The “Ultimate Haunt”

Enter if you dare...

Chances are that you’ve heard stories about a haunted house with 13 floors somewhere in your state. You know, the one that nobody’s ever been able to complete since it’s so scary and has trapdoors that drop you out of the place? In fact, the management is so confident nobody can finish that they’ll give you a partial refund for each floor you complete and will give a complete refund to anyone who finishes the entire house. Only a select few have made it to the 13th floor…and they all died of fright before they reached the exit.

As you’ve probably guessed, this house simply does not exist. It’s just an urban legend kept alive by stories of friends of friends who know the location and the occasional hoax or two.

Despite stories of such a place in every state across the nation and countless people searching the internet, nobody can ever provide its exact location. This is a dead giveaway that the house doesn’t exist. This Snopes.com article explains about the impossibility of such an attraction and notes some haunted houses that have cashed in on the legend by offering refunds if visitors are able to complete certain tasks. In fact, I have actually found some of these houses online. The Urban Legends haunted house in Michigan apparently offers a refund if you’re able to find a secret room inside the “Pitch Black” haunted house. Another Michigan haunt, the Realm of Darkness, offers to double your money back if you can defeat the wizard. However, you supposedly have to choose the correct items out of ridiculous amount of other items to get the gems to defeat a wizard, whose secret location in the haunt must also be found. Finally, the 13th Floor haunted house in Colorado offers a refund to every 113th person who goes through the attraction.

But how did the legend get started? Leonard Pickel, editor of “Haunted Attraction” magazine, suspects that it started in Kansas City and spread across the nation. His idea seems quite credible, as he apparently was introduced to an earlier, lesser version of the story that only involved two floors and a time limit. Some have suggested that Raven’s Grin Inn could’ve sparked the legend. After all, it does offer multiple levels and a long slide that spits out customers. However, the house’s owner has stressed that he only has 7 levels and notes that he doesn’t offer any refund for completing the house.

Another haunted house that might’ve sparked the legend (and most likely helped it along) is Britannia Manor. Created by Richard Garriott, video game designer and creator of the Ultima franchise, this massive haunt is based out of his mansion (and takes two months to get “back to normal” after the haunt has run its course). The admission was free, but only a limited amount of people could go through. Said people had pass a fitness test in order to enter, due to the various challenges of crawling through tunnels, swinging over ropes, and the like. Visitors also had to be on the look-out for secret passages, solve puzzles, and contend with surprises like collapsing walls. You can read more about this amazing haunted house at these three sites.

Although we’ll probably never know for sure where the story was born or what house (if any) sparked it, we can all rest assured that the legendary, money-back haunted house with 13 floors doesn’t exist. However, it’s almost guaranteed that the legend will never die, no matter how many debunkings are written.

Night of the Living: The Crimson Ghosts

sts
http://www.myspace.com/crimsonghosts

The Crimson Gho

Some Kinda Hits, Necro-Tone Records 1999(?)
Earth E.P, Necro-Tone Records 2008

Out of Massachusetts comes The Crimson Ghosts, a band that plays instrumental surf renditions of Misfits songs. If you share my worldview, those quantifying elements alone should get an automatic ‘thumbs up’ and an enthusiastic cry of ‘Holy shit, when and where can I see this band?’ You’d also say ‘Why is there a German band of the same name?’ and I would say ‘Don’t know, but listen to the Mass. one first.’

It’s a noticeable pattern. I listen to surf music. A lot. And during this time of year, it’s hard not to notice the Misfits. There are plenty other bands out there that incorporate spooky into their music and not be a Misfit-derivative. But I will get into them in due time. I owe a bigger post and I think the Crimson Ghosts deserve it. Plus, Rue Morgue gave them a backhanded-compliment of a review and I want to prattle on about some things.

The Crimson Ghosts were the first band I saw at the Drop Dead Festival back 2005. The festival actually started late due to some bands getting lost. I was down in the middle floor (second, lower, who knows what they call it?) a few beers into it when the music finally started. The Crimson Ghosts kicked off the Festival for me, who had skipped the first night because the two bands I wanted to see were playing the second and third night. I had showed up to catch Gein and the Graverobbers that night.

