I love Hallowe'en.
Not for the trick or treating, or dressing up, or candy, or any of that malarkey. Not that there's anything wrong with doing any of that, of course. But for me, October (and to a lesser effect, November) has always had an air of the supernatural about it. Hallowe'en - or Samhain, to use its original title - genuinely feels like the veil between this world and... well, somewhere else, is at its thinnest. It's perfect for people like me, people who like horror: it's like Yuletide, but with more monsters and less Jesus, and instead of watching A Charlie Brown Christmas we're more likely to be watching Day Of The Dead (1985), Prince Of Darkness or The Haunting (1963 - a film which, ironically, I first watched at Christmas). When I was a kid, we didn't put pumpkins outside our front door to let others know we were giving out sweets. We put pumpkins outside our front door to keep the dead things away. That feeling, that something is off, that there is an invisible shimmering window beyond our field of vision but is nonetheless there, and right in front of our face, close enough to touch it, or worse, close enough for whatever is on the other side of that window to touch us, permeates me throughout the Autumn. This is a season built for terror, so what better time to watch films, read books and listen to music that terrifies us?
"I set dinner on the dining room sideboard at 6. I clear up in the morning. I have breakfast for you at 9. I don't wait on people. I don't stay after I set out the dinner, not after it begins to get dark. I leave before the dark.
We live over in town, miles away, so there won't be anyone around if you need help. We couldn't hear you. In the night. No one could. No one lives any nearer than town. No one will come any nearer than that.
In the night. In the dark."
- Mrs Dudley, The Haunting (1963)
Fuck off Mrs Dudley, you creepy twat.
I've spoken before about the power of the film soundtrack, and I don't think that's more obvious in any other film genre than horror. As a compliment to the visual aesthetic, the soundtrack - and indeed, sound design - can create such a thick atmosphere of dread that hearing the music alone can sometimes transport you right back into the movie. When Humphrey Searle's score to The Haunting (1963, Robert Wise) creeps into your brain like the cold tentacles of some other-worldly abomination, suddenly you remember that smile on Mrs Dudley's face as she leaves the room, scaring the living shit out of our main character merely by telling her (and us) - in the most matter-of-fact way possible - what we already know: no help will come, in the dark. Or maybe Joseph Bishara's screeching, nerve-wracking score to Insidious pops up out of nowhere like a shit slasher villain, and you remember that scene, and you find yourself checking over your shoulder on and off for the rest of the day. Yeah, thanks guys.
These are the moments that stay with you. The small pieces that get stuck between the teeth in your mind; they remain there, no matter how hard you try to pick them out. They surface when you're at your most vulnerable: when you're alone, or in bed, in the night, in the dark. They make you feel uneasy, unsafe. Like a child again, scared of the dark... and what may lay in it.
I fucking love Hallowe'en.
Cheese: delicious but a living nightmare if you're lactose intolerant.
So in celebration of this wonderful fear-inducing time of year, I've created a horror music mix for us devotees of dread. It contains music from movies, TV shows, and songs that are just plain creepy or horror-themed. There's avant garde orchestral works, black metal, electronica and good ol' rock 'n' roll, and much more besides. You can listen to it for free on Mixcloud and there's even an associated competition for you fine fans of fright in which you can win some horror music goodies. Speaking of which...
To be in with a chance of winning a bundle of LP test pressings, consisting of our recent and up-coming horror soundtrack releases (Cursed Films, The Head Hunter, Attack Of The Demons, The Wretched and Swallow), all you have to do is follow these steps:
Guess the titles of all the horror films referenced in the mix. HINT: not all songs are from, or actually reference, a movie. Some films are represented more than once, some tracks represent more than one film, and there are red herrings galore too so be careful! You weren't expecting a treat without any tricks were you?
Email your answers - the titles of the films - to firstname.lastname@example.org, with "Boo!" as the subject header. Please include your Facebook and/or Twitter username - as well your full name - in the email so we can find you on social media.
Share the mix on your social media - make you sure tag us and have the privacy set to public so we can see it!
The winner will be the person who correctly guesses the most films. In the event of a tie, the winner will be the person who got the least number of incorrect guesses. If there's still a tie after that, then numerous chickens & goats will be sacrificed for the appeasement of our Dark Lord of the Void, Choronzon, and his many imps, so that he may whisper the victor's appellation. Or we'll just draw the name from a hat.
The competition closes on 23:59 EST November 3rd 2020, and the winner - along with the correct answers - will be announced the following day.
So turn your lights off. Turn your stereo on. Turn the volume up. And remember: No-one can hear you. In the night. In the dark...
- Mark Anthony Finch