Audio

The Munster’s Theme

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The Munsters’ Theme by Jack Marshall

Speaking of iconic, it’s high time we talked about the most iconic family in all of horror-dom, The Munsters.

Though only lasting 2 seasons, Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie and Marylin Munster have lingered on, long past their short stint on the airwaves to become some of horrors most beloved characters.

With such talented actors as Yvonne DeCarlo, Al Lewis and Fred Gwynne hamming it up in such great costumes and make-up, it’s not hard to understand why the show has remained so wonderful to watch and still manages to capture new generations of viewers.

So loved are The Munsters, they’ve been revisited and recast more times than just about anything in the genre, with 5 separate actors playing Herman, Grandpa and Lily, and 7 stepping into the role of Eddie. Marilyn still has the most though, at 9, including 2 actresses (Beverly Owen and Pat Priest) during the show’s initial run. That’s pretty crazy.

However for fans, these revisits have run the gamut from quaint and acceptable (1981’s The Munster’s Revenge) to somewhat watchable (1995’s Here Come The Munsters) to the flat-out cringe inducing (the ill-advised, ill-conceived and ill-received The Munsters Today.) The latter (being a rebooted, sequel-series that aired from 1988 to 1991) somehow managed to stay on the air an entire season longer than the original show, though only producing roughly the same number of episodes.

While each installment has something of merit (The Munster’s Today does feature a rather good turn from Howard Morton as Grandpa) nothing quite matched or lived up to the series. Even 1966’s Munster, Go Home! (the closest to actually feeling like the show) is hampered by the decisions to film in color, recast Marilyn and lose the laugh track.

All that said, perhaps the most iconic aspect of the show is its oft played, oft covered and oft imitated theme song composed by Jack Marshall. If you’ve ever seen the un-aired (and colorized!) pilot for the show, you know just how instrumental Jack’s theme really was.

Instantly recognizable, it’s one of the great television themes of all-time, and just about every rehash (including Munster, Go Home!) has either failed to include it, or used some seriously bastardized version (The Munsters Today) that feels egregious.

Though they were changed a bit between seasons 1 and 2, I’m not quite sure which I honestly prefer most. I’ve included the season 2 theme on the Shindig because I believe it’s the one most often referred to, covered and imitated. Also, The Los Straitjackets’ version appears later in playlist, and that definitely has a distinctly Season 1 sound.

So, let’s spend some time on the Shindig with America’s First Family of Fright, The Munster.

 

Audio

The Trioxin Theme (Main Title)

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The Trioxin Theme (Main Title) by Francis Haines

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.

 

Audio

Ernest Scared Stupid (Theme)

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Ernest Scared Stupid (theme) by Bruce Arntson & Kirby Shelstad

If there’s one thing I liked as much as Halloween growing up, it was Ernest. So naturally, Ernest Scared Stupid is by far my favorite of comedic genius an all-around swell guy Jim Varney’s extended career as Ernest P. Worrell.

The theme from Ernest Scared Stupid, along with it’s awesome opening credit sequence, set the tone for this wonderful holiday treat.

Complete with kick-ass trolls courtesy of The Chiodo Brothers (see: Killer Klowns From Outer Space) Ernest Scared Stupid should be watched at least every Halloween by everyone who isn’t dreadfully repulsed by the character of Ernest.

And even then, you should watch it anyway, and be ashamed of yourself for hating Ernest.

 

Audio

Helen’s Theme

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Helen’s Theme by Phillip Glass

No horror theme is quite a beautiful sounding as Phillip Glass’ recurring theme from Candyman. It’s haunting, particularly in the context of the film, but on its own, it’s a rather sweet and quiet piano melody.

Spliced over the rain effect here which closes out Raining Blood, it’s a nice interlude for your guests to enjoy as they grab more Re-Agent Punch, piss on your fence, or blast some lines in your bathroom without you.

Here’s to hoping Candyman busts through that goddamn mirror and guts them for their selfishness.

 

Audio

The Addams Family (Theme)

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The Addams Family (Theme) by Victor Mizzy

No matter what era or medium they seem to find themselves, be it a comic strip in the late 1930’s, a sitcom in the 60’s, cartoons in the 70’s, movies in the 90’s, or a modern Broadway musical, The Addams Family always seems perfectly suited to their surroundings and never disappoint.

In honor of America’s first family of the macabre, let’s all gather with a shawl on, a broomstick we can crawl on and lets make a few calls on – The Ad-dams Fam-i-ly.addams-and-halloween

 

 

Audio

Tales From The Crypt (Theme)

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Tales From the Crypt Theme by Danny Elfman

With so much representation on the Shindig, in one form or another, it’s strange to see we’ve gotten this far without including Danny Elfman.

Easily my favorite anthology-form horror offering, HBO’s Tales From the Crypt positively scared the shit out of me in my youth, largely thanks to its creepy intro with that incredible model, the Cryptkeeper bounding from his coffin like a ghoulish jack in the box, and Elfman’s eerie theme here.

Perhaps my favorite theme of all time, and certainly my favorite of Elfman’s (maybe with The Simpson’s catching a close 2nd), creeping us a little further into the Shindig, here’s Tales from The Crypt.

 

Audio

Tubular Bells

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Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield

If there’s a theme to rival John Carpenter’s undeniably iconic Halloween, it’s Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, used to terrifying effectiveness in William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece The Exorcist.

Oldfield’s track however is an epic 25 minute sonic barrage that no Halloween partier has time for.

Friedkin uses only about the first 3 and 1/2 minutes for his eerie theme, ‘round about the time the flutes pick up, and just before the song begins veering well away from its haunting opening.

Who am I to challenge the man who made Sorcerer?

To spare weeners everywhere any horrendously synthesized or knocked-off Halloween CD versions, I’ve used Oldfield’s original track, and cut in the ending used in the closing credits of the movie. Enjoy.

 

Audio

Halloween (Theme)

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Halloween (Theme)

by The Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra

The first track on any Halloween playlist should probably be John Carpenter’s simplistic, iconic and downright horrific theme to his 1978 classic Halloween. Nothing quite sounds like Halloween the way this song does. Call it nostalgia, call it indoctrination, call it whatever you’d like, when I hear this song I immediately think of jack-o-lanterns. That’s followed closely by children trick or treating, rounded out by some rustling leaves and perhaps coming in at a close 4th would be a white-masked sociopath by the name of Michael Myers.

Now, those are probably 4 of the most Halloweeny things I can think of, and they’re all elicited from just the first 3 notes of this song. For my money, that’s musical genius.

This is taken straight from the DVD, so no whack ass midi version, no trumped up Halloween CD nonsense, no later, slightly altered version; this is the real deal, complete with the chanting trick or treaters at the end.

Black cats and goblins on Halloween night. Trick or Treat!