October 26, 2017

HALLOWEEN TAPE REVIEW #26: Elvira Fright Sound Tape

Title: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Fright Sound Tape
Manufacturer: Imagineering Inc.
Year: 1987
Total Runtime: 60 Min
Repeats on both sides: No
Stories: No
Music: No
Narration: No
Distinct Audio: Creepy muffled funeral eulogy
Review: Elvira's Fright Sound Tape marks an historic team-up between two Halloween institutions in their prime. Imagineering founder, Larry Liff invented hinged vampire teeth, and produced Halloween products with some of the all-time greatest package design that feature the wonderful art of Gordon Viges (whose son once left a comment on this very blog!)

Of course Elvira needs no introduction. Thanks to her we have the only Halloween recording with a celebrity endorsement. She followed the product from inception to completion, hand-picking the individual sound effects, and providing constant input during the engineering process. Not really. But she did record a one minute introduction.

According to an article on Dinosaur Dracula, a store called McCrory's was selling the Elvira tape in 1988 for $2.99 while Topstone's Horror Sounds of the Night was a dollar less. This could be due to Elvira's licensing fee. Or maybe it's because Topstone could charge less since all of their content was stolen.


Fright Sound Tape comes from a line of Elvira products that also included costume accessories and makeup. Most of it looks like existing products that were rebranded with the awesome exception of Elvira's official snake earrings.

So does the tape live up to its iconic heritage? Side one has a good variety of effects that are inherently spooky; antagonists and victims as opposed to stock thunder and slamming doors. Wind is overused but it ties everything together. It's like sitting on your porch on the windiest night of the year, and all this crazy, monstrous stuff just keeps happening for a solid half hour.

The second half hour, side two, has a very different vibe. I wouldn't be surprised if it came from another source entirely.  It's dominated by a man with a distinctive laugh who occasionally says "Come here." and, "Come to the Haunted House." He gets tiresome, but there's something about his maniacal yet casual tone that draws me in. It's like he wants to kill me, but he's a little too sleepy.

Unlike side one, I recognized a lot of the effects: cats, monsters, and the "Lonesome Ghosts" scream (that I discussed in this review).  What ruins side two for me are the unrelenting bursts of reverberating noise. It sounds like bits of reel-to-reel recordings that are sped up and processed to death. It's definitely unique, but it makes me miss the constant wind from side one, and I rarely miss wind.

All in all, I think the tape is better than average, but it doesn't reflect the remarkable entities behind it. Although, as a horror hostess, Elvira can't be held accountable for the content. Her job is to present the world with the spooky fun stuff, and it's our job to have spooky fun with it.

Rating: Side one- 4 of 5, Side two- 2 of 5

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