So, last week I made a parody ad for Jarts. My intention was to poke fun at the apparent disregard the adult world had for kids back when we were kids. Toys were dangerous. There were no car seats and seat belts were rare. There was lead in everything. Adults just didn’t seem to give a damn.
There also seemed to be a nonchalant attitude as to the health of our little minds. I’m specifically referring to one item here. In 1974, Pickwick International released an album of terrifying, creepy, and disturbing sound effects as a Halloween treat. It was called ‘Monster Mash: Sounds of Terror’.
My older brother bought this record way back when and we kids loved it! Some of the tracks were a bit cheesy and the repeated use of the same scream on several tracks would make a nit-picker, such as myself, say, “Heard it.” But, it did have several effective bits that could be quite chilling.
I recall listening to the Headless Horseman track, alone, in the dark, while imagining myself hiding in the underbrush alongside a lonely country road as the Horseman rode by. The use of stereo in that scene really worked well. I would get so freaked out as I imagined him riding by me, laughing that insane laugh. “Please, don’t see me! Please, don’t see me! Please, don’t see me!”
Each track would have an announcer set the scene and then the terror would begin. There were a few with our favorite monsters including Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy, and the Werewolf. There’s a track of King Kong battling another giant creature, in which Kong sounds more like a leopard or cougar than an ape. And there’s the inclusion of the Halloween novelty hit: ‘Monster Mash‘. It’s not the original Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers, which really is the only version worth listening to.
So far everything has sounded fairly innocent, right? Well, there are a few tracks which I don’t think would pass muster today. The album is split into two halves. The first half (side one) is labelled “Famous Monsters and Ghouls,” while the second half (side two) is under the heading “Man’s Inhumanity to Man.”
It’s that second half that gets pretty messed up, although there is one track on side one that is the most messed up of any of them, but more on that later.
Side two includes tracks such as: “Burned at the Stake,” “Victims of the Guillotine,” “The Torture Chamber, ” and “Buried Alive.” Imagine me as a nine year old listening to an exorcism taking place. Yes, an exorcism was one of the tracks. The film ‘The Exorcist’ was a big hit at the time, so why not have a track with a fellow repeatedly saying, “May the power of Christ compel you!” accompanied by the sounds of screams, hisses, squeals, pig grunting (that’s right!) and bouncing bed springs?
However, the most disturbing track, to me anyway, was on side one and was about an actual murderer: Jack the Ripper. The announcer sets the scene by giving a little information about how London was in the grip of terror of this crazed killer of women. (The album didn’t mention the profession of those victims. We don’t want kids hearing about prostitutes, do we?) Then we are transported aurally to Victorian London. We hear Saucy Jack attack his victim and that same scream again. We also hear the wet sound of a knife plunging again and again into the flesh of the victim. Really!
People getting stabbed, keel-hauled and eaten by sharks, burned at the stake, buried alive, and tortured are all offered up as Halloween entertainment. You know, for kids.
Boy. Those were the days.
You can hear most of the tracks here. Have fun!