Return of the Video Dead

We’ve been making Halloween mixes for a lot of years, so this year we decided to look back. All those old mixes are awesome, but what if we sawed them apart, removed all the best parts from each and sewed them all back together again as one horrific new mix? The best Halloween mix, a distillation of terror so pure you likely won’t survive listening to it.

Go ahead. Push the button. Let’s see.

Constructed and Mixed by Kursse


“Theme from Halloween,” by MX-80 Sound

“Anything Can Happen On Halloween,” by Tim Curry

“Strychnine,” by The Sonics

“Pet Sematary,” by Ramones

“Blackmagic,” by T.S.O.L.

“Halloween,” by Mudhoney

“Halloween,” by Alkaline Trio

“Magog (In Bromine Chambers),” by Peter Hammill

“Night Falls,” by Gershon Kingsley & Peter Waldron

Monstervision Featuring Joe Bob Briggs

“Surfin’ Dead,” by The Cramps

“Zombies,” by The King Khan & BBQ Show

“Shadow Crypt,” by Demented Are Go

“Last House On The Left,” by Tall Boys

“Dracula’s Daughter,” by Screaming Lord Sutch & the Savages

“Dinner with Drac Pt.1,” by John Zacherle

“I Put a Spell on You,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

“The Boogey Man,” by The Jackson 5

“Vampira,” by Bobby Bare

“Phantasm Theme,” by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave

Elvira’s Movie Macabre

“Horror Movies,” by Skyhooks

“Tenebre – Originale,” by Claudio Simonetti, Massimo Morante, Fabio Pignatelli

“Psycho Killer,” by Talking Heads

“Bloodletting (The Vampire Song),” by Concrete Blonde

“Hammer Horror,” by Kate Bush

“Werewolves of London,” by Warren Zevon

“Night of the Vampire,” by Roky Erickson

“Soul Dracula,” by Hot Blood

“Squeezit the Moocher,” by Danny Elfman

“Grim Grinning Ghosts (The Screaming Song),” by Buddy Baker and X Atencio

“Monster Mash,” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett

Zacherley, The Cool Ghoul

“Evil Dead,” by Death

“Halloween,” by Dead Kennedys

“Plan 9 from Outer Space,” by The Rodneys

“Nightmare on My Street,” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

“Thriller (Video Edit),” by Michael Jackson

“Nature Trail to Hell in 3D,” by Weird Al Yankovic

“Happy Halloween,” by John Zacherle

“Halloween II,” by Samhain

“Theme from Halloween,” by MX-80 Sound

About a third of my music collection is horror-based and dark, so it was extremely hard for me to narrow it down to one song to include here, but in the end my choice has to be the “Halloween Theme” by MX-80 Sound. They deliver a slightly different version of John Carpenter’s simplistic yet effective cult slasher theme song. The infamous piano is replaced by a steady guitar pluck and the song has elements of hard rock, punk and ska. I first heard this track on the Just Can’t Get Enough: New Wave Halloween and it has graced every Halloween mix I’ve made ever since. Do yourself a favor – check it out and remember “The Night He Came Home.”

– Kenneth J. Lucas 2011

“Pet Sematary,” by Ramones

There is something about punk rock that lends itself to horror, for some reason (I don’t really understand it…what is so scary about aggressive chords and catchy woah choruses?). The Misfits are the staple here, but for me, the absolute classic Halloween punk song is “Pet Sematary,” by The Ramones. Off the wrongly-maligned 1989 album Brain Drain (seriously: “Zero Zero UFO” and “Palisades Park,” not to mention the creepy cover art – why do people hate on this album?), the lyrics explain why coming back from the dead would suck while leisurely bouncing over a riff that sounds like Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” turned inside out. It’s also my personal pick for Joey’s best recorded vocal performance – smooth and raspy all at once.

– Stu Horvath 2011

T.S.O.L. – “Blackmagic”

I only got hipped to T.S.O.L. last year. I had no idea that they were the West Coast’s answer to The Misfits, by way of The Damned and a couple other curious influences. In retrospect, I have no idea how I made it this long without digging into their catalog.

“Blackmagic,” the lead track on 1984’s Change Today?, is a great example of a horror punk song that is actually spooky. The jangling, discordant guitars set the mood for the the growling lyrics, which tell the tale of a man who goes from being a doubter to being a screeching believer in black magic. I’d be into it if this ran over the credits of Night of the Demon.

