Return of the Living Dead 2 gets a bad rap. Granted, it’s pretty well deserved, but it gets a bad rap all the same.
Honestly though, in its defense, it had a full count walking to the plate: take one of the most beloved, successful and awesome zombie horror/comedies ever, which wraps itself up pretty fucking tightly and expand on it. Go!
Yeah it strikes out, but that was to be expected. At least it doesn’t get caught looking. It goes down swinging.
It’s never very dark or scary or serious (as the trailer led people to believe) nor is it ever terribly funny. Comedy is tricky and when it face-plants, it does so hard and loudly. It’s not quite as cringe inducing as its equally I’ll-advised contemporary, C.H.U.D. 2, but unlike its counter part you at least feel like your watching an honest to god sequel, despite how shitty that sequel may be.
One thing ROTLD 2 gets sort of right is the music. While nowhere near the iconic status of its predecessor’s, there’s some good tunes to be had on this soundtrack. Whether it’s Anthrax or Leatherwolf or this turn from Joe Lamont.
Being that this really the only thing the Shindig ultimately concerns itself with, Return of The Living Dead 2 gets its day.
That’s it. That’s pretty much all there is to say.
I’m gonna say more, naturally but I thought it was worth noting that that’s all anyone really needs to say.
“Thriller. That’s what’s next.”
“Oh, ok. Sure. Of course it is.”
If anyone at your party has a reaction any less than the one I’ve described above, they don’t deserve to be celebrating Halloween. Take their mask, steal their candy and egg them back to the Stone Age.
The last time I checked (which was yesterday) Thriller was still the biggest selling album of all time. What? That’s crazy. It’s 33 years old, how is that still true? It’s cause it’s Thriller, that’s why.
For no mere mortal can resist…and so on and so forth. Probably some horrible music industry warlock bullshit, you ask me. Stick that into your Google and search it.
But I digress.
Thriller’s reach far extends that of the horror genre, Halloween or even this playlist. It literally extends to just about anyone who’s ever lived on this planet during the last 33 years and has functioning ear drums. That’s how huge it is. It’s the biggest thing on this playlist. It’s the biggest referential track ever recorded. How? How was such a niche song this fucking huge?
Well, I’d say it’s more the album than the song itself. Both Billie Jean and Beat It trump it in the singles department, no question. Thriller itself never hit number 1, staying in the Billboard 100 for 14 weeks but topping out at number 4.
You could make an argument for Ghostbusters being a bigger hit, as it was legitimately a number 1 record. But I’d say that’s about it. Nothing else comes close. Though as much as I love Ray Parker Jr.’s Title Track (definitely the biggest Title Track ever recorded) it’s not quite Thriller. Though both were contemporaries that changed the way music was conceived, created and sold, Thriller still has a little something extra. That extra is no doubt Michael Jackson.
Though that’s to say nothing of the video, revolutionizing the young media form and setting a standard I still think has yet to be matched. From Rick Baker’s werewolf transformation to his zombies, to the choreography, to the eerie quality with which John Landis imbues the whole proceedings. It’s unmatched and a Horror fans dream video.
And it scared the living shit out of me as a kid. Having greater access to the Thriller video than most horror movies, it absolutely haunted me. The werewolf transformation was an initial jolt. Then Michael suddenly becoming a zombie just fucked me up. What!? He was just singing to her, now he’s a zombie?
Though even more terrifying was once the music stopped and the horror movie started. The girl taking refuge in the abandoned house and Michael and his zombie horde busting through ever inch of it to get at her. He was just Michael Jackson! They were friends! Now he’s trying to kill her! That level of broken trust rocked my young mind.
Ah, but it was all a dream! There’s Michael. “What’s the problem?” He asks. A sigh of relief washes over me. It’s all ok.
But then, the absolute kick in the nuts. Finally, once I feel at ease again, there he is, turning around and looking dead at me with those fucking werewolf eyes. Holy shit….it’s not ok. Freeze frame. And a child’s nightmares were born. It still sends a little shiver up my spine every time I see it, all these years later.
The 3D Viewmaster I had as a kid didn’t help either. Remember Viewmasters? They looked like this.You held it up to the light and clicked through a wheel of stereoscopic photos.
We had a giant, Talking Viewmaster that looked like this.
