Nov 27 2014

Gamera vs. Godzilla

Although the Godzilla fan in me wants to give top billing to the king of the monsters, Gamera is the birthday kaiju and therefore gets the spotlight today. Fan speculation over who would win in a fight between the two giant monsters has been going on for decades and shows no sign of slowing down. Would Gamera’s ability to consume fire work against Godzilla’s atomic breath? If not, would Godzilla be able to injure Gamera if he withdrew into his shell? I also imagine this debate will continue for several decades before we see an official film tackling the matter. So the fans have gone ahead and made their own films on the matter, usually editing together clips from various Godzilla and Gamera films. One of my favorites is one by SolidLastSnake which exclusively uses footage from each monster’s Heisei films:

Fans preferring the Showa films should enjoy the following film from pta917:

Now I really wish Toho had actually shown the battle between Godzilla and Kamoebas in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S rather than showing the aftermath. A little creative editing could have made some great Gamera vs. Godzilla footage (not unlike the trick used to make the fight between Wolverine and the Hulk in the “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” fan trailer).

Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy (Belated) Birthday Gamera!

Nov 21 2014

6’+ Episode 129 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Join in a FRANKENSTEIN celebration, as we touch upon Mary Shelley’s original creation and the 1931 movie that made Boris Karloff a household name. With music from Hotrod Frankie, The Human Duplicators, diemonsterdie and more – plus, this episode may be green but Monstermatt Patterson is frozen solid blue in this edition of the Montermatt Minute!”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Nov 14 2014

6′+ Episode 128 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Like a dense fog, we get lost in the lower frequencies that provides music from The Pits, Guantanamo Baywatch, Pine Box Boys, The VooDuo and more. Plus, it’s time to get lost in the weirdness of the Monstermatt Minute with Monstermatt Patterson.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Nov 12 2014

“Night of The Living Dead” Stars Home-Grown Talent

I bet this article wasn't too popular in certain parts of the US.  Especially this image.

Two Pittsburgh-born performers who left home in search of show business careers, returned to Pittsburgh to make their motion picture debut debuts as stars of the Walter Reade Organization’s “The Night of The Living Dead” which opens soon at the Leathbridge Theatre.

Duane Jones left Pittsburgh first for college and then to study at New York’s famous Actors Studio. Judith O’Dea left in the other direction-for Hollywood-where she where pursued a career in television and the stage.

But casting directors have long memories and both stars were called back to Pittsburgh for their starring roles in the film which was produced by a local company, Image Ten, Inc.

“The Night of The Living Dead” stars Marilyn Eastman in addition to Mr. Jones and Miss O’Dea. It was directed by George A. Romero. It is released by Continental, the motion picture division of the Walter Reade Organization.

[This post is based around a prepared article included in the pressbook for Night of the Living Dead. With the exception of adding a theater name in order to mimic how this would have looked in an old newspaper, the article has been unchanged. Notice how the film’s title doesn’t match up with its onscreen title. Is it any wonder the Walter Reade Organization forgot to include a copyright notice when they changed the original “Night of the Flesh Eaters” title? You can find more vintage promotional material for the film here.]

Nov 11 2014

Guest Post: The Soundtrack To Horror

Today, we share another guest post from Kraig Khaos. Kraig has a reoccuring feature on 6ftplus – Killer Kuts from Kraig Khaos – where he shares a song from a vinyl recording. Kraig has a new podcast called Uncommon Interests, where he discusses a wide range of pop culture ranging from the mainstream to deep underground. Being a vinyl enthusiast, Kraig has a post about the resurgence of horror soundtracks getting released on vinyl records.

 

kk0201Soundtrack in a film sets a mood. Whether it be a song by a band or a under lining score of a film, the music kind of sets the whole tone. This is especially true when it comes to horror films. Can you imagine the effect of Michael Myers stalking and stabbing someone being the same if “Baby Elephant Walk” was playing in the background? Of course not. And over the years, some horror film scores and their composers stand out among all the others. Names like Fabio Frizzi and Harry Manfredini have become as infamous and celebrated as the directors they worked for and the films they scored.

Unfortunately, for a long time, it was hard to come across good vinyl copies of these soundtracks for films like Cannibal Ferox, City of the Living Dead, Re-Animator or New York Ripper, unless you paid a pretty penny. And even then, it was mostly bootleg copies done by some backdoor record label (this being the case because a lot of soundtracks weren’t released.) After all, a film with a shoe-string budget doesn’t really have too much extra cash lying around to press a couple thousand records to tie in with a movie that may only be released in a few countries before going straight to video.

But thanks to record labels such as Death Waltz Recordings, One Way Static Records and Wax Works Records, there is hope. These labels have been releasing a slew of tremendous soundtracks to some of your favorite horror films of all time. And these guys aren’t just popping a record in a generic sleeve and saying “Here ya go!” They have some of the top artists of today doing new special artwork for the covers. And with new liner notes from the film makers and composers themselves discussing their feelings and ideas about the music, these beautiful pieces of art are truly something special to a collector or fans of a film. And with incentives such as limited number pressings on colored vinyl, art prints and posters included with the record, these soundtracks have become quite the commodity.

