Enter the Crypt of Forgotten Screamers!
By Greg McWhorter
ooo-ee-oo!!! As the mighty Nervous Norvus would quip when pondering the down-right unexplainable, unex-pected, and unknown curi-osities that abound in the vinyl round! Spinning the wax this year, I’ve cooked up another tasty morsel of Halloween treats. Big names are out again and this is purely obscuro raves for you demented knaves. Get ready to wig out to the ghoulish wonders and blunders that compromise round two of our Halloween Hootenanny of forgotten screams from the past. Last year I raved about Rock ‘n’ Roll, Instrumental, and Funk blasts. This year we take a look at the records by scare-type and not by genre: Zombies and Voodoo, Creature Features, and Devilish Delights.
ZOMBIES and VOODOO
Who’s that sluggishly ambling through the woods? How come bullets or good lookin’ babes don’t stop him from getting his creep on? Oh…He’s the walking dead!
REBEL ROUSERS “The Zombie Walks”
Memphis Records, 1965
Here we have a nice mid-paced instro workout with heavy downbeat guitar and some haunting sax. Not a crazed rave up, but something that you can swear a zombie would shuffle to. I could see this working well in a horror film penned by Tarantino.
THE JOHNSON BROTHERS “Zombie Lou”
Valor Records, 1959
Part Doo-Wop, part rocker, but all good! This nifty-fifty rocker has the bro’s doing vocals over some spirited guitar licks including a nice break. Subject is how Zombie Lou and the singer go out on dates and she looks a fright, but it’s alright ‘cause she hypnotizes her man to get him to take her out every night for his stroll with the undead gal. Equal opportunity here. I think I dated Zombie Lou once and let me tell you, girls like Zombie Lou are scary beyond all known science!
THE UPPERCLASSMEN “Cha Cha With The Zombies”
Freedom Records, 1959
Bongo beatin’ beatniks pound out this slow lament about partying with zombies in a haunted house. There’s a cool narrated intro/outro, screams, and even a wolf howl, but this record is pure camp novelty. Relentless bongos and wailin’ sax keep this movin’ at an okay clip, but this one is definitely for the meek. C’mon…Cha Cha dancing zom-
bies? Sounds like someone dug up ol’ Merv Griffin or Lawrence Welk.
DEL-VIKINGS “The Voodoo Man”
Mercury Records, 1958
A bit too doo-woppy to be too scary with the slick chick backup vocals, but the deep baritone of the singer makes up somewhat. He’s gonna cast a spell on you after making a potion using some flesh, and the girls warn about his spell, but what then? He says he’s gonna kiss a girl… okay, but not too fiendish. I don’t even practice voodoo and I can think of a million other things to do with a chick once I’ve cast my spell on her. I think the Del-Vikings need to take a tip from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Now that is one voodoo man that knows what to do with an enchanted woman… just ask one of his 50-or-so kids!
Over-sized critters and lycanthropy abound here! No Godzilla to save Tokyo, just fiendish creatures out for blood and maybe some Halloween candy.
ORLIE AND THE SAINTS “King Kong”
Band Box Records, 1960
A mid-tempo rockabilly rocker that doesn’t really fit with Halloween ‘cause this story is more about a girl that looks like King Kong. You see, the singer goes out with his buddies and they all hook up with different girls, but our hero is left with the one they all call King Kong. The date is going okay until all the dudes start kissin’ their honeys and our hero says he gets swallowed by King Kong…which doesn’t sound too bad if a girl will do that on a first date, but he adds that he feels like Jonah stuck inside the whale! This is one freaky BIG girl!
BIG “T” TYLER “King Kong”
Aladdin Records, 1957
This R&B foot stomper is strictly about King Kong runnin’ amok through the jungle; chasin’ a girl who he takes to the Empire State Building and his fate is sealed. Great drums, sax, piano provide a fast rhythm. A real winner. Better run people, King Kong is coming!
BOB REGAN “Tarantula”
Challenge Records, 1964
Instro workout here. Travis Wammack-style string bending here with some distortion. A real mover. Not too scary, but still fun for any Halloween party.
THE STORMS “Tarantula”
Sundown Records, 1959
Another instro, but a creepy slow and moody one. Good ghost town guitar with some echo-laden sax laying down some haunting riffage here. Again, not too scary, but a party people pleaser on a dark night.
JOE JOHNSON “Gila Monster”
Cascade Records, 1959
The Giant Gila Monster is on the prowl! This record starts with a scream and moves from there with some killer guitar and poundin’ piano. Everyone is running from the monster, but the singer still has his wits enough to crack a joke about his wife looking like the monster. In the end, a brave child asks the Gila Monster why he’s creepin’ about and gets an answer that no one was counting on. Caution: there are two different pressings of this platter. Make sure you get the one with the tuff guitar break instead of the wimpier piano break version.
WILLARD AND THE KOHOUTEKS “The Purple People Eater”
Lemco Records, 1973
Gruff vocals start us off with the singer’s admission that he was watching the Khoutek comet when all of a sudden he saw a Purple People Eater! Crazy spaceship sounds, screaming metal and funk guitar riffs and the growling singer keep this from being a straight send up of the old classic. Pretty exciting remake overall. Tough as coffin nails to find especially since this disc comes to us from the back hills of Kentucky. Drunk hillbillies talking about aliens eating people…reminds me of talking to winos on the streets of San Bernardino…too scary!
If you’re making a midnight pact with Lucifer, here are some toons that will spice up the occasion. What can be scarier than talkin’ trash with the Lord of Flies?
LENNY DAVIS “Satan’s Got You (By The Hand)”
Do-Ra-Me Records, 1961
Mellow guitar rocker about a guy who’s talking trash about a girl that is in league with the devil and is leaving a trail of men and their broken hearts behind her. The singer warns her that the devil may be the only man that is a real match for her. Not too spooky, but sounds like this girl is a real monster.
THE RONDELLS “Satan’s Theme”
Amy Records, 1961
A band went and did it…they created theme music for the devil! Quick paced instro guitar workout with some wailin’ sax thrown in. Has a pretty groovy up-tempo sound. Not spooky, but almost like an ad jingle to join in on the devil’s fun.
SAM FULLER “Devil, I Command You (To Leave This Woman)”
Joyce Records, 1974
Wow! Super guitar fuzz-drenched funk rocker. Our hero says he knows the devil must be in his woman since the devil is not in him. He commands the devil to leave his woman and set her free. He talks about being the ‘love exorcist’ and screams “Get the Hell out of my woman!” and you actually hear the devil scream back! Yowza! Fuzz and demonic voices…crazy disc! Might only exist as promo copies. Same label that debuted Captain and Tennille. Theirs was Joyce 101 and this is Joyce 102.
Well, that’s all for this time kiddies. More screams next year! I have a lot for fiendish wax to buzz your ears with, but you will have to be patient and wait for the next season of the witch!