Gein, of the aforementioned band, would play the drums for the Ghosts that night. He currently plays bass for them now, with Clay Neely on drums now. They’ve now expanded from the three-piece I once saw, back to a four. John Koziak still fronts the band on lead guitar, with Max Reverb (of the Quasi-Men, another band you should check out) kicking ass alongside him.

The Crimson Ghosts were the best way to start the night for me. A huge smile stuck across my face as I bounced from band-to-band in the two floors of NYC’s The Knitting Factory. I got their CD and me and a friend listened to on our way home when the weekend wrapped up. Three years since and I’ve been able to catch them play at least once every twelve months, up to a total of in three different states, opening for a variety of bands and headlining their own shows. This November 1st, I add a fourth state to the list when they play Salem, Massachusetts, after/before a showing of ‘Die You Zombie Bastards!’ in a perfect way to send off Halloween. You should go, if you can.

While flipping through a ‘Rue Morgue’ magazine, I caught a moderately blah-review of the latest release, ‘Earth E.P.’ While complimenting the Crimson Ghosts on their imaginative versions of the Misfits classics, it kind of wrote them off as a novelty, saying that it’s ‘only seventeen minutes long,’ so the listener wouldn’t get overwhelmed by the ‘Dick Dale-sque’ guitar playing. It was kind of dumb to mention the shortness of an ‘E.P.,’ which makes me wonder if the reviewer knew the difference between the two formats. Still, they gave them a low-but-not-too-low score.

I didn’t take it personally. It’s clear that the dude writing the review was more akin to the original Misfits songs and had low expectations of this. He or she opening up the review by, and I paraphrase, ‘The Nutley Brass trashed the songs, but hey, these Crimson Ghosts don’t suck so much.’ It was a half-ass review, in my opinion, so I figure I’d give it another half-ass one myself. The Crimson Ghosts deserve a full ass.

See, I didn’t get into Link Wray until hearing of his passing. Like most of the great ones, I don’t know of them until they’re gone. I recognized his songs ‘Rumble’ and ‘Jack the Ripper,’ though I could never put a name or a face to the sound. I picked up his Greatest Hits (which remains one of the few, if not the only, CD of his available in record stores) and found myself a fan. Years later, I would find a copy of his ‘Shadowman’ release in the used piles of a downtown New Haven record store.

‘Shadowman’ is notable for Link’s renditions of some famous songs, specifically Elvis’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and a real sick version of Creedence’s ‘Run Through The Jungle.’ Where Fogherty’s original version has the song sound like a panicked call through the unlit corners of a dark jungle, Link Wray envisioned the song and the titular jungle as an industrial landscape. The heavy tones and beating notes gives the song a grimy, smoke filled monstrosity feeling. It’s a downright wicked interpretation which aims to make the listener feel a little tougher about him or herself. Total leather, sunglasses at night tough.

Link’s version of the song, much like any cover song, could spark the discussion of original-intention v. artistic interpretation. Should the initial output be left untouched or is it fair game once it enters the public discourse? Were the Ramones right for recording a version of Tom Waits’ ‘I Don’t Want To Grow Up’ or should they have left it alone? It’s really a rhetoric that ends up with an “Eh, maybe, whatever” result as a compromise between the two sides of the debate.

Whenever I read a copyright discussion, specifically involving the legality of the public domain, there’s usually a section venturing off into the undefined time of if/when art enters the public discourse. The idea presented is that after so many people witness an artistic expression, it becomes part of a shared experience and the creator (writer, filmmaker, musician, etc.) loses sole ownership over the art.

The trade-off is that the art becomes immortal. We as a society gain a character or a painting or a song that acts as a foil for our own creative device; the artist is allowed to profit from it for a certain amount of time before the benefits of immortality kick in. If there’s a Mary Shelly estate, does it get cash from the ‘Frankenstein Mobster’ comic book? Part of me wants to say no.

The founding monsters of Horror are all public domain deities – Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, the sort, all from the public consciousness. Those fears remain and it’s why there’s always going to be a vampire movie or a monster being made from the dead.