Usually, one of these labels will announce a release a few months in advance. They will announce how many different pressings kk0202(300 blue vinyl, 200 green vinyl, 500 on black vinyl, etc.), state the incentives (liner notes by director, comes with limited hand numbered art print and poster, etc.), show the cover art and then give a date that the pre-order goes on sale along with the actual release/shipping date of the record. And although they seem to sell out pretty quick, they always seem to do a large run of one color or regular black vinyl for those who show up late to the game but still want a copy. And those large runs of color or black still come with the same packaging and incentive art pieces.

The important thing to remember, though, is the music itself. These companies aren’t just doing releases for any film soundtrack they can get their hands on. They are doing films that the music had a large part in shaping and setting the mood to. So now, you too can own a badass vinyl version of soundtracks to Day of the Dead, Rosemary’s Baby, Re-Animator or House By the Cemetery and many others. They may cost a little more than the average $15 record from your local mom & pop shop. They usually run between $20-$30 depending on whether it’s a double LP, the extras that come with it and all those things. But they never seem to charge more for the limited colored ones than say the regular black vinyl version. They just do a first come first serve type of thing.

So, if you’re into vinyl, soundtracks, or just some beautiful horror art, definitely seek some of these out.

Nov 07 2014

6′+ Episode 127 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“The big OG-to-the-odZILLA turns 60 and we celebrate with an episode packed to the brim with Monster Island goodness. Monsters like Shonen Knife, Peelander Z, King Dapper Combo and Monstermatt Patterson, with the Monstermatt Minute, and Kraig Khaos with another installment of Killer Kuts.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Nov 03 2014

Numa Numa Godzilla

I remember when the internet was flooded with comedy videos of people dancing to the “Numa Numa” song. It turns out its actual name is “Dragostea din tei” (which means “Love from the lindens” in English). It’s from a Moldovan group called O-Zone and you can read more about its history here. In honor of Godzilla’s 60th anniversary, let’s watch this comedic video using “Dragostea din tei” and clips from some of the goofiest moments in the Godzilla series:

It’s too hard for me to pick a favorite part, so I’ll just draw attention to the clip featuring Godzilla running. That’s some pretty impressive speed for a guy wearing a heavy rubber costume!

Happy Birthday Godzilla!

Oct 31 2014

The Drool Brothers, HALLOWEEN FOR CREEPS

The Drool Brothers
Official Site
Halloween For Creeps, Barfing Glitter Records 2012

I am so winning the Diorama-rama with this!

The Drool Brothers have a long and interesting history. Back in the mid 80’s, brothers Chuck Mancillas and Tom Slik decided to practice music together. Legend has it certain grooves were so difficult to play that the brothers would occasionally drool onto their instrument of choice. But although they had a name, it wasn’t until 1996 that things really started coming together. Having earned enough money playing for other bands, Chuck bought the equipment they needed to finally start making the kind of music they wanted to make. Teaming up with some like-minded musicians, the released their first single later that year. Said single was a hit and helped further cement their place in Los Angeles’ underground music scene. Their first full-length release came in 2000 and was followed by Kasio Montigo in 2004, Ajax Muffler in 2009, Decoupage in 2011 and Halloween For Creeps in 2012.

But who are the Drool Brothers? The band consists of:

Chuck Mancillas: Drums, lead vocals and various instruments
Tom Slik: Bass, background vocals, and various instruments
Joe Kramer: Guitar, background vocals, and various instruments
Dan Marfisi: Bongos and various instruments

They aren’t kidding about the “various instruments,” either. Their number of instruments is rivaled only by their list of musical influences. Trying to pin down their exact genre is almost impossible, as they have been described as everything from “psychological pop music” to “Psychedelic Fuzz Soul.” It would probably be easier to list the music and artists they aren’t influenced by! As the subject of this review shows, they effortlessly switch from genre to genre during the course of a single album!

“Introduction” is a 35 second song excerpt which sounds like it is being played on a scratchy record . There’s a xylophone, bouncy drum and plenty of wacky effects as the singer tells us tonight is Halloween. The use of a whistle couldn’t help but remind me of Mysterious Mose. In “Lost in Space,” pulsing music and space instrumentation make for an engaging track. The guitars really shine here and I love the drum work as well. I also love the amnesiac singer’s exasperated attempt to contact Saturn 3. “Tonight is Halloween” is the full (and clean) version of opening track. It has a perfect old school Halloween for kids feel and I love it for this. The sounds of waves and wind take us into the surf track “Green Tiki.” This humorous tale of the misfortunes of those who come into the titular tiki is insanely catchy and loaded with reverb. “Skeleton Girl 3000″ is an extended take on a track from their 2000 self-titled feature album. I actually prefer chorus of new version and love how the opening grabs you and never lets go. The funky keyboard beat goes great with drums and guitars.

You know what else goes great together? The samples from various horror movie and spook show trailers mixed with rocking guitars in “Reptile.” Despite the samples having nothing to do with reptiles, the vocals help the listener understand the connection between them. “Creeps” reminds of the the music heard during the pool party in Boogie Nights (aka “Spill the Wine” by Eric Burdon and War). Which is great, since that song rules. In contrast, “Anti Establishment Scholarship Fund” is much slower and low key. It’s done in the form of a pitch for the previously mention fund, where all the proceeds will go to you! There’s plenty of interesting electrical effects while the organ and other instrumentation are appropriately offbeat. The instrumental “Revenge of the Green Tiki” offers a wonderful exotica/surf fusion take on the beat from “Green Tiki.” In addition to the guitars and bongos, there are also touches of reverb and klaves. Things appropriately draw to a close with the 27 second “Conclusion,” where we get another scratchy record sample. Having the record get “stuck” was a perfect touch.

