Oct 24 2014

Music to Haunt By: Atrium Carceri

Atrium Carceri
Official Site
Kapnobatai, Cold Meat Industry 2005

It's so hard to get a picture of Cthulhu's good side...

The timeline for the Atrium Carceri is just as interesting as the timeline for his various albums. Founder Simon Heath was also one of the founding members of the Swedish group Za Frûmi in 2000, with Donald Persson and Simon Kölle. The band focused on dark fantasy music and is not only split into two branches, but there are several side projects as well. Simon Kölle and Heath handle Abnocto, Simon Kölle has Musterion, and Simon Heath has both Atrium Carceri and Knaprika. Unlike his solo project Atrium Carceri, Knaprika is a joint project with Donald Persson (who left Za Frûmi in 2001). Atrium Carceri started in 2003 with the release of Cellblock, the first of many dark ambient albums with a focus on desolation and loneliness. The debut album’s title was quite appropriate, as “Atrium Carceri” roughly translates as “the fore room of a prison.” His work has also appeared in horror movies, so it’s not hard to see why haunted attractions could easily use his work. So why am I reviewing an album named after drug using shamans rather than ones utilizing a more traditional haunt theme? It’s really quite simple: I had come up with some new ideas for scenes in an alien-themed haunted attraction and was disappointed I hadn’t thought of them in time to include them with similar ideas in my Attrition review. Considering how rarely that theme pops up in haunted ambiance albums, I thought I would never get a chance to share those ideas. But then a friend told me about Atrium Carceri and how Kapnobatai just might be what I was looking for.

Chimes and a slow buildup open “Enclosed World/Liberation,” along with the sounds of metal doors unlatching and jets of steam. Along with the sounds of computers and machinery heard, there’s a dark chorus and snippets of a barely understandable conversation (along with lots of unnerving and gross sound effects). It’s like walking through an abandoned, but somehow still functioning factory. If you use this in an alien haunt, you can surprise people by having an alien projector suddenly turn on. It’s up to you if you want it to be motion activated or triggered by a hidden assistant. “Behind the Curtain of Life” effectively opens with a heavy buildup and the sounds of someone walking and breathing heavily. Something being tuned and the mysterious walker is surprised. There’s lots of machinery sounds, along with a man speaking in Japanese. Samples like this pop up a lot during this album, so you might have to build your theme around a haunted international space station to make them fit. My first guess is it’s from a Japanese horror movie, but apparently anime samples are fairly common in the works of Atrium Carceri. Unless you live in an area with lots of people who can understand Japanese, of course. “Impaled Butterfly” is fascinating to listen to, but I have trouble seeing this work in a haunt. Maybe it’s the combination of machinery and crickets. I suppose crickets could get into a factor, but years of spooky ambient albums have made me permanently associate crickets with outdoor scenes. A man and woman are heard conversing in Japanese, along with a spooky chorus. Both sexes are heard, but one woman’s singing (and crying) eventually stand out. “Maintenance Tunnels” has a great dark and spooky opening. There’s a definite sense of menace to the opening beats and even the lighter tones are sinister. The noises are almost like growls at times and the background chorus (with occasional wordless female vocals) do work quite nicely with the sounds of pounding machinery and a bubbling substance. I can see this working in a room with an alien slime monster If that doesn’t fit your theme, this track could also be used in a dark maze, chain hallway, spooky tunnel, boiler room, nursery or clown room.

In “Wrapped Cloth,” glitchy machinery beats convey a static feel. The scary sounds, faintly heard Japanese samples and a far off person chanting all add to the overall mood. A gong and heavy tone start off “A Stroll Through the Ancient City,” which leads us to an old friend: the sound of pounding machinery. The groaning, choking and conversation snippets allow for use with a scene involving a messy transformation from human to something else. Perhaps a performer can be hunched over in a corner and seem normal from behind, only to reveal a disturbing face and claws once they turn around and rush at your guests. I can’t describe all of the sound effects here, but there are screams, someone walking in dirt, electric effects and digital reverb. “Synaptic Transmission” is harsher and high pitched in opening, which does make it sound like some sort of transmission or feedback. There are plenty of static-like tones and bizarre sounds…or are they voices? It was a great idea to have the music itself get disrupted at times. Someone is heard talking, but I can’t place the language. The spooky male chorus is a wonderful touch, as are the mechanical sounds and pounding beat take us out. This is perfect for a room (or whole haunt) themed around a haunted space station or aliens. If you go the aliens route, be sure to have plenty of alien artifacts various bottled specimens on display. It’s surprising how easy it is to make unearthly objects out of clay. Using a lighting setup like this also adds to the effect. “Ruins of Desolation” is further proof you have to hear this album in order to truly understand it. This review can only go so far. It’s a low key kind of creepy as glitchy tones and distorted voices are coupled with pounding beats and briefly heard snippets of male choral work. The surprise orchestral tones and chorus do work very well here. I can see someone using this in a mad scientist’s lab or a spooky room filled with old televisions playing static. Perhaps one of them will start playing something people can actually watch, which allows for a performer to sneak up on them. It’s hard to describe the opening of “Torn Citadel of the Autarch,” but I’ll try anyway. There’s distortions and spaceship landing noises aplenty, along with droning, screams and static over a steady, ever present beat. I absolutely love the musical use of distortions here. “Monolith of Dreams” has a medium beat and truly bizarre musical work (but in a good way). A rare English language sample says something about our eyes, which is soon overtaken by storm effects, crickets and a woman crying and panicking as someone struggles with the door. The Japanese samples get really frightening toward the end. A sample of an interview talking about a killer opens “Stained Pipes,” but this soon gives way to heavily distorted speech and music. Its pulsing, pounding tones and echoes will haunt you. There’s also another sample of the Japanese woman talking. If you turn the volume down really low, I can see this working in a morgue of some kind. “Thermographic Components” has a great moody horror buildup, complete with eerie female vocals. Some parts remind me of John Carpenter’s music in the 80’s while the rest of it is an instant head trip. There’s breaking glass, pounding, moans, male vocals and plenty of distortion effects. “The Corruptor” offers a creepy, pounding buildup which becomes a mix of unearthly moaning and distorted “transmissions” after a sample tells us to “destroy.” The word “monster” is clearly heard later on, so there’s lots of potential fun to be had with this track. The distortion-filled opening of “The Carnophage” leads to the sound of someone (or something) breathing and moving among the static. After we hear tuning in noises, there are plenty of garbled samples and other audio oddities. Having the track close by “tuning out” is a very clever touch. I can see this working well with an alien control panel coupled with a disguised drop panel.

