1. Alice Cooper - "Welcome To My Nightmare"
You can't have Halloween without Alice Cooper.
From his decapitation-happy live shows to his self-mocking sense of
humor, he's rock's king demon. (Sorry, Marilyn--we know how hard you
try.) But was Cooper ever better than when accompanied by the Muppets?
2. Cannibal Corpse - "Death Walking Terror"
Cannibal Corpse sometimes
takes its gore-besotted schtick so far over the top that it becomes
comical. We suspect that's why Jim Carrey put the band in the first Ace Ventura
movie. But Corpse's own videos, particularly in recent years, are like
mini-horror movies, directed and edited with a surprising intensity.
Check out "Make Them Suffer," or "Evisceration Plague," from the 2009
album of the same name, on your own. Our pick is "Death Walking
Terror," a tale of hallucinations and murder, from 2007's Kill.
3. Geto Boys - "Mind Playing Tricks On Me"
One of the most genuinely chilling hip-hop tracks ever, this Geto Boys
song convincingly paints a (somewhat) nuanced portrait of paranoia and
psychological deterioration. And while Bushwick Bill's cartoonish
persona - and Halloween-themed verse, which is why it's on this list -
initially seems to detract from the impact, it ultimately helps make
the song the classic it is.
4. Entombed - "Night Of The Vampire"
"Night of the Vampire" is originally by one of America's most
demon-haunted singer-songwriters, Texas psychedelic casualty Roky
Erickson. But this cover version, by Swedish death metal kings Entombed (a
fairly Halloween-esque band name right there), adds a crushing
heaviness to the original's ominous crawl, distorting its simple riff
into pure nightmare fuel.
5. Iggy Pop & Grace Jones - "Nightclubbing"
Pop first recorded this track for his 1977 album The Idiot. Jones picked
it up a couple of years later and made it her own. Earlier this year,
they duetted it on French TV. Though the song's about club-hopping in
Berlin, the way they sing the words "walking through town" has always
made it sound more like trick-or-treating, or zombies on the prowl. And
check out the Frankenstein walk these two old ghouls do into the crowd
at the end of the clip.
6. Stephen Lynch - "Halloween"
This little ditty smashes Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song" in the head
with a shovel and dumps its body into a freshly dug backyard grave.
Comedians with guitars are usually a pretty dicey proposition, but Stephen Lynch's tribute to the darkest of holidays is hilarious.
7. Soft Cell - "Ghost Rider"
This song, originally by New York art-punkers Suicide, posits the
Marvel Comics flaming skeleton biker as a misunderstood hero. UK
synth-pop duo Soft Cell demonstrated
its dark side by performing it live on BBC TV, with special guest Jim
"Foetus" Thirlwell, in disguise as Clint Ruin, on demonic guest vocals.
8. Gravediggaz - "Diary Of A Madman"
In the mid '90s, a few hip-hop acts made an inexplicable turn toward
the dark side, versifying their love for horror movies in a subgenre
called "horrorcore." (Long before the group won an Oscar, Three Six
Mafia got its start rapping about Satan as much as women and weed.) One
of the main acts within this mini-movement was the Gravediggaz,
a semi-supergroup featuring producers Prince Paul and the RZA alongside
Frukwan of Stetsasonic and Too Poetic. This song was the first single
from the group's debut album, 6 Feet Deep (released with the much better title Niggamortis outside the U.S.).
9. White Zombie - "I'm Your Boogie Man"
Originally recorded for the soundtrack to the second movie in the Crow series, this track shows that Rob Zombie's ability to take a cheesy pun (boogie man = boogeyman, get it?) and make something gut-churningly awesome out of it is not to be messed with. And you gotta love the fake "Chiller Theater" kids' show format of the clip. (Yes, that's Mrs. Zombie as the Vampira-esque co-hostess.)
10. Misfits - "Halloween"
No Halloween music playlist would be complete without a track from New Jersey's answer to an exhumed Elvis, Glenn Danzig. Here he is with the Misfits, performing "Halloween" (a song he liked so much he slowed it down to a doom-metal crawl and re-recorded it with his next band, Samhain) somewhere, sometime in the early '80s.