Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Welcome to the best day of the year! Since I missed a day this month, today will feature not one but two songs from the great Vincent Price! If you thought his recording career started and ended with the "Thriller" monologue, then come closer my dear.

The first song is from Price's character Professor Ratigan, from the 1986 Disney animated film The Great Mouse Detective. It's sort of a children's Sherlock Holmes, with mice instead of people, and of course Vincent Price is the dastardly villain. The hero mouse is named Basil in honor of former Sherlock Basil Rathbone, and although Rathbone was dead by the time this movie was made, his voice (sampled from a 1966 Sherlock Holmes reading) makes a cameo as Basil the mouse's upstairs human neighbor. Of course Vincent Price steals the show, though, as his deliciosly evil Professor Ratigan plots to take control of the British monarchy. Here he is extolling his own michievous virtues in "The World's Greatest Criminal Mind." Tricky and wicked, of course!

And the final song of the season is... "The Monster Mash"! But wait, you say, this cannot be. Oh, but yes it can! Rules are made to be broken, after all, even my own. In fairness, this "Monster Mash" isn't the Bobby Boris Pickett one that crowds the October airwaves to the exclusion of so many other fine spooky songs, but a version by Vincent Price from a 1980 movie called The Monster Club. It's an anthology film hosted by Price as a vampire named Eramus, with monstrous musical interludes between the anthology segments. One of these interludes is "The Monster Mash," and I have to say that Price's take on "humes" (humans) at the beginning of this segment is spot-on. We're some of the scariest monsters of all, and he knows it! So just for today, the Transylvania Twist is now the Mash. Remember when you get to his door, tell them Vincent sent you...

Until next year, creep it real, ghouls! Now get out there and raise hell.

Friday, October 30, 2015

What's inside your haunted head?

With a resume that includes playing guitar for The Gun Club, The Cramps, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, I'm embarrassed to say I wasn't aware of Kid Congo's solo career until last year. Obviously he's a legend, and his solo work is in the same vein as the bands he's contributed to, with lots of punk, surf, psychobilly, and horror influences. As late as I am to the Kid Congo party, I'm excited to have a few new albums to obsess over!

Kid Congo's early life is just as fascinating as his music career, and he wrote about it in some detail in a March 2014 Huffington Post article called "How I Came Out of the Closet and into the Streets." He grew up in Los Angeles and began obsessing over David Bowie in the early 70s, as well as attending Rodney Bingenheimer's  English Disco, where a lot of glam rock stars hung out. He helped form The Gun Club in the late 70s, joined The Cramps soon after, and has continued his streak of awesomeness ever since. 

Today's song is a glittery, surreal trip into the unknown. It's the title track to his most recent release, 2013's Haunted Head, and if you like it, check out the rest of his work! He puts the authentic back in trash.

Body prep that can't be beat!

It's already been a year of entertainment highlights for me, like TWICE seeing John Cameron Mitchell reprise his role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Ellen Greene reprise her role as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, and a staged reading of Carol Burnett's play about her childhood in Hollywood. On par with all of these performances, though, was the Broadway production of Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel's graphic novel of the same name.

The book and the musical focus on Bechdel's upbringing in an emotionally dysfunctional family that owns a funeral home, her coming to terms with both her father's and her own homosexuality, and her father's eventual suicide. As dour as all this sounds, though, the musical manages to bring out the joy lurking around the corners of these difficult topics. This is none more apparent than in today's song, "Come to the Fun Home," which is a Partridge family-style extravaganza that the three Bechdel kids sing as a made-up advertisement for the family funeral home (nicknamed Fun Home). They make death fun! No wonder Fun Home won an armful of Tonys.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

No more hot dogs! No more excuses!

Speaking of Elvira's Halloween stage show, during last year's Elvira's Big Top, Brett Loudermilk used one of the most insane songs ever recorded for his sword/balloon
swallowing act: Hasil Adkins' "No More Hot Dogs." The song covers a few of Adkins' favorite topics, such as sex, meat eating, and decapitation, and is delivered in his signature one-man band style, along with demented cackles and lyrics. 

