Speaking of Paul Williams, let’s take this moment to segue right into one of Horror’s most beloved rock operas, Brian DePalma’s 1974 pitch-perfect send-up of the entire recording industry, Phantom of the Paradise.
Elements of Faust, Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, Portrait of Dorian Gray and even a little Dr. Phibes are fused together to tell a tale of love, betrayal, fame and revenge set to the backdrop of the doped-out, sinister 70’s music scene.
The Phantom, Winslow Leach, in his awesome modular tomb!
Williams scored the entire film for DePalma, and stars as Swan, the unscrupulous producer who collects talents and souls for his Death Records label.
Phantom is unique, visually arresting, kinetic and humorous all in equal measure. From DePalma’s active camera, to Gerritt Graham’s flamboyant Beef, to Winslow’s killer Phantom disguise, to Swan’s bitchin’ giant record-shaped desk, to the parodic music, to the satire – it’s all just works.
Even getting Rod Serling himself to handle the opening narration is like a stroke of genius.
Here we have the film’s final track, a rocking little number played over the picture credits, that has all the seeming of Satan himself speaking directly to Swan.
If you’ve never seen Phantom of the Paradise, give this pop-rock-horror-satire a spin this October. And if you already love it, watch it again, just for the hell of it!
The Time Warpby Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell and Charles Gray
You all know the moves, most assuredly, because you all know the song and the musical it originates from, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, all too well.
It’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right. Pretty simple shit honestly, but here’s a diagram anyway. Act like you know.
Halloween is inexplicably associated with Rocky Horror. I may never understand exactly why, within the larger culture, these 2 things are so entwined but VH1’s Halloween showings of it in my youth have forever bonded them together in my own consciousness. Perhaps that’s the case for a lot of people.
According to the production however, the laboratory sequence and Rocky’s creation were filmed on the 30th of October in 1974. So there’s that and that’s pretty Halloweenish, not that Rocky Horror really needed any justification.
The most well known, oft played and Shindigable track is the bizarre inter-dimensional dance craze that was all the rage on Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania.
Is it about sex? Probably, everything else in Rocky Horror appears to be. Or perhaps it’s more literal, as they use a time warp to transport themselves back to Transexual. Maybe it’s both.
I’ve heard it interpreted that Riff Raff’s initial verse is about feeling horny and then orgasming. Magenta’s solo describes the viewing of pornography or perhaps a more direct for of voyuerism, while Colombia’s solo is a depiction of a rape scenario. Dunno if I cotton to all of that exactly (particularly since Colombia doesn’t seem to mind all that much) but it’s as solid a read of the songs intentions as anyone could ask for. And of course, there’s all that pelvic thrusting.
Whatever the hell the Translyvanian’s are on about, it’s certainly getting them riled up and causing them to dance like buffoons all over the place, just as you should be doing at your Halloween party right…about…now.
Just remember to hit the floor when it’s all said and done.
Vampire Hookers; honestly I could have used a little more nudity.
Nathan “Unpainted” Arizona and I guy I thought was Michael Rooker for the about the first 20 minutes play a pair of bumbling greenhorn sailors on shore leave in the Philippines. At the local cemetery, they run afoul the pimp-hatted head vampire John Carradine and his titular hoes. Late 70’s porn music and goofball shenanigans ensue.
They’re trying, I’ll give ’em that.
It’s filled to the brim with silly slapstick and toilet humor that’ll probably set both of your eyes on a pivot, but it’s rarely boring, and at 78 minutes it feels pretty brisk and good natured.
Poor John Carradine though stumbles around waiting for a check, spouting Shakespeare and poetry, which could either be interesting or irritating depending on your temperament.
There’s also a fat Filipino familiar who farts a lot for comedic effect. Whether you laugh at his flatulence will also depend on your temperament.
Seen as well is a ladyboy pissing at a urinal, which apparently doesn’t tip off old Nathan Arizona, who proceeds to engage in a sexual transaction. Later Michael Rooker yells “Oh God! Balls!” which is always funny to hear someone shout after grabbing a lady’s crotch.
A few silly fistfights later and where onto the cemetery and our plot.
Though severely deficient in the generalized sleaziness and nudity you’d expect for a film called Vampire Hookers, you’re eventually treated to a 7 minute slow-mo vampire 4-way between Michael Rooker and the 3 sex-starved immortals. Thankfully, John Carradine bows out of that one, but the fat familiar watches and farts a bit. Probably jerks off too, couldn’t really tell and thank god for cinematic ambiguity. It’s pretty awesome though, complete with its numerous and repetitious cutaways to the lascivious murals painted around the room of beasts and Devils fornicating. Who’s turn is it?
And that’s not even the best part of the movie.
That would be our next Shindigger at #105, the Title Track Vampire Hookers, played to rousing appreciation during the picture credits at the end of the films. I love picture credits! And Title Tracks! And hookers! What an ending. If only we knew who the hell was performing this tune. It’s a Shindig first; an Unknown Artist! I searched endlessly to no avail as I could not track down the culprits. If anyone happens to know who performed this tune, we’ll gladly update the entry.