With Kapnobatai, Atrium Carceri offers an instant lonely journey through a bizarre industrial wasteland. Although it runs over an hour, the way sound is used in it makes it feel much longer (and I mean that in a good way). Given how the shortest one is “only” over two minutes in length, all tracks can be looped individually. Although my personal opinion is the general public could potentially get confused if you used the tracks with the Japanese samples in your haunt (minus the international space station theme), they can still be used if you know your audience would react favorably to them. With the right group of friends, having the entire album softly playing in a loop in a dark room or hallway at your next Halloween party could make for a very interesting experience. Otherwise, I suggest selecting the tracks which work the best for you. But, in fairness, this album was not originally intended for use in this manner. The most recent albums are 2013’s The Untold and the 2014 Cryo Chamber collaboration Cthulhu. Cryo Chamber is the dark ambient label Heath founded after parting ways with the now defunct Cold Meat Industry label in 2011. Although Swedish in origin, Cyro Chamber is now located in America. As I enjoyed my experience with this album, you had better believe and will definitely be seeking out other works by Atrium Carceri (and Cryo Chamber) to review in the years to come.

Special thanks to Atrium Carceri for the review copy!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 23 2014

Music In Costume: Ghost dresses up as Roky Erickson

Thanks to his legacy as an outlaw musician (as well as the stories about his wild persona before he started to properly regulate his mental illness) Roky Erickson has a legion of followers, many of which have done proper tributes to the former 13 Elevators frontman. So picking one was a bit hard – so I decided to go with Ghost. Skeletal faced religious imagery seems fine, though I think the Faceless Ghouls are biting off the Lurking Corpses style. NOW there’s a split I’d like to see – Lurking Corpses vs. Ghost.

Anyway, Dave Grohl supposedly produced the EP where this cover emanates, and Grohl recently talked about how his first real experience with rock and roll came from a Naked Raygun concert (during a recording of a HBO special) so hey, good on Dave Grohl.

 

VS
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4-RuB2485s

Oct 23 2014

Music to Haunt By: Dulcet Jones

Dulcet Jones
Official Site
Halloween, I’m Afraid, Green Cottage Music 2013
More Halloween, I’m Afraid, Green Cottage Music 2014

That doesn't look like professional crime scene tape.  I call shenanigans!

The artist being spotlighted in this article offers an interesting first for “Music to Haunt By” and that’s not because he’s Canadian. Dulcet Jones is a stage name of sorts adopted by Jim Graham and the reason for that one which requires a good deal of explanation. Starting the road to his music career at age nine, Graham eventually played with numerous bands and then branched out into a solo career as a guitarist. Said career resulted in three CDs and countless live performances. When you factor in teaching music and composing, it’s no wonder he started to burn out. A trip to the doctor revealed repetitive strain injuries in his arms. Although they would go away in time, he would have to change his musical style if he wanted to keep playing. Now as “Dulcet Jones,” he is able to explore new territory and indulge in his love of Halloween at the same time. With daughter, professional graphic artist Natalie Graham, providing the cover art, Dulcet Jones seeks to demonstrate a style he describes as “spooky instrumental Halloween music with a progressive rock feel.”

His 2013 album Halloween, I’m Afraid appropriately begins with the track “Halloween, I’m Afraid.” The creepy organ-style tones and a beat using smashed glass create a lurking feel. Even the lighter moments and somewhat jaunty piano feel unsettling and odd. I see lots of asylum or circus scene potential with this track, but those are far from its only potential uses. The artist himself used a segment from it to score a video featuring a changing portrait effect and you can do something similar at your haunt. Paint scary figures over one or more portraits with luminous paint that is clear when it dries. Watching from a hidden area, you can dim the lights and play this track to make the paintings change. “Tuckers Brother” has a very eerie opening and its drumbeats and bells give it the feeling of the opening track of an 80’s horror movie. There’s also a definite sense of menace and the wordless vocals greatly add to this effect. “Timeframe” offers a somewhat mournful acoustic guitar and other instruments. It’s very enjoyable track but not scary. The following track, “Urban Crawl,” is spookier (but not as much as the other spooky tracks on the album) I personally suggest using it in your haunt’s waiting area to keep the crowds entertained while still subtly reminding them of the scares to come. Drum machine beats take us into “Silicon Dirge,” which has some excellent guitar work on display. The echoing guitars of “Electro Acoustic Lament,” coupled with wind effects give the track a peaceful sci-fi feel. “The Ghost in my Guitar” offers electro tones and a rockin’ guitar while “Overmed Daydream” has plenty of peaceful guitar work and “New Age” music effects.
Given how he was still in the process of transitioning from his old style to haunting Halloween music, the presence of these tracks is understandable. Although well-suited or relaxation or general listening but there is some haunt potential here. Imagine part of a haunted asylum where patients were taken in order to calm them down. Surely that kind of music would fit in there. Or if you have a scene involving an evil doctor or dentist, you can play some of the more relaxing tracks in their seemingly normal waiting room. Perhaps those tracks can also appear in a hellevator, right up until things go out of control. But if those don’t work for you, it’s not a big deal. Why? Because his next album only offers one relaxation track (and even then it’s thematically appropriate)!