Halloween For Creeps is not only a great listening experience (whether it’s on Halloween or any other time of the year), but it also does a perfect job of paying tribute to the group’s roots. Remember their hit single? It was a little something called “Halloweenish.” The disco mix contained on the original LP’s “B” side not only turned up on The Drool Brothers along with “Skeleton Girl,” but also appeared on compilations like Listen and Learn with Vibro-Phonic and Joe’s Blue Plate Special Vol. 14. And here’s a treat: If you order the CD version, you also get a vinyl sticker featuring the Drool Brothers logo!

Speaking of vinyl, the “Halloweenish” single has been reissued on orange vinyl and is now available for purchase. In addition to getting a free sticker, purchasing it will let you hear the rare “A” side featuring a guest performance by Kristian Hoffman from The Mumps. Oh, and here’s one more treat: You can download a free copy of “Tonight is Halloween” on Bandcamp! If that isn’t something to drool over, I don’t know what is.

Special thanks to The Drool Brothers for the review copy!

Happy Halloween!

Oct 31 2014

6′+ Episode 126 (The 2014 Halloween Special) is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Happy Halloween! Something strange is going on with Strange Jason – he’s actually cheery on Halloween! What the GdL16 Intern uncovers is SHOCKING (more shocking than the guest appearance by Bernie Freakshow!) It’s a horrible fate that puts not only the town of Leathbridge, but the entire WORLD at risk! ALL IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN!

Featuring the music of Fauxrror, from their new album SOUNDTRACKS TO HORROR FILMS THAT NEVER WERE, available at Goblinhaus.com.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Oct 30 2014

The Newton Haunted House

Don't mind me.  I'm just tidying things up before the next group comes through.

Location: 18 Washington Park Newtonville, MA 02460 (Directions)
Dates/Times: October 24, 5:30 – 8:00 pm (Dates/Times subject to change as years go by)
Admission: $5 per person
Phone: (617) 969-6848
Website: http://www.newtonhauntedhouse.org

The Barrett family (no relation to the people who run Barrett’s Haunted Mansion in Abington, MA) have been running a haunted house in their basement since 2004. Created by Sophia Barrett as a way to raise money for charity, the haunted house has received support not only from her parents but also from several organizations and netted her a Nally Award in 2012. It is only open one night a year, usually on a Friday (but will open on a Sunday instead if there’s rain). While free parking is usually available about a block from the haunt, I recommend stopping by much earlier to scout out some potential areas because the haunted house is very popular and spots fill up fast. The line builds up quickly, so expect to spend some time outside and bring a jacket. There are also plenty of baked goods for sale if you get hungry.

Its being open to people of all ages is one of the reasons for its popularity, as is how customers are able to choose the level of scariness they will experience when they go through: “No scares,” “Medium scary” and “Very scary.” “No scares” is pretty self explanatory, the performers just stand around and act friendly (and will take off their masks upon request). “Medium scary” has the monsters lurk around and “Very scary” has them use more advanced scare tactics and even touch you. Each ticket costs the same, but the monster at the start of the haunted house calls out the level you (or if you’re not alone, your group) has selected and uses a special noisemaker for each level. Those who opt for the “Very scary” version also have to wear a special lei that you return at the end of the haunt. This lets families visit each year and adjust the level of scariness as their children get older. The ticket taker was always ready to assist if people were having trouble deciding on a level and I loved how she reacted to kids who wanted to jump right to the scariest level. “Are you sure? The monsters haven’t eaten since last Halloween!” Classic.

Naturally, I opted for “Very scary” and can vouch for the experience not being for little kids. While there are several instances where monsters jump out at you, they also use other methods. Some distract you, some follow you, some touch you and others wait until you least expect it before making a move. Some performers near the end actually almost surprised me, which no other haunt I have reviewed for this website has managed to pull off. There were also a few clever setups involving positioning which I won’t spoil by explaining further. In addition to rooms featuring just monsters, there are also several scenes and static displays. The free candy at the end was also a pleasant surprise. The basement itself provides a lot of great atmosphere and as a haunt catering to all age groups, there’s little to no blood on display. The props range from the kind you can find at your local pharmacy to high end (along with some cool homemade ones) which makes for a good mix considering the target audience. It’s also understandable since all proceeds are donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank. The layout was well-chosen and helped the 5 minute tour feel much longer. Believe me, I mean that in a good way.

I was very pleased to see how all performers wore full costumes. The only “mask and street clothes” one in the bunch was the guy who announces the level you selected and he has a valid reason for that. Going into a room with dim red lighting and scary sound effects blasting away can be very intimidating for younger children and being able to switch from a monster to a person is extremely important in those circumstances. Given how some last minute scheduling issues resulted in me attending later in the evening and it was their busiest year yet, I was impressed by the performers’ energy (especially since they did not have any breaks). However, there were a few issues with my trip through the haunt. I caught two actors having a conversation and had to interrupt them so they could actually go through their routine. I give them credit for trying to make it work, though. There was another point where a performer seemed to have temporarily abandoned their post and left their mask behind!

