Aside for his contribution to Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, and this (almost) title track for the 3rd installment, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of info floating around about 80’s rocker John Altyn.
I guess he wasn’t a fan. As you’ll hear in the song, that “Same old story” part toward the end was John taking a little jab at the script for Teenage Wasteland, which I guess he thought was pretty lame.
Can’t say I blame him really. As a franchise, Sleepaway Camp was never all that compelling, and I think there’s a little bit of a noticeable dip for the 3rd installment. And if you’re familiar with Sleepaway Camp IV’s troubles, or have ever seen the ret-conned and wildly uneven bootquel Return to Sleepaway Camp, you know things didn’t follow an upward trajectory.
But as far as late cycle slasher films go, it’s honestly not terrible. Pamela Springstein’s Angela is still very charming and is a pleasure to watch as she does her best here to have some fun with the overtly campy material.
The kills are all rather lazy and not terribly explicit. It takes place almost exclusively in broad daylight and all at a very leisurely, almost blase pace. It’s not to be taken all that seriously though, and for that we can cut it a fair amount of slack. It’s the Angela show, and for that it works well enough.
This song however, is pretty kick ass. It’s a “sweet song,” used during the end credits of the film. This is a term I just learned from John himself in the above interview, and will henceforth use constantly. In fact, I may even update The Shindig categories and add Sweet Songs. I love that this has a term, and there’s tons of them all over The Shindig.
Here’s the Sweet Song from Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, John Altyn’sSleepaway.
You’re Just What I’ve Been Looking For (Angela’s Theme) by Frank Vinci
Let’s take a little canoe ride from Camp Blackfoot across the lake to Camp Arawak for a 2 days overnighter with Angela Baker at Sleepaway Camp.
Mostly known for having the creepiest fuckin’ side-swipe ending of any generic Friday the 13thknockoff, Sleepaway Camp spawned several sequels and holds it own as a franchise that was able to climb out of Jason’s long shadow.
I’d love to post a gif, but I’d hate to spoil this for anyone that’s never seen it.
Ah, fuck it. This shit is 35 years old. If haven’t seen this by now, I don’t know what to tell you, it’s just gonna get spoiled. Cause we can’t talk about Sleepaway Camp without talking about this ending. It’s the only thing that’s differentiates Sleepaway Camp from any number of faceless slash clones.Horrifying.
Seriously. This shit still gets under my skin all these years later.
I had the fortune of seeing Sleepaway Camp long ago enough so that is wasn’t spoiled for me, and at an age where it could do maximum damage. And it did.
Given our current cultural climate, Sleepaway Camp tends to be derided as an artifact of Transphobia. Much the same way Dressed to Kill is now criticized.
And it’s a reasonable enough argument. If the sight of a girl with a penis was not frightening to you before, Sleepaway Camp certainly goes to some lengths making sure it forever will be. But, while I think that does support the argument against it, I think you can also cite those lengths as reason why it perhaps isn’t wholly Transoygnist.
Like any good horror tale, Sleepaway Camp takes a social phobia (right or wrong) and uses it as a basis to create horror for its audience. I’m not sure the film is saying anything overt about that fear. Is it exploitive? Probably. But I don’t think it’s a condemnation. It’s not necessarily sympathetic either though, but films from the early 80’s rarely are in regards to any minority concern.
Now, you could argue that simply using a transgender reveal as a source of horror is insensitive, sure. You could also argue that by making a transgender character a violent and horrifying freak because of its transgenderism, and then having the other characters react as such, is just flat-out irresponsible. Thus you could condemn the film for perpetuating a negative cultural view of transgenderism. That is totally valid.
I think part of Sleepaway Camp’s defense though, could be that Angela’s transgenderism does not come from within her, but from an external source. She is forced into it by her adoptive aunt. Being abused into identifying as any gender against your will is wrong and itself horrifying. Almodovar’s similarly criticized The Skin I Live In also comes to mind here.
Considering this, one might argue that Sleepaway Camp is then perhaps even pro-transgenderism; a cautionary tale of the dangers (figurative, or literal, mental, or physical) of forcing anyone to align themselves with a gender they do not identify with. Maybe the biggest takeaway from Sleepaway Camp, intentional or not, is to let people just be who they are, whatever that is for them.
Additionally (for me anyway) the least horrifying aspect of this ending is the reveal of Angela’s gender. Sure, it’s part and parcel to the whole scene and its endurance, but there are several elements at work which give this scene its haunting quality. You could say they are thus making the transgender reveal horrifying, hence the argument against it. But I would say they are the factors, and not the reveal, which actually make this scene so horrifying. That might just be splitting hairs though.
Firstly, there’s the music. The piercing brass stabs are enough to set your teeth on edge by themselves.
Then there’s the build up. It’s abrupt and clumsy, but Aunt Martha’s characterization is so over the top and cartoonishly creepy, it is enough to give you the willies in context.
This is then followed by Angela’s guttural moaning. She says nothing. There’s no pleads of innocence, no explanations, just a heaving and animalistic breathing that send shivers down my spine still.
Then, the most effective part of this sequence, that wide shot. While this of course features the gender reveal, it is Angela’s frozen gaze which I’m actually disturb by here.
This shot was made possible by life casting Angela’s same horrifying look. They then turned that cast into a mask which was worn by a male actor. For me, this is the most upsetting part of the whole reveal; Angela’s static expression, made doubly creepy (and doubly static) by this horrifying mask.
It’s just stays there, frozen. And then the film freeze frames on Felissa Rose’s actual face and runs credits.
Credits over which you will hear this Shindigger, a creepy synth pop number seemingly written specifically for the film.
So whether or not this ending, or Sleepaway Camp as a whole, is something you find totally offensive and reprehensible, you can’t deny that it causes a deep emotional response, and that is something you don’t always get from this sort of film. And maybe that alone is worth the legacy.
If you’re a fan of Yes, meandering 70’s Prog Rock or early control voltage wielders, chances are you’re familiar with rock keyboardists, pioneer synthesist and cape enthusiast Rick Wakeman.
This guy crushed a Model D in the late 70’s and basically made that sucker a household name, laying down lead-lines with a sound that defined an era in rock. Check him out here being all weird and Wakemany.
If you’re a fan of 80’s slash, then chances are your familiar with the intersection of these 2 forces of nature, 1981’s summer camp nightmare, TheBurning.
The producers, who were already wholesale-lifting moves from the Italians for the American Slasher craze, no doubt hired well-known keyboard maestro Wakeman to add a bit of that proggy sonic spaghetti sauce to the mix. And Rick delivered.
The entire score of The Burningis great, if you’re into that type of 70’s-style organ and Minimoog noodling. A lot of it just kinda sounds like to Solo from Yes’ Roundabout, but I’m certainly not complaining and it suits the film just fine.
The tale is a simple one, as real Northeastern campfire-legend Cropsy gets the big screen treatment here as a cruel camp caretaker who is accidentally burned alive by some prankster kids he’s been drunkenly harassing. Naturally, this turns into fodder for the campfire tale circuit. Cause, ya know, they never found Cropsy’s body…and he’s still out there,..waiting for his revenge.
While on the surface it might seem like just a straight up clone of Friday the 13th (particularly Part 2, which it shares and uncanny resemblance to) The Burning was supposedly written and copyrighted in 1979. This was done by none other the Mr. Bob Weinstein, co-founder of genre label Dimension Films and brother to Co-Producer and recently run-out-of-town-on-the-rails-for-things-like-probably-being-real-handsy-with-the-young-girls-on-this-very-set Harvey Weinstein. In fact, The Burning was one of the first major productions for the newly minted Miramax Films and was instrumental in getting the company off the ground.
From the peak of the 80’s slasher boom, and cited by many as being a fine and prime example of the genre and the era, The Burningis also notable for kick-starting the careers of not only The Weinstein’s, but of a young Helen Hunt, Jason “George Can’t-Stands-Ya” Alexander, Brian “Rat” Backer, Fisher “Johnny 5” Stevens and Ned “Holy Shit, Where Do I Know That Guy From?” Eisenberg.
Top that off with a ghastly burn makeup and some fresh-off-Friday The 13th FX wizardry from Tom Savini and you’ve got a button-hook pattern that reads like it’s ripped from the “How to Make a Successful 80’s Slasher Movie” playbook.
The only thing missing is an iconic synth theme to really tie the whole thing together.
I love finding dusty, old songs called Halloween by forgotten metal bands.
It’s always the same exhilarating rush and it’s happened a number of times over the years. Bands like Halloween, Ostrogoth and Hallows Eve have all presented themselves to me in this way. Rest assured there are others whom have yet to have their day on The Shindig.
