As many of you know, the films that John Carpenter directed during the 70’s and early 80’s are some of the scariest ever made. The music that he composes always enhances his frightening cinematic visions. When he teamed up with the great film composer Ennio Morricone for the 1980 Horror classic The Thing, this was the result:
The same year, Carpenter brought us another spooky soundtrack when he directed The Fog. Check out the film’s alternative trailer, which incorporates the brilliant score:
My favorite example of Carpenter’s use of simple, synthesized music is from the Stephen King adaptation, Christine. The music kicks in at 3:23…Amazing stuff! Buddy, you jackass, you know you can’t run from a possessed car on fire. Go back to wood shop class!
Of course a John Carpenter post wouldn’t be a John Carpenter post, if I didn’t mention the music of Halloween. At this point, everyone should be familiar with the music, so just sit back, chomp some candy corn, and bow to the master of scary music:
And just for kicks, check out the trailer to Carpenter’s brilliantly goofy B-movie, 1988’s They Live, starring none other than the great “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
“I have come here to chew bubble-gum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubble-gum.” Pure genius!!!
Buy the music from John Carpenter’s films over at Amazon.
The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band were wild art-students acting out their love of bizarre shtick to the fullest. In 1969, The Bonzos rocked out with Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s classic Halloween hit, “Monster Mash” on English TV’s Do Not Adjust Your Set. Their eccentric lead singer, Vivian Stanshall has the perfect amount of creep in him to pull off the Mad Scientist. After the mash is over, stay tuned for the wacky parody of the “Sound of Music”. This sort of theatrical performance makes the Bonzos really stand out among your average English 60’s rock group.
Here are my personal picks for a Zombie Dream Team – rockers who met surprising, creepy, and just plain gruesome ends:
In the spirit of Halloween, I began snooping around for scary music to post and now I won’t be able to sleep. The Occult Rock Library lists 13 of the creepiest records from the 60s and 70s that were dedicated to the Dark Lord and all that goes along with worshiping the Devil. Fun!
The first album mentioned is the 1969 feel-good classic by Coven, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls. It’s kinda like Jefferson Airplane, if they were a Satanic Acid-Rock band:
For some reason or another, ex-straight edge dudes in my home town of Bensalem, PA looooved Rollerskate Skinny. After I heard them, I completely understood why. The Dublin-based band was able to fuse everything that was great about My Bloody Valentine, David Bowie and Echo and the Bunneymen into a spooky and extremely smart psychedelic sound.
Their 1994 opus, Shoulder Voices is a pulverizing tale of a man who slowly loses his mind. The music is at times brutal, but can also be very fragile. The ghostly vocal harmonies and chanting between lead vocalist Ken Griffin and drummer/vocalist Jimi Shields are beautiful in their simplicity.
Another thing that makes this album so special is the sound production. It’s not that the recording is pristine or even what one would typically consider to be “high quality,” but that is the point. Guy Fixen and the band use natural, and fabricated, textures as devices for enhancing the album’s concept. The music is so deeply layered, I swear I hear new sounds with every subsequent listen. Then again, maybe I am losing my mind…
Shoulder Voices is out of print, but I did find the album on Napster for $9.95. Haha, Napster, how 90’s of me.
Also, if you are already a fan, I found a kick ass Shoulder Voices poster over at eBay for just 3.99!
The Cherry Five started out as an average prog-rock band, nothing special. But when they changed their name to Goblin (sooo kick-ass) in the late 1970’s, they became destined to create some of the most incredible horror movie music ever.
The great Italian Horror movie director Dario Argento happened to feel the same way. For his 1977 tale of black magic and witchcraft, Suspiria, he assigned Goblin the duty of creating the score. In just one day they recorded what would become a masterpiece of spooky experimental prog-rock and spine-tingling ambient soundscapes. Check out this amazing murder scene from the film:
I have been a huge fan of Sweden’s The Knife for some time now. Seeing them perform live in NYC, this past year, definitely took my enthusiasm to new heights. The combination of singer Karin Dreijer Andersson’s haunting vocals and her brother’s Olof Dreijer’s atmospheric, hypnotic synth-scapes send chills of delight down my spine.
