Countdown Completed! IT’S HALLOWEEN!!!


The big day is here, the Great Punkin is loose in the night, and here on the Dork Forty… I’m afraid our month-long celebration is going to end with a whimper instead of a bang. Due to some WordPress issues, I’m not able to post videos tonight. So our big Halloween mix-tape ends with last night’s Tom Waits marathon. But I’ve still got some pictures for you, so… Let the (somewhat subdued) Halloweenie celebrations begin!

click to embiggen

Aaaanndd… I can’t let the evening go by without at least one song. Even though I can’t post videos, I can post links to them, so…

I’ve been trying to avoid the Halloween standards, the stuff you hear on every compilation on the market. Nothing against those songs, of course, but it’s good to get a rest from them every once in a while. But tonight, I ran across an alternate take on one of those songs so different from the original that it’s well-worth a listen. So click below, and enjoy the unreleased alternate version of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell On You.”

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – I Put a Spell On You (Alternate Take)

BONUS HALLOWEEN ALTERNATIVE!! These links are a bit disappointing, but I’m going to share one more with you anyway. The father of all horror movie hosts (and the Dork Forty King of Halloween) is Zacherley (aka John Zacherle). His fame rose to such a high level in the late 1950s that Zacherley released a hit record. “Dinner With Drac” was a sensation, but the popular released version of the song was actually not the original. It was a toned-down, cleaned-up re-recording suggested by Dick Clark (then an influential rock DJ and personal friend of Zacherley). Deemed too gruesome for mainstream America, the original recording was relegated to a seldom-heard B-Side. But it kicks the official version’s ass, from its awesomely weird lyrics to one of the hotter guitar licks of the era. It’s been a favorite of mine since childhood, and it’s well-worth a click if you’ve never heard it.

Zacherley – Dinner With Drac

Countdown to Halloween, Day 30: An Evening with Mister Tom Waits


Earlier this month, I called Tom Waits the poet laureate of Halloween. That’s not a title I bestow lightly…

click to embiggen, and see how serious HE takes it.

…so tonight, I thought I’d get on the stick…

…and give you a whole raft of spooky-ass Tom Waits songs, just to demonstrate how Halloweenie he really is.

I mean, with the things that come out of this man’s head…

…you’d think he was the Devil himself.

 

Our first song comes from the album Rain Dogs, and warms things up with an appropriate Halloween dance, the “Cemetery Polka.”

 

Next up, a cheerful little spoken word piece entitled “The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me.”

 

That last song came from the album Bone Machine, which Waits has described specifically as being his “Halloween album.” So it’s only right that we take another track from that same album: “The Earth Died Screaming,” accompanied by scenes from the movie of the same name.

 

Next up, a disquieting instrumental from The Black Rider album, “Oily Night.”

 

And now another spoken word piece (What? I DID say he was the poet laureate of Halloween, after all). This one’s a portrait of paranoia… or maybe something far more sinister… From the Mule Variations album, it’s “What’s He Building?”

 

Just lighten the mood a little after that, here’s “God’s Away on Business” from Blood Money… As performed (visually, anyway) by the Cookie Monster…

 

And just to help you take Mister Waits seriously again after that… It’s “Watch Her Disappear” from the album Alice. Many of the songs from this album were inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and the author’s relationship with the real-life Alice. Which makes this already-creepy-ass piece that much creepier…

 

Picking the tempo back up, we move on to “Little Drop of Poison,” released by Waits on his three-disc Orphans compilation, but originally featured on the soundtrack to Shrek 2 (thus, I’m sure, becoming many impressionable children’s first exposure to Our Halloween Hero).

 

Also from Orphans (on the “Bastards” disc) comes “First Kiss.” Another spoken word piece, this one’s simultaneously creepy and playful, always a good combo in my book…

 

Switching gears yet again, we move on to a noisy bellower from Real Gone, “Don’t Go Into That Barn.” Good advice this time of year.

 

There’s lots more spooky Tom Waits music out there, of course, but we’ve got to stop somewhere. And so finally… The Dork Forty and Mister Tom Waits would like to remind you that creepy-time doesn’t end with Halloween. Because “November” has plenty of gloom waiting for us, too…

Countdown to Halloween, Day 29: TV Sets and Other Crampy Delights


I’ve always thought of the Cramps as Halloween’s Own Punk Band. I mean, the Misfits are certainly devoted to horror rock, but the Cramps, man… They’ve got the whole Halloweenie package. They were the inventers of psychobilly, after all, embracing not only the monster movie flair…

…but also the supernatural…

…the edge-of-sanity weirdness…

…and the down-and-dirty sleaze of it all.

Plus, their first “greatest hits” album featured 3D cover art!

