Adam Clarke has made you a mixtape, just in time for Halloween.
1) “Just What I’ve Been Looking For” – Frank Vinci
Sleepaway Camp is such an oddity. It shouldn’t work. Its story is ludicrous, the acting ranges from surprisingly sincere to John Waters calibre and it really isn’t much of a mystery who’s doing the killings from minute one. Yet, Sleepaway Camp is pretty effective. It’s well-shot, has a strong performance from Felissa Rose (as the infamous Angela), offers memorable shocks and has an unforgettable ending. So, too, should the film’s closing credits song not work at all. Yet it does. The dreamy synths and dance-y chorus mixed with yearning lyrics makes for a surprisingly good pop song of its time, even if it is hilariously out-of-place given the film’s ending.
2) “A Critical Madness” – Kay Reed and the Church of our Savior Choir
It’s not often that a slasher film ends with a heartfelt ballad, but it’s even more improbable when one ends with a song credited to a church choir. Improbable is the word for Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness, a film I reviewed for the late, lamented Blogoween in 2009. Truth or Dare, which attempts to be a “rubber reality” film, featuring scenes that take place exclusively in the mind of an insane slasher, just ends up incoherent and immensely funny. With Kay Reed acting as a poor man’s Celine Dion, the end title song from the film is so out-of-left field and tonally incoherent that it serves as the perfect companion to this so-bad-it’s-good slasher flick.
3) “Green Slime” – Richard Delvy
Arguably the best song on this list (apologies to number 4), “Green Slime” knows exactly the kind of tone needed to enhance the movie it’s chained to. And, sure enough, it’s a lot better than that film. From the off-key, funky rhythms to the impassioned vocals (“Will you believe it when you’re DEAD”), I’m proud to say that the Green Slime hasn’t left my brain since I first heard it.
4) “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” – The Dickies
I wanted to limit myself to only a handful of horror songs by established artists, particularly those I already like. So, when it came down to this Dickies favourite or “Pet Sematary” by The Ramones, I must defer to the Dickies. While “Pet Sematary” is one of the better songs from the Ramones’ later years, “Killer Klowns” is one of my favourite Dickies tracks. Its got everything you could ask for a Halloween song: cheesy keyboards, a hilarious refrain (“Kill-uh KLOWNS!”) and an opening that sounds like a cross between Sid Vicious’ “My Way” and Michael Sembello’s “Mega Madness”.
5) “Deadtime Stories” – Larry Juris and Jeffrey Delman
An attempt to do post-modern horror before it was cool, Deadtime Stories is an unpleasant failure that falls short on the inspired lunacy of the great horror-comedies of the 80s or even the self-awareness of Scream. The end result is an anthology film that doesn’t know what it wants to be and is about as funny as Tobe Hooper’s unbearable Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. The film’s one saving grace is this 80s rock nightmare that burrowed into my brain when I was 15 and never left since. Maybe I’m weird, but I’ll give any song props for rhyming “drama” with “De Palma”.
Next week: Five more songs for all your Halloween needs.