That sense of Immortality earlier mentioned applies more to the horror genre than any other in the last twenty years. Characters like Jason, Freddy, Leatherface and the rest remain under copyright but their images have become ingrained into our shared culture. I can see how some Europeans and Canadians would see a hockey mask and automatically think of an ice-sport, but c’mon. Jason Vorehees. Chainsaw = Leatherface and striped sweater = wise-crackin’, child-killin’ Freddy Krueger.

There’s a three-disc collection of The Ventures you can get for fifteen bucks at any major mall-related music store. It’s a bargain buy for a good three hours worth of music but two-thirds of the songs on said collection are not written by The Ventures. In fact, tracking down all the original artists, from the Challengers to the Surfaris, you could have a really nice surf music collection. All the artists are credited, so it’s not that the Ventures stole those songs. They borrowed.

Now, let me clarify that there is a difference between a reinterpretation and a cover song, though I’ll admit that it’s hard to tell that difference. For this discussion, a cover song is a color-by-numbers rendition, while a reinterpretation involves some artistic input that leaves the song both recognizable to its original form but changed in enough to differ this interpretation from another. By that definition, it might seem hard to call any song a ‘cover,’ but you can find some pretty limpid versions out there. No naming names here.

It also lends a little credibility to those ‘tribute’ bands that make the circuit, unless they’re just providing a cheap way for a fan to see Kiss, Ozzy or Pink Floyd. If a snyth-pop tribute band to Minor Threat would come along, it would be odd and slightly unfair to call them ‘just a cover band.’

I don’t see the Crimson Ghosts as a cover band, but a surf band that does renditions of Misfits songs. And, they’re also more than that. They’re carrying on a long-standing tradition in both the horror and surf genres of taking the shared culture to newer heights. Dick Dale, as the Rue Morgue namedropped, didn’t write his signature song ‘Miserlou.’ It’s an old Greek song that Dale turned into a surf-classic when pushed. And though the Crimson Ghosts didn’t write ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ their version on ‘Earth E.P.’ is fan-fucking-tastic.

(It’s also funny to mention: The Crimson Ghosts came about John Koziak trying to do an instrumental version of ‘London Dungeon.’ The band finally got it down as a recording with this e.p., and the song features a solo directly taken from ‘Miserlou.’ Shared culture.)

The Crimson Ghosts are doing that as well, taking their love of the Misfits and surf music and seeing how far they can go together. It helps that surf and horror go well together as we’ve seen (and will see in the coming days.) But they’re not a novelty. They’re making monsters, and the dead are coming alive.

*all pictures, save the Link Wray, were taken by Myra and found on the Crimson Ghosts’ Myspace page.

Of course this was posted last night

What are you talking about?

I’m a time traveler.

Coming Soon: Haunt Reviews

It’s often best to visit a haunted attraction (be it house, hayride, trail, etc.) around this time to the middle of October in order to avoid long lines and waiting times. So in the near future, Strange Jason will be covering some haunted attractions in Connecticut and I’ll be covering some in Massachusetts. Sadly, due to transportation and financial issues, I’m only able review places that I’ve been to in the past.

Readers in other states might find the reviews at the following sites to be useful:

Goblinhaus – Covers parts of Tennessee, Texas, and more.

Gone, but not forgotten:

Mad Martian – Covers Portland, Oregon (1999-2005).

Hauntfreaks – Covers New Jersey, Philadelphia, Delaware, California, and other parts of the east coast (2001-2003).

Please be sure to verify that the attractions mentioned on those sites are still in business before heading out to see them. It’s not unusual for haunted attractions to only operate for a few years and then vanish.

UPDATE: It turns out Hauntfreaks had revived sometime after I originally wrote this and actually started in 2000! Check out their official Facebook page for more information.

They Secrete, We Suck

The Secretions

Probably one of the best punk bands around today is The Secretions from out of Sacremento. Self-describing their sound as music “in the key of the Ramones,’ the Secretions have a few songs that should pop up on your Halloween mix when you get tired of the ‘Monster Mash’ and ‘Everyday is Halloween.’ Below, you’ll find their video for ‘Cemetary Pogo,’ a tribute to the old slasher/sex movies that make you pine for something more like ‘The Howling’ instead of ‘Saw V.’ And below that, ‘Fuckin’ Zombies,’ a loving fan-letter to the ‘Evil Dead’ series that was also featured in a porno, I think. Only an accoustic version available on YouTube. If you want the real one, I suggest you purchase their album (all of them, really) which can be found at Silver Sprocket.

