It can be difficult to find a fun and enthralling collection of creepy songs that aren’t solely novelty works, but HALLOWEEN NUGGETS: MONSTER SIXTIES A GO-GO fills that void and has been a staple of my Octobers for many years now, and may be perfect for your Halloween party.

It’s a diverse three-disc collection of engaging early 60s fusion and surf and garage rock numbers that are all spooky in their own ways, kicking off with the emphatic and amazingly catchy THE MYSTRS’s Witch Girl.

(Please appreciate the fan video which marries the song with the Soviet witch classic VIY!)

Also featured on the disc? JIM BURGETT’s Jekyll and Hyde, as well as THE WEIRDOS’s languid and sample-and-scream heavy E.S.P. Theme for Shock Theatre.

Disc two features a few staples, such as THE SHANDELLS’s perky and potentially iffy Go Go Gorilia but it has an energetic heartbeat. It also has LEE ROSS’s haunting Johnny Cash-ish The Mummy’s Bracelet.

The third disc contains among many other dazzling tracks, the THE TWELFTH NIGHT’s Grim Reaper!

(These are a few select favorites of mine and I don’t mean to overlook any of the other songs. If I listed off every track I revel in, this post would be thousands of words long.)

Emblazoned by furious brass, sultry back-up singers, hard-hitting drums, and a swinging groove that often will make you sway like Audrey Horne in TWIN PEAKS, this compilation has a little of something to please everyone. It is endlessly listenable and, if you don’t like a song? Wait a few minutes as you’ll probably love the next.

It’s available to purchase digitally — and there are physical copies available — via most outlets but, to make matters easier for you, here’s a Spotify link:


I’m not sure how many folks remember William Castle nowadays, given that he did most of his most intriguing work in the 50s and early 60s but, if you are a horror fan, you are probably aware of him (and you’ve probably watched Joe Dante’s love letter to his sort of theatrical gimmicks via his brilliant film MATINEE).

That said, myself and a friend went to my favorite movie theater — Chicago’s Music Box Theatre — to see a 35mm print of Castle’s THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL that also promised to involve Castle-esque gimmicks, such as actors roaming through the audience and skeletons.

Reader: they did two screenings and the one I attended — at 9:30 on a Thursday night, nonetheless — was sold out.

I’ve seen THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL more than a few times. Vincent Price is exceptional in it, as always, and it’s chock full of schlock, including all of the standard ‘haunted house’ tropes, such as falling chandeliers, senseless locked doors, and plenty of fake-outs. (It definitely owes a debt to James Whale’s THE OLD HOUSE (1932), which Castle remade later in his career.) Is it a great film? No. Does it make much sense? No. Is it populated by B-grade actors not quite giving it their all? Yes.

Is it a memorable film? Fuck yeah. It has a fantastic set, serviceable lighting, and striking set-pieces.

I realize I’m extremely lucky to live in a city where my favorite film palace loves to show horror, and even luckier that they go to the trouble of recreating gimmicks. They even talked to Castle’s daughter to get points of reference and her blessing. These folks are doing the work.

While THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL is a blast under any circumstances, seeing it in a fully sold out thousand-plus seat theater with a group of very-game audience members who were all very well-mannered while still being appropriately rambunctious was one of the best post-pandemic screenings I’ve attended. It reminded me of the controlled chaos of The Vic’s Brew ’n View (R.I.P.) where everyone’s there to have a good time and respond to the screen appropriately, be it laughing, clapping, or blurting out something legitimately funny (instead of play-acting MST3k).

I know I often say this, but nothing can recreate the feeling of seeing a movie in a theater, and when you encounter these very sort of specific circumstances, it’s extremely special. The Music Box created an experience that those who were there will be dining out on for years, and they deserve every accolade. I only hope that you can find a similar theater that you can call a home-away-from-home.


(Theatre/YouTube) Another theatre production, but this one is far more accessible, as there’s an original cast album and a number of clips and performances available on YouTube. As you might surmise from the title, it’s a rock opera with a different take on the legend of Lizzie Borden, authored by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer, Tim Maner, and Alan Stevens Hewitt. The official website describes it as so:

“LIZZIE is four women fronting a six-piece rock band.

“LIZZIE is Rage! Sex! Betrayal! BLOODY MURDER!

“LIZZIE is American mythology set to a blistering rock score with a sound owing less to Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber than to BIKINI KILL, the RUNAWAYS, and HEART.”

So, yeah, that ticks all of my boxes, and hopefully yours too.

The production I saw was executed by Chicago’s Firebrand Theatre who are an “equity musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women on and off the stage” and it was a goddamn blast. I can’t wait to see another of their offerings, but definitely jump at the chance to catch any production of it, if it hits your area.

HOUSE OF BORDEN (one of my favorite renditions of my favorite number, but I’m not sure why they had one of them play two parts):

What may be my new favorite YouTube theatre trailer, for what looks to have been a brilliant Canadian production (although it does untether the actors from their mics, which is not in line with prior productions):

Lastly, every time I rediscover this musical, I can’t help but endlessly re-listen to it.