For obvious reasons, Hasil Adkins always had more of a cult following than mainstream success. That following was bolstered in the 80s when The Cramps covered his song "She Said," which includes a lyric describing Adkins' one night stand as "a dying can of that commodity meat." No wonder he wants his lady friends to lay off the hot dogs! 

In addition to being a progenitor of psychobilly, Hasil Adkins also acted in a few films and had some of his songs included on soundtracks. Since he was a lifelong resident of Appalachia (Boone, West Virginia), he was the subject of an Appalshop documentary, The Wild World of Hasil Adkins. Shockingly, after living 67 years on a diet mainly of coffee, meat, cigarettes, and liquor, in 2005 he died a few days after being run over by a teenager on an ATV. He is missed, but at least he got to keep his head.

And here is Hasil doing a live performance of "She Said" on Long Island's long-running cable access monster kiddie musical show, Ghoul A Go-Go:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Mistress of the Dark can't keep it in park.

Transitioning today from the band Queen to the Queen of Halloween, because what would this holiday be without Elvira? Sad. That is what it would be. 

For the past two years I was able to catch Elvira's Halloween stage show at Knott's Berry Farm in southern California. Unfortunately I'm not going to be able to make it this year for Elvira's Asylum, but Behind the Thrills has already posted the whole show online for those of us who can't see it in person. Every year Elvira expands on her usual "little black dress" wardrobe with exciting new costumes, and this year is no different. If you haven't seen her Asylum outfits yet, you need to get googling and oogling!

Today's song comes from a band featured in last year's Elvira show, Jelly of the Month Club. Their song "Welcome to the Carnival" was used in Elvira's Big Top, and apparently they and the Mistress of the Dark got on like a house afire because last October they also recorded "The Macabre Mobile" together. If there's one thing I love almost as much as Elvira, it's Elvira's car, so this collaboration was double-D exciting for me.

The song starts off with a Boris Karloff introduction from the 1958 film The Haunted Strangler, before a member of Jelly of the Month Club channels Rodney Dangerfield to illuminate Elvira's dangerously sexy driving abilities. Elvira herself chimes in throughout, and even gets a chance to crack her classic speeding ticket joke from the Elvira: Mistress of the Dark movie, plus offer some valuable road safety advice. Take a listen before you have to learn the hard way.

Monday, October 26, 2015

This Ming is a psycho!

Of course the last Queen Halloween song of this season has to come from their classic soundtrack to 1980's Flash Gordon. During high school, this movie was one of my late night VHS staples. It's based on the 1930's Flash Gordon comic strip and is intentionally campy--sort of like a less risque Barbarella. Astonishingly, producer Dino DeLaurentis had a long line of auteurs in mind to direct the film at various times (Frederico Fellini, Nicolas Roeg, and Sergio Leone) before settling on the comparatively little-known Mike Hodges.

Although not a great film, Flash Gordon is certainly a fun one. Max Von Sydow is the plastic-haired Ming the Merciless, Richard O'Brien has a small role as a Pan-like treeman, and Queen wrote and performed one of the earliest feature film rock scores. Their music has helped the film maintain its cult classic status over the past 35 years, due in no small part to the fact that you just can't not sing along with the theme. He'll save every one of us! He's a miracle! King of the impossible! Of course Flash is just a man, but he can never fail, and neither can Queen.

And the end credit song/theme reprise:

I think I'm a banana tree.

I'm seriously behind on posts, but for good reason. I spent the weekend at the seventh annual Knoxville Horror Film Festival watching some of the best new horror features and shorts. If you haven't been to this festival, you should definitely check it out next October, as well as their monthly events throughout the year. After all, horror movies are always more fun to watch with an audience, so why lurk in solitude behind your computer or TV when you could see a movie on a big screen and scream along with your fellow film fans?

As a result of my recent traveling schedule and eyeball-scorching levels of movie marathoning, I've reached an exciting new level of exhaustion that is loosening the last screws left in my noggin. I could definitely get on board with Queen's fashion choices in the video for "I'm Going Slightly Mad." Tea kettle hat? Giant penguin beak? YES. And really, wearing a banana bunch on your head just makes sense when you think about it. How many times have you wanted a banana, yet found no bananas in your immediate vicinity? If you were simply wearing several on your head, you'd have plenty for yourself and to share with others. A banana hat begs the question--are you going slightly mad, or slightly GENIUS???