But, just when I think there couldn’t possibly be any more, I’ll discover a completely new one, as though through my own sheer will I’ve conjured it into existence.
Such solipsistic tripe is absolute nonsense, but I can’t help but feel that wave wash over me all the same, and it’s a bizarre feeling for a paranoid sort such as myself. Did all of these songs really already exist? Am I just now finding them because the playlist needs them? Is it synchronicity or something else? Frankly, I don’t think it really matters, so long as we can hear the tunes.
This was the case when I unearthed 3 new ones a few years back. Of course, due to the nature of the playlist, it’s accompanying blog and my stupid, now mathematically erroneous “every 20th, no wait, now every 10th song” clause, these treasures must be issued out slowly over time. Glad I didn’t decide on every 31st song, as would have been more appropriate.
But today, we’ve come to the moment for Iron Cross to step into the jack-o-lantern’s spotlight.
Formed in Pensacola Florida in 1979, Iron Cross played across their home state and Georgia amassing a sizable fan base before releasing a self titled album in 1986. The ensuing years saw more extensive touring, self promotion, and other EPs including “Die Like That” and “Halloween.” Unfortunately, these seeds of hard work did not blossom into wider recognition for Iron Cross.
As with every metal band tearing shit up in the 80’s, the grunge and alt rock scene of the early 90’s took the wind right out of their black sails. Iron Cross disbanded, like their fellow Halloween brethren, only to be born anew once Nu Metal and Corporate Pop totally ruined everything in the late 90’s and early 2000s. Suddenly, as if emerging from a curious slumber, everyone realized that shit was garbage and longed for the days of thrashing flying V leads and falsetto vocals. Iron Cross could rise again!
They reformed, released new compilations of unreleased material, got the self titled album pressed to CD and hit the road once more.
Though this song has appeared in some form on just about every release they’ve had since their 1986 debut, The Shindig has chosen to use the cover from their 2000 compilation simply titled “Iron Cross” because it has a skeleton shooting lasers out of it’s eyes at an actual iron cross, and that fucking rules.
Look at that drawing. Can you think of anything you’d rather have on your album than that? I know I certainly can’t.
Coming in hard at #190, it’s Iron Cross with….of course…Halloween.
PS: For some sample accompaniment, we decided to finally tap into Halloween 5aka Halloween: A Burned and Now Insane Loomis Repeatedly Screams at a Poor, Frightened 9 Year Old Girl and Uses Her As Bait to Ensnare a Homicidal Al Pacino-Masked Murderer With Whom She Suddenly Shares a Psychic Link.
Boycott ret-conned bullshit! Say “no” to unnumbered sequels and reboots! Stand tall against the repeated and failed attempts to rewrite Michael’s history! This is the true legacy…horrible masks and goofy family sub-plots and all!
Several years ago when Halloween made their Shindig debut on Halloween with their song Halloween, we immediately bestowed upon them All-Star status. This was very premature, because at that point, it was their only contribution.
I knew then that they would have multiple appearances. I have an auxiliary playlist called The Shindig Bullpen for all the planned additions that have yet to make their way onto the blog. They’re all there, but the move was still premature.
Tonight’s track, however, finally makes Halloween The Shindig All-Stars they were born to be.
Since they already had a song called Halloween, I’m sure they were pretty disappointed. Now, they probably could have gone the Danzig route and just made a song called Halloween II, but Halloween opted to tag the word “Night” on there, and call it a day. It’s a solid move.
And since we were just dealing with Dr. Crowley and his Anti-Halloween Machine, we thought we’d check in with Angela Harris, who’s own Anti-Halloween machine, a religious group called HARVEST, is responsible for all the mayhem in 2014’s nostalgia stuffed The WNUF Halloween Special.
Her alarmist petitions seem particularly in contrast to Halloween’s somewhat reassuring song, where they tell you everything’s all right, Halloween’s just a fun night out at the Heavy Metal Horror Show. Nothing to worry about here.
Mrs. Harris, well, she doesn’t exactly concur.
Here’s Halloween, once again singing about Halloween and taking their rightful place on the Shindig All-Star team, with Halloween Night.
Here, this Franken-headed fuck-face named Dr. Crowley wants to end Halloween forever. He even has his own cheeseball coalition of concerned buttinskis called Citizens United Against Halloween. What a dork. He then tries to enlist The Ghostbusters to provide the assist, but the GB’s ain’t down with that shit.
