As a follow-up to Saturday’s “2014 Halloween Playlist” post, I wanted to clarify the last item on the list — the great Pat Travers live performance of his classic cover of “Boom, Boom (Out Go the Lights).”

I can almost hear you saying… “Wait… What? I can see the other songs on the list, but Pat? And last on the list? The heck?”

Before I get into its humorous reasons for inclusion here, let’s take a moment to address the controversy surrounding the lyrical content of the song. I do know this song has a dark origin. I do not condone that. Stan Lewis wrote the tune for Chess Records and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Little Walter had the first recording. The blues often had dark themes and so many songs are about some pretty awful stuff. That’s true here. I can only guess that Travers was ignoring all of that and only saw it as an opportunity to spur some awesome audience participation and shred the hell out of that guitar with an old blues rocker. Both of which are here in spades. OK? OK.

Back to the list. Why DID this song make it on and why does it have the honor of being in the final spot, wrapping the list?

Well, intrepid horror fans, that is a sacred Johnson Family Halloween tradition.

What is the universal sign for “we’re not home” or “we’re not open for business” on All Hallows’ Eve? Every kid knows that one without even thinking. Lights out.

Lights out? No one’s coming to THAT door. No candy. No deal.

The tradition started when we were living in a neighborhood famous for being awesome for trick or treating. We went through 15 bags of candy in the first two hours and we had already made an emergency run to the store. Crazy. The conversation went something like this ::

“At 9PM… ‘Boom, Boom…”

“Boom, Boom?”

“Yeah… Out go the lights. We can’t keep this up. We have to close up shop. I’m not going to the store again.”

“Why ‘Boom, Boom?'”


“Oh yeah! Totally!”

Annnnd, so it began. We played it that night and it’s been on every Halloween mix CD or playlist since. Get out the air guitar, ghouls, and make it your new Halloween tradition.



As one might imagine… This time of year is “my jam.” Of course, I’m talking about Halloween season. Since a wee lad, I have just loved it, plain and simple. Though I do as much as I can to keep the spirit alive throughout the year, I’m totally “high on Halloween” for the entire month of October and every day, I try to celebrate the season in some way.

One small way I do that is through the power of music. Each year, I create a Halloween playlist that is in pretty darn solid rotation for the full month of October. From year to year, many of the same songs are carried forward. Some may fall off the list for a year or two. They’re not all “Halloween songs,” but they all have a tie, lyrically, stylistically or in name to the dark end of things.

I thought I would share this year’s playlist here at TSFP. Enjoy!


I Have a Message for You ………. John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

Kingdom’s Coming ………. Bauhaus

This Is Halloween ………. The Citizens of Halloween

Be Comfortable, Creature ………. Explosions In The Sky

Hunting For Witches ………. Bloc Party

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper ………. Blue Öyster Cult

Game Of Death Theme Song ………. Buckethead

Monster Mash ………. Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers

Masked Ball (1999 Extended Mix) ………. Jocelyn Pook

The Ghost of Tom Joad ………. Bruce Springsteen

Zombie ………. The Cranberries

Sukie In the Graveyard ………. Belle & Sebastian

Godzilla ………. Blue Öyster Cult

Zed’s Dead, Baby [Dialogue] ………. Bruce Willis/Centurian/Maria De Medeiros

Prince of Darkness ………. The City of Prague Philharmonic

Dracula From Houston ………. Butthole Surfers

Instrumental ………. Caitlin Moe

This Is Not a Dream ………. John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

Crossbones Style ………. Cat Power

Main Title (From “A Nightmare On Elm Street”) ………. Charles Bernstein

The Thing ………. The City of Prague Philharmonic

Rock N’ Roll Murder ………. The Chesterfield Kings

Spider ………. Alain Johannes

Death Scene ………. Chuck Mangione

Reptile ………. The Church

The Exorcist – Tubular Bells ………. Crouch End Festival Chorus & The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra

Werewolves of London ………. Warren Zevon

Danse macabre, symphonic poem in G minor, Op. 40 ………. Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel

Straight To Hell ………. The Clash

Main Theme (From “Halloween II”) ………. The City of Prague Philharmonic

Siege and Investiture of Baron Von Frankenstein’s Castle at Wwisseria ………. Blue Oyster Cult

Kiss Me Deadly ………. The Brian Setzer Orchestra

Theme from The Twilight Zone ………. Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel

Darkness On The Edge Of Town ………. Bruce Springsteen

Nightmare On Elm Street – Main Theme ………. The City of Prague Philharmonic

Divinity Theme ………. Craig Armstrong & AR Rahman

Psycho – Main Theme / the Murder / Finale (Short Suite) ………. The City of Prague Philharmonic

Death Is A Star ………. The Clash

Ed Wood (Main Title) ………. City Of Prague Orchestra

Granite Mills ………. Cordelia’s Dad

New Twilight Zone Theme Closing ………. Bernard Herrmann

George Collins ………. Cordelia’s Dad

Spiritwalker ………. The Cult

Lullaby ………. The Cure

Organ Donor ………. DJ Shadow

One Foot In The Graveyard ………. The Chesterfield Kings

Cat People (Putting Out Fire) ………. David Bowie

Dr. Who on Holiday ………. Dean Gray

Spirit In The Sky ………. Doctor And The Medics

Main Title ………. Bernard Herrmann

Peace Frog ………. The Doors

Bodies ………. Drowning Pool

Bring Out the Gimp [Dialogue]/Comanche ………. Duane Whitaker/Peter Green/Revels

If I Had a Heart ………. Fever Ray

North By Northwest (Theme) ………. The Flemish Radio Orchestra

Tales from the Crypt Theme ………. Freeminstrel

The Carpet Crawlers 1999 ………. Genesis

Alfred Hitchcock Presents ………. The City of Prague Philharmonic

How To Be Eaten By A Woman ………. The Glitch Mob

Opening Credits ………. John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

Christine ………. John Carpenter & Splash Band

Twilight Zone ………. Golden Earring

Chasing Ghosts With Alcohol ………. Gomez

intro ………. gorillaz

Dig Your Grave ………. Modest Mouse

Sympathy for the Devil ………. Guns N’ Roses

Fur Elise – Beethoven Halloween Metal/Rock Guitar ………. The Halloween Machine

Grim, Grinning Ghosts ………. The Haunted Mansion

All You Zombies ………. The Hooters

A Message from the Future ………. John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

Creep (Live) ………. Ingrid Michaelson

Die ………. Iron & Wine

Organs On The Kitchen Floor ………. The Jealous Girlfriends

Eternal Life ………. Jeff Buckley

The Addams Family Theme ………. Freeminstrel

People Who Died ………. Jim Carroll

Ave Satani (From “The Omen”) ………. Jerry Goldsmith

In the Hall of the Mountain King (featured In Fritz Lang’s “M”) ………. Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra

Demon John ………. Jeff Buckley

The End (Assault On Precinct 13) [Pt. 1: Disco Version] ………. John Carpenter

O Fortuna ………. The City of Prague Philharmonic & Crouch End Festival Chorus

Ghost ………. Michael Jackson

Theme (From “Halloween”) ………. John Carpenter

Demon Prince ………. Kreator

The Fear ………. Lily Allen

Halloween Parade ………. Lou Reed

I’ve Committed Murder ………. Macy Gray

Dress Me Like A Clown ………. Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s

This Is Halloween ………. Marilyn Manson

Thriller ………. Michael Jackson

H3 – Season of the Witch (Re-Mastered) ………. John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

Every Day Is Halloween ………. Ministry

Satin In A Coffin ………. Modest Mouse

Spooky ………. Money Mark

First of the Gang to Die ………. Morrissey

God Bless the Children of the Beast ………. Mötley Crüe

Hedwig’s Lament ………. Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Exquisite Corpse ………. Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Black Magic Woman ………. Santana

Lunatic Fringe ………. Red Rider

Psycho Killer ………. Talking Heads

Hell ………. Squirrel Nut Zippers

Cemetry Gates ………. The Smiths

Shrinking Universe ………. Muse

Dark Entries ………. Bauhaus

Season of the Witch ………. Donovan

Ghost Riders in the Sky ………. The Outlaws

Transformers Theme ………. Mutemath

The Siege of Justiceville ………. John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

Two-Headed Boy ………. Neutral Milk Hotel

Dyin’ to Live ………. OutKast

A Night On Bald Mountain (Featured In “Fantasia”) ………. New Symphony Orchestra of London & Sir Adrian Boult

