Friday, October 1, 2010

Countdown To Halloween Day 1

Conal Cochran: {Y}ou don't really know much about Halloween; you thought no further than the strange custom of having your children wear masks and go out begging for candy.

It was the start of the year in our old Celtic lands, and we'd be waiting in our houses of wattles and clay. The barriers would be down, you see, between the real and the unreal, and the dead might be looking in to sit by our fires of turf.

Halloween, the festival of Samhain! The last great one took place three thousand years ago, when the hills ran red with the blood of animals and children.

Daniel Challis: Sacrifices.

Conal Cochran: It was part of our world, our craft.

Daniel Challis: Witchcraft.

Conal Cochran: To us, it was a way of controlling our environment. It's not so different now. It's time again. In the end, we don't decide these things, you know; the planets do. They're in alignment, and it's time again. The world's going to change tonight, doctor; I'm glad you'll be able to watch it. And... happy Halloween.
~Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

If you know me at all (or if you've hung around this blog for any length of time) then you know I revel in Halloween. Other holidays are, well, they're okay, but Halloween? Halloween is special. Halloween is about darkness and night and imagination; it's about what if.... It's wondering what, exactly, caused that noise in the cellar just now and whether things that go bump in the night should be investigated... or ignored from beneath the safety of the bed covers. It's cooling temperatures and falling leaves and skeletal trees outlined against the twilight autumn sky...

And it's time for The Countdown to Halloween!

"The Halloween Countdown is something of a virtual neighborhood to go trick or treating in. Imagine a neighborhood where all of the neighbors really got into the spirit of the holiday and went all out with decorating their yards and homes and on top of that also handed out the coolest treats whenever some kid in a costume rang their doorbell. Well, you are that kid in a costume, and the participants in the countdown are the neighbors with the cool houses and candy. When you visit their blogs, you will essentially be ringing their doorbell and shouting 'Trick or treat.' rewarded by a solid thunk at the bottom of your plastic Halloween bucket which is their post for the day. In a way that's even better than the actual Halloween (no way! I hear you saying) you get to ring their doorbell and trick or treat every single day throughout October. Not only that, but there is bound to be over 100 houses for you to visit each day as well."
--"So, What Is This Halloween Countdown, Anyway..."

Needless to say, I'm participating. Hey! It keeps me off the streets (for which we should all be thankful) and allows me the perfect excuse to indulge my Halloween state-of-mind every day for a solid month. I did it last year (and kinda, sorta the year before) and had a blast!

So, anyway, we'll kick things off with what has become the Halloween Anthem, the Monster Mash .

From the YouTube description:
One of the brightest events in the history of the Chiller Theatre Expo took place that stormy October 2006 weekend when Bobby 'Boris' Pickett took the concert stage with The Dead Elvi and Chiller's favorite son Zacherle, the Cool Ghoul. None of in The Elvi knew at the time that Bobby was very ill. But, like the trouper he was, he proceeded to blast out one of his best performances ever ... if not his best... of his Halloween classic The Monster Mash!

Zach, who had covered this tune some 40-plus years earlier*, let Bobby do his thing and take center stage. None of us on stage knew that this great performance would be Bobby's last live concert in front of a live ( mmmm...that's questionable ) audience! It was a night to remember not only for the Dead Elvi but for all who attended this now legendary performance!

- Kevin Clement ("Mr. Chiller")

By the way, Zach just celebrated his 92nd birthday on Sunday, September 26!

Happy Halloween!

*On this album:

From Zacherley's bio:
It should be mentioned that Zach still turned up occasionally on American Bandstand particularly around Halloween time and often sang songs from his album and singles.

Keeping this in mind, the powers at Cameo Parkway Records contracted Zach toward the end of 1962 to cut a version of "Monster Mash" and an LP. The album included several recordings made famous by Chubby Checker, DeeDee Sharp, the Orlons, and Dovells. The original vocals were removed from the mixes and Zach sang new satirical lyrics that were especially written for him and featured horror references. To give the record a "concept album" feel, the songs were connected by horror sound effects. This LP hit the billboard charts and outsold Bobby Pickett's version in many markets. The LP remained in print for years and was eventually replaced by a 10 song budget version on the Wyncote subsidiary label
(which is the version I owned way back when).

Cameo Parkway followed
Monster Mash with another LP, Scary Tales, which contained eleven new songs including the Zacherley classic "Happy Halloween." The first song on the album, the title song, contained a "trick track" so that different lyrics played each time you set the stylus in the groove.
Sadly, this album has yet to be released on CD; however, there's this one guy who's made the album available as an mp3 download (and Zach's version of "Monster Mash" by itself is here).

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