Steampunk'd

Like the previous album, More Halloween, I’m Afraid starts off with the titular track “More Halloween, I’m Afraid.” The moody opening buildup and wind effects lead nicely into the electro beats and spooky “woo” noises. I loved the piano work and guitar as well. This is good for any spooky scene in a “Haunted House of Rock.” Despite the name, “Night Circus” can also be used in a variety of haunted house scenes. Things start off low key with a somewhat spooky piano, but then some other eerie touches (including scary organ work) kick things up. Its somewhat light touches make it good for young children. “Asylum Wedding” offers organ work and strings that are soft, slow and moody. There’s a creepy music box feel at times and drum machine kicks things up. In fact, it gets really wild and creepy with its use of effects towards the end. You could use it for an asylum, but the wedding part of the title really got my imagination working. Imagine walking into a haunted church with glowing stained glass windows. You have to walk past rows of monstrous guests (perhaps with a few live actors hidden among them to startle you) in order to reach the bride and groom. They have their backs to you and are clearly static props, which makes it all the more surprising when their heads spin around at you! “Release the Bats” would be perfect for the belfry of a “Haunt House of Rock,” thanks to its use of guitars and stylized electric sounds which sound like bats fluttering about. The bizarre bells and drum machine also add to the effect. Blasts of steam and an oddball music box join other audio oddities in “Steampunk Lullaby.” It;s off-kilter enough for an asylum, but its use of steam and music associated with children also allow for use in a Freddy Krueger-themed boiler room display. But why got go exactly with what the title says? There are steampunk haunted houses, haunted nursery scenes and steampunk nurseries, so just combine them and play this track! The acoustic guitars and plinking music box tones “Lobotomy Ward” give it a mildly creepy feel. The “woo” noises help, as do the eventual audio distortions. I suggest using this in a hallway for an asylum-themed haunt. For something which can be used with various scary scenes, “Red Narasimha” fits the bill perfectly. There’s plenty of moody strings and spooky wordless male vocals, along with heavy organ work. I also enjoyed the wind effects, electro tones and piano work. “November First Coming Down” has an “old” feel to its guitar work, not unlike Second Grave’s “Salvation.” The wind effects add to the offbeat feel, but it’s not scary. But it is thematically appropriate given how it’s the end of an “October”-themed album.

Dulcet Jones offers a breath of fresh air into the world of spooky music. While some might shy away due to the inclusion of relaxing music, those who don’t will be rewarded with unfamiliar music to scare visitors with and the reduced competition will only make the use of said music even more effective and special. Each track is long enough to allow for individual looping, which is probably the best way to make use of the varied selection. Did I also mention he’s also open to his music being used royalty free in haunted attractions? He’s even given out copies of his work to a few haunts in his area. You will have to email him for details, but it will definitely be worth it. I am looking forward to his future albums, especially ones that are spooky from start to finish. But even if they aren’t, I’ll still enjoy them. It’s not every day you get a Halloween album you can enjoy all year without getting weird looks from people.

Special thanks to Dulcet Jones for the review copies!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 23 2014

Costume Crazyness 2014

Once again October has given me a lot of new costumes to mock. It’s also given me the obligatory Scream knock-off and offensive ethnic stereotype costume. I don’t know whether to be disappointed or impressed that they managed to make something that could offend two groups at the same time. As it gets more and more depressing the more I think about it, let’s move on to some other costumes:

KILL IT WITH FIRE!

Now that is one suggestive mouth…

I don’t know which is a lamer name for a knock-off Freddy Krueger mask, “Badly Burned Ghost” or “Black Hat Ghost.”

Doctor Professor” is the most ridiculous name you could pick for a Doctor Who knock-off costume.

Remember those old costumes we all wore as kids? The ones with the picture of the character’s face on a plastic smock? Well it turns out there’s an adult equivalent of those.

This is a “Pale Blue Face” mask and not Michael Myers. BECAUSE REASONS.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 22 2014

Music In Costume: The Cramps dress up as The Shades

Yesterday was Lux Interior’s birthday, which seems fitting that the frontman of The Cramps would be born within October. It’s shame he’s no longer around but the legend of both him and the band lives on. Had I known it, this post would have gone up yesterday.

The thing with The Cramps is that they do a lot of covers. A lot. Like, on every album. There’s at least one if not THREE different renditions of classic rock and roll songs. That’s one of the better aspects of the Cramps – they were rock and roll advocates, celebrating forgotten or disregarded rock classics. The series

Lux and Ivy of the Cramps were rock historians and archivists, devouring music and sometimes repurposing it for their own use. When I first hear “Strollin’ After Dark” by the Shades, I have to admit – it was a sock to the gut because it’s clearly the rift to “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” by the Cramps. And I LOVE “I Was A Teenage Werewolf.” I think it’s one of the best guitar rifts in music and it was kind of deflating to find out it wasn’t wholly original.

But, after considering this, I see how this may have been part of Lux+Ivy’s mission statement. In the early years of Surf Music (and to some extent, still today) surf bands did other people’s songs like it was nothing to it, mainly because there weren’t that many songs around. But it gave an open-source, universal aspect of the new sound and I think Lux+Ivy wanted Rock and Roll to be that universal beat. They wanted this sound to be ubiquitous to everyday life and they championed it so.

vs

Oct 22 2014

Music to Haunt By: Music For Haunts

Music For Haunts
Official Site
A Child’s Nightmare, Music For Haunts Recordings 2011

There's a human in my closet.  Can I sleep in your bed tonight?

