Y’know what Halloween is really missing these days? Decent fucking novelty songs! Back in “the day” — I’m thinking around 1960 — record moguls were apparently tripping over themselves to provide spooky soundz to alternately (a.) scare the shit out of everyone at your Halloween party or (b.) give a bunch of hep teens dressed like greaser ghosts something to frug to at the malt shoppe. So there was an endless stream of sound effects records, haunted mood pieces, spooky spoken word records by the likes of Vincent Price and Boris Karloff. On the other hand, every garage combo worth their salt was bundled into the studio to cut a quickie single about monster dance parties, teenage Frankensteins, surfing werewolves and beatnik Draculas — or perhaps, thrillingly, a hybrid of all four.
It is this long gone era of Halloween music that funnyman Eban Schletter resurrects on his Witching Hour platter. Filmmaker/composer Schletter, best known for his scoring work on the hipper end of TV comedy (Mr. Show, Spongebob Squarepants, Drawn Together), ambitiously tries to revisit EVERY facet of the Halloween novelty record on this disc. Hence, Witching Hour swings wildly from Spike Jones big band weirdness, to overblown scary tales, atmospheric instrumentals, and “Monster Mash”-aping jukebox hits. Schletter rounds up some of his pals to give voice to these tales of fright, including Dave Foley, Paul Thompkins, Jill Sobule, Tom Kenny, Grant Lee Phillips and Laura Milligan, and they all give themselves over to their inner (haunted) ham. Surely somewhere Bobby “Boris” Pickett, or at the very least Vampira, is smiling down on this project. Recommended tracks include the B-52’s meets Trilogy of Terror new wave-noir of “Devil Doll” (a fucking riot with a chase scene in a zoo between the terrified narrator and the doll), “Haunted Carnival” where Tom “Spongebob” Kenny is at his gonzo best, overacting over woozy circus music, “Dance of the Skeletons” overload of Scooby Doo-esque haunted house antics to a waltz time, or Curse of the Crooked Carousel tipping its tattered hat to the forgotten nuggets like of “I Was A Teenage Monster” and the Cramps by way of Disney’s Haunted Mansion.
THIS is what the Halloween spirit is all about, in all of it’s goofy, over-the-top glory. Witching Hour is awesome in the way that only a cheapo rubber mask, a ghost sheet and a bag full o’ sweets can be.