Shameless Cross-Promotion

My friends over at Sweetposer.tk have put together a hilarious article about knock-off masks and other strange Halloween costumes. Check it out.

Make Your Own Lament Configuration

Want a “Hellraiser puzzlebox” without having to spend a fortune? Just follow the instructions here and you’ll be all set!

“Everyday is Saturday, when you’re dead!”

Mr. Deadguy
www.MrDeadguy.com
www.MySpace.com/MrDeadguy

Along with seeing The Ghastly Ones last year, I was privy to witness Mr. Deadguy, as he was the host for the night. Known for his ventriloquism, his songs (he sang ‘The Hearse Song’ as well as his own, ‘Everyday is Saturday (When You’re Dead.)’ ) and his jokes. He’s a classy entertainer, who you should catch if you can.

Here’s hoping he releases a record or increases his web presence. He did a nice cover of Jupiter Fly-By’s ‘Digging Up Felix’ at the JFB tribute night. Unfortunately, they’ve taken down the video. High recommendation, here.

I’m not going to talk about THAT band…

..at least, not today. But it’s Friday, the first Friday of a great October so far. It’s starting to get cold, Fright Haven has opened up (which I’ll go after the initial rush.) Today is an easy day for the Strange, which is why I’m going to give a double-header of two bands formed after The Misfits.

So. Strange enough, this is another group I found through the previously mentioned radio station. Except, I didn’t find the beloved version fronted by Glen Danzig, backed up by Jerry Only and Doyle Von Frankenstein (and a shit load of drummers in between, most famously Robo.) No, I found ‘Famous Monsters,’ which then had Michale Graves as the singer and Dr. Chud as the drummer.

First off, there’s Graves, with ‘Web of Dharma.’ Dr. Chud and Michale both played on it. It’s a decent EP, nine songs of classic punk rock with a death twist. I can’t see any song on ‘Web of Dharma’ being a Misfits song. It’s kind of nice to find that there’s more to these guys. It’s more accessible as death punk, I’d guess. It’s fast, upbeat and not bad. There’s a slow song in ‘Ophelia’ which, being that it came out around 2001, has that late nineties metal sound to it that was fashionable around the time. It’s easy to hear the difference between Graves and the Misfits, which probably means that Chud and Michale ditched the group for some more musical freedom. I read that Michale has an accoustic show going around, which I missed when he rolled through my town. I actually regret not going to see Michale Graves, and I don’t know what to do about that.

Dr. Chud’s X-Ward flirts with metal on a couple tracks like the opening song ‘Powerless,’ ‘Spiderbaby’ and of course, on ‘Heavy Metal.’ An EP itself, it has three flavors – metal, punk, and do-wop. Songs like ‘Mommy Made Love 2 An Alien’ could translate easily to a do-wop or a Ramones song. ‘Bury You Alive’ is also like that; there’s a direct connection between punk and the Fifties street music. Dr. Chud kind of stretches out with all flavors in a neaopolitan sampling. The fact that Chud’s singing and not stuck behind a drum kit should give him som props. And he’s not that bad of a singer.

Why not talk about the Misfits? Because I would be more inclined to talk about the Beatles. If you want info about the Misfits, there’s a good chapter in the book ‘American Hardcore’ about them and if there’s enough fan sites dedicated to them already, I don’t need to add to the trash pile. Death rock, Misfits. Yeah. We know.

‘Famous Monsters,’ and the other post-Glen Misfits album ‘American Psycho,’ AREN’T bad records. They’re shitty Misfits records if you hold them up against the standards – ‘Legacy of Brutality,’ ‘Static Age,’ and the rest.* But on their own, they’re not that bad. I didn’t like ‘Famous Monsters’ at first because it sounded a little too rock/metal for my tastes. But now that I’ve put some time between me and then, I have a better appreciation for the fake-Misfits. It’s a shame that they didn’t start a band with a different name because those two records wouldn’t have the stigma around them and might have gotten a clean break.

