By Pat Prince
If you want to welcome trick-or-treaters to your front door with Halloween music this year, you could run out right now to your local department store and pick up a ready-made compilation on CD. There are plenty Halloween compilations on the shelves, with all the standards like John Carpenter’s “Halloween Theme” or Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells (Theme From The Exorcist).” But if you want to give a real old-school experience to the kids, bring out a portable record player to the front porch and play some vinyl records from Halloween's past.
As a record collector, you might already own a few classics, but here are some recommendations:
Walt Disney Studios' Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House
"Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House" starts off as a loosely narrated haunted house tale, made up of mostly eerie sound effects — shrieking cats, creaking doors, mysterious footsteps with dragging chains — taken from the sound effects department at Walt Disney Studios. The record then meanders into other stories of shipwrecks and unfortunate (dumb) victims.
Flip to side 2, where the sound effects take over and your listeners will hardly miss the narration; moaning ghosts and spine-chilling screams work like a charm. And the record ends with an especially creepy (and, frankly, demented) Chinese water torture.
The album was originally released in the early '60s, then reissued in 1973 with the orange sleeve you see above. Disney released it again in 1979, this time with all-new artwork. Used copies in good condition can be found in record stores for around $10. But it is now readily available in department stores — WalMart even sells a beautiful copy of the vinyl record online for $16.99.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Ghost Stories For Young People
If you prefer more narration to a record, keep any interested kids listening to a story, then "Ghost Stories" would be a good spin. Probably better suited for guests than trick-or-treaters, Hitchcock is always good for a dramatic display. And you can probably find a VG+ copy at your independent record store for $10, near mint for $20 and one with some crackling noise in the $1 budget bin.
Some of the spoken word tales are dated. Originally released in 1962, "young people" were more familiar with the dangers of hitchhiking, therefore tales like “The Helpful Hitchhiker” were considered scary. Nowadays, hitchhiking is more of a foreign concept. And 'ol Hitch shares the record with other storytellers, too. But “The Open Window” and “Jimmy Takes Vanishing Lessons” are ghastly ditties that will even have those with an attention deficit listening to the very end. The record is also filled with wonderful Hitchcockian advice, like “Don’t leave sharp objects like knives lying around … a ghost might sit on them.”
Again, this Halloween you could take the safe route and put the theme to The Exorcist on repeated play, but the aforementioned records will be a freak out and a real curiosity to a generation of kids who are unfamiliar with to this type of spooky entertainment.