Has any other band ever embraced Halloween greatness so completely? The Cramps were so great, in fact, that it’s hard to pick just one song for our virtual Halloween mix-tape. So I’m gonna give you two.

First, my personal favorite: “TV Set” in all its low-fi glory, as heard on the album Songs the Lord Taught Us.

And second, a rarity: the Cramps doing a live cover of Zacherley’s “Dinner With Drac.”

 

BONUS CRAMPS!! Here’s a full 40-minute Cramps live set from 1979, just three years after they formed:

And if that ain’t enough Cramps for ya… Well, hell. Here’s an hour-long set from the other end of their career: 2006, just three years before lead singer Lux Interior passed away…

Countdown to Halloween, Day 28: The Three Shadows, Part Two


I’ve had a long, slow, headachey day today, so tonight’s addition to our on-going virtual Halloween mix-tape is just a simple mood piece. First, some ominous skies photographed by a friend of mine…

…and Bauhaus with a quietly evil bedtime story:

Countdown to Halloween, Day 27: The Three Faces of Morticia


In the last of our Halloween tributes to sexy dead girls, we take a look at the deathly ravishing Morticia Addams, TV’s OTHER great Monster Mom (I was going to say Monster MILF again, but then I found out that’s actually a thing; sometimes, Urban Dictionary is as much a curse as a blessing).

Morticia (Tish to her devoted Gomez) was perhaps best-defined by her creator, Charles Addams:

But she really came to life for most people in the person of Carolyn Jones, who played her on the original Addams Family TV series from 1964-66:

Though visually stunning, Jones’ Morticia wasn’t allowed to be the femme fatale that Addams intended. Sanitized for television into a simple “Macabre Mom” figure, she was left as something of a cypher. Aside from her cultured hobbies, penchant for monster gardening, and ability to drive her husband mad with desire… There wasn’t a lot to her.

That changed a bit when the Addamses were revived for two feature films in the early 90s, and Morticia was brought to life once again by Anjelica Huston.

Huston’s Morticia had that formidable edge Charles Addams had envisioned, and an icy sensuality to boot. There was a whiff of graveyard sex about her, and a sense that her relationship with Gomez was as debauched (though charmingly so) as it was passionate.

We love all three Morticias here on the Dork Forty, of course, but if I had to pick a personal favorite, I think I’d have to go wth Anjelica Huston. Why? Well… At the risk of revealing too much… Let’s just say that I’ve often found her Addams Family to be a good date movie, and leave it at that.

Ahem. That being said… Tonight’s addition to our virtual Halloween mix tape is all about Carolyn Jones. Because the theme to her 1960s Addams Family series is not only a Halloween staple I never get tired of, it’s also the weirdest, herky-jerkiest, most unlikely ear worm you’re ever likely to be subjected to. Enjoy!

Countdown to Halloween, Day 26: The Ghosts of New Orleans


Tonight’s topic: GHOSTS!

Picture #1: Funnybook ghost!

Just ’cause he’s weird and awesome.

Picture #2: A fine piece of 19th century trick photography– I mean… An amazing ghost picture from the early days of the photographic arts. Because of course it’s real! Can’t you see how terrified that man is?!

I understand that he dropped dead immediately after this picture was taken, and was then eaten by a rabid horde of vaporous musk rats.

Picture #3: Every bit as real as the last one! Disney technician– I mean, Ghost Wrangler– Yale Gracey tests out the Hatbox Ghost in the Haunted Mansion ride to make sure the ghost head doesn’t get loose and gnaw at the ankles of unsuspecting tourists.

Note his steely determination.

And finally, our song: “The Ghosts of New Orleans” by Ballboy.

Countdown to Halloween, Day 25: This is My Last Song About Satan


Much as we love all the various ghouls and ghosts of the Halloween season, let’s face it: the holiday’s real king-daddy, the man with the evil plan… is Satan.

He’ll lick your soul apart!

Yes, the fundamentalists were right: beneath all the candy and mischief and innocent spooky fun, Halloween is all about the devil. Old Scratch himself. The Great Deceiver.  Corrupter of virgin flesh…

click for embiggened defilement

…leader of strange rituals…

Man, no matter how many cults I join, there’s always a naked fat guy!

…and all-around source of everything that makes Halloween interesting and fun.

Really, it’s an evil holiday. No one should celebrate it. Certainly not with 31 straight days of Halloweenie goodness. Every time I make one of these posts, I bet the Devil laughs. The Devil laughs, and an angel gets its throat cut, streaming bloody rain down upon the heads of innocent children. Then I bet the Devil laughs some more. He just seems like that kinda guy.

So tonight I thought I’d teach ol’ Satan a lesson. Laugh all you want, you red-assed bastard! Because even though I’m so helpless before my love of your evil holiday that I can’t stop myself from spreading tasty Halloween corruption across the interwebs, those clever lads in the pentecostal goth outfit Slim Cessna’s Auto Club have concocted a song about kicking the evil habit. And so we are saved.