Chris Thomas is a very busy man and he’s been that way for quite a long time. At age sixteen he scored several films and stage productions in addition to winning a state composition title and having a live performance. This would be the first of many other award recognitions for his work. He went on to score numerous films and television shows and founded Stinkbug Music International. Somehow he also found time to write music for haunted attractions as “Music For Haunts.” I don’t just mean he creates albums with the hope haunted attractions will use it. He actually composes music for various haunted attractions around the country! Music For Haunts isn’t just a one man operation. In the case of A Child’s Nightmare, the creepy album artwork is by Sam Templeman, the lyrics were written by Justin Meyer and the vocal solos were performed by Monika Beal, Ellen Reid, Justin Meyer and Chris Thomas.

Strings and creepy laughter usher us into “A Child’s Nightmare.” In addition to a circus-like music box and woman singing, there are numerous comments (and sobbing) from unearthly children. Said children are portrayed by Monika Beal and Ellen Reid and this is one case where an adult pretending to be a child actually works in the audio’s favor. Since the children sound a bit “off,” it gives the impression they are something disguised as little kids. Human or not, those little creeps show up in numerous tracks over the course of the album. The wordless unisex vocals, The Nightmare Before Christmas-style piano work and spooky organ work also add to the track’s overall mood. Said mood allows for use in scenes like a haunted nursery, doll room or circus. Speaking of circuses, “The Ringmaster’s Music Box” would also be a great track to use in one. A crackling record plays the sounds of a music box (of course) and soft wind, which are soon joined by a creepy kid singing. The audio transition where a woman joins in is especially well done, as are the tittering and comments by the unnerving little ones. “Cult Sacrifice” features a soft and slow spooky piano buildup coupled with strings. I love the “stabbing” musical notes and they also remind me of a countdown clock. As you would expect from a cult, there’s soft chanting in the background and singing in Latin. This could easily be used in a scene where a cult sacrifices someone (perhaps a “victim” planted in the audience) or you could just have a bloody altar and have this play once people get close enough. The spooky stuff is surprisingly low key in “The Karnevil.” It’s mostly happy merry-go-round music (calliope, bells and touches of drums), but a dark tone slowly creeps in. If you have a decrepit merry-go-round area in your haunt, this is the track for you!

The super soft musical buildup of “Violins Leaking From Hell” eventually goes from barely audible to a loud mix of spooky effects and violins. Said violins can sound like guitars at times and the pounding musical tones just might remind you of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The other rock-style touches allow for use in a “Haunted House of Rock” or in a room where a séance is being held. More specifically, a séance where a glowing violin mysteriously appears and starts playing after the lights go out. Just have an assistant dressed in all black come out of hiding and uncover a prop violin painted in luminous paint. Thanks to the soft opening fade, they should have enough time to being “playing” as the music starts. “Gonna Make You BBQ” is heard on what appears to be a malfunctioning player, as it constantly stops and “rewinds.” It sounds happy and innocent at first, but the distorted singers’ love of meat can be off-putting. Hearing the titular line get repeated over and over again and having it sound eviler each time really drives home the double meaning of the phrase. I suggest leading your guests into a rundown barbecue joint. But don’t have the evil employees come out until the song starts repeating the title. For a real scare, have them sneak up on the guests rather than come out in front of them. In “Noise In The Basement,” snippets of spooky music and moans fade in and out. A burst of piano and screeching violins about a minute in which makes things somewhat more constant. The nervous violin work really picks up at end and flows nicely into the next track. Said track is “The Apparition” and it has plenty of soft and nervous violins. The soft piano, wordless female vocals and other spooky touches greatly add to the effect. Both tracks can be used in just about any haunted house scene, but something involving ghosts is a huge plus. Perhaps a haunted library, attic or basement? The music box and distorted creepy child singing which open “We Are The Klownz!” get warped and taken over by evil laughter and rockin’ guitars. This leads into an actual rock song about evil clowns with the creepy kids acting as the chorus! If you aren’t doing a “Haunted House of Rock,” this is still great to listen to on its own. The soft buildup of “Satan’s Microphone” leads us to evil effects, the sound of flames and dark tones. It has to be heard in order to be truly understood. The intense buildup and creepy guitar screeches towards end are great touches. This would be perfect for a maze of some sort or a haunted boiler room. Being over twelve minutes in length, “Verfelgte” is the longest track on the album. The title seems to be a corruption of the German term for victims of persecution, which would explain the track’s feel. Although there is some music, like brief burst of violins, it mostly consists of sound effects. There’s soft wind, clanking chains, creaking gates, dripping, eerie chimes, crackling flames, storm effects and so much more. The evil laughter and breathing let you know you aren’t alone. I can see this working in a dungeon, hallway or dark maze.

A Child’s Nightmare offers an impressive and varied selection of tracks field-tested in professional theme park events and haunted attractions. Each track is long enough to allow individual looping without becoming mind-numbingly annoying, especially “Verfelgte.” While I’m sure there are some Halloween displays with which the entire album could be looped, it seems likely most purchasers will pick and choose select tracks. If you operate a home haunt, charity haunt or haunted attraction which gets up to 10,000 customers, then I have some great news for you: Music For Haunts’ albums are all available for use in said haunts royalty free! All you need to do is buy the album, provide credit to Chris Thomas on your website with a link to his site and contact him. If you let him know what scenes you will be using his work in, it will help him publicize your haunted attraction! Everyone else should contact him to discuss licensing arrangements, which I found to be more than fair. And, yes, I said “albums.” Chris Thomas followed the 2011 release of A Child’s Nightmare with Church of Torment in 2012 and Souls of Darkness in 2014. I’m sure he will have even more releases in the future. I’m just as sure I’ll be reviewing more of his work in the coming years.

Special thanks to Music For Haunts for use of the image!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 21 2014

Music In Costume: The Coffin Daggers dress up as George Barnes

I hate using the term ‘guitar god’ because it summons ideas of 70’s and 80’s stadium rock. But there are trailblazers that deserve the divine status. And I can’t really say that George Barnes would warrant that because I don’t know his bod of work, but my short research indicates that he was the first to make a recording with an electric guitar, so give that man a blue ribbon.