So, when Michale and Chud left the group (for bullshit I’m not going to get into because I’m not THAT kind of Misfits fan, one who has followed the politics of Jerry Only mismanaging the reuinion or Glenn Danzig’s ventures into music which has never turned me on) the two of them started a couple of bands:

So. If you think that the Misfits aren’t the Misfits without Glen, I’d agree. If you passed up the two studio albums that came after, I’m sorry. They’re not that bad and you should check them out. Also, you should also give these two EPs a listen. Together, they make a decent eighteen-song, 51:33 listen. It’s better then holding your breath or chanting WE ARE ONE-THIRTY-EIGHT at a Danzig show.

The Misfits are still touring It’s Robo, Jerry Only and Dez Cadena. Two thirds of that band used to be Black Flag. One third of that band used to be in the Misfits. Think about it. I’m not.

*Earth A.D. and Wolfsblood? Not my cup of tea. It’s clear where Glen wanted to go, and he went. He just didn’t take the Misfits with him.

Free Horror Movie Commentaries!

Icons of Fright is offering some downloadable .mp3 commentary tracks for Child’s Play and Fright Night. These aren’t just fan-made commentaries, either. No, they actually got the director of both films (Tom Holland) and various cast and crew members to participate. You can get ’em here.

As always, Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of downloading from any links given here. Attempt at your own discretion. Blah blah blah…

Pumpkin Awesomeness

There's no way I'm going to joke about a skeleton made out of pumpkins.

A skeleton made from carved pumpkins. Consider my mind blown.

You can find directions on how to make it here. Similarly, you can find some extremely creative (and sometimes not safe for work) Jack o’ Lantern ideas here.

Come to think of it, now would be a good time to note that Gravedigger’s Local 16 has no responsibility for the content on other websites that we link to. Follow the instructions for projects on said sites at your own risk.

Creative Commons License

The image illustrating this article was licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. The rest of the article is copyrighted by Gravedigger’s Local 16. Please see the individual terms of each project to verify what license(s) they are available under (if any).

Creepy and Weird

Deadbolt
http://www.deadboltband.com

Shrunken Head, Cargo/Headhunter Records, 1994
Tiki Man, Cargo/Headhunter Records, 1994
Tijuana Hit Squad, Cargo/Headhunter Records, 1996
Zulu Death Mask, Cargo/Headhunter Records, 1998
Voodoo Trucker, Cargo/Headhunter Records, 1999
Hobo Babylon, Cargo/Headhunter Records, 2002
Haight Street Hippie Massacre: The Best of Deadbolt, Cargo/Headhunter Records, 2003
I Should Have Killed You, Cargo/Headhunter Records, 2005

High recommendation. There is no other band that sounds like Deadbolt. Deadbolt is the surf music played by the undertow for all the bodies caught in it as they drown.They’re on the beach, watching the struggling body go down for the third time. They’re sharing some beers and laughing low.

 

Coining the term ‘voodoobilly’ to describe their music, Deadbolt has a signature sound that is unmistakably their own. Harley Davidson and R.A Maclean have a low flying drone in their singing, which echoes perfectly to the sound of their guitars.

 


On both ‘Zulu Death Mask’ and ‘Hobo Babylon,’ Deadbolt expands beyond their designation. While still adhering to their trademark songs of the creepy threads of the American tapestry, some songs on ‘Hobo Babylon’ could actually be called beautiful (just not in ear shot of the band, mind you.) Coupled with the songs of ‘I Should Have Killed You,’ Deadbolt is a multi-layered band with legitimate talent you won’t find anywhere else.


A friend once described them as ‘guys who got together, had a blast with their guitars and recorded it.’ It’s pretty spot on because when you see a picture of the band after listening to their music, you can easily pick out that the songs embody everything about how they look and act – leather vest, hot rod, beer drinking, American men-are-men, bastards from the fifties.


 

Some of the other songs aren’t too friendly to the effeminate or hippies, but that’s just a part of Deadbolt that makes them who they are. If you can take a punch and drink some liquor out of a bottle with a black label on it, you’re pretty much a Deadbolt fan without knowing it.

