When You Get to My Door, Tell Them Boris Sent You

Halloween is a very visual holiday. Next to Christmas, it’s the event that stretches out the longest and overtakes the most store shelves. There’s no mistaking what day is fast-approaching when you see 17 versions of the same cheap hockey mask where the gardening tools used to be.

I am here today, however, to make a bold claim. As eye-catching as Halloween is, I’d argue that it’s equally ear-catching. That phrasing I unfortunately chose is incredibly stupid but it doesn’t lessen its validity. Science has proven that an individual’s Halloween spirit leaps by over 75% when exposed to a Halloween sound effects CD. You can cover your face in as much fake blood as you want, but it doesn’t mean as much as it would if done while listening to wind howling and doors creaking.

Or, even better, a crazy person singing about how well a werewolf dances.

You know the songs I’m talking about. Novelty hits like The Time Warp and Monster Mash. They’re so ingrained into pop culture that music experts the world over have studied their importance.

It’s probably not wise to include here a video that’s way funnier than anything else in the post will be. This is a decision I’ve made and will have to live with.

Of the many weird and wonderful things my grandfather left behind, fairly close to the top of the list would be a collection of Halloween novelty records from the 1960s. It’s true that between the eight records, there are many 10 songs total. There is a lot of crossover and it doesn’t matter in the slightest. While you listen to that handful of songs over and over, you can peruse the album art and pretend you are an art connoisseur, collecting pieces for the world’s greatest museum.

Let’s go through them one by one and figure out together what order to hang them in after picking them up from the frame shop.

Let’s start with this one because it emphasizes the song that basically all of these revolve around. If you haven’t heard Monster Mash, you’re purposely avoiding anything vaguely associated with Halloween. It’s an October staple and I love the confident look of the vampire guy on this cover. He realizes he’s backed by the most popular novelty song of all time. He’s got a fist raised in solidarity to his fellow monsters, knowing this is their hour. That dude is the first entry in my top three favorite things about this artwork. The second and third are Dracula seemingly trying to shoo his own bats away, and the idea that there’s also a Popeye who digs graves, respectively. Although as I type this, I think Dracula maybe deserves to be moved up a spot. It’s pretty hilarious to imagine a vampire with a fervent bat phobia.

Get used to seeing “Frankie Stein” because he basically did all of the albums featured here. This is particularly neat artwork because it features what appears to be a swamp monster with the head of a baboon in the background. As for the foreground, I have no idea what that thing is. If I had to put money on it, I’d maybe go with the ghost of a marshmallow dragon in the clutches of a sea giant. It would also appear that the swamp baboon is protesting this. Whether he’s angry at the lack of monster ethics or he wanted the kill himself is up to you, the viewer. If just trying to figure out what on earth the artist was going for requires a sentence that idiotic, you know you’ve got something special.

This was probably my favorite album cover. Look how interested that creature from the black lagoon-type guy is by the mummy’s spider accessory. He’s so entranced by it that he doesn’t even notice he’s sharing space with an ordinary gorilla. I’m not sure what business that gorilla has there, but you can bet there’s some sort of fantastic story behind it. I like to think that the mummy’s new jewelry has bridged the gap between almost-man and monster. Their differences are cast aside as countless demons and apes gather in awe. Can’t you picture the three of these guys going to a diner and exchanging bad Halloween puns before skipping out on the bill and eating their waiter?

“What did the ghost eat for dinner…..? MASHED BOO-TATOES”

*chomping noises and screams*

“Check please!”

*laugh track*

I will not rest until this is a sitcom.

Despite the relative lack of interesting characters, this cover has a lot to offer on its own. Namely, the B-movie blurbs at the top and a tarantula the size of a human head. I don’t think that snake is even trying to attack the spider. It seems more like its mouth is agape in shock. Despite the snake’s bad rap, he’s unable to stop himself from letting out an “oh shit!” at the sheer size of that thing. You also have to wonder if whoever formerly owned that skull became ensnared in the web and perished thusly, or if the spider found it in its wanderings before bringing it back home, or if the snake killed the person and is defending a prized souvenir. You have to respect an artist who doesn’t spoon-feed the audience all the answers.

I saved this for the last of the Frankie Stein offerings because I thought some might find it too gruesome and run away. Don’t be ashamed. The hand here that’s picking at this poor monster’s eye seems to be very similar to that of the speculated sea giant mentioned earlier. This is perhaps even the same scene. Having disposed of the marshmallow dragon’s ghost, the giant moves on to his next victim. I can’t help but think that if this giant had only seen the mummy’s spider brooch, he’d have relaxed a little. He could be hanging out with the creature and the random gorilla instead of committing senseless murders. Unless that creature was the same one who was in the swamp background, and that spider brooch is really the giant tarantula planning to off the mummy and his friends next. THIS POST IS GETTING TOO LONG AND ALSO STUPID.

To finish up here, let’s discuss these two sound effects records. There’s unfortunately not too much to write home about with the first. I do like the lightning in the background but that really only gets me past this first sentence. So moving on, the second album is a doozy! We have here a cemetery run by the world’s laziest employees, who don’t bother putting the tenants’ full names on their headstones. I don’t want to blame the ghosts, because they’re too darned cute. But then again, look at the grim reaper dude in front. He reads more like a sad uncle who wants to hang out with his cool nephews, popping into the photo at the last minute. I want to give him a hug, not condemn him for shoddy graveyard upkeep. Let’s just say it’s the owl’s fault.

So there you have it. Drink those beautiful colors in. Marvel at the art of twisted geniuses. These are the records you play when you want to drive your Halloween spirit through the roof while also alienating friends and loved ones. You break out Frankie Stein when you need a novelty pick-me-up and want to lose the respect of your children. You put on a record called “Night in a Graveyard” when you want to provide trick-or-treaters with appropriate background music while you hand out candy.

Just a heads up, though. One track on that record is literally just 10 minutes of a woman screaming, so don’t play it too loud. You’ll scare children and maybe get a visit from the police.

Happy Halloween!

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