I am more familiar with the Coffin Daggers. They’re at the forefront of spooky surf music. Hopefully, 2015 will see a new release as it’s been a while since their last album, ‘Monsters From The Id’. The Daggers did a cover of ‘Spooky’ by George Barnes. I like ‘em both. What do you think?

Vs.

Oct 21 2014

Music to Haunt By: The Return

It’s been a very busy year in the world of haunted ambiance albums. Midnight Syndicate is currently performing in their much anticipated live shows at Cedar Point Amusement Park’s “Halloweekends” event. Although Joseph Vargo has taken time off to write the thrid installment of The Dark Tower book series, Nox Arcana is expected to have another winter-themed release later this year.

Grave Tone Productions is preparing to release Found Remains: Songs from the Grave in the near future, which will contain material originally prepared for their first two releases. Shadow’s Symphony also has their fifth album planned for release this year. 2014 also saw the release of two highly anticipated albums: Michael Hedstrom’s long-awaited The Nightmare Chronicles and Jerry Vayne’s Bodies in the Bayou.

Both Prelude to a Nightmare and Verse 13 are currently working on albums scheduled for release next year. Dead Rose Symphony’s new album The Destroying Angel is also planned for a future release. Darkmood has returned and plans to release a new album called The Dead of Fall on the 28th of this month!

Not only has Gore Galore made the “Sounds of Gore” series and Rusty Knife albums available only as digital downloads, but they’ve revamped their music section into Halloween Music Galore. Their goal is to become the net’s one stop shop for spooky Halloween music downloads and they are well on their way to doing just that.

On top of that, some of the above news ties in directly with this year’s “Music to Haunt By” series! Did I also mention this year’s upcoming tie-in episode of the podcast will also have some exclusive sneak peeks? But you’re going to have to wait and see which artists this applies to. Until then, I suggest catching up on last year’s reviews:

Music to Haunt By: The Return
Music to Haunt By: Attrition
Music to Haunt By: Dead By Midnight
Music to Haunt By: Monsters of Legend
Music to Haunt By: Sam Haynes
Music to Haunt By: Transylvania
Music to Haunt By: Dark Ride
Music to Haunt By: Jerry Vayne
Music to Haunt By: Legion of Shadows

In addition to her excellent tips on haunt lighting (as recently noted here), Terra’s Lair has some great suggestions on how to most effectively use sound in your haunt. And let’s not forget the annual free download! Jerry Vayne has plenty of free tracks available on the sidebar of his website’s Music section.

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting or downloading from any links given here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 21 2014

Creepsville ’13

100% Awesome

Strange Jason isn’t one to self-promote. That’s why he didn’t make a big deal about Creepsville ’13 here when said album was released last year. As noted in the original press release, the album was created as a tribute to the influential band Forbidden Dimension to celebrate their 25th anniversary.

Started in 1988 by Jackson Phibes, Forbidden Dimension has championed both the horror-monster mentality as well as the independent spirit that has propelled the band, still active, through a quarter-of-a-century. Over the course of five CDs, numerous singles, and side projects, Forbidden Dimension have garnered a world-wide cult following for his scary blend of garage rock, punk, and metal with science fictional, ghoulish story telling. Twenty-five years after the initial Into The Forbidden Dimension release, Creepsville ’13 aims to honor and celebrate the band’s life and accomplishments. With themes ranging from 50’s drive-in sci-fi movies to the cannibal hillbillies living up in the mountains, Forbidden Dimension’s music is the perfect soundtrack for all creeps, ghouls and Tor Johnson enthusiasts.

Taking its name from Creepsville ’99, Forbidden Dimension’s sophomore release, Creepsville ’13 brings together bands from around the world, all who were influenced by Forbidden Dimension’s music. On this compilation, you’ll find: fellow Calgary rockers like CRIPPLE CREEK FAIRIES, EXPLODING PIGS and THE BROWNS; gothic rock juggernauts THE NEW JACOBIN CLUB; blood-and-bluegrass maestro BOB KEELAGHAN from the AGNOSTIC MOUNTAIN GOSPEL CHOIR; the king of horror radio, TOMB DRAGOMIR; surf daddys SKURKARNA and THE DEAD BEAT; Nashville monsters THE CREEPING CRUDS WITH DEAD DICK HAMMER; Northeastern garage creatures THE QUASI-MEN and THE EVIL STREAKS; JIMMY PSYCHO of industrial-horror-punk vanguards PSYCHO CHARGER; grindcore noise felons BREATHE KNIVES; lo-fi hero GHOSTS RUN WILD; Saskatoon scum-rockers SAVAGE HENRY AND THE INFAMOUS ONE POUNDERS and THE GREAT SHAKIN’ FEVERS; and the next generation of independent creeps, SOLID SILVER and MUMMULA.

The full digital album only costs $9.00 and paying a mere $1 more gets you both a physical CD and instant digital download of the album. In fact, we’re so confident you’ll like it that we’ve made a free streaming version available!

Are you one of the people who funded the potato salad guy’s Kickstarter because he wasn’t just another company looking to save a few bucks? Strange Jason payed for this entirely out of pocket without any crowdfunding. Not only that, but the profits are going to a good cause: The Calgary Humane Society. I think that’s more than enough reason to pick up a copy for your next Halloween bash.

Oct 20 2014

Music In Costume: MAN…OR ASTRO-MAN? dresses up as The Ventures

There wasn’t a post yesterday because I’ve been busy with this Holiday season with two additional endeavors.

PHANTOM CREEP RADIO is counting down the days until Halloween with the 13 DAYS OF PHANTOM CREEP RADIO. Every day until the 31st, there will be a new half-hour of the madness and mayhem that takes place at the Midnite Monster Hop in NYC. Go over and enjoy some creepy music and zany creeps.

HAUNTED SHACK THEATER has relaunched over at www.hauntedshacktheater.com. Episode #29 is a potent half-hour of horror and soon, all the back catalog of episodes will be available for the public. It’s a great show and perfect for this time of year.