This being a busy year had another effect on the haunted house. The scenes and scares are subject to change each year and I understand this year saw little change due to everyone’s work schedules being heavy. But other years have had numerous changes and they tentatively plan to change every room for 2015. Thankfully the increased level of traffic seen this year also resulted in the Greater Boston Food Bank receiving about $2,150! All these factors made it hard to pin down an exact rating for the Newton Haunted House, so I had to fudge things a bit. It’s definitely equal to other charity haunts I have attended and surpasses one for profit haunted attraction previously covered here. I’m sure you will enjoy yourself if you visit (and that next year’s incarnation will be a real treat).

Final verdict: 3 skulls out of 5

UPDATE: It turns out Lisa Barrett (the ticket taker) is a famous researcher and published author specializing in the study of emotions. She uses her knowledge of fear to train the haunt’s performers (who are also members of her lab) how to be as creepy as possible! I have also been informed the level announcer is her husband, who wears street clothes as part of his costume so his Greater Boston Food Bank can help further promote the organization.

Special thanks to The Newton Haunted House for use of the image!

Oct 30 2014

Help Roz Fight Some Real Horrors This Halloween

We received a letter from a fan of 6ftplus from Roz, who is attempting the admirable goal of raising money to combat Multiple Sclerosis through the SWIM FOR MS campaign with the Multiple Sclerosis Association for America.

Roz became a fan of the show back in 2011 and has been following since. She thanked 6ftplus for introducing to so many great bands. And since 6ftplus focuses on the creepy genres of music like psychobilly and horror punk, it’s quite familiar with fearful frights and sinister scares.

Total Badass

Total Badass

But MS is a different kind of terror. The National MS Society describes MS as “an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.”

Now, my alter-ego has indirectly witnessed the sadness, the pain and the desperation this condition causes in both MS patients and their families. It’s a treatable condition and the advances in medication are astounding, but we still have a lot to ground to cover.

According to its website, SWIM FOR MS is “a national fundraiser in which volunteers create their own swim challenge while recruiting online donations to support the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA).”

Now, swimming is fun but it is TIRING. Just reading that Roz has aimed to swim 35 miles made me exhausted. It’s a great goal that aims to raise money for a good cause. Plus, her Swim Team name is “The Fighting Narwhales.” Whales with unicorn-like teeth that totally skewer their enemies.

The Fighting Narwhales have a group on Fitocracy, but to directly support Roz’s campaign go to here: SUPPORT ROZ’S EFFORTS TO SWIM FOR MS.

Oct 29 2014

Royalty Free Music For Haunted Attractions

Whenever you hear background music playing at a mall or restaurant, chances are it’s being used under some kind of licensing agreement unless they meet certain criteria. Yes, even businesses using satellite radios to play music are subject to this. If they aren’t doing this and don’t meet certain qualifications, then they run the risk of getting sued if they get caught doing so. Something which can easily happen in the age of social media. Although there are many types of payment plans and complicated factors to consider, one of the most popular methods of licensing is the blanket license. Rather than pay a fee each time a particular song is used (aka royalty), those with a blanket license pay set fee to a performance rights organization to use their collection/library of music. Similarly, producers of advertisements, television shows and movies can avoid paying fees if they use royalty free production music, usually by purchasing an expensive CD or access to a digital library. Although sometimes public domain material and Creative Commons music can be used without having to pay a royalty, this does not mean all royalty free material fits into those categories. Especially not the music in this article.

So why use royalty free music if your haunt is of the home or charity variety? If paid admission or donations involved, some might try arguing your event is actually for profit. On top of the extra protection royalty free music can give you, many of the artists who make their work available that way are willing to give you free publicity! Although the type of material discussed in this article does not require any royalties for use in your haunted attraction after the initial purchase, its royalty free nature does NOT apply to use on the radio, television shows, movies, YouTube videos, etc. I have divided the artists into three categories based on their policies for royalty free use. The order of my listing them is based solely on the order I learned about their policies for each category. In EVERY case, you HAVE to purchase the music in order to qualify. Do not hesitate to contact the artist if you have any other questions about using their work:

Registration and Web Display Required:

Nox Arcana – If your haunted attraction is a registered charity business, they will let you use their music in this way as long as you email them and credit Nox Arcana on your website’s sponsors section. If you are not a charity, please contact them to see what low cost or trade options are available. I understand everything is done on a case-by-case basis in order to insure maximum fairness for all.

Music For Haunts – Home haunts, charity haunts and for-profit haunted attractions which see 10,000 or lower patrons can use his work royalty free by providing credit on your website (including a link to his website) and emailing him about how you plan on using his work in your haunt so he knows how to best publicize your haunted attraction online for free. All other businesses should contact him to discuss his reasonable licensing rates.

Registration and Public Display Required:

Midnight Syndicate – You must register with them for each year you use their work. In return, they will send you a poster to display at your haunt and will also provide publicity for you on their website. Displaying the poster is NOT optional.

Jerry Vayne – You must register with him every year you use his work. You also have to print out and display a poster from his website.

Verse 13 – You must submit registration through his website for each year you use his work. You also need to print out and display a poster from his website in order to qualify.

Prelude to a Nightmare – All you need to do is provide public credit at your haunt and contact him so he can publicize your haunt for free online.