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hail to the Queen!

Inspired by a friend who today said when she was young, she broke up with a boy because he lied about being into Queen to the degree she needed him to be, this final weekend before Halloween is going to be all Queen, all the time! 

Every relationship needs parameters, and I'd say requiring a partner to have a healthy appreciation of Queen's rock/glam/metal/operatic accomplishments is as good a measuring stick of compatibility as any. If we can't blast "Don't Stop Me Now" in the car and scream along together, do we really understand anything about each other at all? Doubtful. 

"Killer Queen" is from the band's 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack, and is about a femme fatale-like call girl. She's dynamite with a laser beam and guaranteed to blow your mind. But if you thought Freddy said she was dining at night with a lesser being, let's just agree to be friends. Lying ain't trying, pal.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

The werewolf might be someone you've known of late.

If I was not traveling, I would probably be going to the Werewolfathon at the Loew's Jersey Theatre tomorrow night to see a triple feature of Werewolf of London, The Wolf Man, and An American Werewolf in London. Since I am several hundred miles away from there, though, today's song will have to serve as a subtitution for that celebration of all things hairy and howling.

We've gone lycanthropic in previous years with werewolf songs from The Cramps and TV on the Radio, but today's song is like an atmospheric Universal classic to those two jaws-on-your-jugular anthems. Lo-fi chanteuse Cat Power shows us both sides of being in a relationship with a werewolf--he's a sensitive soul, but damn is he difficult to love! Especially with all those full moon shenanigans. "Werewolf" is an interpretation of folk singer Michael Hurley's 1964 original composition, and both are featured below for your own Werewolf Songathon. Raaawr!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

2015? You mean we're in the future?

It's Back to the Future Day! Right about now, Doc and Marty McFly should be arriving in Hill Valley, California. Let's hope their DeLorean has held up better than almost every other DeLorean ever made. Doc wasn't kidding when he said a '46 Ford could rip through one like tinfoil.

Since this blog is about bringing attention to songs that don't tend to get a lot of airplay (and since I really don't like Huey Lewis's music very much), I'll refrain from posting something directly from the Back to the Future soundtrack. Instead, here is a song about time travel by Frank Turner, a British folk-punk singer, that namechecks the DeLorean (and Donnie Darko). It's from his 2013 album Tape Deck Heart, and tells of building a time machine to go back and see how things really used to be, both in history and in a troubled relationship. That's romantical and all, but if I had a time machine, I'd probably just go check out dinosaurs all day and maybe set a few events in motion that would make me become humanity's benevolent overlord.

Welcome to the future, everybody!

Ok, fine, Huey Lewis isn't the only person on the Back to the Future soundtrack. Lindsay Buckingham is there, too, and I love him, so here's "Time Bomb Town."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

In the key of X.

With new Twin Peaks, a new Pee-Wee movie, and new X-Files on the way, sometimes I wonder if we have all found our way into some kind of parallel world where we are living an alternate 80s and 90s, but with fewer shoulder pads and parachute pants (for now). 

In college, The X-Files was the show my friends and roommates and I would gather to watch on Sunday nights. It was sort of like our church, but with aliens and conspiracies. So Scientology, I guess. A new teaser for the upcoming mini-series was just released yesterday, so it seems like a good time to revisit the music from the show's original run. 

While the show's theme is iconic and plenty of good music was featured within the episodes and films, my favorite X-Files-related music release is 1996's Songs in the Key of X. In fact, I would argue it's not just the best X-Files music release, but one of the best TV show compilations ever made. It contains some songs that were used on the show, as well as some inspired by it, and features a staggering number of my favorite musicians, like Nick Cave, Glenn Danzig, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Frank Black, Rob Zombie dueting with Alice Cooper(!!), and Soul Coughing. 