Along with 6ftplus, it’s been a busy time. So it’s a yearly tradition of me missing an update during the October Halloween Season. Weird Jon remains UNDEFEATED. The man is a machine.

This time around, let’s talk the Joker, since it seems fitting as I discussed the Batman theme last time. The Ventures gave the Clown Prince of Crime one of his earliest anthems. This would be decades before the twisted interpretations of the character–in the ‘Death of the Family’ comics and the portrayals by Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamil and Heath Ledger–turned that smile into something far more deranged than dandy.

Man or Astro-Man – space creatures from beyond comprehension, known for replicating and sending the clones on tour throughout the world. They did a fantastic version off of their classic DESTROY ALL ASTROMEN album. Definitely pick it up.

vs

Oct 20 2014

MonsterVision Memories

I can’t tell you how many Saturday nights I spent watching Joe Bob Briggs host various horror and cult films in the 90’s. He would give trivia on the movies being played, tell jokes and give his classic “Drive-In Totals.” Severed limbs would be tallyed, sex scenes were referred to as “aardvarking” and attacks with a weapon of any kind were called thing like “Axe Fu” and “Highway emergency-kit flare Fu.” Good times. I learned a lot of things I had previously not known about MonsterVision while preparing for this trip down memory lane and you had better believe I’m going to share them with you.

The MonsterVision programming block got its start on TNT as a 1992 Halloween event. I remember seeing the ads at a friend’s house and as someone who didn’t have cable I was so envious of missing out on a monster movie marathon. What I didn’t know was that it wasn’t just a one-off programming stunt. MonsterVision would return for mini-marathons based around a certain theme. It had its own special introduction and was sometimes hosted by Penn and Teller. At other times it was just a movie with a variation of the classic TNT laboratory bumpers shown between breaks. I remember watching
Prehistoric Women under this incarnation and being stunned MonsterVision was still around. By 1995, Joe Bob Briggs was occasionally guest hosting and officially became the host of the show in 1996. I suspect the delay was due to his show on The Movie Channel, Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater, not ending until then. His experiences on that program must have given him déjà vu when he signed up with TNT. His TMC gig initially started as him acting as a “guest host” through a series of bumpers in 1986. This was expanded to a full series the following year thanks to all the positive response.

The new host wasn’t the only change to the program. While it had jumped around the schedule in previous years, it was only on Saturday evenings under Joe Bob. Now it was only two movies, with the second being called “Joe Bob’s Last Call.” Sometimes I was able to catch part of the last call, but I never made it to the third movie. The third movie was shown under the 100% Weird banner (which had one been a separate program shown on Fridays), but Joe Bob Briggs did not appear during that portion of the broadcast. I’m sure I’m not the only person who was confused when John Bloom (the actor who plays Joe Bob) appeared under his real name during the “God Stuff” segments on The Daily Show. I even wrote to the official MonsterVision contact email to ask who the hell this “John Bloom” guy was! But I’m getting off topic.

Another change to the program was the kind of films shown. While the films shown from 1992-1994 didn’t usually go past the 1960’s, Briggs hosted a range of films from the 60’s to more modern fare. Lots of films without monsters were shown, be they horror or some other genre of cult film. Naturally this brought a lot of complaints. It even got to the point where Joe Bob Briggs started referencing them on the show! One particular incident which sticks out in my mind was when he said the show wouldn’t be airing next week due to TNT’s upcoming Elvis marathon, noting how people always complained when MonsterVision films didn’t have any monsters so why bother? It was never made clear if Joe Bob Briggs was picking the films or if the Turner bean counters were forcing it because they had to license packages of in order to get one or two films the host actually wanted and wanted their full money’s worth. Given how the show was renamed Joe Bob’s Hollywood Saturday Night in 1999 and Joe Bob was hosting films like Top Gun, I’m inclined to go with the latter. I stopped watching around that point and as a result I missed hearing about Briggs being let go during the summer of 2000. I understand the second film shown under the Joe Bob’s Hollywood Saturday Night days still kept the “MonsterVision” name and strong>MonsterVision went back to to its “movie with lab bumpers” days before being cancelled in September 2000. That’s right, they didn’t even let it last for one more Halloween!

The reason for this was probably due to the AOL Time Warner merger. Although it wasn’t officially finalized until early 2001, the merger already meant massive changes for the company. One of which seemed to be minimizing Ted Turner’s role in the company. Although he didn’t leave until 2003, Turner’s influence wasn’t what it used to be. Take what happened to World Championship Wrestling for example. Turner had purchased the company in 1988 and was always willing to support it even when it was losing money. He even told his board of directors WCW was not to be touched when they suggested dropping it to save money in 1992. Why? Because wrestling had been good for his television stations back in the day and he never forgot that. But once the merger started and WCW was losing money again, he was unable to save it from its demise.

I once theorized Ted Turner had a soft spot for horror movies and horror hosts due to the presence of a horror host called “Dead Ernest” during the early days of TBS and the WCW story has only strengthened my belief. I can only theorize what could have happened if the merger never went through, but suspect Joe Bob Briggs and MonsterVision would have stayed around much longer. But given how TNT underwent a transformation similar to the USA Network which focuses on older demographics, I doubt they’ll ever revive the program.

Although Briggs once announced he was going to be the Head of Programming for “The Scream Channel” in 2004 (which was renamed as “HorrorNet” at some point) and rumors of a new MonsterVision-style show spread, nothing has come of it yet. The closet thing to a revival were the DVD commentaries he did for Elite Entertainment and Media Blasters during that time, along with his current live shows. You can learn more about them at his Facebook page and can read transcripts from his MonsterVision days over at his official website. The drive-in will never die!