Registration Required:

Sam Haynes – To use his work royalty free, send him an e-mail with “Register” in the subject line and provide a link to your website (along with details about your haunted attraction).

Dulcet Jones – Please email him for details about using his work.

Other:

Grave Tone Productions – Registration via email is not required, but they do appreciate it when people do it. They also appreciate it when your provide public credit for their work. They appreciate it so much they will even help promote your haunt online for free if you do it!

Michael Hedstrom – If you buy the album, you can use it royalty free in your haunted attraction. While he does appreciate getting email about the matter, there is no obligation.

Gore Galore – Purchasing any of their “Sounds of Gore” effects albums and/or Rusty Knife haunt soundtracks allow you to use their work royalty free. Although they offer albums from many other artists in their web store, the royalty free license ONLY applies to the two previously mentioned lines of albums.

Even if the artist whose work you are using does not require you providing any credit, I highly recommend that you do so anyway. After all, they are letting you use their music to get publicity for their work and publicity is meaningless if none of your customers knows who provided the music. If possible, really put some extra effort into your public display of credit at your haunt. Having credit written on the lid of an open coffin would look great, as would having a sign held by a “Monster Mud” creation. Be sure to factor in removable signs into the designs of such props if you want to use different artists each year. The Monster Page of Halloween Project Links should have all the information you need.

I’m sure there are more artists out there who let haunters use their work royalty free and will definitely keep searching for them. Please feel free to send any leads you may have my way.

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. Nobody here is a lawyer and all legal matters discussed above are done so in the simplest, bare bones way. Consult a lawyer whenever possible.

Oct 28 2014

Music to Haunt By: The Dead of Fall

Darkmood
Official Site
The Dead of Fall, Notic Reign Records 2014

This is what happens if you don't brush your teeth.

It has been quite a long time since we last heard from Darkmood. After the release of Halloween Descends, the album later went out of print and Steve Montgomery had to balance work on the next album with other projects like SDM and Portrait Black. But the patience of fans has been rewarded with the arrival of The Dead of Fall. Unlike Darkmood’s debut album, this is a concept album rather than a sampler of spooky themes. But the zombie apocalypse theme is used lightly enough so that this album can be used in a wide range of haunted attractions.

Pounding synths open “Outbreak” and are soon followed by varied and creepy piano work. The drum segments (and later use of strings) are a great touch and help build suspense, along with a sense of menace and fear. “Infected” has a THX-style opening buildup, but gets more unstable and unnerving as time goes on. If you need something with soft winds and otherworldly synth sounds, this is the track for you. “Death Bell” has a soft, slow and sneaking piano opening backed up by sinister synth work. Just as the title implies, there are sometimes bell clangs as well. There’s also kind of a dance feel as the beat kicks in. In fact, most of the tracks could be thrown into a party mix without complaint and still be used in haunts. “Quarantine” feels otherworldly right from the start and the synth stings are on full display. The excellent dark piano work adds to the feel. In addition to the synth music break which sounds like something from an 80’s horror movie, you sometimes here a crying baby, woman screaming, blowing wind, ragged breathing and other effects in the distance. I imagine this being used in scene designed to look like a child’s room. More specifically, in the passage to the boogeyman’s realm found in the open closet. Synths and piano combine in “Bury The Dead” and the varied piano work creates feelings of nervousness and lurking. The wordless vocals are a great touch. While its occasional use vaguely sci-fi touches could allow use in a mad scientist’s lab, it could also work nicely in a ghost scene. Clocking in at over six minutes, “Walkers” is definitely the longest track of the album. I love the soft and steady beat that gradually raises in volume, along with the spooky synths that pop up at times. There’s also eerie chiming and a pounding chase beast later on. There’s so many potential uses for this, but let’s go with a zombie room since that is the theme of the album. A chained up door restraining zombies would be perfect. Especially if you added some fake hands and a hidden motor to move the doors “Mutation” has a catchy drum beat mixed with synths and windlike effects. It’s perfect for any jungle room.

Stabbing synth tones and a soft beat join with light (but creepy) piano work in “Hordes.” Thanks to the unisex musical moans and some effects which remind me of sharpening knives, I envision this being played in the lair of a mad butcher or in a meat locker. The opening of “A Day So Black” offers medium pounding notes and synth effects combined with wordless male vocals. There’s a beat with a mild “Egyptian” feel later on, but horror stingers and clanking metal change things up. You know that theory about aliens building the pyramids? That’s right, the one based on an unauthorized sequel to The War of the Worlds. Well how about making an area in your haunted attraction based on this and use this particular track? Don’t laugh, it’s been done before. The slow, heavy synth work and effects used in “Pulse” reminds me of skittering and tuning. At least until the fast beat bursts in. There are lots of electrical and sci-fi touches, plus some winds and wails as well. This would be right at home with an alien or laboratory theme. “They’re Coming” has plenty of soft, pounding piano notes with a “We are coming” chant layered underneath. It sometimes takes breaks for synth effects, but always returns. It has a nervous or sneaking feel to it and you could have funt with it by having this play softly and gradually turn up the volume in a room where people are lingering. If your haunt has a tour guide, have them panic and quickly guide people to the next area. If you are operating an outdoor attraction, this would be perfect to use with a hellmouth. “Last Breath” uses lurking synth notes to evoke a breathing feel. This feel is further aided by some breathing sound effects, along with a woman crying and laughing. Try using this with your haunt’s breathing doors or breathing grave, especially if you can synch up the track’s breathing parts to when prop starts. Eerie synth work opens “Epitaph” offers a steady beat, light creepy music and great use of effects. The effects reminded me of wind at some times and ghosts at others. “Dark Waters,” the special bonus track, mixes the sounds of wind and water with plenty of synth touches as well. If you want your haunt to have pirates but don’t want to go through the hassle of making a fake ship, this track can help. Why? Because it implies the ocean so you don’t have to show it. All you need is a room designed to look like it’s from a pirate ship. The track’s somewhat unearthly feel can also let you throw in a sea monster or ghost pirate.