Out of all the great music on this album, though, the song that sticks with me the most and that I always skip to first is "My Dark Life" by Elvis Costello. Costello wrote it for Songs in the Key of X and recorded it in one day in the studio with Brian Eno. It's based on a trip Costello took to Russia and the feeling of being out of place in a strange land, but just like The X-Files, its subject is enigmatic and takes a while to unfold. In Rolling Stone he said that it's one of a series of film-noir songs, featuring a mysterious recurring figure. Another article claimed Bono said the song "sounds like lounge music from Venus," and I'd say that assessment is dead-on. Dig the otherworldly grooviness:

Monday, October 19, 2015

In praise of obscure gay icons.

One of the highlights of my 2014 was seeing  a performance of RuPaul's Battle of the Seasons tour, and one of the highlights of that show was seeing Jinkx Monsoon perform one of her original compositions, "What About Debbie?". She says that when she was growing up, she saw that every little gay boy [or girl] wanted to be Wednesday Addams or Morticia, but she always loved Joan Cusack's gold digging Debbie Jellinsky from Addams Family Values. So much so in fact, that she felt the need to write a gospel song singing her praises.

Jinkx very deservedly won Season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race in 2013. She was something of an underdog, but her comedic talents, powerhouse singing voice, and big, big heart trumped the 13 other competitors. Since winning, Jinkx has toured with RuPaul's Battle of the Seasons, written and performed two installments of her Vaudevillians musical comedy, and played Little Edie in a drag version of Grey Gardens, with fellow drag icon Peaches Christ as her mother. She's at her best when she's bringing an over-the-top character to life, so here she is raising Debbie Jellinsky to her appropriate place in the pantheon of gay icons:

Next month Jinkx will truly be bringing her beloved Debbie to life when she portrays her in a live show at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, with Sharon Needles as Morticia Addams and Peaches Christ as Wednesday Addams. I would pretty much kill to be able to go see this, and you know I don't wanna hurt anybody. I don't enjoy hurting anybody. I don't like guns, or bombs, or electric chairs. But sometimes people just won't listen. And so I have to use persuasion. And slides. 

Until Jinkx reinvents Debbie next month, here's the original doing her crazy Debbie thing:

The feel-goo musical of the year.

You know you've told a timeless tale when your low-budget 1984 horror-comedy becomes a beloved cult classic, spawns three sequels, an animated children's TV series, mountains of merchandising, and, in 2008, an Off-Broadway musical. Clearly Lloyd Kaufman had his finger on some kind of pulse when he created The Toxic Avenger. A lucky thing, since his finger is so often elsewhere.

Other than being a musical, The Toxic Avenger play differs from the 1984 Troma film in a few ways. For instance, rather than just being bully bait, nerdy Melvin starts out as something of a toxic crusader, which is what prompts Tromaville's mayor to get him thrown in a vat of toxic waste. Just as in the film, however, Toxie is born from Melvin's near-death experience, and he proceeds to mop up Tromaville's toxic landscape and political offices. 

The musical ran for almost a year in New York, produced a cast album, received some awards and several favorable reviews, and went on a national tour. Not bad for a hideously deformed guy in a tutu, armed only with his mop and superhuman strength! The following is the opening number from the musical that sets the stage for our hero's transformation/entrance. Who are you going to call when Jersey finally gets overrun with toxic waste? You know who.

A few clips from the New York production:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Poultry in motion!

If the awesomeness of the Vegan Black Metal Chef isn't enough to turn you off meat forever, then perhaps today's Troma offering will do the trick. Poultrygeist shows the unfortunate consequences when fast food is combined with a cursed Indian burial ground (is there any other kind?).

American Chicken Bunker is a KFC-like franchise (but with a military theme) that is quickly punished by an uprising of zombie chickens for locating its newest store on sacred land. Our hero, Arbie, is on the case, though, and discovers that the spirits of the disgruntled Native Americans and those of the slaughtered chickens are in cahoots to make this a haunting of epic proportions. As with many things in life, beer takes care of the problem, but not before much Troma-rrific carnage ensues.