First heard of these guys on the ‘Halloween Hootenany’ comp, which had their song ‘Psychic Voodoo Doll.’ Whenever that song came on, I knew that the comp was almost over and for many years, that’s all I ever thought of Deadbolt. After a friend told me that she had invited the band over and had a blast hanging out with them, I found their stuff and wondered what the hell was wrong for me for not looking them up sooner.

Their music is great because it’s so different. It’s evil surf. And they delve into subjects that are usually overlooked in the psycho/spooky music. African voodoo, the derelict world of hobos, hitmen and tiki men – all are given the central spotlight in Deadbolt’s music. I always thought that was neat of a band like Deadbolt. They could have just stuck with typical stock horror business, Zombies and devils and all that shit.

But they’ve always reached out beyond expectations. I haven’t seen them live but their shows detail sparks, snake dancing and probably at least three casualties per performance. Professionals, Deadbolt. Complete professionals.  

 

Graveyard Jamboree with Mysterious Mose

In honor of the start of our Halloween countdown, I thought I’d share a short film that Strange Jason showed me a few years back:

In case you were wondering, the song the film is based around is a 1930 song by Walter Doyle. Mr. Doyle first played it with his orchestra and “Mysterious Mose” was also covered by others during the 30’s. The version used in this film was by Harry Reser and the Radio All-Star Novelty Orchestra.

I think this film (and song) really capture the spirit of of Halloween by being creepy, but fun. This amazing combination of puppetry, stop-motion animation, and silhouette animation could easily pass for a long-lost 60’s collaboration between Jim Henson and Rankin-Bass instead of as a short indie film made in a garage during the late 90’s. Said film was created by Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh (along with an army of helpers). They went on to form Screen Novelties, and those of you who watch Cartoon Network might be familiar with their work on Robot Chicken, Chowder, and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. You can find more information about the film here.

Hang Ten Years – The Ghastly Ones

The Ghastly Ones
www.GhastlyOnes.com

A-Haunting We’ll Go-Go, Zombie A Go-Go Records 1998
Glows In The Dark All-Plastic Assembly Kit, Ghastly Plastics 2005
Target: Draculon, Ghastly Plastics 2006

Unearthed , Ghastly Plastics 2007

If I’m to kick off a thirty-
one day write-up of all the spooky music I like, it’s only fitting I start with The Ghastly Ones, the first band to really get me into both surf and spooky music at the same time. Starting off as a three piece with Dr. Lehos, Sir Go Go Ghostly and Baron Shivers, the group recently added Capt. Clegg on the organ for their last two releases. This year marks a

decade since their premier release. It’s amazing to think that ten years ago, three avid surf and spook fans got together and what came out of it was a love letter written in poison, sealed with a blood-red kiss and tucked under the glove compartment of a hot rod heading towards the coast.

-|-

Discovering ‘A Haunting We’ll Go-Go’ in the library of my Pennsylvanian college’s radio library came from a need for spooky music and a lengthy search of what was available. My show ran on Fridays, at the last broadcasting slot. It didn’t fall on Halloween, but it would have been the last broadcast before the Ho

liday so I felt a responsibility to send it off with a blast.

Along with some other standards I had downloaded, I played three songs from the Ghastly Ones, ‘Hangman Hangten’ being my immediate favorite. I dedicated a Helloween song to Pat “Nazi Rat Bastard’ Buchanan before the station manager (and head of the Comms. Department) came in and told me to wrap the show up early. I guess calling someone a ‘Nazi’ was a case of slander in Central Pennsylvania during the tail end of

the Nineties. I decided not to return ‘A Haunting…’ as revenge, a petty, inexcusable act I don’t regret to this day. Along with it, I swiped the ‘Halloween Hootenanny’ comp, which I’ll get to later in the month.

-|-

What makes ‘A Haunting We Will Go-Go’ one of my favorite albums is that there’s a definite sense of fun throughout the entire disc. The music is f

ast and light, the excitement felt during an early Halloween before the real dangers weighed down the shadows. It’s a thriving spark of all things ‘spooky.’

