Trick or Treatin’

There’s probably no phrase more tied to Halloween than “Trick or Treat.”

There’s simply no other association. It conjures up nothing but festive imagery, even when not used in that context.

Kids in costume, going door to door in droves, threatening the neighbors to produce treats under penalty of trick. It’s one of the grand old customs that’s still observed to this day. It’s the backbone of what it’s all about. It’s what makes Halloween Halloween.

Time was they called it “souling” and the “treats” were mostly just fruits and small cakes. Initially they were left out on the stoop for the dead as offerings, or rather “sacrifices.” Guess people starting figuring “Hell, if they’re not gonna eat em…” Risky business, you ask me.

Further back still, it is said that the Druids, searching for human sacrifices on Samhain, would rap upon your door and say the phrase. The Treat for producing a sacrifice (most probably one of your children) would be a Jack-O-Lantern filled with the fat from a previous sacrifice, which when lit, would protect you from whatever demons and spirits the Druids were planning on conjuring that evening. The Trick? Oh, just a hexagram in blood on your front door, inviting said conjurings specifically to your home. Trick indeed.

Kind of a trick either way, honestly. Seems you’re just in for it. At least you got a Jack-O-Lantern from the Treat, and that might protect your family. Well, the rest of your family. The kid you offered up is pretty well fucked. Unless of course they can successfully bob an apple out of boiling water on the first try. If not, off with their head, which was probably horribly burned from the oil anyhow. And should they opt against trying to bob the apple? Welp, into the Wicker Man for a good old fashion sacrificial burning.

Seems this day has some pretty sinister origins. Whether or not we’re engaging in a sort of ritualistic conjuring simply through the sheer mimicry of such practices (innocent as they may be or at least appear) is the question.

Are we complicit to evil? Are we abominations in our masks? Is it now so secular it has no power? Or does it have more power in our ignorant observance.

As Colonel Cochran tells us in Halloween 3:

“You thought no further than the strange custom of having your kids wear masks and go out begging for candy.”

Have we?

Where ever the absolute truth may lie, these days you’ve got peanut allergies, childhood obesity and early onset diabetes to concern yourself with, never mind possible psychological warfare and veiled Satanism.

And that’s to say nothing of Trick or Treating before it even gets dark or the dreadfully unfestive “Trunk or Treat.” Gag me with a Carmel Apple. Remember when Halloween was exciting, mischievous and just a little bit dangerous?

Or perhaps a time none of us remember when it was possibly the most dangerous night of all? Now, that’s some real spooky shit.

As you can imagine, there’s no shortage of songs on The Shindig called Trick or Treat. At present, the playlist features 4 songs by that title. 5 if you count the Lou Rawls’ Garfield tune. There’s plenty more.

We thought it was time to indulge in a block of Trick or Treat goodness, cause hey, we like blocks. Not all of these songs are specifically related to Halloween proper, but we’re not gonna be sticklers.

Whatever it meant, or means or conjures – within us or out in the ether, it is a part of Halloween; good or evil, or perhaps somewhere in between.

So, come on! Grab a Ben Cooper mask, a plastic pumpkin and crack a glow stick. Let’s go Trick Or Treatin’!

Haunted House Rockin’

Is there a more played upon idea in Horror than The Haunted House? Maybe vampires. I dunno, I don’t have those kinda figures on me.

What I do know is there’s a shitload of Haunted House movies. What’s more, there’s a shitload of songs about Haunted Houses. From Monster Raps to Shock! Theatre era novelties, all the way up to horror punk and even surf, no genre represented on The Shindig has given up the chance to tangle with a Haunted House, so popular is the locale.

And why not? Spooks and specters, creepy basements and shitty crown moldings all await you through a squeaky-hinged door. Maybe a chandelier will fall. Maybe a trap door will open. Maybe a secret passage will unlock some chamber of horrors previously unimagined.
You’ll definitely hear something sinister as you try to sleep and someone will undoubtedly suggest that it’s…just your imagination.

Likely someone has died there, or is at least buried on the property. And if it has occupants, then some ghoulish butler will greet you, informing you the master of the house will be down shortly to…have you for dinner.

It could be a count or some other nobleman of questionable moral fiber. Maybe a mad scientist owns the estate, or an entire family of horribly deformed weirdos with poor social skills. Either way, it looks like a bad idea from the outside and that becomes wildly apparent once inside. Most probably you will not be allowed to leave until the baptismal light of day.

As you may be aware, The Shindig loves blocks. They feel good. A little theme-within-a-theme never hurt nobody. Maybe bored a few people, but that’s about it. So, with that in mind, here comes a mega block of Haunted House hits to knock your socks off. Or rock your socks off. Or maybe even scare them off.

Whatever your emotional reaction (and assuming of course you’re actually already wearing socks) chances are you’ll be sockless by blocks end.

So enter,…if you dare.

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Christmas Slay!

Uh Oh! It looks like it’s that time of year to eat, drink and be scary!

Rip open our Christmas Slay Holiday Slasher Round-Up and put a little something naughty under the tree this year!

The Class of 1988

No year has produced as many movies set around Halloween as 1988.

1976, 1982, and 1985 all come closet, each offering 4 films.

The Hallowed Year of 1988 easily doubles their contributions producing 8 movies in total. I’m not sure what kind of cultural zeitgeist was taking place in the world of film in 1988, but it occurred never-the-less, and we were all thankful.

Perhaps it was the return of Michael Myers, who hadn’t seen the silver screen in 10 years, that inspired this resurgence. Maybe there’s something devilishly unholy about the year 1988. Who knows, but a bunch of filmmakers got on board.