The sound is what one might hear if Bjork was to perform with Kraftwerk in hell. Visually, the band is just as mesmerizing. On stage they often wear neon Blue Man Group-esque jump suits and surround themselves with gothic video projections. In their press photos they have donned bird beak masks, known to be worn by medieval doctors. Yep, just a couple of typical kids from Sweden.
Their most recent album, and masterpiece, Silent Shout is a fantastic voyage into the heart of darkness that reveals it’s magnificence slowly over time. Check out this live clip of the band and download the title track below.
Purchase The Silent Shout Deluxe CD/DVD over at HMV. Sooo worth it. Trust me.
I tuned into AMC (one of our sponsors) to watch The Exorcist on Sunday, and I must say there is something about the idea of losing control of ones own body, by way of demonic possession, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!
The A-side of the only 7″ single that British synth band The Normal, aka Mute Records founder Daniel Miller, ever released was based on the J.G. Ballard Novel, Crash. The subject of the novel is quite bizarre: car-crash sexual fetishism. Don’t worry-it’s not completely insane. It just involves those everyday, next-door types, who happen to be sexually aroused by staging and participating in very real car-crashes…often with very real consequences. Sounds like a typical Saturday evening…if you are a nutbar, or just totally bored with ghost-riding the whip.
“Warm Leatherette” is the aural and sonic epitome of this oh-so-popular fetish. James Spader, one of the stars of David Croenenberg’s film adaptation of Ballard’s novel, told me in a recent interview that he listens to the song on his iPod while driving. Go Speed Spader! Go!
And guess what? You can buy the original 7″ for $250 dollars over at Wally’s Groove World, or you can just download it for free below. So what if you are into post-car crash boning? You still know a great deal when you see one.
The German-born singer, Klaus Nomi was a genuine performance artist, dedicated to his bizarre vision of futurist new-wave-robot-aliens. At face value, his absurdity comes off as humorous. However, it becomes apparent how serious he was about his art after a closer inspection.
Last night I had the pleasure of viewing The Nomi Song, The Klaus Nomi Film by Andrew Horn. This in-depth documentary covers Nomi’s life from his glorious start to his sad finish in great detail. His former backing band is interviewed, along with other artists from the 80’s New York New-Wave scene.
If you are a weirdo, or if you are planning on becoming totally insane, the following footage will serve as the perfect inspiration:
David Bowie and Klaus on Saturday Night Live performing “The Man Who Sold The World”
Tragically, Nomi passed away from AIDS in 1983. He will be remembered as one of the most beautiful voices of the 80’s New York avant-garde/new wave scene.
Klaus Nomi’s debut album, features the songs above, as well as renditions of Lou Christie’s “Lightning Strikes” and Chubby Checker’s “The Twist!” Totally bizarre!
My introduction to Damo Suzuki was through the 1970’s German Krautrock band Can. Hearing Ege Bamyasi for the first time was a formulative musical milestone. Whenever I listen to this album, I’m always satisfied by its liberal craftsmanship. Last week, West Philly promoter Ben Morgan brought Damo Suzuki to town for a couple of shows and I made certain to attend.
Damo played his first ever Philly show at the Rotunda with Bardo Pond. After sound check, he was cool enough to sit on a step outside and talk about something other than Can.
Throughout pop-culture, snakes have definitely gotten a bad rep…and for good reason. I mean come on, what was the ONE thing that the otherwise fearless Indiana Jones actually feared? Snakes. Which creatures had the power to cause utter chaos at 30,000 feet and make the veins in Sam Jackson’s protrude every other second? Snakes. Ok so we get it…snakes are scary. But can they be funky? Cool It Reba thought they could, and they proved it on 1982’s cooky punk-funk gem, “I Saw Snakes.”
Reminiscent of The Talking Heads, Television and Wire, it’s a creepy tale that uses our lovable reptile as a metaphor for a doomed relationship. The guitar riffs are awesomely angular and the lyrics are wonderfully ridiculous. “I saw snakes in the doctor’s office! They looked at me and said ‘we got it all!’” Retarded and great.
Their only EP, Money Fall Out The Sky, is available on vinyl at Pink Moon Records.