 

BONUS SATAN!! All the pictures above were taken from the 1922 Danish silent film Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages. Based in part on The Malleus Maleficarum (a bedtime favorite here on the Dork Forty), Häxan is a documentary…

…slash exploitation film…

…about the history of witchcraft and the superstitions associated with it. Superstitions which, as you can see, are rather sensationally dramatized for your edification and amusement. Though banned in the US for its nudity and depictions of sexual perversion, it’s actually a rather thoughtful piece arguing that what people of past centuries thought was evidence of witchcraft and demonic possession was most likely insanity in its various forms. It’s a familiar argument now, of course, but not so much in 1922.

The film was rediscovered in the 1960s, and a shortened version was released with a jazz score and narration by none other than William S. Burroughs. And that version is available to watch in its entirety below. It’s heavy on the sensationalism, of course, but that’s not a bad thing. Those sequences are some of the weirdest, most enthusiastically-acted horror movie Satanism scenes ever, and the jazz score puts them right over the top into David Lynch territory. So enjoy.

Countdown to Halloween, Day 23: Skullcrusher Mountain


Halloween Mix-Tape! Day 23! Mad Science! And love!

Pretorius! Who was all about the love that cannot be named!

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Frankenstein! Who created life without the benefit of love!

click to embiggen

And of course my personal favorite…

Phibes! Who lived, died, and killed for love! In as many bizarre ways as possible!

click to embiggen

Oh, and lest we forget… Coulton! Whose song “Skullcrusher Mountain” was the unofficial song of my best friend’s wedding, and just happens to be tonight’s entry in our on-going virtual Halloween mix-tape!

 

Countdown to Halloween, Day 22: Creep(er)


On the list of all-time greatest horror movie icons, the name Rondo Hatton probably ranks pretty high. He was never a star the caliber of Karloff, Lugosi, or Vincent Price; in fact, he ultimately made only a handful of seldom-seen B pictures, typically playing some variation of a character called The Creeper. But Rondo had one thing going for him that those pretty boys couldn’t claim: he didn’t need makeup.

click to embiggen … if you dare!

It wasn’t always that way, though: Hatton was actually voted handsomest boy in his high school class. But later in life he suffered from acromegaly, a disorder of the pituitary gland that causes abnormal growth (especially in the face), leaving the patient deformed. He was working as a journalist when the condition set in, and was eventually discovered by a Hollywood talent scout looking for a guy with an ugly mug. After doing a series of bit parts (including one as a guy who loses an “Ugly Man” competition to Charles Laughton’s Hunchback of Notre Dame), Hatton played the Hoxton Creeper in a Sherlock Holmes movie, and pretty much spent the rest of his career in that role.

(click to embiggen)

(The above image of Rondo as The Creeper was, as you can see, blatantly stolen from Monster Kid Online. It’s a neat little vintage horror zine in the style of Forrest J. Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland, and they have a ton of awesome desktop images like this one. Go check ‘em out, so I won’t feel quite as bad about stealing their pretty picture…)

At any rate… Obviously, I’m a fan. There’s just something about that face. I’ve got a Rondo Hatton t-shirt (essentially that top picture of him with the contrast turned all the way up), and I seldom wear it without somebody asking me who he is. Why? Well, he’s fascinatingly ugly, yes, but I think there’s more to it than that. The scary brutish qualities are somehow undercut with an element of vulnerability that draws people in. He’s one of the all-time great movie faces, and I’m always happy to let people know about him.

Now, before we get to our song for tonight, here’s two more shots of Our Hero. One, almost a Rondo glamour shot…

…and the other a rare picture capturing his playful side:

I like to think of it as his Tiger Beat picture.

Whatta guy! No wonder they named the horror awards after him!

And what better song for The Creeper, I thought, than Radiohead’s “Creep”?

Then I listened to that clean studio version for the first time in a long time, and realized that I’ve evidently been listening to a far rawer live version for the past 18 years, one that fits with the desperate outsider vibe of Rondo’s Creeper a lot better. I haven’t quite been able to find that version on the YouTubes, but here’s one that captures the vibe a little better:

Unfortunately incomplete, but still much better. Love the harshness of the guitars. Now, THAT’S a song that’ll eat your face off.

But… will it eat your face off because you made an unflattering statue of it…

…and then enter into a long, slow, self-destructive spiral that ends in a messy murder-suicide? MmmmmmnnI don’t think so. For that, I think we’ve gotta go deeper. Like, maybe to Miss Amanda Palmer, and her awesomely screechy, super-creeped-out cover of the song… played on the ukelele.