Were these guys aware of what each other were doing? Were the screenwriters buddies? What’s the deal here?

The original 31 Days of Halloween Horror list contained 4 members. This year’s countdown features another 3.

The following is a list of all the known graduates of The Class of 1988 and their release dates.

and lastly…

The next 3 selections on our countdown here are all proud members of The Hallowed Class of 1988. Respect

Monster Talk: Rock ‘N Roll Horror

I mentioned Rock ‘N Roll Horror in my post about John Fasano, and all this Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare/ Black Roses business has got it on my mind. Let’s talk for a moment about this as both a concept and a genre.

Rock ‘N Roll Horror forms the very foundation of Halloween Shindig; it is its ethos. Wherever a monster is dancing, you will find us. Whenever a ghoul grabs a gitbox, we are there. Should The Cryptkeeper or Elvira decide to rap, Halloween Shindig is lying in wait, ready to post that song.

As a genre though, Rock ‘N Roll Horror (or Metalsplotation as you will sometimes find it referred to) leaves us wanting. It has a few things going against it.

Firstly, there just aren’t that many. It’s a pretty thin sub-genre. 22 titles, by my count. You could stretch that number to 30+ if you got real liberal with your criteria and included some misfires from the late 90’s of new millennium. But I’m calling 22.

Additionally, it’s a dead genre. It had its time and place, but its moment in the moonlight has passed. The world has moved on.

I’d say “I wish they still made ’em like this,” but I don’t. That ship has sailed. You try your hand at this game post millennium and you’ll wind up with a Queen of The Damned, or a Rock ‘N Roll Frankenstein. Naw, just leave it where it was. Let it rest in peace; a product of a decade that is gone.

On top of all that (and perhaps worst of all) it’s a pretty terrible sub-genre, and this breaks my shockem_guitardemonheart. Always eager for more of the bread and butter that bloats this blog, I’ve sat through most of them, waiting with bated breath for the next awesome addition to the playlist. I’m usually disappointed. There’s a couple hold-outs of which I’ve yet to find copies, so there’s still a little hope.

Of the 22 Rock ‘N Roll Horror films listed here, most of em aren’t worth a damn. They are time wasters of the highest order; not good enough to laud, not lousy enough to love. Somewhere in between they rest, trapped in a celluloid limbo of missed opportunities and boredom. It’s a genre after my own heart, and it consistently breaks it.

Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I got too much expectation. Or maybe Trick Or Treat is just that damn good. Probably a combination.

Here’s a list of the most prominent offenders; the ones you’ll see listed elsewhere if you dig hard enough.

  1. Terror On Tour 1980
  2. New Years Evil 1980
  3. Shock: Diversão Diabólica 1984
  4. Rocktober Blood 1984
  5. Blöderan 1984
  6. Monster Dog 1984
  7. Blood Tracks 1985
  8. Trick Or Treat 1986
  9. Edge of Hell / Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare 1987
  10. Slumber Party Massacre 2 1987
  11. Slaughterhouse Rock 1988
  12. Hack-O-Lantern 1988
  13. Hard Rock Zombies 1988
  14. Lone Wolf 1988
  15. Black Roses 1988
  16. Hard Rock Nightmare 1988
  17. Scream Dream 1989
  18. Houseboat Horror 1989
  19. Paganini Horror 1989
  20. Rockula 1990
  21. Dead Girls 1990
  22. Shock Em Dead 1991

True, this list excludes overtly music themed horror outings such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes or Little Shop Of Horrors, but for me, those fall into the altogether separate category of the Horror Musical.

Naw, these are Rock ‘N Roll Horror movies. Movies where rocking has precedence. Movies where a rock band or singer takes the main stage and blows your doors off.

The Phantom of the Paradise tows a fine line, and could very well be considered a Rock ‘N Roll Horror, but its too much of a Rock Opera to be smashed in with these kinds of films I think. Heavy Metal Massacre is also excluded because there’s too much of David DeFalco’s hair and apartment and too little metaling, despite it’s title.

The most depressing aspect of it all, even more than the lack of entertainment factor, is that not  every one of these 22 films has made the cut for The Shindig. Some of them have music that’s just that wildly out of place, or just that bad. And The Shindig has some pretty terrible music on it, so that oughta give you an idea of what you’re up against.

I’ll talk about all of these films by degrees over time. But for now, lets take a few of these suckers that did make the cut, and lay out a full-on Rock ‘N Roll Horror block here in the late ’90’s, before busting headlong into one of my favorite stretches of the entire Shindig, just in time for Halloween.

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Vampires!


To whomever created this graphic,

I enjoy the idea here, and it would be awesome to see this expanded to include:

The Brit (Christopher Lee, any of his Dracula films)
The Neighbor (Chris Sarandon, Fright Night)
The Punk (Bill Paxton, Near Dark)
The Best Friend (Robert Sean Leonard, My Best Friend Is A Vampire)
The Virgin (Jim Carey, Once Bitten)
The Psycho (Nicholas Cage, Vampire’s Kiss)
The Poser (John Amplas, Martin)
The Revamp (Gary Oldman, Bram Stoker’s Dracula)
The Musician (Dean Cameron, Rockula)

Shindig followers! Add your own vampire archetypes to the list. Signal boost. Lets get this graphic so big it includes Radu and Grace Jones from Vamp.

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Like a Fine Wine

 patricia-von-black

Can we all just sit here for a moment and appreciate how fucking gorgeous Maila Nurmi was even as she aged?

Seconded, and wholeheartedly at that.