You know, I could swear I've written about this before, complete with posted photos of my Haunted Mansion and Buffy Once More With Feeling CDs. But Google says no. AOL Journals search says no. Actually reading titles on the Musings archive pages for 10/05 and 10/04, and looking at any entries that sound as though they might contain what I remember, I still can't find it.
Yes, well, okay, I did find my "Haunted by the Mansion" entry, but that wasn't so much about the music. I don't care. I remember writing about party music involving Disney attraction music and Buffy and Quantum Leap...oh. Okay, that's the problem. It was party music in general, or sf and fantasy party music, not specifically Disney or Halloween. Even if I still haven't found the entry.
So, for the record, I'll just recap the Halloween standards around here before moving on to some other selections:
The Haunted Mansion 30th Anniversary CD. Features the entire Disneyland attraction narration and music and effects, outtakes by Paul Frees and others, a clip from the Florida one, a Vincent Price narration for Phantom Manor, and even a Japanese Ghost Host. But the main drawing card is still that great song, "Grim Grinning Ghosts," with Thurl Ravenscroft as one of the singers.
Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. I don't actually have this on CD, but I used to play the sound effects side of this Disneyland record every year when I was a teenager.
Pirates of the Caribbean CD. Same kind of deal as the Haunted Mansion one. It's not as overtly Halloween, but you gotta love Paul Frees intoning "Dead men tell no tales!" On the CD, several dead men proceed to tell tales in outtakes.
But, as I say, I've already expressed by appreciation for these recordings. Let's change the channel - literally.
This afternoon, as I waited for the refrigerator to arrive, I turned our digital cable on to the music channel labeled "Sounds of the Season," and immediately got to hear "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon. 11 hours later, that channel is still on, on its second run through its surprisingly large Halloween playlist. I've heard three different songs by Bobby "Boris" Pickett (two of which are boringly derivative of his one real hit), soundtrack music by John Carpenter, Elvira sounding a little like the funny Julie Brown, "Bewitched" (the tv theme) by Peggy Lee(!), a parody song called "Drac the Knife," two songs from Rocky Horror Picture Show, songs by the Ramones, the Cramps, Bing Crosby, Andrew Gold, Michael Jackson ("Thriller," of course) and whatever unknowns someone called Drew recorded on surprisingly decent cover versions of songs for Halloween party CDs. Good stuff, some of it, plus a lot of forgettable stuff, and a few clunkers, such as "Dracula's Theme from Swan Lake," in which a silly, badly acted scenario in a graveyard is combined with Tchaikovsky.
Still, classical music does deserve its rightful place on the Halloween playlist. On the Fantasia soundtrack alone (which I bought on LP back in college, and had to exchange several times due to a bad pressing) has Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, the quintessential spooky organ music, plus Modest Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain. (Actually, I was reading today that the Fantasia version of Night on Bald Mountain I know was heavily revised by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Leopold Stokowski.)
But my favorite spooky classical piece (albeit less so now than when I was a kid) has always been Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns.(Listen to it here.) It's based on a medieval allegory about dancing skeletal figures from all walks of life - the rich and the poor, the powerful and the peasants - all called by Death. (Hey, these people were dealing with the Plague.) I remember being exposed to this musical masterpiece back in elementary school, and even seeing a cartoon that went with it. But like that blog entry about spooky music, I can't prove that what I remember ever existed. Yes, there's a great Disney cartoon called The Skeleton Dance, the first Silly Symphony ever made. I've even read claims that the music for that was the Danse Macabre, or, at least, that brilliant cartoon composer-arranger Carl Stalling adapted the Saint-Saens for it. But it just doesn't sound like it to me. Ah, well. Next you'll tell me there is no wooden bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland that depicts the Dance of Death on its wooden panels. But there is. I photographed it when I was 15 years old. And no, I don't have the pictures.
Extra Credit: well, I am a little spooked that I can't prove what I remember, and also that it's past 2:30 AM already!
Update: a year later, this entry is getting a lot of hits as people search for info on that Danse Macbre filmstrip and such. And guess what? Someone tracked it down! Please see the comment thread for further info, and thanks for stopping by! - KFB, 10/28/07
One frame of the c. 1965 Danse Macabre filmstrip,
with art by Harold Dexter Hoopes.
I've boosted the colors and adjusted tone to
try to restore the time-faded image.
UPDATE: It's here! It's posted! Hooray! The artwork is great, albeit faded and could use a bit of restoration. Thanks to all! KFB 11/1/10