Poultrygeist was directed by Lloyd Kaufman in 2006 and was one of the few in-house Troma films made between 2000's Citizen Toxie and 2013's Return to Nuke 'Em High Vol. 1. With two Nuke 'Em High films coming in rapid succession, though, maybe this signals the coming of another high production heyday for Troma. The end of Poultrygeist doesn't leave much room for a sequel, but who knows. Stranger things have certainly happened in Tromaville.

Hungry for some drive thru? Maybe check out this cautionary tale first:

Need more convincing?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Enrollment time at Nuke 'Em High.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to see a rough cut of the upcoming Troma film Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 2. Troma was my first job out of college and the reason I ever moved to NYC in the first place, so since things have been coming weirdly full circle in my life a lot lately, this weekend is going to focus on the music of Troma!

The new Return to Nuke 'Em High films find Tromaville High School still beset by nuclear waste issues (namely the unwitting consumption of it), just as it was in the first three Nuke 'Em Highs, made in the late 80s and early 90s. Don't the citizens of Tromaville ever learn? Uh, no. No they don't. 

Volume 2 features all the raunchy humor and gory/gross effects you've come to know and love from Troma, plus some very special guest stars, like Lemmy as the President and Ron Jeremy as God. Clearly it's Troma's world, the rest of us are just radioactive squirrels trying to bite someone's (Lloyd's?) nuts.

Here is the classic Class of Nuke 'Em High theme remixed by Dedderz for the new volume of Return to Nuke 'Em High. No word yet on an official release date, but if they're doing rough cut screenings, hopefully that means it'll arrive in time for Santa to slip the DVD in your crusty, strangely-stained stocking.

Whet your appetite for all things nuclear with this taste of what you're in for:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hail Seitan!

Do you agonize over how to eat healthily and ethically, yet still please the dark lords? The Vegan Black Metal Chef is here to help! He's been making videos since 2011 that demonstrate how to cook delicious animal-free dishes with hellfire, but the exciting news this year is that in December the VBMC will release his first cookbook, The Seitanic Spellbook. 

Over the summer, the VBMC's legions of followers nearly doubled his Kickstarter campaign goal, so the book is well on its way to spreading its unholy vegan message to the masses. According to the book's campaign page, it "will be an ultra visual, multimedia cookbook to teach amazing vegan cooking with a fist full of metal." There will be a video to accompany every recipe, and since the VBMC is an actual black metal musician (in the band Forever Dawn), the audio portion is always just as kickass as the recipes. 

The videos are hilariously over-the-top in their metal stylings, but the VBMC's intentions are wholly serious. His website states that his project has two main purposes: to both answer the question "What do vegans eat?"/show how to cook it, and to help people bring consciousness to their lives and actions. He elaborates more on these ideas on his website, and as a 23-year vegetarian myself, I can say with authority that he has some of the most accessible and well-thought-out reasoning for a plant-based diet that I've ever read. He also has some of the tastiest, easiest, and most entertaining recipes I've ever seen. Check out his classic "Hail Seitan" from the VBMC's first year of video production: 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

¡Vivo Duraznos Sábado!

Last October I was lucky enough to catch one of the most amazing performances I'll probably ever see, which occurred during the Halloween installment of L.A.'s Mexican wrestling/burlesque extravaganza Lucha VaVOOM. For the halftime show, genre/gender-bending singer Peaches fronted the all-female Black Sabbath cover band Black Sabbitch for eight glorious minutes of "War Pigs"!

Peaches came out in a glittery bat costume with eyeballs on her boobs and a screaming mouth on her crotch, and went full-on Ozzy by biting the head off a (rubber) bat and spitting blood. Black Sabbitch played faithfully and flawlessly, bringing me the closest I'll probably ever come to feeling like I saw Black Sabbath in their heyday. And if that was the halftime show, you can just imagine how amazing the rest of the evening was! We were treated to fearless and filthy acts by luchadores like Dirty Sanchez, and to sexpot burlesque dancers selling the "Night of the Vampire" theme. If you have the chance to see Lucha VaVOOM, Black Sabbitch, Peaches, or any combination of the three, DO IT!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Once you go goth, you never lack black.

