The last time I checked this was a fucking shindig.
But what is a shindig, exactly?
Well, Merriam-Webster defines shindig as follows:
a social gathering with dancing
a usually large or lavish party
Google definitions had this to add:
a large, lively party, especially one celebrating something.
Now, if you listen to any of the turkeys over at Urban Dictionary, they’d all have you believe a shindig is a small affair, consisting of anywhere from 5 to 20 people. One bozo even suggests it can contain no more than 12!
That’s why Webster’s is Webster’s and these idiot kids are logged into Urban Dictionary from their mom’s laptop.
No one better try curtailing our shindig, particularly not because some dildo in the cafeteria uses it improperly. No, we’re going definitive with our socially lavish and lively gathering that’s celebrating something.
And around here, that something is Halloween, which encompasses jack-o-Lanterns, trick or tricking and and all sorts of spooky shit of a generalized nature. That definitely includes Monsters.
From Hanna-Barbera’s 1965 record of the same name, Monster Shindig looks to muscle in on Boris Pickett’s racket by throwing their characters Super-Snooper and Blabber Mouse into the mix, stumbling upon just this type of haunted jamboree.
The cat and mouse team doesn’t show up in the song however, leaving this bizarro tune free to roam around the streets on Halloween night.
So, lets have a party…big big big and kick-off the second half of our playlist right, with another kind of shindig, performed here by Danny Hutton, who some of you may know as one third of Three Dog Night.
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.
Since we all know and have just addressed with whom you’ll contact over telephone wires should it become apparent that you in fact have harmful apparitions approaching, let’s task listeners with a similar question:
Yeah, but who do you call when you have Monsters?
That’s right and at last we come to The Monster Squad. From the very first CD in 2002, The Monster Squad has been a permanent fixture of Halloween Shindig and remains one of my favorite selections on the playlist.
Granted, I may be a bit biased but this song is representing hard. Let’s check the stats:
Is it about a horror movie?
Check, it’s about the goddamn Monster Squad.
Ah, yes, but is it in the movie?
In it? Motherfucker, it’s the Title Track. Triple check that shit.
We talkin’ bout Monsters?
Fuck yeah we are. It’s like a goddamn monster mash up in this motherfucker. Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon. That’s the big five, son. Throw in some sexy vampire chicks, a grotesque bat transformation and a werewolf exploding out of the sky and you’ve got some real monster shit on lock. Check + to Monster Song.
What more could you ask for? Well, they even mention Halloween too. Sure, it’s to illustrate how this ain’t Halloween (or some phony deal) but we’ll just look that other way on that one. They say Halloween and damn it if that ain’t all that matters sometimes.
Now all of that sounds like a Referentially Inclusive Monster Halloween Title Track to me, gang. That’s Great Pumpkin status right there.
And it’s a Monster Rap to boot? Holy shit, is there anything this song can’t do?
One of the most ridiculous tracks you can imagine, The Monster Squad was suspiciously recorded by some anonymous collective of Hip-Hop Demigods that chose to remain nameless. What?!
Why the hell anyone would elect to do this is so far beyond the scope of my imagination it boarders on madness. If I was responsible for this song I’d put it on every job application I ever filled out.
2 years as an Assistant Hanger Inspector for Sears and Roebuck.
4 months as a Substitute Wigsmith at The Downtown Clownery.
Oh yeah and I wrote the motherfucking Monster Squad Rap. What’s up?
From a time when everyone thought something like this was a really great idea, The Monster Squad (for anyone thinking otherwise) is a really great idea.
It’s is pretty whack? Yeah, I guess so. If you wanna be a jerk about it.
Is it poorly conceived and equally executed? Yeah, I suppose I’d have to concede that fact too, if you really want this to be a frank discussion about musical integrity.
But fuck that discussion and fuck you for wanting it pal, cause this song fucking rules. It’s a rap song about a group of kids fighting The Universal Monsters. Oh, did you not catch that? It’s a rap song about a group of kids fighting The Universal Monsters. Whomever is responsible for this song should be a cultural icon. They should have a fucking Grammy and an Academy Award.
Instead, (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing took the honor that year. All right, fair enough. Maybe that’s a better song, but it lacks the lyric:
“We don’t wanna hang with the walking dead, so we gotta kick some monster butt instead.”
What’s up now, Academy of Arts and Sciences?
Looking into this travesty further, I discovered the competition that year was actually pretty stiff. Check this shit out:
Damn, that’s a solid 80’s line-up right there. Maybe I spoke too soon. Still, it should have been nominated at the absolute least. Who the hell is still talking about Cry Freedom 26 years later?
No one, that’s who.
But I digress.
An interesting side note to this song: the original version I had on the 2002 CD was pulled from my old VHS copy of Monster Squad. Incidentally, this was later signed by Tom Woodruff Jr.