Matchstick Murder ………. Tristen

Evil Woman ………. Parthenon Huxley

Oblivion ………. Patrick Wolf

Eyes of a Stranger (Original Full Length Version) ………. Payolas

I See Monsters ………. Phil Roy

Bad Businessman ………. Squirrel Nut Zippers

Penelope ………. Pinback

Spirits In the Material World ………. The Police

Dark Angel ………. Public Enemy ft. MC Lyte

Hangin’ Tree ………. Queens Of The Stone Age

Ghostbusters ………. Ray Parker Jr

The Horror ………. RJD2

All Die Young ………. Smith Westerns

Road Zombie ………. Social Distortion

The Munsters (Theme from the Munsters) ………. Soundtrack & Theme Orchestra

They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh! ………. Sufjan Stevens

The Ghost Of You Lingers ………. Spoon

Ghost of Stephen Foster ………. Squirrel Nut Zippers

Abracadabra ………. Steve Miller Band

Under Cover of Darkness ………. The Strokes

O Death ………. Tim Eriksen

Demon Host ………. Timber Timbre

Paint It Black ………. W.A.S.P.

Slippin’ Into Darkness ………. War

Boris The Spider ………. The Who

Dead Man’s Party ………. Oingo Boingo

Bela Lugosi’s Dead ………. Bauhaus

Boom, Boom (Out Go The Lights) ………. Pat Travers Band


Happy Halloween Season! Revel!



This is the seventh installment in a continuing series calling out songs that should be in every horror fan’s running (or exercise) playlist. For this installment, it’s about those songs that were written for classic horror soundtracks. Not songs that were INCLUDED in horror films, but rather those CREATED for those films. We can’t fit all of this in just one installment, so I will be posting these as a series. We’re starting this week with some real rockers…


On with the dark tuneage.  ::



“Killer Clowns from Outer Space” — The Dickies

A true classic from the new wave-ish, vaguely pop-punk outfit, The Dickies. The film is PURE mondo kitsch and a classic in its own right. The song only brings this sense home. How can you not grin ear-to-ear on lines like :: “Theres cotton candy in their hands, Says a polka-dotted man with a stalk of jacaranda, They’re all diabolical bozos.” — OR — “See a rubber nose on a painted face, Bringing genocide to the human race.” — OR — “JOCKO!” Bubbly and fun!



“The Maniac 2 Cop Rap” — Josh Barnes, and B. Dub Woods

Composed for the 1990 William Lustig horror film, this one’s a “grinner,” too. This ended the story of a supernatural killer cop who teams up with a serial killer for bloody hi-jinx with a fun bang. Simply fun as all hell! Remember when hip-hop didn’t rule the pop industry and was consequently AWESOME for genre applications like this? I am actually a HUGE fan of “real” rap and I love how it has come into its own, but I do sometimes long for the simpler days of tunes like this one. This will allow you to settle into a solid, conversational pace.



“Trick or Treat” — Fastway

Metal so often makes for good runs. I think it’s the adrenaline that underlies it all. It also makes for really awesome 80’s kitsch horror. Metal itself was the central theme of this 1986 horror thriller with the same name as our track here and therefore music references and cameos are all OVER the movie. See it! Love it! Sweat to it!


Get out there and do it (he says more for his own benefit than anything)!

Here’s all of the other parts in this series — CHECK IT OUT.



This is the seventh installment in a continuing series calling out songs that should be in every horror fan’s running (or exercise) playlist. For this installment, it’s about those songs that were written for classic horror soundtracks. Not songs that were INCLUDED in horror films, but rather those CREATED for those films. We can’t fit all of this in just one installment, so I will be posting these as a series. We’re starting this week with some real rockers…


On with the dark tuneage.  ::



“Who Made Who” — AC/DC

AC/DC created this foot stomper for the Stephen King 80s popcorn horror thriller Maximum Overdrive. The film, the writer’s directorial debut, was a hot mess. Even Mr. King has self-disclosed that he was “coked out of his mind” during the making of the film. The tunes here, however, are awesome. In many ways, this brought AC/DC back into the spotlight and with good reason — this song still drives my fist into the sky and gets my feet moving in a big way.



“Pet Sematary” — The Ramones

How can you not like The Ramones? I know their approach is seems simplistic at first, but it’s deceptive. There is a power in that simplicity… A blunt elegance with a wry smile. AND, how can you not LOVE the Ramones for the weird Stephen King (Yep. We’re going to Mr. King again on this one) creepfest “Pet Sematary?” If you need some running motivation, imagine yourself being chased by the unforgettable Zelda from the film…

…Not that she could move very fast, but hey. Imagine if she could. Scary!