What happens when your special someone is all sunshine and lollipops, but then along comes a grown-up Wednesday Addams in a Prius tricked out like the Munsters' car? Trouble in paradise!
"You're So Dark" was the B-side to the Arctic Monkeys' 2013 song "One for the Road." It starts as a litany of all the wonderful qualities about this dark new person--she's got a Dracula cape, watches Italian horror and listens to the scores, and has a Triple A membership to the cemetary--before admitting that she's nothing like his current daylight-loving lady, and that this dark girl's love would tear them apart. He knows he's not her type, but that doesn't stop him from wanting her, so maybe it's time to have that dreaded talk. After all, sometimes things/goth girls just happen, and it's really nobody's fault...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Take a ride on the wild side.

At the end of this year, Motley Crue will officially be retired, and after omitting them from this blog for the past five years, I'm finally ready to admit that I still love them as much as I ever did in 1990. I started high school a year after that and didn't feel comfortable admitting to my new punk/heavy metal/indie rock friends how much I loved glam metal, but I did and still do. For me, glam metal is a little mini-vacation to the Gravitron in my mind, where the air always smells like fried dough and the carny won't let you off the ride until you've spun both forward and backward.

Unfortunately I was never able to officially see Motley Crue in concert, but a few years ago I was wandering a cliffside promenade in Pittsburgh one summer night and heard the heavenly strains of "Girls, Girls, Girls" wafting across the river. Motley Crue was playing an outdoor arena show and when I put a quarter in the viewfinder, I saw Tommy Lee and his drumset traveling around a Super Loop track! It was like the constant carnival in my brain had manifested itself in the real world. I think hearing and seeing the band in such an unexpected place and way was even better than if I'd bought a front row ticket. A magical evening!

Today's song is my all-time favorite of theirs: "Shout at the Devil," from their 1983 album of the same name. Throw your devil horns in their honor while you listen. You're not too cool for it. \m/\m/

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Virgin vixen on the run!

Revolutionary silkiness.
In the years since Patty Hearst's arrest, release, and eventual pardon by Bill Clinton, she has unfortunately disavowed her revolutionary past and except for a few appearances in some John Waters films, faded into normalcy. Her Shih Tzu even won a prize at this year's Westminster Dog Show! A far cry from armed robbery and getaway car driving.

In 1977, however, while Patty Hearst was still sitting in prison, one of my all-time favorite bands, The Misfits, released their first single:"Cough/Cool" backed with the Patty Hearst-themed "She." "She" ended up being the more popular of the two, and has been re-recorded, re-released, and covered by a variety of bands throughout the years. The first version was recorded just a few months after the band formed and featured Glenn Danzig on keyboard, but today's version was recorded a year later with guitar for The Misfits' first full-length album, Static Age. Listen, and travel back to when Patty was Tania and Tania was a badass. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Oh, my beloved revolutionary sweetheart.

Just like me, today's song is full of longing for simpler times, when newspapers were filled with grainy security cam footage of Patty Hearst holding up a bank in San Francisco. Why are the rich girls of today not nearly so interesting? Since most of them seem to have their own reality show, maybe they're just spreading their crazy too thinly upon the masses. Why not save it up for a really special occasion? 

Camper Van Beethoven's "Tania" refers to Patty Hearst by her Symbionese Liberation Army name, which she took in honor of one of Che Guevara's comrades. Her name change was an important development in her abduction--it came two months after she was kidnapped by the SLA, and was announced in conjuction with the news that she had willfully joined the terrorist group. In the two months prior, members of the SLA had kept Patty in a closet, threatened her with death, and eventually given her SLA pamphlets to read. When her captors began talking of either killing her or letting her stay on as a member, it's easy to see why a name change and a new life as an urban guerilla sounded like a pretty good option.

"Tania" comes from Camper Van Beethoven's 1988 major label debut, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart. The lyrics are from the point of view of someone looking back on their Patty Hearst crush, and yearning to once again be liberated from their routine existence by news of a rich girl-turned-revolutionary. I hear ya, buddy, and I'm right there with ya.

Teenage terror!

