Vintage scary vinyl and chill, anyone? It’s time to turn off the lights, light a candle or two and take a spooky trip down memory lane…
2018 has been another terrifying year, and there’s no shortage of slick, modern, spooky stuff to watch in theaters or on television this Halloween season — (hi, if you haven’t seen Episode 6 of The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix get on that, stat) — but… if you’re anything like me and are a fan of a good old-fashioned, retro, old-school scare, then you’ll get a delightfully creepy thrill via this blast from the past. I’m talking about vintage vinyl records designed to scare the bejeebus out of kids (and adults): Scary Spooky Stories (1973) and Halloween Horrors (1977).
Sure, many of us horror kids first cut our teeth on traumatic cinematic gems like the made-for-tv mini-series version of Stephen King’s IT back in 1990, or dark Disney fantasy horrors such as Return to Oz (1985) or Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983). And who can forget the collection of terrifying tales told in Alvin Schwartz’ “children’s” book, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981) featuring the unforgettably frightful illustrations of Stephen Gammell (and which Guillermo Del Toro is *supposedly* (hopefully!) adapting into a film(?).
But, for a certain lucky set of children (including me), one of the earliest horror memories we have is listening to a spooky as hell scratchy vinyl recording of a man’s voice narrating terrifying takes like ‘The Skinny Toe’, ‘The Dare’ and ‘Wait ‘Til Martin Comes’, as featured in the long lost classic record SCARY SPOOKY STORIES (1973).
In fact, one wonders if Alvin Schwartz’ Scary Stories book series may have even been influenced by the Scary Spooky Stories record, as many of the same folklore and urban legend inspired stories are told in both works, albeit with slight variations.
Released by Troll Associates, Scary Spooky Stories was adapted by Cherney Berg, who was known for producing a 1950’s show called The Goldbergs. The 1973 LP was the first in a series of 4 spooky records released by Troll Associates, and featured the voices of actors Ralph Bell, Robert Dryden and Dan Ocko, along with appropriately spooky sound effects like creaking doors and floorboards, howling wind, and crackling fireplaces, and music by Jim Timmens, who was also a key contributor on Sesame Street Records for over a decade.
While I don’t have my old copy of Scary Spooky Stories from when I was a wee bebe lying around, thanks to the wonders of modern technology (aka YouTube) you can listen to some of its stories right here.
PLEASE NOTE: Scary Spooky Stories is best listened to late at night (close to midnight is best), in the dark, close to Halloween (or on Halloween) with only candlelight / firelight (and your computer screen, I suppose) to light your way. A thunderstorm outside would be ideal, but I know there’s only so much you can do. Ok, get ready to be spooked!
THE SKINNY TOE:
WAIT ‘TIL MARTIN COMES:
So, if you haven’t already died of fright, let’s revisit another seasonally fitting vintage LP to chill your bones, HALLOWEEN HORRORS (1977).
Halloween Horrors was released by A&M records and was unique in that its side A featured a 14-minute long haunted house tale which was set on Halloween night, and its B side, The Sounds of Halloween, featured a bunch of spooky halloween sound effects like screams, cackling, thunder and lightning, bats, cats and more. Handy stuff to have on hand this time of year! Here are both sides, for your listening pleasure. Careful now, don’t scare yourselves to death!
Side A: STORY – HALLOWEEN HORROR
Side B: THE SOUNDS OF HALLOWEEN