The Movie Waffler Dark Dance - Eight Horror Themes Every Halloween Party Needs | The Movie Waffler

Dark Dance - Eight Horror Themes Every Halloween Party Needs

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Terrorific tunes to set your Halloween dancefloor ablaze.

Words by Benjamin Poole

What is the best part of Halloween? Is it the candies?  The dressing up? The horror films? The kids dressed up as fiends from movies which they have no business watching? Is it draping the house in weird miscellanea accrued from the pound shop? The answer is, all of the above. Whether you’re an ancient Celt celebrating Samhain (summer’s end), a Welsh fella looking forward to Calan Gaeaf (first day of winter), or a Mexican deep in the throes of Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), Halloween and its many anthropological permutations means the same thing the world over: a celebration of life, of our imaginative potential and our very humanity. Halloween is a mockery of death; where we invoke our inevitable fate by dressing as zombies and liberally spraying the old fake blood about, in the process giving a big eff you to the gruesome expirations which await us all. My own Halloween gatherings are the stuff of dark legend; I plan to do all of the above, and then, following a few sips from the punch cauldron, throw a few spooky shapes on the dance floor, too. I’d imagine you’re up for the same. At the end of October we all cherish our John Carpenter tracks and our Goblin drops, and Thriller and The Monster Mash are as much a staple as pumpkins and black cats, but what of the dark gems that the funk of 4,000 years has somehow overlooked? Hold out your record bag for some rare treats, and maybe a couple of tricks, as DJ BP presents his Halloween deep cuts…

Ok, so perhaps we’ll start with something a little more traditional, just to ease ‘em in: Fabio Frizzi’s soundtrack to Lucio Fulci’s Zombi, in particular the dreamy, insistent main theme, which should be the opening to any horror-themed set. Swoon at the adamant thump thump thump of a bass drum which is slightly too overwhelming, as if a premature burial is knock knock knocking upon the solid lid of a closed coffin, while a wheezing, exhausted organ weaves about the beat like a shambling zombie, before (it still gets me!), the synth soars above the mix sounding like magic, like the dark and sleazy promise of a hot and dangerous night. This is the sound of Halloween. If you’ve seen Zombi, then this evocative score will always be linked to scenes of sapphire oceans and emerald forests, as well as abject decay: but if you haven’t, I enviously wonder what unique images this sumptuous electronica will invoke for you. This was Frizzi’s first explicitly horror work as a score, and it bears the excitingly fresh tread of a genre tenderfoot; the score includes nods to Caribbean instrumentals and even The Beatles’ A Day in the Life! Amazing.

And we’re off! Anyone who’s plopped a lychee eyeball in a luminous red cocktail, or wrapped themselves in a bin bag or old sheet for the big event, knows that Halloween is no place for good taste, and is instead (save for Christmas) the campest evening of the year. No one wants to be seen to be taking it too seriously, or - Myers forbid! - playing the muso on a night like this. And so, to this creepy little weapon, The Only One by Toni Basil and Devo(!) taken from the '80s slasher Slaughterhouse. There’s a real sense of occasion to this pop-rock monstrosity, with Toni (a hero in this house) singing as if a witch has some loaded broomstick pointed at her bunches, yelling as if this night as is all that matters and all that ever will: AH AM THA ONLY WUN! There’s no half measures on Halloween we’re reminded as Toni screams, in a falsetto as sharp as fangs, warning us in no uncertain terms that the end is nigh; the finale has come! YIKES!

This legendary bootleg is shrouded, much like the Engineer on LV-426, in shadows of mystery. But, just like the film from which it takes its inspiration, the sense of enigma serves to further intensify the implicit wonder of this disco corker. Disco mentalists Nostromo (Italians? I hope they’re Italians) take Jerry Goldsmith’s dread laden score to Alien, sprinkle it with glitter, crack open the poppers, and shunt it down to Studio 54 for the night of its life, where everyone can hear you scream. It’s a bit like the Meco Star Wars stuff, but actually good: the synths stabbing like blue lights, while the bassline vaults like a Xenomorph right over your better judgement. Plus, the sampling on show - including the face hugger, dialogue, and Jones, that little shithead, meowing - is impressive for 1979. Ground breaking, even. Disco and horror’s parallels are profound: both came of age in the '70s/early '80s, are imaginatively fuelled by the forbidden and the night, and are still both liminal art forms, wherein the outsider finds solace and delight. When the two genres intersect, it’s a Halloween joy (perhaps an honourable mention should go to Prom Night’s disco spin-off too, but you’ll need to dig into those crates deep because Paul Zaza and Carl Zittrer’s soundtrack was only made available in Japan- uwa!)

Speaking of cash-ins, we present Will Smith’s Nightmare on Elm Street rip off, Nightmare on my Street. Within this unlikely mash up of retro icons, DJ Jazzy Jeff (hiphop’s most overlooked genius?) interpolates Charles Bernstein’s phantasmagoric piano score with a nice chunky beat while Big Willy recounts events from the first film - ‘about this home-boy called Fred and this girl called Nancy’, experiences both the sweltering hot-box bedroom ‘I checked the clock… it had melted!’ and the homoerotic subtext of the sequel ‘he comes to me at night after I crawl into bed’(!), before Freddy goes and kills Jazz at the end (‘I’m your DJ now, Princey’!). In true rap outlaw fashion, the Fresh Prince sought out neither clearance for the samples or Freddy’s likeness from New Line, meaning that all pressings had to feature a disclaimer, and, gutted, a filmed promo-video was destroyed ☹. But, like Halloween, when, for one night, our dark culty interests take over the evening, this irresistible pop culture gem is an amusing instance of horror infecting the benign mainstream (a close runner up for this spot was Henry Manfredini’s Friday the 13th Part 3 score, with its squelching bass: MaMaMa, indeed!).

Antoni Maiovvi is horror disco’s prime producer, a composer of scores for Yellow, The Cuckoo and the great lost giallo Shadow of the Bloodstained Kiss, from which this electroclash climax, The Chase Part 1, is taken from. Italo disco at its most sinister, this is Asia Argento being chased around a neon lit fashion shoot by Claudio Simonetti, while a shadowy figure in black gloves slices out spiralling chords from a shiny mellotron. Giallo Disco, indeed, and movie scores have never since sounded so suspenseful and exciting. If they’re not moving now then they never will be, I’m afraid; DANZA MUSICA! (the vicious rumours that Maiovvi is actually the Bristolian EDM genius Anton Maiof, and that the movies these songs soundtrack never actually existed, should be taken with a pinch of candy corn…)

And so to the last dance, and The Lions and the Cucumber from Jesús Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos, a bacchanalia of trumpets, tambourines and sitar; three minutes of uncut psychedelia. This masterwork was re-released on a compilation of Manfred Hübler and Siegfried Schwab’s movie tracks, which was titled “Sexadelic Dance Party”: ‘nuff said. The Lions and the Cucumber marks a culminative point in any party; the night has reached a fever pitch of sugar rushes, cheap alcohol and the intoxicating perfumes of burnt pumpkins and grease paint. All that’s left to do is freak out and get your monster on, warding off morning and, indeed, grim fate itself for another year with music, lust and life itself. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!