“Blood is not all they suck,” informs our unnamed composer. The Skinemax orgy sequence tells a different tale, I’m afraid. However, I think it’s safe to assume some sucking has taken place regardless, one way or the other.
While never terribly funny, it is somewhat fun, particularly in a group setting and there’s plenty of worse ways to spend 78 minutes. Plus, those’ll typically end up sucking an extra 20 minutes from your life and still not have the goddamn common decency to give you the reach around of an awesome Title Track.
So, as far as The Shindig is concerned, Vampire Hookers, you’re all right. As Lord Summerilse might say “you will sit with the Saints, among the elect,” here in our Title Track-heavy center block.
Roky Erickson’s a pretty far-out cat. So literally far-out in fact, that he once claimed he was an alien.
He was also admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane where he underwent shock treatments, but that’s neither here nor there. Though the latter did occur before the former, I don’t mean to suggest that this clearly means he’s not actually an alien. Just saying…that happened too. It’s all pretty far out.
Originally the front man for psychedelia pioneers The 13th Floor Elevators, Roky embarked on a solo career after being released from the hospital in ‘74. What resulted was an altogether different experience in the form of Roky Erickson & the Alien’s The Evil One.
The Evil One is a pretty great album featuring all kinds of groovy monster tunes that could easily find a home on the Shindig. Particularly, I Walked With A Zombie, which has been a standing member of the playlist for some time.
There’s not much to it, honestly. It’s just the title, repeated over and over again, with the addition of the words “last night” attached to every 3rd go ‘round.
However, I like this song. Its got a cool and catchy, almost 50’s sound to it that I can’t help but sing along to. Maybe you’ll find yourself doing the same.
Included are some samples from the songs namesake, 1943’s I Walked With A Zombie. Here’s Roky & The Aliens kicking off a little zombie block here on the Shindig.
Vincent Price is awesome. I’m not really sure how else to put it. I could use words like “extraordinary,” or “singular,” or even “eminent,” but they all just sound like “awesome” to me.
Another, even more appropriate word, might be “iconic.” Having starred in over 40 genre pictures, Mr. Price, though not exclusive to horror (having appeared in almost 200 film and television productions) has left his indelible mark on the world of the macabre.
Simply anchoring some of my all-time favorite horror films, including The House on Haunted Hill, The Masque of the Red Death, and The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Vincent Price already equals horror. And that’s not even mentioning The Tingler, The Raven, AComedy of Terrors, Last Man on Earth, House of Wax, The Pit and the Pendulum, Witchfinder General or The Fly. You get the idea.
Even outside the sphere of horror, Price still owns my loyalty, adding his distinctive flare to Egghead, one of my favorite villains from one of my favorite shows ever, the old Batman series from 1965.
His credits even include a stint on Hollywood Squares. Seriously?
So iconic is Vincent that he appears on the Shindig at least 3 times without any intervention from my sampling hand. Bands who wanted to sound spooky tapped Vincent for that little extra something sinister. Never a bad decision.
The first example of this is from none other than Alice Cooper, no stranger to the sinister himself. Price leads in Track 82, The Black Widow from Cooper’s 1975 album Welcome to My Nightmare.
As if that wasn’t enough, Price also starred in the corresponding television special which followed the album entitled Alice Cooper: The Nightmare, where he reprises this monologue, in perfect Price fashion, almost identically.
Vincent Price may have passed, but among horror fans he will live on forever, ritualistically resurrected with each push of the play button. And as for the Shindig, his extraordinarily singular and eminent voice can be heard all over it.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) there was more than one disco Dracula tune.
In fact, there was a whole album. It was even called Disco Dracula. It was the only effort from weird German band called Hot Blood and there’s a couple of vampire themed tracks on this sucker. Hell, there’s even a Frankenstein song called “Baby Frankie Stein.”
Mostly a funky instrumental, this lyrically sparse number does repeatedly feature the the titular phrase “Soul Dracula,” which is honestly enough for the Shindig. However, Hot Blood puts a little pepper on the porridge by using a goofy Dracula voice. Bonus.
Leading this track in is a clip from Blacula, cause lets face it, Blacula is the soulest motherfuckin Dracula around. To quote James Brown “Eddie Murphy, eat your heart out.”
And because it is mostly an instrumental, we went ahead and saddled the whole track with some Blacula clips, cause Blacula is awesome, and he deserves it.
It’s time for another Devilish Track, however this particular tune tows a fine line.
It’s featured in the trailer of, so is sort of a de facto title track for 1991’s Highway To Hell. However, simply naming your movie after a song and blasting it exclusively in your trailer doesn’t make that song a title track. I may love My Boyfriend’s Back, but you won’t find the song by The Angel’s here on the Shindig.
No, Highway To Hell is shindigging for a few reasons; namely – I like AC/DC, it’s a good party tune, and there was a horror film named after it. Plus, this bogus Devilish category I concocted to justify Number of The Beast (and Raining Blood, and See You In Hell) And well, that’s good enough for me.
If you’re tuning into this strange, Steve Johnson FX’d horror-comedy, look for a young Ben Stiller in a small role as the cook at Pluto’s, Lita Ford as a hitchhiker, and Gilbert Gottfried as Hitler! Yeah, it’s a weird movie.