– Stu Horvath 2015

“Zombies,” by The King Khan & BBQ Show

“I don’t want to be alone tonight, I’m gonna walk with the zombies baby” is the killer chorus to “Zombies,” a rowdy foot stomper from punk/doo-wop duo King Khan and BBQ Show, off their 2006 album “What’s for Dinner?” The other oft-repeated lyrics are “I don’t give a fuck.” For me, this track always feels like a lost gem that should have been on the soundtrack for Return of the Living Dead or other ‘80s horror classic. The song is about someone, possibly King Khan, addressing his significant other about taking his life so he can walk with the zombies. If she wishes to do the same, he’ll drink her blood and cry (post-zombification, I assume), but his zombie path is set and hers is not, so maybe he’ll see her at his funeral. Also: something about being masturbated, a barber and eating flesh in the air. Honestly, if you were to ask King Khan what the lyrics meant he’d probably just say “I don’t give a fuck”, so best not to look too deeply into this two-minute ode to our undead brothers and sisters!

– Michael Edwards 2011

“Dracula’s Daughter,” by Screaming Lord Sutch & the Savages

David Sutch, aka The 3rd Earl of Harrow, or Screaming Lord Sutch, was an English musician inspired by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. He was the founder of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, so ima go ahead and say he deserves a spot on this 14th Annual Unwinnable Halloween mix. Also, he holds the record for losing more than 40 elections from 1963 to 1997. What a guy!

– Livingroom Johnson 2017

Bobby Bare – “Vampira”

Oh man, that guitar is so silky smooth even as its getting sliced and diced by the distant, plinking piano. I’ve listened to this song literally hundreds of times since I came across it earlier this year – it’s one of those old tunes that, running under three minutes, never wears out its welcome. You want to hear those hooks just one more time…

Originally released in 1958, it’s a lovely bit of horror camp. Like other songs of the time, it is spooky more for the Universal monsters it name checks than any real frights. Well, not entirely. Listen to that fellow scream and see if you don’t think he means it.

– Stu Horvath 2014

Skyhooks – “Horror Movie”

This is probably my favorite song on this mix.

– Livingroom Johnson 2014

Kate Bush – “Hammer Horror”

Don’t let the sweet, almost lilting vocals at the beginning fool you. Kate Bush is about to take you on a dark journey ripped straight from Poe: the understudy kills the lead actor and assumes his role in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but is wracked with guilt for doing so.

The first single from Bush’s second album Lionheart did poorly on the British charts compared to “Wuthering Heights” and “The Man With The Child In His Eyes.” Clearly it’s because the UK couldn’t handle it. I wonder what guilt lurked there in 1979…

– Don Becker 2014

“Night of the Vampire,” by Roky Erickson

I’m relatively new to Roky Erickson. My friends Johnny and Brooke introduced me to his work two or three years back and I’ve been kicking myself for not adding him to an Unwinnable Halloween Mix. With a title like “Night of the Vampire,”  it’s a wonder that his ode to horror films not been on a mix yet. “Night of the Vampire” exudes a mischievous malevolence with its eerie riff and macabre refrain. He sings, “If it’s raining and you’re running don’t slip in mud/’Cause if you do, you’ll slip in blood/Tonight is the night of the vampire.” The whole composition feels downright sinister.

– Ian Gonzales 2013

“Plan 9 From Outer Space,” by The Rodneys

[Ed Coleman, Unwinnable’s legal counsel, picked this song. He then went down into the basement of the Unwinnable offices to check on some strange noises he kept hearing from the air duct in his office. Since he came back up, he won’t talk about what he found down there, or why he picked this song. ]

– Editor 2015

“Shadow Crypt,” by Demented Are Go

I love the punk rock, but punk songs rarely have the room for atmosphere that a good spooky needs. Even when they embrace horror, punk is defined by aggression, which is traditionally the role of the monster, and being the monster is rarely scary. Its empowering, really.

This paradox is what makes genuinely spooky punk songs so rare and priceless. To their ranks (only two leap to mind – “Bloodfeast,” by the Misfits and “Blackmagic,” by T.S.O.L.), I’d like to add the mournful, jittery cemetery stroll of “Shadow Crypt.” Ambiance to spare. I mean, is that a mandolin?

– Stu Horvath 2016

“Nightmare on My Street,” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

In the 1980’s, nothing was scarier to a grade-schooler like me than Freddy Krueger. One year, I dressed as Freddy for Halloween, complete with a melted-flesh mask, a glove with knives for fingers and even a sweater with a hole burned into the front that my friend Aaron’s mom gave me. No matter that it was green and black striped instead of red and black – it had actually been kissed by real fire and that made it singularly awesome. Around this time, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince were about as cool as a 10-year-old’s cassette collection could get. And, as it turned out, Freddy and the Fresh Prince went together like a blindfold and a bowl of cooked spaghetti.

– Matt Marrone 2012

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