Darkmood’s sophomore release has proven itself well worth the wait. In fact, I actually rank it higher than the first album! I was quite impressed with how so many tracks could be used to dance to (and haunt by) while not being overtly “dance” tracks. No other artist I’ve reviewed has ever pulled off before and this was quite the pleasant surprise. If this sounds like your kind of soundtrack, then you are in luck: it was just released today! I was able to write this thanks to being provided with an early version of the album. I bring this up because I do have a few minor nitpicks about the album and said nitpicks might not even be present on the final version. As much as I loved “Outbreak,” it seemed to end much more abruptly than the other tracks. It also had a somewhat lengthy period of silence at the end before going to the next track. Several other tracks have similar silent periods, but are much shorter than the one following “Outbreak.” But this issue is only really noticeable if you loop those tracks individually. I found listening to the album as a whole helped draw you in and ignore everything but the music. Aside from the bonus track, there’s nothing here that could rule out playing the album in full while handing out candy, so it’s great for casual horror fans and dedicated haunters alike. I’m already looking forward to the next album!

UPDATE: Notic Reign Records has confirmed the issues I noted were errors and assured me corrected versions of the tracks have been uploaded in their place.

Special thanks to Notic Reign Records 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 27 2014

Music to Haunt By: Virgil Franklin

Virgil Franklin
Official Site
Into The Ether, Lame Duck Digital 2013

Why don't you come up and slay me sometime?

Virgil Franklin, often known as simply “Virgil” to fans of spooky music, has a lengthy musical resume. Having worked as a freelance arranger/composer for many years, founded the label/recording studio Lame Duck Digital in 2000. This quickly led to him composing and performing numerous film scores. On top of that, he gives demonstrations at conventions and shares his audio skills at Vincennes University. His first release under as “Virgil” was the 2002 album Spacial Estates. But his first horror releases came out two years later: Out Of The Ether and Music For The Others. These were soon followed by Fade To Black, Klown, Dark Hollow, Hillbilly Hell, and A Visit From Mister Grey. Not having released a new solo horror album since 2008 (although he did do a collaboration with Clifford Franklin called The Plot in 2011), Mr. Franklin announced his retirement from the genre in 2013. Thankfully this was short-lived and he returned that same year with two new albums: Into The Ether and Night Sins. Of the two newest releases, I chose to review Into The Ether due to its interesting theme. The album references the names and styles of his many previous releases but contains all new material. With such a celebration of his past and present available, how could I refuse?

Soft tones take us “Into The Ether,” where eerie piano work sets the stage for scares. I never thought I would ever hear a scary horn, but here it is. The choir and rockin’ guitars make for an unusual (but pleasing) combination. “Zombies 1″ has a somewhat misleading name. The wailing wind, synth work and musical moans make one think of spirits rather than the walking dead. This can be used in many kinds of haunted attraction scenes, but I think it would work particularly well with a moving Ouija board. “The Darkness In The Hollow” has knocking synths and soft, playfully creepy music something that can be described as being like a “theremin fairy tale.” With that in mind, why not use it in a scene inspired by fairy tales or in a haunt intended for younger audiences? Dark and heavy synths open “Left For Dead,” which reminds me of crashing surf. There’s plenty of wailing winds and other creepy touches while knocking noise and otherwordly effects come in around the second half. “Miklos’ Dream” offers soft, light music coupled with dark strings. There are plenty of classic horror music touches here and you’ll know them when you hear them. “Midwest Haunters” is named after the Midwest Haunters Convention and the quick, spooky piano work reminds me of the Midnight Syndicate. The eerie theremin work is nicely mirrored by the dark strings. “A Stock Of Iron” is also named after a haunters’ convention. In this case, it’s Ironstock. Crickets, otherworldly tones and eerie music start things off and storm effects bring in lighter (but still creepy) work. The beautifully scary piano and ticking clock which close this track make it especially useful for spooky areas containing a haunted clock. “Zombies 2″ lives up to its name thanks to its catchy “Voodoo” drumbeats and creepy effects. The soft, distant flute and use of a musical instrument which sounds like fluttering insect wings are great touches. It reminds me of H.P. Lovecraft’s description of the original Arabic title of the Necronomicon translating as “that nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the howling of demons.” So in addition to playing this in rooms themed around jungles or shrunken heads, you can also have it playing in a room with a Necronomicon prop. I recommend playing it softly enough so that it can only be faintly heard when your guests are close to said prop.