In fact, they’re so not down with that shit, they show up for a school assembly and bust out this rockin’ Halloween track just to show you what’s up.
Now, I know I’m a bit paranoid, and doing this blog over the years has certainly put me in a weird spot mentally over the nature of Halloween, it’s origins and all the media surrounding it. But, I gotta be honest here, I get a weird vibe from this. Like a Halloween 3 vibe. And that’s weird.
Maybe it’s all the Stonehenge and Celtic imagery, or maybe it’s the extolling of “old magic,” but it seems pretty bizarre. Because, I mean, why the fuck are some cartoon ghost police talking to kids about old magic anyway?
It’s weird, right? What are they saying, and why? And to kids? And is that weird? I dunno, but it sure makes me feel a little weird.
Doesn’t stop me from rocking out though, ’cause this is a Halloween jammer, for sure. You got the whole gang singing, with assembly attendees dancing in costume and Egon here rocking out on a modified Poly-800 while Slimer and his buddies turn into these weird Irish-green Jack-Lantern sperms. It’s all very festive…and probably totally weird.
We wrap it up in the same fashion the show does, with that Halloween prick Dr. Crowley firing up his Electronic, Positronic, Anti-Halloween Machine and…ending Halloween forever, Or opening up The Halloween Door?
Main Title (Rosemary’s Baby)by Krzysztof Komeda and Mia Farrow
Fading us out of our witch/spell/magick block is the melancholic and eerie theme from a tale of perhaps the worst witches cinema may have yet seen. Witches so powerful, many have suggested their influence seeped through the silver screen and into our reality.
I know it’s certainly not the type of film we tend to champion around here, and I doubt it would be any Diggers favorite pick (with the exception of one particularly beautiful & faithful reader) Rosemary’s Baby is widely considered one of the finest examples the horror genre has to offer.
And rightfully so, as it’s a fine piece of film-making, in any genre, with a star-making and brilliant performance from Mia Farrow and a supporting cast that provides the best kind of support.
Additionally, Rosemary’s Babyis as much a critique on society of the mid 60′ and men’s abuse and control of women within that society, as it is a critique on American moral and spiritual unraveling and the burgeoning Satanic scene.
Some even say it’s also cursed.
Let’s begin at the beginning…
The film’s source material, Ira Levin’s novel of the same name, was published 1968. It is set in New York City of 1965/1966, or more appropriately, June of 1966,…6/66.
Pitched at a point in history which saw not only the birth of Anton Lavey’s Church of Satan, but when Time Magazine had just famously wondered “Is God Dead?” in an issue Rosemary can be seen reading in the film.
As with any literary success, Hollywood wasn’t far behind. Initially the book was optioned to Alfred Hitchcock, who reportedly turned down the offer. In swooped everyone’s favorite schlockster William Castle, who morgaged his home and purchased the rights for 100,000 with the intent to direct. It was to be his first A-List horror picture, and he was rightly stoked.
He brought the script to Paramount Pictures, but famous executive Robert Evans had other ideas though. There wasn’t any chance in hell he was letting the inventor of “Emergo” and “Percepto” helm the biggest horror property in Hollywood. No, Castle could produce but a young European auteur named Roman Polanski would be brought in to class up the act.
And the the success train kept rolling. Lauded upon release and a blockbuster success, Castle and Evan’s had helped Polanski hit a culture nerve with his first American feature. Not bad.
But then, that’s when the weird shit started happening.
The first victim of Rosemary’s Curse was none other than the composer of tonight’s selection, Jazz musician Krzysztof Komeda. While drinking at a party in Los Angeles shortly after the film premiered, Kryzsztof was “accidentally” shoved of a rocky cliff by author Marek Hłasko. He sustained head injuries that led him into a coma he never awoke from. He died the following April in Poland. He was 37 years old. Fans will no doubt mark the similarity of his fate to that of Edward Hutchins in the film.
Next, though much less severe, was producer William Castle. His kidney’s failed soon after the release, and he was reported to have hallucinated scenes from the film while in the hospital, at one point shouting “Rosemary, for God Sakes put down the knife!”
Most tragic however, and perhaps in need of no further explanation, was the fate of Polanski’s wife Sharon Tate and their then-unborn son at the hands of the Manson Family.