“Shocker” — The Dudes of Wrath

Though Wes Craven was clearly retreading some familiar ground with this film (Wes… “Nightmare on Elm Street” called, it wants its premise back), the title song definitely had a rock “supergroup” behind it and is a fun memory to get you going. Check out this lineup… KISS frontman Paul Stanley and producer Desmond Child co-leading vocals with backing vocals by Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony & Kane Roberts, Def Leppard’s Vivian Campbell on guitars, Whitesnake’s Rudy Sarzo on bass with Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee on drums. A fun horror anthem to get you going!


Get out there and do it (he says more for his own benefit than anything)!

Here’s all of the other parts in this series — CHECK IT OUT.



This is the seventh installment in a continuing series calling out songs that should be in every horror fan’s running (or exercise) playlist. For this installment, it’s about EVIL — that creeping abomination that lives in the black heart of darkness. As I steel myself to shake off the “afternoon drowsies” and head out there and get my running shoes in motion, I felt it was time for another post in this series.


On with the dark tuneage.  ::



“Evil Eye” — Franz Ferdinand

What a sweet groove. I really love this one. This album was a huge sleeper but was really one of the best releases of 2013. Horror lovers will ADORE this video — a really fun nod to the grindhouse horror gems of the early 70’s. You go, boys! Rock it out!



“Good Mourning, Black Friday” — Megadeth

I had the incredibly good fortune to see these gents last summer open for Iron Maiden. They sounded really great and I was thrilled to have caught them live. Without question, Megadeth are virtuosos of the metal craft and always turned out some of the most intelligent work of the genre, IMHO. This track off of the landmark masterpiece “Peace Sells … But Who’s Buying,” has awesome build and a delightfully sinister and psychotic quality. Careful… The guitar work may melt your face off. Running faster may mitigate the face-melting properties of this blazer.



“Wailing Wintry Wind” — Baroness

I caught these guys live as well in 2013. SIMPLY. AWESOME. I seriously think that there is no one doing it with quite as much heart, soul and raw power as Baroness right now. Their blend of sheer talent and elemental potency is unmatched. This song demonstrates a touch of that blend. First of all, buy everything recorded by this band… AND if you ever have a chance to experience them live, don’t even think about it. GO! Get your feet moving to this one, folks!


Get out there and do it (he says more for his own benefit than anything)!

Here’s all of the other parts in this series — CHECK IT OUT.




Welcome to Part II in our ongoing series in tribute to the great master Ray Bradbury. You can read Part I here. In tribute, I’m sharing horror works featured on a brilliantly produced radio series featuring Bradbury’s stories called “Bradbury 13.” YouTube user “The Edge of Nightfall” has posted episodes from the series. Soooo, here is “The Veldt,” a creeptastic classic …





In 2012, we lost one of the greats, the ever-imaginative Ray Bradbury.

Bradbury’s stories range from the truly heartwarming to the hauntingly horrific and it is this intersection that makes his work as emotionally resonant as it is imaginative or terrifying to us. I’m, of course, focused on the author’s horror work on this blog and what a body of work it was. From “Something Wicked This Way Comes” to “Autumn’s People” to “Zero Hour” to “Small Assassin” and SO MANY others, he gave us some of the most enduring and heart-pounding images of youth.

His control of language was wonderful, sometimes even giving greats like Updike a run for their money. Look at these passages from two Bradbury short stories…

It came on great oiled, resilient, striding legs. It towered thirty feet above half of the trees, a great evil god, folding its delicate watchmaker’s claws close to its oily reptilian chest. Each lower leg was a piston, a thousand pounds of white bone, sunk in thick ropes of muscle, sheathed over in a gleam of pebbled skin like the mail of a terrible warrior.

— AND —

How tall they stood to the sun. In the last few months it seemed the sun had passed a hand above their heads, beckoned, and they were warm metal drawn melting upward; they were golden taffy pulled by an immense gravity to the sky, thirteen, fourteen years old, looking down upon Willie, smiling, but already beginning to neglect him.