“Master Of The Ethermuse” is a reference to a title used in reference to Mr. Franklin and features plenty of heavy breathing and spooky piano work. My short description doesn’t do this justice, you really need to listen to it to truly appreciate it. “Left For Dead (Reprise)” offers sinister ethereal effects, soft moans and distant drumbeats while the fairly speedy piano and synths of “Pirates!” provide a feeling of adventure. Loud, eerie effects open “Atmosfear,” along with some soft moans and dreamlike chimes. It reminds me of the kid of music you hear when a character on a TV show has a nightmare. It your haunt has a vortex or scene set in the netherworld, this is the track for you! “John’s Vision” has a very effective, super soft opening buildup of effects. The pounding tones combined with the light and quick synths will make listeners think of crawling things. With that in mind, using it in areas filled with spiders or insects seems appropriate. The pounding drums and creepy synth work of “Music For The Others” take on a rather mournful tone, even with the addition of “horror” musical stingers later on. Possessing a length of over eleven minutes, “Luminousity” is easily the longest track of the album. It’s great for actors who have to spend time in one area with this playing in a loop since there’s so much variation on display. There’s soft piano work accompanied by strings, harpsichord and some eerie synth tones. While good with low key scares and generally creepy scenes, the medieval feel conjured by the harpsichord also allows its use in a room themed around castle or throne room. “Miklos’ Dream (Reprise)” has a spooky synth buildup this time around and creepy chimes add to the dreamlike quality of the track. But the drums and burst of menacing synth change all that real quick. With a name like “Klown,” it’s easy to guess how it will sound and what type of haunt scene to use it with. Creepily weird clown laughter starts things off as a clown urges children to come and play. This clown returns throughout the track to laugh and taunt the listener. In addition to the calliope and synth work, there’s also some surprise guitar work!

Into The Ether is both a perfect way for Virgil to demonstrate he hasn’t lost his touch after a long break and is a highly recommended addition to any haunter’s collection. The track lengths allow for individual looping without being repetitive and its wide selection offers much to choose from October 31st rolls around. That said, a few tracks have a good deal of silence at the end which should be considered when doing so. These tracks are “Midwest Haunters,” “The Darkness In The Hollow” and both “Zombie” tracks. But I should stress how this is only a minor issue and it doesn’t effect the overall quality of the music. Virgil Franklin has since announced two new albums scheduled for release in the near future and I
(like so many other Halloween enthusiasts) eagerly look forward to them.

Special thanks to Virgil Franklin 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 26 2014

Zacherley and Southern Culture On The Skids dress up as Creedence

Southern Culture On The Skids got a well deserved nod by “Weird” Al Yankovic on his recent no.1 album, ‘Mandatory Fun.’ Al did a SCOTS-style parody, similar to his DEVO-esque “Dare to Be Stupid.” The song “Lame Claim To Fame,” and subsequent video, pay a pastiche homage to the long running trio. I first got to know Southern Culture On The Skids from the HALLOWEEN HOOTENANNY comp when they teamed up with Zacherley for a cover of Creedence’s “Sinister Purpose.” I have to say, I prefer the SCOTS+Z version. Zach’s vocals add some real old time mysticism to it. But, what do you think?

VS

Oct 26 2014

Music to Haunt By: Halloween Music Collection

Midnight Syndicate
Official Site
Halloween Music Collection, Linfaldia Records 2010

Dear Midnight Syndicate:  Please make a pumpkin carving stencil based on this Jack O'Lantern.

2010 was a busy year for Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka. Not only was their film The Dead Matter released that year, but they had also teamed up with Destini Beard for her album The Dark Masquerade and released The Dead Matter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. They also released their thirteenth album: Halloween Music Collection. Said album consists of material specially selected from the following albums: Realm of Shadows, Gates of Delirium, Vampyre, Dungeons and Dragons, The 13th Hour, Out of the Darkness (Retrospective: 1994-1999) and The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates. It’s worth noting how Out of the Darkness (Retrospective: 1994-1999) contains rerecorded and remixed versions from early Midnight Syndicate releases, so the selection of music is even larger than expected! As I have already commented on certain selections picked for this album, I decided to include those comments along with my new material. It just seemed more appropriate that way.