Sharon, who had desperately fought to play Rosemary, was said to have often been lingering around the set, and even eerily appears in the background at Rosemary’s party.
Other strange coincidences can be traced all throughout this tale, such as this bizarre linage of synchronicity:
The words “Healter Skelter” (sic) were scrawled on the scene of the crime at Roman and Sharon’s home on 10050 Cielo Drive. The song Helter Skelter by The Beatles was featured on The White Album, which was mostly written while at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. Also in attendance at that time were Donovan, Prudence Farrow (inspiration for the song Dear Prudence) and Rosemary herself, Mia Farrow. On December 8th, 1980, John Lennon was shot in New York City, in the archway of The Dakota Apartments, which will no doubt look familiar to any Rosemary’s Baby fan.
And lastly, I wouldn’t be the first paranoid observer to suggest the strange similarity between Rosemary and Guy’s tale and Polanski’s own career trajectory. Did Roman, like Guy, make some unholy, sacrificial pact for success and legal invulnerability? Only Roman knows for sure. Strange that “Roman” is also Steven Marcato’s false name.
Tonight, The Shindig presents that sweet sort of haunting theme, composed by Krzysztof Komeda. Even more appropriately, Mia Farrow herself provides the quiet vocal accompaniment.
The strange legacy of Rosemary’s Baby, all the players and the true nature of their interconnected fates, may forever remain a mystery. Whatever transpired, whatever it means, whomever or whatever was responsible…beware…because, there’s only one thing we can say for sure…
Since Christopher Lee’s over here talking about The Salem Witch Trial, let’s follow that up with a song about The Salem Witch Trial, aptly titled The Salem Witch Trial.
This rockin’ piece of obscure psychedelia comes from none other than Kiriae Crucible, a band (or hell, even just a lone dude) that I can seem to find absolutely no information about at all.
Any web search for Kiriae Crucible will undoubtedly return this song, an seemingly only this song, the various compilations that contain this song, or places in which you can hear…this song.
Well, Halloween Shindig now proudly joins the ranks of places at which you can also hear this song but find no other information regarding Kiriae Crucible. If you were led here looking for such information (though I sincerely doubt it) then I apologize for being just another repository with absolutely nothing new to offer.
I will say this, though. The 45 above is curiously adorned with the name “Erickson,” which might lead you (as it did me) to wonder if it was not penned (and perhaps even performed) by Halloween hero, Shindigger and all around way-out-cat Roky Erickson.
Beats me though, as a cross-reference of the 2 also returned no results for me.
Anyway, if you do happen to be reading this and actually have information regarding Kiriae Crucible or this song, please leave a comment below or forward said info to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanking you in advance, your assistance is greatly appreciated.
For everyone else, just sit back and enjoy this random-ass song about The Salem Witch Trial by a random-ass band (or dude) known simply as Kiriae Crucible, a name which I’m still not even sure how to pronounce exactly.
Here’s another classic example of referencing a horror classic without actually talking about the movie at all, from Shindig All-Stars and referential magicians, The Misfits.
Sure, it might be called a Horror Hotel, but God knows what Danzig’s actually talking about here, because it’s not the 1963 Christopher Lee film.
What we do know is that it’s definitely about a hotel and some bad shit’s going down there, maybe even some horror. Particularly in Room 21, where all the underworld scum seem to congregate. Can’t say I know of any specific Room 21s from horror lore, but I’d be open to suggestions about what other references Glenn might be bandying about. Though I’ll wager it’s probably used simply because “Room 36” doesn’t rhyme with “scum.”
But that was sort of Glenn’s deal. Name a song after a classic movie and then whip up some lyrics that sort of jive with the mood that title conjured. Unless of course you’re talking about Return of the Fly, which basically reads like a Videohound entry of the film of the same name, right down to listing of its actors and characters.
None of that really matters though, does it? I mean, at least not where The Misfits are concerned. Personally, I rather like that these songs are less overt in their referential nature. Something like Blitzkid’sCandyman lacks any of that artistic (?) subtlety, opting to bludgeon you with lyrics so simple and childlike, it sort of takes something away.
You get none of that from Danzig and Co., and as such are gifted that wonderful space of ambiguity and interpretation.
Plus, it give us the opportunity to cram that space with plenty of samples from the song’s namesakes. Couldn’t do that if they just named the song Room 21, now could we?