It was cool pretty cool. The wheels were larger, like scan-tron cards and had audio accompaniment. For this Talking Viewmaster, we had this.
A few Christmas’ back, my mother had pulled the old boy out for my nephews to play with. I hadn’t seen it in years. I immediately recalled my youthful terror and scrounged for the Thriller cartridge. I needed to see it; the image that haunted me all my life.
Sure as shit it was there. And sure as shit, it still gave me the creeps. Holding it up to the light, I perched my phone as close to the eyepiece as possible. I needed to capture this.
As an adult, It’s obvious to me that Ola Ray and Michael are clearly having fun and chuckling to themselves while taking these photos. Fright is at a minimum, but damn it if that wasn’t the scariest shit I ever saw when I was 7. I had to flick passed. Nope. Couldn’t handle it. Still trips me out.
But anyway, back to the actual song. Of course you have Vincent Price, adding his singular voice and an air of authentic late night 50’s horror double-feature flair to the entire affair.
That mixed with the lyrical references and allusions all wrapped up it a supremely dance-able 80’s rhythm that no mere mortal can resist.
Each one of these facets gives Thriller its collective undefinable quality. And it’s a quality that all understand, as everyone at your party is about to dance. Seriously. I don’t care who they are or what they’re doing; drunk, high, tired, newly arrived, mid-conversation, about to leave, taking a piss – don’t matter. Just watch your guests, this song comes on and people flip the fuck out. It might take a second for everyone to register what’s happening, but once it does, that’s the ballgame, jack. Maybe it’s all that warlocking.
Leaving this one off your Halloween playlist is absolutely unconscionable. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that If you asked 10 random people on the street for just 1 song they associate with Halloween, I guarantee every one of them will name Thriller.
The Monster Mashby Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt Kickers
Around Halloween, dozens of internet outlets will cough up a dozen or so songs they think you ought to play at your Halloween party. The more enterprising sort might even toss you a couple you didn’t think of or haven’t heard before. The too-cool-for-ghoul-school nitwits’ll even attempt to buck convention with some underground hits which barely qualify and have little to no business playing at your party.
Invariably though, most Halloween playlist fakers (particularly the the oh-so-hip clique) tell ya the one thing you should never even consider playing at your party is The Monster Mash; so horrifically lame, so dreadfully passé.
I read one list that even had the audacity to claim it didn’t conjure up any feelings of fright. Are you serious? It’s a novelty song…about a bunch of monsters…having a party. Of course it doesn’t conjure up any feelings of fright you fuckin’ nimrod, it’s a joke.
They also went on to suggest I play Disturbiaby Rhianna.
They shouldn’t be allowed to make Halloween party playlists and they certainly shouldn’t come up on the first page of a Google search.
Moreover, they included The Freaks Come Out At Night by Whodini. Who-fuckin-Dini! They have a song called The Haunted House of Rock, which is played at a Halloween Dance in a movie titled Trick Or Treat. F minus to your bullshit suggestions.
These people are idiots. Don’t listen to them.
Is The Monster Mash played out? Of course it is. It’s 50 fucking years old and the only time anyone ever plays it is at Halloween.
Can you’re Oct. 31st spare 3 and half measly minutes for The Monster Mash? Yes it can and you should take off your fucking mask and hang your head in reverence for the Halloween National Anthem. The fucking heathens…..skip The Monster Mash….skip your passing interest in a holiday that didn’t need your bogus suggestions. Can’t even find The Shindig in a Google search on the matter and I get these bozos telling me to pass on The Monster Mash.
Ok, if you’re offering up 10 suggestions, I can seeing glazing over it in lieu of a few songs that people are less familiar with. Should have made it 13 songs and showed a little class. Even still, what’s 13 songs? You throwing a party for an hour?
Saw a list of 25 once. Could have just made it 31 and been a bit more festive. Still ain’t handling the job of party DJ.
That’s why Halloween Shindig exists, to rebuke these johnny-come-latelies and offer up a list of serious suggestions; to encompass all and handle the task at hand. Does anyone need a 12 hour Halloween playlist? Probably not but it’s here and growing longer each year. I hope to one day have 24 hours worth so your Halloween couldn’t possibly fit anymore music.
You only need to fill 4 hours? We’ll hook you up 3 times over again. Only want a party filled with Monster Raps? No problem. Here’s 2 hours worth.