Dotting throughout the album are skits featuring the boys and their nemesis, Dr. Diablo, along with mentions of deadly robots (‘Attack of Robot Atomico’) and legendary luchadores (‘Los Campeones del Justicio.’) It still stands up as a great surf record, with fast pounding cuts like the aforementioned ‘Hangman Hangten,’ ‘Thunderhead’ and ‘Hollywood Nocturne’ really proving that these guys knew how to play. It remains out of print due to Geffen swallowing up the Zombie A Go Go imprint when its owner, Rob Zombie, shifted his focus. You can find physical copies of it on Amazon for twenty bucks (or more) but as of Oct. 2008, you can get an MP3 version of the album for less than ten bucks.

It took about eight years (and for the music landscape to change drastically) for ‘Glows In The Dark/ All P
lastic Assembly Kit’ EP to get released. Ever since 2005, all Ghastly Ones releases have been under the Ghastly Plastics banner and done directly through their site at www.GhastlyOnes.com. ‘Glows..’ was a good EP that showed the Ghastly Ones in a rougher sound, as if these three undertakers were playing in Dr. F

rankenstein’s garage at his summer home. Different versions of ‘Banshee Beach’ and an updated ‘Haulin’ Hearse,’ ‘Glows..’ is pretty great; it also has become more significant lately. It was the last release before the official addition of an organist, which would change the Ghastly Ones sound. ‘Glows’ unsanded-down sound can be seen as a passing mark of what the three sounded like before ‘A Haunting…’, and how they wouldn’t sound again.

‘Glows’ has gone for good (you won’t find it on the site.) It did well in getting the three boys back in ghoulish form for the 2006 ‘Traget:Draculon’ release. With Capt. Clegg officially in the band, ‘Target: Draculon’ show the Ghastly Ones growing as a band. While the first full-length album only had one song with vocals, ‘Target:Draculon’ features Baron Shivers singing on at twice (two! Count ‘em, TWO!) tracks. It’s amazing to s

ee him sing live. When the Ghastly Ones came to New Jersey’s Asbury Lanes on their first (and so far only) East Coast tour back in 2007, Shivers was jumping out from behind the drum kit and nearly out into the audience. The man was a blast of pure energy.

That energy is felt in ‘Target:Draculon,’ in songs like ‘Grave Dig Her,’ ‘Full Throttle, Empty Bottle’ and ‘Dimension 66.’ Seeing a new release shortly after the EP was exciting, and rightlfully so. The addition of the organ totally enriches the Ghastly Ones sound, making it a fantastic element in a revitalized band. The organ involves the record in a 1950’s horror drive in feeling. The song ‘Llorona’ is a fav of mine on the record for the organ track alone. I confess that the first addition of an organ made me skeptical, but as the Ghastlys have grown on this record, it grew on me. I was afraid that the band was going to lead with the organ as many surf bands do, but that’s what makes the Ghastly Ones stand out: it’s all a condusive sound, an combination that becomes greater than the sum of the parts. Every instrument is working hard during every song on this album, which really makes ‘Target:Draculon’ shine. Plus, it has the boys going a’creeping again in some funny bits. It’s a band with personality. Gotta love it.

Getting to like he new sound was good, because the 2007 release of ‘Unearthed’ solidifies the band’s change in a part-tribute, part revisionists history move that has the new band go over some of the tracks of ‘A Haunting…’ with the new organ sound. Like with ‘Target:Draculon,’ it took me a while to warm up to this. But even corpses cook when left out in the sun, and I see ‘Unearthed’ not so much as a way to write over history but to give a slice of the present – if you were to go to a Ghastly Ones show today, you would be hearing their songs as the way they are on ‘Unearthed,’ not on ‘A Haunting…’

Because of that reason, it’s the least collusive album of the four releases. With ‘A Haunting…’ and ‘Target:Draculon,’ there was an sense that these were not so much albums but an organic collection of m
usic. ‘Unearthed’ is no less a great release by an

awesome surf band, but it’s a little more disjointed if you’ve come to hear the songs in a different form. It’s hard to nit-pick. It’s a great album if you want to try this band out and it’s readily available at their website.

-|-

It’s really amazing to be a fan of this band. After an eight year hiatus, this is now a band with a perpetual promise of ‘more,’ be it more merchandise or promise of another album peeking around the corner. As an Wrong Coast Washout here out on the east, digging these guys is a grand adventure. Hearing about shows happening out in California makes a ghoul green with envy, but it keeps a digger going from day to day knowing there’s a land out there where the Ghastly Ones are constantly playing Tiki Bars and Drive-In Festivals.