An early summer camp experience I had was my formal introduction to Mr. Bradbury’s work when a camp counselor would read a story each night to the dimly lit cabin from Ray’s shorter pieces after “lights out.” Perhaps the greatest compliment that can be paid to those short stories was that they held a VERY squirrely group of pre-pubescent boys TOTALLY rapt in the quiet darkness of those warm summer nights. We would actually beg for the stories each night.

One of the stories that we heard was the Bradbury masterwork of tension, “The Ravine.” The story was also featured on the first episode of a brilliantly produced radio series featuring Bradbury’s work called “Bradbury 13.” YouTube user “The Edge of Nightfall” has posted episodes from the series. I will be sharing some of the horror pieces here in tribute to the master’s work.

Soooo, without further claptrap from me, “The Ravine” …





75 years ago today, on Halloween Eve in 1938, a brilliant, young Orson Welles wowed the world with a stunning adaptation of the 1898 HG Wells classic, “The War of the Worlds.” Though opinions differ on the full scale of the panic that ensued, the chilling broadcast created a national sensation that we’re still talking about today and the production’s über-clever simulacrum of “truth” directly inspired modern horror milestones like “The Blair Witch Project.” Hats off to Welles and his radio players for this amazing dramatic journey.

Listen today to this landmark broadcast in a darkened room and celebrate with me. Represent!  ::

AND… Here’s the ensuing apology from the next day, Halloween, 1938. Look at the performance he is giving here. He later admitted to being totally aware of what he was doing. He plays with the media, toying with the coverage in this footage. Fascinating! ::



This is the sixth installment in a continuing series calling out songs that should be in every horror fan’s running (or exercise) playlist. For this installment, it’s about DEATH — that final oblivion and what lies beyond. I just finished the Rock and Roll Half Marathon here in St. Louis, so running playlists are TOP of mind for me and I felt it was time for another post in this series. These are definitely tempo songs. For these additions to the playlist, I’ve attempted to follow in some way the storybook process of dying here — death, haunting / passage and the beyond.


On with the dark tuneage.  ::



“People Who Died” — Jim Carroll

STEP ONE — DEATH — Poet, artist and “Basketball Diaries” author Jim Carroll and his band give us this incredible punk ode to his fallen comrades. This still sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded. AWESOME for pace. So many people dead, so much love. A HUGE RIP to Jim Carroll himself as well.



“The Ghost of You Lingers” — Spoon

STEP TWO — HAUNTING / PASSAGE — I absolutely love these guys and this album was a TOTAL monster. Annnnd… This song was among the best on the album and was one of the best songs of 2007, IMHO. Haunting, bittersweet and driven, this one will drive you through the miles.



“Eternal Life” — Jeff Buckley

STEP THREE — THE BEYOND — One from the great Jeff Buckley. The man was simply taken from us FAR too soon. Perhaps this is a perfect artist and metaphor to represent the final step in this list, for it is through his art, through masterful songs like this one, that Buckley found a true measure of “Eternal Life.” This is a full-on rocker with more punk rumble, reckless abandon and virtuosic punch than you can shake a stick at. Drive that tempo for this one, too. Hard. Feel those chills.


Get out there and do it (he says more for his own benefit than anything)!

Here’s PART I.

Here’s PART II.

Here’s PART III.

Here’s PART IV.

Here’s PART V.



OK… So this one’s a weird one, but I felt it belonged here.

Last week, I was at an event at the 27,000 square foot former Mandrell estate, neé Fontanel, outside of Nashville. (Don’t ask.) It was a fascinating location and the peek inside the life of the ever-super-gorgeous and über-talented Barbara Mandrell and her beautiful family was nothing short of captivating. Much of that peek inside was through the myriad family photos throughout the mansion. Really, in many ways, they were photos of life like any of us would have. Perhaps that was the most interesting part — the relatable nature of so many of them.

While there, I did snap a pic of something I thought would be interesting for “The Strange, Far Places.” Check out the Mandrell kids representing the scary side of things on All Hallow’s Eve (below a small tribute I created to Barbara herself and her apparent love for Halloween) ::


Now that’s just awesome to see. How about that Drac tux? Annnd, especially big ups to the truly unnerving Jaime (if I’m not mistaken — am I?) and the extra creepiness that comes from youth in this type of costume. You’ve gotta love a family that embraces the horrors of Halloween!



Anyone who knows horror knows John Carpenter. His contributions to not only the horror genre, but also the world of film at large are nothing short of landmarks. He has truly given us some of the most memorable film experiences of the past 40 years. His work as a director on  films like the great psychological masterpiece,”The Thing”  or the genre-defining “Halloween” stands alone.