Is Love Is A Lie very Halloweeny? Not at all but it’s in Friday 4 when Crispin Glover dances like an idiot and that’s the kinda Halloween party some people are throwing. Not your Shindig? There’s 230 other songs to pick from but it should be represented, just like The fucking Monster Mash should be represented.
To hell with your non-festive, non-referential garbage pop. Play that shit at your wedding. Tonight is Halloween and you should be playing the goddamn Monster Mash.
And when Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny and Marky set their sights on Stephen King, the result was a horror hit for the ages. Haters be damned!
Stephen King likes to name drop songs in his novels, particularly Ramones songs and Pet Sematary is no different, as Blitzkreg Bop plays heavily into the story.
I believe the story goes that the boys were approached by the producers for the inclusion of Sheena Is A Punk Rocker in the movie. Such fans of the novel were they that The Ramones simply offered to cut an original track just for the film. And not only that, but a Title Track to boot. Don’t know where I heard that, can’t confirm it but it’s in my head and why would I just make that up? Gotta be at least a partly true, right?
It’s one of the greatest Horror Title Tracks of all time performed by one of the greatest Rock ‘N Roll bands ever. The simplicity and raw power of The Ramones lends itself to perhaps the most cartoonishly straight forward songs to ever accompany a horror film, or maybe any film for that matter. Though, there is Hard Ticket To Hawaii and The Stabilizer and thems some ridiculous ass Title Tracks.
So blow a raspberry at those Golden Raspberry farts and follow Victor to the sacred place.
So what do hot rods, racing, surfing and zombies all have in common? Beats the hell outta me but they all come together in one helluva hammer droppin’, high-rev haulin’, outta sight asphalt eater from Ohio creepsters and Shindig All-Stars The Cramps
Perhaps their most gracious addition to horror-rockdom, The Surfin’ Dead is prominently featured in Dan O’Bannon’s awesome 80’s zombie send up The Return of The Living Dead.
While no slouch in the soundtrack department, I have to admit this is easily my favorite track off the album, no question. But I love me some Cramps so maybe I’m just a tad bit biased. Or maybe it’s just a great song.
Either way, it belongs on a Halloween playlist. Even a short one.
And just for good measure, Lux tosses in 2 shout outs to Cleveland’s pride and Cramps hoedad, Ghoulardi.
Cause you’re A-bone’s busted and you’re through the door, so do the dead!
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.
It seems as though I’ve been ignoring my Horror Themes category. Better sock one in here before the playlist ends up with a giant lyric-less cluster somewhere in the middle.
And if you need a go-to Horror Theme, then Francis Haines’ Return of the Living Dead Main Title Theme will do just fine.
Perfectly creepy, perfectly Halloweeny, The Trioxin Theme is just the break we need from the rock to bring a little ambiance back into the mix.
As soundtracks go (official, purchasable albums that is) The Return of the Living Dead is a great one. Not only is the music awesome, but it chock full of so many great samples from the movie I don’t even need to bust out my DVD to lead them in. Just grab 2 tracks, splice em a little and we’re good to go.
From one of the greatest zombie movies ever made, here’s the main title theme from The Return of the Living Dead.
The Sinister Stomp by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers
Alright, so we got a theme, a bumper, a genuine Halloween song, and a track from a horror movie; sounds to me like it’s time for a good ole fashion monster song.
While The Monster Mash is probably the likely choice, we’ve got some time before cracking that chestnut. However, Bobby “Boris” Pickett and his Crypt Kickers are gonna get some early respect here just the same. From The Original Monster Mash album (a fun Holiday album all around. Hell, there’s even a Christmas song on that fucker for christ’s sake,) comes The Sinister Stomp.
I’m not exactly sure what the hell Yanush is suppose to be (a zombie, a ghoul?) but he’s definitely the focal point of this song, having tripped Boris one night in a graveyard causing him to invent the titular dance, which I believe just involves Boris repeatedly stomping his heal into this thing’s back. An act which somehow manages to keeps him alive, yet also makes him a more efficient employee apparently. Oh, and run.
Yeah, the logic isn’t the easiest to follow, but it’s pretty damn Halloweeny all the same, featuring the usual ghouls from Igor to Frankie, plus it’s got a catchy Runaround Sue style beat, which I enjoy a great deal.
So, c’mon, do The Sinister Stomp. It’s good for the soul.