As Halloween draws near, I've begun to think about costume options, and whether I want to come up with something new or go with one of my favorite old standbys: heiress-turned- brainwashed bank robber Patty Hearst. The only problem with the costume is that these days not a whole lot of people know who Patty is/was. But then again, maybe that's a plus. The people who do are probably the people I want to know!

Since Patty and her plight have begun to fall into obscurity, this weekend's songs are going to focus on her and her 1974 dalliance with the Symbionese Liberation Army. First up is a 1976 doo-wop single by The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo called "You Got Your Baby Back." Well, sure you got her back, but will she ever be the same???

Thursday, October 8, 2015

By the pricking of my thumbs...

Americana singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams might be best known for her songs about the horror of being unlucky in love with drunken angels, but in today's song, "Something Wicked This Way Comes," she gives her bluesy gospel treatment to the horror of crossing paths with a real fallen angel: the devil himself.

The title of the song is a quote from a witch in Macbeth, as well as the title of Ray Bradbury's classic novel about an evil carnival. Lucinda Williams uses it as a refrain throughout her song to drive home just how mean this guy is--he was cast out of heaven and will show you no mercy, nor ever leave you alone. Sounds even worse than that dude she changed the locks, phone number, and town name on back in 1988! "Something Wicked This Way Comes" is from her most recent album, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, which finds her still rocking just as down and dirty as ever.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hands. Hands of Fate.

One of the worst movies ever made, which due to Mystery Science Theater I have seen more than once in my lifetime, just got restored and is premiering tonight here in New York. Manos: The Hands of Fate was made in 1966 on a bet by an insurance/fertilizer salesman in El Paso, Texas, forever proving that filmmaking really should be done by professionals, or at least people with some understanding of storytelling.

Besides low production values, the "plot," which has something to do with a family being held captive by a pagan cult, makes little sense, and in the words of the MST3K guys, the film was shot on location in a vacant lot and every frame looks like someone's last known photo. Worst of all, Manos is interminably boring. It's hard for me to make it through the whole thing, even with MST3K commentary. No wonder Dr. Forrester apologized to Joel and the robots for subjecting them to it.

There's no denying Manos' cult status, though, which is somewhat amazing since it was pretty much single-handedly brought about by the film's appearance on Mystery Science Theater. In addition to the new restoration, a tribute band recently emerged in Nashville called Manos: The Band of Fate. Below, check out their song "The Torgo Twitch." 

And, if you feel like torturing yourself, the trailer for the movie. FYI, "manos" means "hands" in Spanish. So yes, the title of the movie is literally Hands: The Hands of Fate.

And here's Torgo with your pizza.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Run fast, don't stand in the sun.

What We Do in the Shadows is not only one of the funniest movies of 2015 and probably the funniest vampire movie of all time, it also features one of the best theme songs of the year: "You're Dead" by Norma Tanega.

The song appeared on Tanega's 1966 debut album Walkin' My Cat Named Dog, around the same time she was in a relationship with Dusty Springfield and writing lyrics for many of Springfield's songs. That must've been one entertaining household! Tanega's solo career failed to take off, however, and in the 70s she became a percussionist. She still makes world music albums, but with the success of What We Do in the Shadows, her early folk/pop work is finally getting some of the attention it deserves.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Fembots have feelings, too.

Like Janelle Monae, Swedish electopop singer Robyn is interested in the line where humans and androids cross. While Robyn doesn't have an entire mythology worked out for her robotic imaginings like Monae does, she does return to the android theme fairly often, such as in today's song, "Fembot." 

These fun-loving bionic women would probably be more at home in Barbarella than Blade Runner, and according to Robyn, are meant to demonstrate the organic nature of technology, and how humans and robots are not separate. For such high-minded intentions, though, the song also includes lyrics like "I'm a very scientifically advanced hot mama, artificially discreet, no drama." 

So maybe more of a cyborg brag rap than a sociology Master's thesis? Still, it's got a good beat and you can dance to it!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Hammer time.

In 1978, as Britain's Hammer Films was winding down production of their classic line of gothic horror films, British singer Kate Bush paid tribute to Hammer's horror legacy in her song "Hammer Horror." 