For this post, I wanted to pay homage to another aspect of Carpenter’s talent… The role of composer.

John Carpenter has 22 credits to his name as film score composer on IMDB. That’s a heck of a record for one who’s primary focus is that of director. That alone is amazing.

But what really makes Carpenter so effective as a composer is the skill with which he uses musical progressions to create mood for film THROUGH composition. He has given us some of the most moody, and dare I say, chilling music in film. I would put his work for “Halloween” or “Prince of Darkness” up against any of the greats like “Jaws” for sheer effectiveness and memorability. When you hear that music, you feel something and you don’t forget it.

Here are a few classics. I’ve pulled just a few examples here, but legendary ones. Listen to these  ::


From “Halloween”

From “Prince of Darkness”

From “Christine”

From “In the Mouth of Madness”


Mr. Carpenter… I remain in awe of ALL of your prodigious talents. Thank you for all of the aural chills.



This is the fifth installment in a continuing series calling out songs that should be in every horror fan’s running (or exercise) playlist. For this installment, it’s about everyone’s favorite crazies, those sociopaths that simply want to end your life.


On with the dark tuneage.  ::



“Lunatic Fringe” — Red Rider

This is PERFECT for that night run. Tom Cochrane actually wrote the song about the resurgence of anti-Semitism in the 1970s. In a weird twist of fate, he recorded the demo for the tune on the evening of John Lennon’s murder. How apropos. From the 1981 album “As Far As Siam.”



“Psycho Killer” — Talking Heads

David Byrne said of this song :: “When I started writing this (I got help later), I imagined Alice Cooper doing a Randy Newman-type ballad. Both the Joker and Hannibal Lecter were much more fascinating than the good guys. Everybody sort of roots for the bad guys in movies.” He did have help.. From bandmates Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz. An absolute late 70s classic!



“I’ve Committed Murder” — Macy Gray

I have always loved this one. A bit of island influence from the inimitable Macy Gray. A torrid tale of murder with a sociopathic disregard for the victim. This is the groove for distance miles.


Get out there and do it (he says more for his own benefit than anything)!

Here’s PART I.

Here’s PART II.

Here’s PART III.

Here’s PART IV.



So much credit has been given to The Misfits over the years, that another band, equally important and also formed in the same period, is often overlooked for its contribution to the horror rock genre. There is absolutely no question that The Misfits were founding fathers of the “Horror Punk” scene as I detail in Part III of this series. But let’s take a moment to pay homage to a early progenitor of the “Psychobilly” scene who brought the horror in a highly influential way that puts them firmly as the other bookend to this four part series :: The Cramps.


Formed in the mid-1970’s (before The Misfits, actually) in Sacramento, California by Lux Interior (born Erick Lee Purkhiser) and Poison Ivy (born Kristy Marlana Wallace), The Cramps quickly relocated to find a home along side of legendary acts like The Ramones, Patti Smith and Television at iconic New York clubs like CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City.

The Cramps struck their own profile among the emergent punk / alt scene, living at the intersection of trashy Americana, sexual fetishism and cheap, horror B-movie clichés. The result was a devilishly clever mix of humor and shock. The shuddering, strutting, cross-dressing Lux Interior cut the aspect of the perfect front man, backed by Ivy’s guitar, an important female icon on the early alt scene. These elements, coupled with songs like “I Was a Teenage Werewolf,” “Zombie Dance,” “Human Fly,” “Aloha from Hell,” and “Surfin’ Dead” and imagery surrounding the band straight out of teenage horror film classics all added up to a potent cocktail of horror rock power.

As a creative professional with a focus on design and as someone who has ever-harbored a deep love for the trashier side of Americana, this collective image remains captivating today as much as it was when it was hatched. Though the band changed personnel over a long career, they never lost sight of their image.

What makes The Cramps is most interesting for me, however, is the music itself. More than any of the other acts on this list, The Cramps pushed stylistic boundaries. Early on, the band used a double-guitar-with-no-bass sound giving them something truly distinctive among their peers. Also, they were not defined simply as a punk artist, creating instead, a fusion of punk, surf and rockabilly that formed an early example of “psychobilly.” This fusion is what makes the band still so fascinating to me. Listen to these classics to get a sense of the sound ::

In 1978, the band gave a landmark free performance at the Napa California State Mental Hospital. What an idea! It takes Johnny Cash’s prison performances and actually one-ups them, transplanting the original idea into a decidedly proto-punk space. It’s TOTALLY worth watching the full performance. It’s a great setlist and you can see the band at the height of their electrifying powers ::

Look at these image materials as well. I am lucky enough to have the Alan Forbes piece featuring The Bride of Frankenstein (with the whip) shown below as a part of my personal art collection. I keep it in my office as a reminder to bring disruption to my creativity in the way The Cramps did.


Horror fans, join me and pay tribute to the glorious trash brilliance of The Cramps!

This also brings to a close my exploration of the founders of the horror rock genre. All of these artists are true mavericks who remain vital today. My hope is that you will explore each of them beyond this introduction. Turn it up and feel the chill!



This is the fourth installment in a continuing series calling out songs that should be in every horror fan’s running (or exercise) playlist. For this edition, it’s about those blood-sucking “children of the night,” our vampire friends. I’m reaching past some of the more obvious vampire fare here for something hopefully a bit more unexpected.


On with the dark tuneage.  ::



“Omerta / The Vampire Lanois (Instrumental)” — The Afghan Whigs

Most underrated band of the 90s — The Afghan Whigs. This is from their brilliantly produced and composed swan song album release, “1965.” If any band could capture the swagger of the modern sense of the vampire, this band is it. Usually, I shun that modern view of the “sexy” vampire for something more “undead,” but there is an incredible self-awareness in Afghan songs that feels almost sociopathic at times and befits the mindset of one who feeds on humans. I love these guys.



“Walcott” — Vampire Weekend

This band takes its name from a college summer film project that frontman Koenig worked on after watching an 80’s vampire film. This song is another nod to that horror project directly, and it’s fun as all get-out. The film was to tell the story of a man named “Walcott” that was traveling to a small Cape Cod town to warn the mayor that vampires were attacking the U.S. You can see a bit of that in the lyrics :: “Lobster’s claw is sharp as knives / Evil feasts on human lives / The Holy Roman Empire roots for you…” This is an awesome tempo song, so pick up the pace!



“Dracula from Houston” — Butthole Surfers

This one is just a goof, but nothing keeps me going on a run more than a good laugh. I suppose vampires can come from anywhere, so why not Houston? From the album “Weird Revolution.” Put your fist in the air and laugh this one out.


Get out there and do it (he says more for his own benefit than anything)!

Here’s PART I.

Here’s PART II.

Here’s PART III.



The Misfits. One of the true pillars of the horror rock genre. Many consider them the progenitors of the genre, though they were definitely preceded by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Alice Cooper as we have explored. But this in NO WAY detracts from their contribution to the scene. Though those artists may have led the way, The Misfits MADE the scene in many ways. Their fusion of the dark themes of horror and the nihilistic punch of punk is a match made in heaven that still seems progressively retro today.


Formed in 1977 in New Jersey by Glenn Danzig, The Misfits took what was happening in the American punk scene and brought their love of horror to it, creating a theatrical approach that made them unique among their early peers. Their image was built with a mix of makeup, memorable hair, great branding and horror imagery surrounding them. The songs formed the bedrock for this image though, leveraging grade B horror themes. Titles like “Vampira,” “Halloween,” “London Dungeon,” “Horror Business,” and “Night of the Living Dead” and a self-formed label named “Plan 9 Records” for the Ed Wood sci-fi horror classic “Plan 9 From Outer Space” showed this love for the genre at large.

As a creative professional with a focus on design who helps create brands every day, I can think of few bands EVER who did a more successful job of creating a visual icon to represent the band than The Misfits. Their “Fiend” symbol and typography for “The Misfits” is instantly recognizable and anchored the band’s visual identity in a truly iconic way. The symbol was based on a poster for the 1946 serial “The Crimson Ghost.” It first appeared on the single for “Horror Business.” Here is the original image that inspired the mark ::


Their appeal is not all theatrics and image, though. Not even close. The songs themselves were milestones among the American punk scene. Though the band’s finest work was their early output with Danzig still on board, the 90’s re-formed band carried forward the sound in a solid way. Listen to the anthemic growl and horror thematics ::

Here is the band live in a 1983 performance ::

Represent The Misfits, inventors of “Horror Punk!”