Check it out ——->
This version contained the line:
“First came Dracula, now the Wolfman too, The Mummy and the Gillman swimming in the pool.”
What? Why did that roll call just fall the fuck apart?
Hear that sample below.
I always thought this was a pretty strange and horrendous line, particularly when they could have just as simply said “and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.”
But I guess they couldn’t say “and the Creature from the Black Lagoon,” for the home video release. Damn copyrights.
All things considered, that’s not a bad save. Syllabically sound, it even sort of rhymes, at least no more or less than the original false rhyme. But damn is it silly. Why is he in the pool? Did I miss a scene where he climbs out of a pool? Why did he just say that?
Upon upgrading the tune for better quality many years later when The Monster Squad finally saw a DVD release, I noticed the line was suddenly changed to “and the Creature From The Black Lagoon” and I thought “Shit, that must have been the original lyric. How about that.” Now, I just feel sort of nostalgic for the old, butchered scab.
But I’ve spoken too verbosely about all of this as is, so let’s just make with the goods, huh?
One of my favorite songs on the playlist from one of my favorite movies of all time. Here it is….The Monster Squad.
Great Pumpkins are few and far between, so to stick two so close together is indicative of the kind of block where in here toward the center of our hallowed playlist.
At last count there were four total; two tried and true Halloween Pumpkins, one Monster Song Pumpkin and another by way of Devilish Track. That’s the bases covered, doubly so in that The Monster Squad is also a Monster Rap.
This one though, this one is the gold standard. This is the one which inspired the category. This is the one by which all the others are measured, and even they fall short of the Shindiggery on display here. If the playlist had its own theme, it would probably be this song.
It’s not necessarily may favorite song on the Shindig (though it would definitely be up there), nor do I mean to suggest it is the best, but it’s so exemplary of what this playlist is all about that it beggars belief. Horror Movies, the music from them, the referential Rock ‘N Roll about them and of course Halloween, all succinctly served in a 4 minute sonic stew.
Is it any surprise that such a song should come from 45 Grave? Not to this guy it doesn’t, and when i first heard it back in 2010 my jaw dropped and I immediately shouted “Holy shit does this song need to be on the playlist.”
But because nothing could be that perfect, naturally, there’s a catch. In this case (and it’s perhaps a bit of my own prejudice rising to the surface) it is the caveat that the song is that comes from the the Night of the Demons remake. Which is a solid soundtrack, to be sure, but a terrible remake. Moreover, it was a terrible movie in its own right. However. as a remake to one of my favorite Halloween movies of all time, it’s even worse.
So, to balance out that factor, I’ve book-ended it with samples from the original, because, how could I not? This song could have been on the original soundtrack. It should have been. So let’s just pretend it was.
And with that, 45 Grave and I invite you to drink, get stoned and party all night, for the demons come alive on Halloween.
Vincent Price is awesome. I’m not really sure how else to put it. I could use words like “extraordinary,” or “singular,” or even “eminent,” but they all just sound like “awesome” to me.
Another, even more appropriate word, might be “iconic.” Having starred in over 40 genre pictures, Mr. Price, though not exclusive to horror (having appeared in almost 200 film and television productions) has left his indelible mark on the world of the macabre.
Simply anchoring some of my all-time favorite horror films, including The House on Haunted Hill, The Masque of the Red Death, and The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Vincent Price already equals horror. And that’s not even mentioning The Tingler, The Raven, Last Man on Earth, House of Wax, The Pit and the Pendulum, Witchfinder General or The Fly. You get the idea.
Even outside the sphere of horror, Price still owns my loyalty, adding his distinctive flare to Egghead, one of my favorite villains from one of my favorite shows ever, the old Batman series.
Again, that’s not even to speak of his radio work, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo, his Sears-Roebuck sponsored Fine Art Collection, The Great Mouse Detective, Dead Heat, Edward Scissorhands, and this absolutely insane album of him talking about witchcraft and the demons. I’ll type that again just in case your breezed passed it: Vincent Price recorded a 90 minute spoken word album all about witchcraft and it’s fucking incredible.
His credits even include a stint on Hollywood Squares. Seriously?
So iconic is Vincent that he appears on the Shindig at least 3 times without any intervention from my sampling hand. Bands who wanted to sound spooky tapped Vincent for that little extra something sinister. Never a bad decision.
The first example of this is from none other than Alice Cooper, no stranger to the sinister himself. Price leads in Track 82, The Black Widow from Cooper’s 1975 album Welcome to My Nightmare.
As if that wasn’t enough, Price also starred in the corresponding television special which followed the album entitled Alice Cooper: The Nightmare, where he reprises this monologue, in perfect Price fashion, almost identically.
Vincent Price may have passed, but among horror fans he will live on forever, ritualistically resurrected with each push of the play button. And as for the Shindig, his extraordinarily singular and eminent voice can be heard all over it.