the people of Metropolis, while Monae's Mayweather is a champion of her people/robots, a group Monae calls "the Other."

Each of Monae's albums contain spoken interludes that bring home the sci-fi theme, but most of the songs stand alone as joyful anthems of individuality and forward progress. For instance, check out Project Q.U.E.E.N.: A musical weapons program in the 21st century. Researchers are still deciphering the nature of this program and hunting the various freedom movements that Wondaland disguised as songs, emotion pictures, and works of art. 

But wait... is that frozen android moving?

 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The friendliest ghost you know!

To watch all of those ghost hunter shows that litter the airwaves these days, you'd think all specters want to do is vex loudmouth dudes in Ed Hardy shirts. But can you blame them? Who wouldn't want to scare those guys away. Fact is, some ghosts can be perfectly nice, not to mention adorable, as we know from the 75-year-old (but ever childlike) ghost Casper.

Casper began life (or death?) in 1939 as a character in an unpublished children's book, and then sprang from its pages in his own 1945 animated shorts. Unlike most of his other ghostly compatriots, however, Casper has never been interested in scaring humans. Instead, he wants to befriend them and every other living thing, as his theme song declares. Trouble is, Casper often spooks without meaning to because people can't see past his ghostly veneer. Ironic, since Casper is in fact see-through.

Casper has starred in comic books and cartoons throughout his life/deathtime, and in 1995 a live-action Casper film was made featuring a computer-animated Casper. Today's song was the theme for that movie--a rousing rendition of the classic Casper song performed by Little Richard! So put that EVP meter down and just give this friendly little ghost a chance. He's really glad to meetcha!


Bonus! Check out the first-ever Casper cartoon, 1945's "The Friendly Ghost." Casper was a bit portlier then, and the tone of the story is a bit darker (Casper tries to kill himself even though he's already dead), but the cartoon sets up the premise that pretty much every other Casper story would follow.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Poe vs. King: SMACKDOWN!

Ever wondered who would win in an Edgar Allan Poe vs. Stephen King grudge match? Of course you have, and lucky for you, the fine folks at Epic Rap Battles of History have, too. This summer, the YouTube video series released an installment pitting America's reigning princes of literary darkness against each other in a war of rapid-fire words. These guys aren't just masters of the macabre, they're crack smack talkers who pull no punches. 

What's scarier--the Raven or Cujo? The House of Usher or the hotel in The Shining? A marriage to a 13-year-old cousin or a nonstop onslaught of 500-page books? You decide!



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dead can dance!

If you ever get down New Orleans way, you might steer clear on St. Joseph's Day. According to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, that's when the graveyard bones make a rattling sound and the dead get up and start walking around!

Of course New Orleans is known for its macabre sensibility, as profiled on this blog a couple years ago during a whole New Orleans theme weekend. And no one could be more steeped in they city's character than the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which has been keeping traditional New Orleans jazz alive in the French Quarter and around the world since the early 1960s. The band was started by a jazz historian who wanted to preserve New Orleans jazz, and although membership in the band has changed over the years, that original goal has consistently been realized.

Tradition alone often isn't enough to keep a whole genre of music alive, however, so just last year the band released its very first album of all-original compositions, called That's It! The album is both traditional and forward-looking, as you might detect in today's song, "Rattlin' Bones." While sticking close to the traditional style, it still sounds new and vibrant. If you don't wanna see 'em, though, you best stay home, cuz there ain't no running round the rattling bones...