There is no finer example of irony when you go out to the garage to pull out your Halloween decorations, and you’re too afraid to bring them in the house because they’re covered in spiderwebs. Being arachnophobic, I’m not bothered by the webs; it’s what could possibly lurk in those poorly-sealed boxes that worries me. So…..it looks like Halloween is gonna be served on the lighter side this year. Thankfully, I don’t always have to dig through boxes to create a spooky atmosphere. I took the liberty of uploading all those old Halloween-themed records and cassettes to my computer years ago, and have amassed a pretty impressive collection of sound effects, songs, stories and even old radio dramas.
One stands out above the rest and remains a perennial favorite though; the Horror Sounds of the Night by Topstone Industries.
I remember my dad buying this for me at a local costume shop back in 1986. The store was called Bonnie’s and was the kinda place that was open all year-round, but when October hit, it was THE place to shop for Halloween. It went from being a quiet little craft store to being as packed as a NY subway on a Monday morning! Everything could be found in there! It was usually where my parents went to get my costume, or costume accessories. It was also a great place for cheap decorations and toys. Since I already had my fair share of rubber skeletons, bats and Beistle die-cut outs, I found myself looking for something different to add to my collection. That’s when I found this cassette tape hanging off the rack. It instantly grabbed my attention because at the time, I didn’t have anything like it. Also, it was only $2, so there was no haggling with my dad to get it! As a Halloween-obsessed 10-year old, this cassette was a favorite from the moment I brought it home. It has been the soundtrack every October, 30 years running. I would play this in my room with all the lights out, a Jack-O-Lantern lit up and a green glow stick nearby. Even now, it provides an excellent ambiance for making Halloween crafts, sorting candy, decorating, etc. On Halloween, before we went out trick-or-treating, my parents would let me push the stereo speakers up to the front windows and turn up the volume. (Back then, stereo speakers were so big, they actually could fill up a living room window!)
Nowadays, sound effect CDs are a dime a dozen, but none have ever had the same effect on me. That’s mostly nostalgia talking, but I truly have listened to dozens of these things over the years. Even after discovering recently that a lot of these sounds were “borrowed” from older LPs (60s and 70s era stuff that was probably all public domain by then) I still believe this is the best compilation. I’ve always found this particular recording to be genuinely spooky, fun and not ruined with cheesy narration or pop songs vaguely related to Halloween. (Which is what was more common throughout the late 80s and 90s.) Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE songs like Monster Mash, Ghostbusters and Thriller, but those are songs you play at Halloween parties/dances, NOT what should be included on CDs that are clearly advertised as “Spooky/Scary Sounds”!
Although, as much as I love this tape, it’s not perfect. Right around the 6 minute mark, you start hearing a woman screaming. Not unusual for a Halloween recording, but it goes on for over a minute and a half, which is a long time if you’re blaring this out of a living room window. It’s not only genuinely unpleasant to the ears, but it quickly starts to blur the lines of reality and fiction. Shortly after the incessant screaming stops, a man’s moaning begins. It’s obviously supposed to be a ghost, but it gets a little too…ummm….adult-themed in nature. As if this particular ghost is having WAY more pleasure scaring people than he really should be. Sure, I get it….we all have fetishes, in life and in death (I assume), too….but let’s just try to keep that to their own category of sounds effect tapes. (Maybe sell them behind beaded curtains in dimly-lit shops on the other side of the tracks….?) Honestly, I just hated always having to rush to the tape player to turn down the volume when these parts came on.
Now, thanks to the beauty of modern technology, I was finally able to edit those unpleasant parts out. I’ve uploaded both the original AND edited versions to Youtube. The first link here is the original recording. The second is the shorter, edited version. (Each one has a link to the other, as well.) Both are in high-quality, LOUD, audio presentation for your listening pleasure. I also took the liberty of adding some carefully-selected, spooky images to the edited version. Now turn off the lights, crack that glow stick, light up a Jack-O-Lantern, sit back and enjoy.
[Via] Anthony Foust
[Via] Anthony Foust