Oct 20 2014

Guest Post: Kraig Khaos Interviews CREEP CREEPERSIN

creeplrgCreep Creepersin. Musician, writer, filmmaker, podcaster and all around fun loving spooky guy. If you haven’t heard of him, then you’re definitely missing out.

Aside from his numerous books and short stories, many of which are in ebook/digital for and can be found on Amazon fairly cheap or even free, Creep has made quite a number of films. Many of which are currently in limbo due to legal reasons beyond his control. His films sometimes spandex out beyond his usual madness and grindhouse type horror. But they definitely have to be seen to be believed. What do you expect from films with titles like Vaginal Holocaust?

With a very busy year that has seen his Twin Peaks-esque book series, Black Star Canyon, reach overwhelming responses and his illustrated children’s like series for adults, Slasherton, a knife wielding murderous paper bag, gain new heights, there is still many projects along the way. Including new music releases from his punk/ blues horror band, Creepersin. A new giallo spoof novel and continuations of on going book series.

Between his Podcast 451 video broadcast, his Giallo Ciao Ciao podcast and his many other projects, Mr. Creepersin took a few minutes to sit down and answer some questions.

KRAIG KHAOS: What was the 1st thing you remember seeing that made you fall in love with the horror genre?

CREEP CREEPERSIN: When I was really little, there used to be some stores in my area that held things like Midnight Madness sales and things. Usually mattress places or furniture or electronics the commercials were different, but they were all kinda the same. They would take a bunch of public domain clips of monsters or creatures. The two biggest ones that made impressions on me were the shot from phantom of the opera where his mask gets pulled off, or the white zombie shot where Bela walks towards the camera or the Nosferatu shoot where he is walking through the doorway or his death scene. That was my first exposure to horror and it freaked me out. They would come on a few times day, especially around Halloween. But that is how i fell in love with classic horror.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 19 2014

Make Your Own Spooky Sound Effects

Many years ago my younger brother and I tried making a custom soundtrack for our homemade haunted house. Emphasis on “tried.” It started out great at first, the door to the basement already creaked when it opened and my brother’s impression of an old witch welcoming visitors in was perfect. The trouble started when we got to the segment where a swarm of screeching bats was heard. I had a book which claimed waving plastic shopping bags folded in half could be used to make the sound of flapping wings, but the resulting effect sounded awful. Quickly opening and closing an umbrella near the recorder sounded more like wings. The problem was the resulting effect sounded like the wings of something much larger than a bat. We weren’t too wild about our screeching noises either. While experimenting with how a cheap “Echo Microphone” could enhance vocal effects, my brother discovered it made interesting noises if you tapped the microphone against hard surfaces. He enthusiastically created several effects he claimed were lasers and suggested we use them for the portion of the tape devoted to the mad scientist’s lab. But we never got any farther than that thanks to our mother insisting we scale back the layout for our haunted house. Since a lot of the planned scenes had to be dropped in order to make this happen, what little work we had on tape no longer fit the theme. We ultimately did the haunt without any soundtrack whatsoever.

Although our homemade soundtrack is long gone, it was still a lot of fun to make. It would have also made our haunted house more unique to visitors had it been completed as originally intended. Using a spooky sound effects album would have been easier, but there’s always the possibility guests have already heard it and the overall scare factor would be diminished. But an all-original soundtrack wouldn’t have such a problem. Sadly most people either opt for preexisting albums or downloaded sound effects for haunted houses, so this is becoming something of a lost art for haunters. That’s why I decided to gather up some resources to help those interested in doing something different. Whether you want to make a haunted attraction, audio drama or low budget movie, I hope the following links will come in handy:

I highly recommend making a “Pop filter” to eliminate the sound of breathing when recording vocals. Anyone who has tried to use a computer’s built-in microphone should know what I’m talking about. Thankfully that link shows just how inexpensive and easy it is to make one. Moving on to actually making effects, both wikiHow and Home Brew Audio discuss how to do so. YouTube can also be a good source for tutorials and ideas.

In addition to explaining the history of creating special effects in movies, the Wikipedia article on Foley work has an entire section on common methods of creating sound effects (both normal and scary). Speaking of foley work, The Bad Movie Report’s look at the making of Forever Evil has great tips on using melons and yogurt for making gory sounds.

Speaking of gore, the radio drama series Lights Out was infamous forthat sort of thing. Its Wikipedia entry reveals how to make the sounds of skin being ripped off, broken bones, limbs being torn off and many other gruesome effects. John Dunning’s On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio reveals even more sound effect secrets from Lights Out.

Remember how creepy the opening to “The Monster Mash” was when you first heard it? It turns out the creaking door was just a nail being pulled out of a board and the bubbling cauldron was someone slowly blowing bubbles in a container of water. If you want to know how the sound of rattling chains were made, just click the link.

Since everyone has their own take on how something “should” sound, there are often multiple techniques used to create the same basic effect (especially when recording the sound of the real thing is not possible). The Google Books preview for Scary Science: 24 Creepy Experiments by Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone shows how one simple device can be used to create unearthly sounds or the sound of a creaking door depending on what type of string you use. Or you can create your own “squeak box.” You can create chirping crickets with either a comb or your own mouth. Tolling bells can be simulated by using a lid or metal mixing bowl (which I personally recommend). Storm effects can be achieved with metal sheets, bags of rice, BB pellets, boxes of oatmeal and other interesting methods.

The Audio Theater Guide by Robert L. Mott offers a wealth of sound effects advice. Multiple ways to create the sound of a guillotine in action, scratching, digging, weapons, explosions and much more! I can’t stress enough how important it is to check each link to get the full list of effects techniques they provide. It would be too hard to read if I listed out all the kinds of effects each link shows you how to create.

Ric Viers’ Sound Effects Bible shows how to create the sounds of a stone slab being opened, various kinds of impacts, dripping blood and more. Making the sound of footsteps is more complicated than you might think, as show in Radio Sound Effects by Robert L. Mott. As any reader of Scar Stuff knows, Halloween sound effects albums throw in a lot of oddball stuff. If your recording is going to be like that then I recommend making a cardboard pistol to help with gunshot effects.

The Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound by David Lewis Yewdall is a treasure trove of information. In addition to correcting some misconceptions, the author shows how extraordinary sound effects can be made from using ordinary sounds as a base. I love the idea of making alien sound effects using soapy shower walls.

To build upon this idea, let’s look at an easy way to create the sound of wind. All you need to do is blow and imitate the sound of wind in front of a microphone. Then fool around with the volume, pitch, etc. until it sounds the way you want it to. This can be done to create spooky voices, whispers, laughter, etc. As the original King Kong showed us, you can create awesome effects by combining two or more effects and messing around with them. Lower the pitch, play them backwards, the possibilities are endless! If you don’t have an audio editing program on your computer, then I suggest giving the free program Audacity a try. I also recommend checking out the following tutorial from Andrew Mercer:

Please post in the comments if you use anything shown here to create your own sound effects. Posts with advice on making any scary sound effects I may have missed are also welcome.

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting or downloading from any links on the above links (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 18 2014

Music In Costume: Link Wray dresses up as Neal Hefti

So this guy, Neal Hefti, is known by everyone except no one really knows his name. But he composed one of the most infectous, viral songs in the modern era. NananananananananBATMAN! It’s even spread to dogs. CROSS SPECIES.

So this guy, this guy nobody knows, he also wrote the theme music for The Odd Couple. He received three Grammy nominations and WON for the Batman theme that everyone knows. But in addition to his name, no one really knows that Neal Hefti was a big band trumpeter, a songwriter and an arranger. An arranger is pretty much a musical alchemest, taking prior songs and rendering them into a different way. Like, turning predominantly vocal ballads into swinging big band numbers. Or if you had an old fashioned song but wanted to repurpose it for a new, hip audience. This Neal guy did that for people like Count Blasie, helping helm the music of the big band legend into something new and modern.

But his most widest know contribution is a song with the same word said eleven times. And being that it was written as a twelve bars blue progression with a surf-rock guitar hook, it’s been covered by ALLLLLL the surf bands out there. But, one of the better ones is Link Wray.

Link Wray’s “Rumble” is an instrumental track that was BANNED from the radio because it was that badass. That and because “rumble” means street fight and people were really uptight back then. Link Wray. I dig his version of the Batman theme song. What do you think?

Vs.

Oct 18 2014

Creepy Cocktails and Devious Drinks II

Why is that pumpkin so happy to be around a pumpkin-based drink?

This tasty-looking beverage is the “Autumn Harvest” as made by 62 Restaurant in Salem. So they obviously know a thing or two about Halloween beverages and other tasty treats. If a trip to Salem isn’t possible, you can learn how to make one at home (along with several other seasonal cocktails) thanks to Nightclub & Bar Magazine Online.

Everyday is Halloween has a killer recipe for a “Michael Myers Rum Runner.” Sadly there’s no information provided about making the (presumably) marzipan knife. But at least we can drown our sorrows over this with “Screaming Spirits,” “Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes” and a “Creepy Cocktail.” Similarly, Inside The Haunt Industry has recipes for drinks like “Dracula’s Kiss,” “Witch’s Brew,” “Candy Corn,” “Pumpkin Martini,” “Angel of Death” and “Rigor Mortis.” You might also be interested in cocktails like “Bewitched,” “Candy Corn Coolers,” “Ghost-Tini” and “Liquified Ghost.”

Hi-C’s “Ecto Cooler” went off the market in 2007 under the name “Crazy Citrus Cooler,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t drink it anymore. Why? Because Ghostbusters: Chicago Division has figured out a recipe which duplicates both the taste and coloring of this classic drink!

There’s nothing like a hot drink on a cool fall evening. Or morning. Whatever time works for you is a great time for “Mabon Magical Coffee” and “Shrunken Heads In Cider.”

The movie Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda has an official cocktail: “Kraken vs. The World.” Other such promotional drinks include “Kong’s Revenge,” “Piranha,” and “Godzilla” (which was apparently made to promote the release of Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster in America).

If Recipe.com’s “Blue Slime Sipper” is somehow not to you liking, you can try their recipes for “Monster Swamp Punch” and “Ghost Punch.”

Special thanks to 62 Restaurant for use of the image!

Please drink responsibly!

Oct 18 2014

Video Store Day Is Here!

1, 2, 3, 4...watch that VHS some more!

It’s the third Saturday of October and that means it’s Video Store Day! It’s when we all make an effort to go out and support our (surviving) local video stores. Given the resurgence in the popularity of VHS and all the special offers available at various stores (freebies, discounts, etc.), it’s hard to see why anyone would pass on this.

It’s funny how the major studios were smart enough not to try opening up physical video rental stores devoted to only their releases, but have let all that good sense fly out the window as soon as streaming video became an option. Which means streaming providers like Netflix are scrambling to produce original material to replace the content that’s gradually being drained away. Suddenly the “convenience” of not having to go out becomes very expensive if you’re a movie lover and you have to subscribe to multiple services. And that’s assuming you’re lucky enough to live in an area where high speed service is readily available.

But most video stores know you can’t rely on one studio or only new releases. A successful store needs a variety of releases and that usually means direct to video and less “mainstream” films in order to keep the money coming in. Since every VOD provider is trying to make exclusive licensing deals on various studio libraries, this makes it harder and harder for one streaming service to have a good selection. Sadly their “solution” seems to be to cater to the idea that mainstream is king and one should never be exposed to anything remotely different. Combine that with a library that can change at any time and you have one heck of a crappy situation for film lovers. This is why it’s so important to support local businesses. But don’t just take my word for it, as the official Video Store Day website has tons of testimonials on the matter.

Happy Video Store Day!

Special thanks to Eyesore Cinema for use of the image!

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