“Family Secrets” starts with a synthesizer riff that should be familiar to horror movie fans, then gives way to a light, steady piano under synth and wordless female vocals. A bell causes a shift to greater sense of danger, then shifts out to interesting variations in both music and vocals. “Darkness Descends” originally appeared on Born of the Night and while I feel the version presented here isn’t quite as dark in feel as the original, it is still scary. The opening piano leads to bells and eerie backing synth work. The light use of wind and wordless female vocals make it appropriate for just about any spooky scene. The same goes for “Fallen Grandeur,” a great “general scare” track thanks to its spooky, speedy organ work followed by heavy synth and the occasional chanting vocals. Moans take us into “Room 47,” where wordless male vocals and “Darkness Descends”-style notes help further chill you. Wordless female vocals join in, along with all-new piano work comes in later. The ghosts remain a constant presence and therefore this track is ideal for séances and any other scenes involving one or more ghosts. The new “Born of the Night” may lack the whispering vocals at beginning, but still has the great piano work and heavy backing notes I adore. I consider it one of my favorites no matter what form it is available in. It’s just so moody and evocative! The wordless female vocals and piano speedup (with some light touches) play a huge part in creating that feel. A spooky buildup and horror movie-style musical stinger welcome us into “Raven’s Hollow.” This soundscape combines wind, distant tolling bells and ravens cawing to make a track perfect for a haunted forest or graveyard. Unsure synths, soft wordless vocals and knocking tones create a perfect slow buildup to “Awakening,” which was a Hammer horror tribute years before Monsters of Legend came to be. In true classic horror movie style, crashing gongs usher in a change in tone so it feels more confident and regal. The unisex vocals
and bells also add to the overall mood. “Shadows” still has soft pounding notes at opening, but sounds different. There are light music box-like touches and the buildup isn’t as intense, but it has spookier feel this time around. It still has all the great piano work, sound effects, vocals, etc. that made it so special as well. This track is actually a reworking of a track from the band’s self-titled debut album called “Darkfolk,” which had more of a fairy tale feel to it. Similarly, “Haunted Nursery” has its origins in a track from that album called “Enchanted Nursery” and was one of the earliest tracks ever written for the band. The most recent version skips the opening sound effects and goes right for the creepy music box that slowly winds down. So if you plan on using this in a haunted nursery, the track’s ending is a great cue for a hidden helper to do their thing. This works especially well if you have a decoy prop set up to make your visitors think is going to be the thing that scares them.

Given its tabletop RPG origins, “Army of the Dead” was apparently designed for the introduction of monsters in play. This is why the dramatic, steady synths are coupled with the sound of burning torches and footsteps. The chanting vocals, drums, gongs and tones that make me think of horns and strings all conjure up a feeling of menace. If you play it low enough, you can eliminate the sound effects but still retain the music. No matter how you chose to play it, I think it would be great for a scene involving a cult or summoning ritual. Or if your haunt’s story involves a location with multiple secret tunnels, having this play behind a wall can imply beings marching somewhere out of view. A medium, steady piano opening in “Dark Legacy” leads to synthesizer work, and later a gongs signals the organ to join in. It feels like someone recollecting of the past, and there are otherworldly touches at one point (along with vocals). The synth work in “Morbid Fascination” reminds me of main titles to John Carpenter’s The Thing. I love the piano buildup (and variations in play) which follow and how it contrasts with the synth work. The wordless female vocals and storm effects add to the overall sense of mystery and lurking. This has plenty of uses, but if you want to use in room based on The Thing, I say go for it. The short, but scary “Deadly Intentions” uses a whispered female “come with me” and synth work to great effect. Such vocals and synthesizer work lead us into “Undead Hunters,” which has a very dramatic tone. I love the use of gongs, wordless unisex vocals and bursts of drums. You can feel the danger and pursuit in this. “Soliloquy” still features a mournful piano and wordless female vocals, but is a little louder and more “confident” in its new version. The piano seems to be slightly faster here, bit you can still feel the sorrow and loss. Although the wordless male vocals are still present later in the track, the bells don’t show up until much later. I suggest using this with a “Beloved” tombstone or with a bleeding portrait modified to produce tears of blood. Eerie instruments and wailing wind offer an effective opening in “Tempest.” It’s mostly a storm soundscape, but there are some unisex vocals layered into the mix as well. It works wonders in so many kinds of scenes, even a simple spooky room with a hidden fan blowing at guests. Running just under two minutes, “Grisly Reminder” effectively uses soft, light synth work and piano with the occasional use other effects. “Residents Past” offers wailing choral vocals and slow piano coupled with cymbals. The use of synth work and tolling bells help make me think of people from long ago. Maybe this could be used in a room where a Pepper’s Ghost effect is used to make spectres of the past appear? The piano work in “Veiled Hunter” is medium in both volume and speed, and also picks up synth at times. In fact, sometimes it reminded me of the famous “ki ki ki, ma ma ma” from the original Friday the 13th. Castle setups will benefit from use of “Alchemist’s Chamber,” which uses heavy, somewhat pounding synth over very scary organ work and wordless vocals. Harpsichord interludes gives it an “ancient” feel. “Noctem Aeternus” (which means “The Eternal night”) sounds very close to the original version. The brief, slow piano note and male vocals still open it and there’s plenty of synth work. In fact, the only major difference I picked up was how it seemed a little darker in tone and the wordless female vocals seem to have some new touches. In “Vampyre,” winds take us into wordless female vocals. Said vocals burst into a full-fleged chorus singing in Latin after a gong strikes. These are all a constant in the track and are joined by organ music, dark synth tones, wordless male vocals and tolling bells. The synth work takes on menacing quality and the gongs help one feel like they are being chased. As you have guessed from the title, any vampire scene in a haunted house would benefit from having this played in it.

As a “best of” album, Halloween Music Collection is the perfect starting point for new fans or for those who have yet to collect the entire Midnight Syndicate discography. But even if you already own the albums it is derived from, it’s still worth having as a handy collection of classic tracks from the band’s past. It would be great played in a loop on Halloween and most of the tracks lend themselves well to individual looping. The music can be potentially used in an untold number of haunted attraction scenes rather than fitting only a few select room types. Not only is it available by itself, but you can also get both it and The Dead Matter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack when you buy the special edition The Dead Matter DVD pack. And you had better believe that last detail is going to come into play here at some time in the future.

Special thanks to Linfaldia Records 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.

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