Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Performed by Dominik Hauser, John Beal, Chuck Cirino, Dennis McCarthy, Joohyun Park, Brian Hacksaw Williams, Victoria De Mare, Charles Fernandez
I admit, I’m gullible. Every year around Halloween since I was a kid, I’d be walking down the aisle at the supermarket or at my local music shop and find what promised to be the ultimate horror soundtrack collection all in one disk, just in time for Halloween. And every year, I’d plunk down my hard-earned (through lawn mowing) money and race home with my new music in hand, waiting to be thrilled by the scores from some of my favorite movies. And every year, I’d be sorely disappointed. One might think I would learn. But when Halloween Horror Hits showed up in my mailbox, I was hopeful. Maybe this was the one. Maybe this one will make up for more than thirty years of dashed hopes. Maybe this collection will be the gold standard, by which all others are judged. But nope, that’s not the case.
As with most other compilations, Halloween Horror Hits contains classic horror themes from film and television (it says so on the cover). But, also like the majority of comp discs, those themes are not the originals that we horror fans grew up with and cherish. Instead, what we get is synthesizer-castrated themes that are cheesy enough to make a grown man weep openly for the child inside him who dies a little with every note. Lets start with where this collection went horribly wrong.
Of the collections twenty-five tracks, most of the tracks lack the passion and power that made them classics to begin with. From the opening track, the theme from Halloween, listeners get an idea of what they’re in for. Its cheesy introduction is at least passable, especially when compared to the non-performance of the treasured nursery rhyme from A Nightmare on Elm Street (which sounds like a bunch of bad cartoon mice on too much Red Bull). Carol Anne’s theme from Poltergeist is also painful to listen to because the thing that made it so chilling and eerie, the children’s choir, has been reduced to a single mature voice. Then there are other tracks that are so stripped of their identities that to even identify them with movies does an injustice to the people who wrote the original scores. Take, for example, track twenty-five, the main theme to The Shining. Reducing that brooding orchestral arrangement to a synth-solo with a slightly faster tempo and some electronic sweeps in it does nothing but insult horror fans. And for the ultimate in blasphemy, one only need to hear the CD’s rendition of the theme to Tales from the Crypt. However, one track that will cause ire and possibly protests is the Brian “Hacksaw” Williams cover of the True Blood signature “Bad Things,” which sounds like someone’s drunk uncle Charlie on a karaoke machine. There are also the requisite butchered versions of the themes to both The Addams Family and The Munsters.
Now, before it sounds like this disc should only be used as a shiny coaster or for target practice, there are a couple of tracks that bear mentioning. One of the biggest surprises was the haunted organ music from The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, which actually sounded very close to the original recording. Another is a passable version of “The Gonk” from the original Dawn of the Dead. It was also surprising to see “Looking for a Trade” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show sequel, Shock Treatment included, and the cheesiness of “Come to Me” from Fright Night is every bit as greasy as it was in the film, so I’d take that one as a success, though I can’t imagine why anyone would want to play it at their Halloween party.
For the most part, the music on this CD set brings to mind the image of Pinhead, Michael Meyers, and Jason Voorhees if they were standing, patiently, waiting for an elevator. Had the collection intentionally been this bad, it might have worked from a comedic standpoint. However, if a person is looking for that collection of wonderful horror music, this isn’t it. Fans of music would be better off looking for a copy of The Definitive Horror Music Collection.
- The Fog
- Christine – Car Obsession/Attack/Plymouth
- The Thing
- Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift – Trailer Music
- Dawn of the Dead - The Gonk
- Poltergeist – Carol Anne’s Theme
- A Nightmare on Elm Street
- HBO’s Tales from the Crypt
- The Nightmare Before Christmas – Overture
- The Nightmare Before Christmas - This is Halloween
- Psycho II
- The New Outer Limits
- True Blood – Bad Things
- True Blood – Love Theme
- Fright Night – Come To Me
- Suite from Transylvania Twist
- Shock Treatment – Looking for a Trade
- The Return of the Living Dead – Tonight
- The Addams Family
- The Munsters
- The Ghost and Mr. Chicken - The Haunted Organ
- Warlock – The Sentence
- The Shining
1 out of 5
Discuss Halloween Horror Hits in the space below!