 

-|-
This is a little more than I thought I’d write, but the Ghastly Ones are important to me. They started me down a long path of love for surf music. Theirs were the first notes of a sound I would trace back to the yesterday bands of the Ventures, the Fireballs, and the Shadows to current bands of today. I was lucky to see them play live once and hope to see them again, someday. I think they capture everything that’s apt and ideal about Halloween. There’s a predominant sense of fun to their music and that fun goes hand in hand with the spooky elements of the holiday. If you’re more into the deeper, darker end of the spooky pool, there’s more bands suited for your (and sometimes, my) tastes; we’ll get into them later in the month. But if you want the best men for Halloween, you can’t go wrong with the Ghastly Ones.

If you want a job with guaranteed stability, learn to dig graves.

Treadin’ a little on Weird Jon’s territory here, but for the last few weeks, I’ve been heading to Attack of the B-Movies at the local affiliate. I missed out on some of the better films, picking it up around ‘The Wasp Woman’/’The Phantom from 1000 Leagues.’

Planning a daily write-up for here so far once it turns October. My hat’s off to those who are rocking out already, especially to those fly the spooky all year ’round.

As I said, it’s easy to burn out on Halloween, but so far, it isn’t bad. Attack of the B-Movies is a cheap thrill that helps up the excitement. Seeing giant robots and Wasp Women inspires excitement for what has been appropriately deemed ‘cheapness’. Lately, there’s been a great deal of artificial cheapness in both music and television – insincere lo-fi revival and movies from the perspective of cam-corders.

Cheapness is making due with what you got out of sincere love, and probably because there’s unscrupulous hands at the purse strings. There’s a level of fun in these old B-movies. In ‘Voyage to the Pre-Historic Planet,’ there’s guys hopping around in rubber lizard-men costumes. If they didn’t have fun, then they missed the point.

I think that’s where the grave digger’s sense of humor comes from: taking things too seriously drains away some of the spirit that keeps the body going from day to day. With my music choices, it’s good to not get into heavy content music. Goth won’t be circulating on the playlist, instead replaced by death rock and psychobilly.

It’s the difference between ‘spooky’ and ‘scary.’ Spooky means to give you the chills while leaving you smiling at the end. Scary means to make you SCARED.

With movies, it’s hard to tell the difference, I suspect. Weird Jon will have to talk about it. With music, though. You can tell when someone’s trying really hard to be scary because they’re failing horribly at it. Scary is hard in music. I’ve only come across a few examples. It’s easy to be creepy. It’s much easier, and much more rewarding, to be spooky.

Happy Halloween

Not into September and there’s already a palpable spirit to the Halloween season. There’s something noticeable about this year, though. Even though it was 82 degrees out, there was still that fall chill in the morning. It’s easy to get excited about Halloween but just easy to burn out.

For the last two years, I’ve sworn every October 1st that I will spend the next thirty-one days listening to only spooky, horror-themed music. The promise turns the month into an endurance test and I usually end up losing. Thanks to other places like Scar-Stuff and the plethora of bands with MySpace pages, it has gotten easier to get close to that thirty-one goal-line.

It’s easy to burn out on Halloween. The stores have turned it into the new Christmas. From September on to November, it’s all black and orange and creepy. From there, it’s red, green and white until New Year’s. Thirty-one days of the holiday is a lot to take. Adding another month sounds a little like torture, but for both Christmas and Halloween, I think the spirit needs to be thinned out. Kids can have a longer running start, planning their costumes from the start of school onward (or if they’re not into it, one month is fine.) And adults can enjoy it for as long as they want.

Adults get a kick out of it, either for the novelty or a true love of all things fun and spooky and I’m glad to find that there is a prescient for people to keep their enthusiasm going well into their years. While most of my spooky-love fell into music, I’m now playing catch-up on the movies and TV shows that build it up. Thankfully, there’s plenty of Video On Demand movies and local horror showings that will help out.

I’ve already started on some music as a pregame for the main event. Figure I’ll write up what passes through my ears up until the big day and hope that it makes everyone’s a very Happy Halloween.

Load more