Like many Hammer films, the video is more atmosphere than substance, and the song's subject could be a synopsis from Hammer's golden age: the star of a film adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame dies on set, his friend takes the role but feels guilty about it, and then ends up being haunted by the dead actor's ghost. Some friend! It's not like the poor guy killed to get the role. Guess there's just no reasoning with ghosts.

Bush's ethereal soprano lends an appropriately haunting quality to this song, as well as to her many other gothic film-inspired works, like "Wuthering Heights" (written after she saw a mini-series based on the Bronte novel), "Hounds of Love" (which samples the 1957 film Night of the Demon), and "Get Out of My House" (based on The Shining). Although she hasn't released an album since 2011, she often resurfaces after long absences. Hammer Films also hibernated for a long time, but in 2008 began producing horror films again. If everything old is new again, maybe the next Kate Bush album will give the world yet another gothic film-inspired classic.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Graveyard Gambol!

What do you get when you cross "the purest Halloween music ever written" with 1930s abstract animation? Well, sometimes you get Fantasia, but today you get "Spook Sport"!

"Spook Sport" was made in 1939 by one of the world's first female experimental filmmakers, Mary Ellen Bute. Her colorful, dancing forms were usually set to classical music, and at one time played in movie theaters across the country, prefacing first-run features. Over time, however, decent prints of her work became rare, and as a result, her films have fallen into obscurity with the general public and become desirable to presitgious film collections like the George Eastman House and the Museum of Modern Art.
"Spook Sport" was co-created with animator Norman McLaren, and features spooks, ghosts, and bats dancing in a midnight graveyard to Camille Saint-Saen's Danse Macabre. Although a recent article in The Atlantic did call Saint-Saen's piece "the purest Halloween music ever written," Bute's high-spirited film has more in common with a rollicking Merrie Melody than its 1940 rise-from-your-grave-and-dance counterpoint, Disney's Night on Bald Mountain. Won't you join these spooks and ghosts as they cavort and make merry in a groundbreaking film ballet?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sometimes, the mystery of death.

Sadly the world lost an icon a couple days ago when Catherine Coulson, aka The Log Lady from Twin Peaks, died from cancer, just weeks after the third season of the show began filming. What enigmatic wisdom would her character have bestowed in the new episodes? Only her log could tell us now.

During last year's Twin Peaks theme weekend, Catherine Coulson appeared as The Log Lady in the Twin Peaks homage "Unknown Species" by Pretty Little Demons. She isn't in today's video, but the song certainly sounds like it came straight from a night in The Roadhouse. "The Big Dream" was originally recorded by David Lynch for his 2013 album of the same name (a follow-up to 2011's Crazy Clown Time), but this version has Mindy Jones channeling Julee Cruise in a 2014 Moby "reversion" of the song. 

Appropriate that this is the fifth anniversary of this blog, and the traditional fifth anniversary gift is wood. If you have a spare log, won't you slap some stamps on it and send it my way? I need it for my shrine.

Here is David Lynch's original version of the song:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Five years dead!

And lo, on the first day of the fifth year of my entombment, the very worlds are of sound, and matter is but as an odor; and the notes of our pipes in this world may create beauty or bring forth abominations. When sourceless sounds occur, fear only that shape which a certain sound may form in the universe...

Oh! Sorry... with nothing to read down here but the Necronomicon, sometimes I forget how to speak to anyone except the Old Ones. To translate, today begins the fifth year of me slinging Halloween music at your ears from the confines of this blog! And I'm celebrating the same way I've celebrated every October 1st since 2011--with a song from The Cramps

While we already visited with "The Human Fly" a couple years ago, this reborn maggot is getting the spotlight once again because just recently a long-lost 1978 short film the band made for the song was unearthed. It features Lux Interior transforming into a fly, and Poison Ivy playing a scream queen and sexing up the joint as only she can. You can read more about the film's provenance here. Don't panic at the lack of sound in the beginning--the song starts in earnest at about two and a half minutes in, just as the lovely Ivy meets her 96-eyed fate.

So settle in with me and the Old Ones for 30 more days of howling demons, clacking skeletons, and this soothing insectian drone: