October 28, 2017

HALLOWEEN TAPE REVIEW #28: Halloween Horrors



Title: Halloween Horrors
Manufacturer: A&M Records
Year: 1977
Total Runtime: 30 Min
Repeats on both sides: No
Stories: Side one is a single story
Music: No
Narration: No
Distinct Audio: "My baby! Have you seen my baby?"
Review: It seems that A&M Records took note of a sales trend that started with the massively successful Disney's Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House (1968) and continued with albums like Sounds to Make You Shiver (1974) and Ghostly Sounds (1975). Their response was Halloween Horrors. This seems to be the only Halloween album released by a major record label (if you don't count Disney). It's also the only one I know of that uses the genuine Dolby "B" noise reduction system. Printing a blurry Dolby logo on the back of the sleeve doesn't count; sorry Night in a Graveyard and Haunted House.

It's also likely that Halloween Horrors had one of the all-time biggest Halloween album budgets (which isn't saying much). This would explain why their search for voice talent was not limited to people who happened to be sitting in the office that day. They employed actors Michael Bell, and Peter Cullen who are probably best known for their work on G.I. Joe and Transformers cartoons of the '80s. The spectacular cover illustration comes from Gary Meyer who also did movie posters for "Jaws 3," The Deep,""The Exterminator 2,""Jason and the Argonauts," and more. His artwork is best experienced on the vinyl edition. Not only is the cassette insert tiny, it omits the wonderful back cover that is seen and discussed here on Branded in the 80s.

Side one features a fifteen minute "Story of Halloween Horror" that follows a young man visiting his newly inherited haunted estate. He recounts several legends surrounding the house during his drive over, and his visit confirms the tragic history.

I first heard this at a dinner party when I was in fifth grade. Shortly after meeting the two brothers of the household they dragged me into their bedroom and insisted that I ignore their room full of exciting new toys, and give my full attention to their mysterious cassette tape. As the story progressed I was afraid that I was hearing something that I shouldn't have been. I wondered if their parents even knew what they'd gotten their hands on. During the climactic ghostly encounter the distress in the young man's voice and the distorted cries of the apparition struck me at my core. My parents had no idea why I was acting strangely for the rest of the night.

Side two features "The Sounds of Halloween and other useful effects." These certainly proved useful for the countless record companies who strip-mined the record for some easy cash. For people like me who are tired of hearing all the thieves and imitators it's a treat to tap into the source material.

Halloween Horrors set the standard for Halloween records and it remains a true classic.

Rating: 5 of 5

No comments: