Top 10 Halloween Rock Tunes + more!

by Eric Melin on October 28, 2008

in Top 10s

Last week I asked readers to send in their picks to help me create the perfect Halloween rock playlist. I had lots of picks of my own to start with, but I wanted to see what you all could come up with. Not only were there a lot of cool songs I had never heard before, but there were a lot of suggestions that I should have remembered and just plain forgot. This list is my reflection of all those contributions from you, the Scene-Stealers. Thanks for all the great comments. I’ve spent many late nights listening to all these cool tunes. Now I offer you my commentary on 10 songs that you suggested and I felt somehow compelled to write about. (If you want to contribute your own Top 10 for a future Tuesday, email me at at anytime with your idea!)

10. The Kinks- “Wicked Annabella”

Many of the songs on this list have a creepy element in their music and not merely a Halloween-themed lyric. This is one of those songs. Suggested by Randall, it’s a song that I often overlook because of its short length and simplicity—even though it’s on one of my favorite Kinks records, 1968’s “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.” It is based around a dark, sinister riff from Kinks songwriter Ray Davies, and features lyrics about a wicked woman who lives in a dark, twisted house. She waits for sleeping children to open their eyes at midnight so she can enslave the “little demons.” The guitar sounds like its slinking along in the forest, and I get visions of the Big Bad Wolf stalking poor Red every time I listen, reminding me of a time when I was young and fairy tales were actually pretty damn scary.

9. The Sonics- “The Witch”

Rich Yarges, a badass songwriter in his own right, suggested this badass piece of 1964 garage fuzz rock from Tacoma, Washington’s The Sonics. “The Witch” is a crazed slab of wax that sounds like its literally trying to explode out of the speakers. Listen to singer Gerry Roslie’s blood-curdling scream accompanied by drummer Bob Bennett’s sped-up machine-gun snare fills. “The Witch,” released on a local indie label, went on to become the biggest-selling local single in the history of the Pacific Northwest, even though its radio airplay was restricted because of its “possibly misogynistic” subject matter. This is where The Stooges and MC5 got everything from, and you can trace that lineage right through to garage rock loyalists like the Hives. Are they the first punk rock band? Maybe.

8. Dokken- “Dream Warriors”

Easily the worst song on this list, I put it on here only for nostalgia’s sake and because both Dana and Tony Sams picked it. Why anyone ever thought it was a good idea to get the wimpiest singer in hair metal (Don Dokken) to sing the 1987 theme song from the third installment of the quickly fading “Nightmare on Elm Street” series, I’ll never have a clue. Yet, here it is. Proof that some awful ideas simply cannot be stopped. I have nothing to say about this song other than I never liked it, and I (true confession time!) used to be a Dokken fan for a while. But I’m not going down alone on this one. Don Dokken was so desperate to be considered “heavy,” that on a later solo tour, opening for Poison in Manhattan, KS, in 1990, my friend Bill McShane told me this infamous quote that has stood the test of time: “I’m Don Dokken and you need to buy my new album.” Dramatic pause. (grabs crotch vigorously) “It’s got plenty of this!”

7. Meat Puppets/Nirvana- “Lake of Fire”

Scene-Stealers user Chickencha was right on the money in suggesting the most unlikely radio song ever, “Lake of Fire,” by the Meat Puppets. The imagery in this off-key little ditty, of bad folks frying in a lake of fire in a desert, is terrifying. Originally on “Meat Puppets II” from 1983, it is the song that has come to define the acid-fried Arizona rockers, thanks to a cover version that was recorded one night in New York City by Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. Getting an assist from Puppets brothers Cris and Curt Kirkwood, “Lake of Fire” was one of three Meat Puppets songs the group covered for their MTV Unplugged taping. Since Cobain’s death, the song has grown in stature and despite—or maybe because of—his gravelly, impassioned delivery and the song’s chilling lyrics, As weird as it may seem, “Lake of Fire” is a staple on modern rock radio these days.

6. NAHPI- “Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?”

Everybody should trust the dust. I do. That’s why he’s my cameraman and editor. Trustthedust is better known as Dustin Schirer, and the fact that he knew about this very cool Halloween benefit song from three years ago proves that he is infinitely cooler than I am. “Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?” is a satire of the Band-Aid song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in which Bono, Boy George, and Bob Geldof sang about starving kids in Africa. While that song raised money for hunger relief, this one donated all proceeds to UNICEF. The artist is listed as the North American Hallowe’en Prevention Initiative (NAHPI), but is really members of the Arcade Fire, Sonic Youth, Sloan, Rilo Kiley, Les Savy Fav, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beck, Feist, and David Cross(?). for what (on paper) may seem like the biggest inside joke ever, it’s actually a great song—lots of fun—and it has an inventive music video.

5. Crispin Glover- “Ben”

If you’ve ever read any of his comments on this site, you would know that Chris Knudsen is somewhat of a freak. So it’s no surprise to discover that one of his Halloween playlist submissions is a song by cult-favorite actor/weirdo Crispin Glover. He is most known for his oddball performance as George McFly (Marty’s Dad) in “Back to the Future,” but he also recorded some really strange music, tried to kick David Letterman, and starred in “Willard,” a remake of a low-budget 1971 horror flick about a disturbed young man who has feels strange magnetism towards rats. Here he covers the title track from that movie’s 1972 sequel, “Ben.” 14-year-old Michael Jackson took this song to number one—probably the only love song to a rat ever to reach that position—and here, Glover turns the ode into a surreal short film. The song alone is not nearly as creepy or effective, so make sure you watch the whole video!

4. Motley Crue- “Shout at the Devil”

Michael Jackson had Vincent Price do spoken-word spookiness on 1982’s “Thriller.” Iron Maiden couldn’t afford Price so they hired some guy to speak like Price on “Number of the Beast.” Well, nobody ever said Motley Crue was original. Tony Sams suggested this classic bit of heavy-metal nonsense from 1983, which, aside from featuring lots of high-pitched notes that singer Vince Neil can’t even get near anymore, also contains—you guessed it—another spooky oratory. This one is some sort of alternate Biblical “In the Beginning” bullshit about good always overpowering the evil of all man’s sins, spoken by a metallic robo-voice that could have been Mr. Roboto. It may not have made a lick of sense, but it served its purpose as a menacing introduction to an album that featured a shiny black pentagram on the cover and featured four guys wearing more make up and lipstick than your mother. I believe that in reality, the lyrics are some kind of anti-Satan rallying cry to stand strong against the Devil, but I prefer to extend my index and pinky finger and let my rock fist fly high!

3. Jason Segel- “Dracula’s Theme” from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”

A very astute pick from Randall, Segel wrote this song and performed it in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” one of the best comedies of this year. This song was the first hint that Segel (one of those prodigiously talented Judd Apatow “Freaks and Geeks” alums) had a Muppet fetish. His character in the movie is a frustrated slacker musician who writes spooky incidental music for his girlfriend’s hit TV cop show that sounds like a monkey could play it (as long as he stepped on the right two keys on the synthesizer). His dream project is a puppet musical about Dracula that he takes deadly seriously, but soon realizes everybody else thinks is a joke. At a bar one night, his new flame springs a trap to get him onstage at a club to play it. I couldn’t find the version from the end of the movie, performed with Bill Hader and a full cast of puppet masters, but this one—an out-of-costume trial run—will do just fine thank you. Segel is currently writing a reboot of the Muppet movie franchise. Perfect!

2. Electric Light Orchestra- “Fire on High”

Scene-Stealers sitegoer Aaron picked this ELO song as a scary one, and for the first minute or so, he is right on the money. By the time the band kicks in, “Fire on High,” from the group’s 1975 “Face the Music” record, goes into full-on sports theme mode, but until then, it’s a backwards-masking nirvana. Hell, ELO maestro Jeff Lynne and company didn’t even try to disguise the fact that there were backwards vocals on the song. Preachers and teachers all over the world were threatened by the menace of “Satanic rock n’ roll” in the 1970s and 80s, listening over and over for traces of a message in songs that never had any in them in the first place. Judas Priest was even brought to trial for hiding backwards messages in their songs that subliminally told kids to commit suicide! (They were acquitted.) Play the beginning of this song backwards and it’s a shock to find out it was spoken that way on purpose—the drummer says “The music is reversible but time is not. Turn back. Turn back. Turn back. Turn back.” In other words, stop wasting your time, playing records backwards when they are supposed to be enjoyed the other way, dumbass.

1. The Who- “Boris the Spider”

Bassist John Entwistle wrote and sang this creepy, crawly little number from The Who’s 1966 “A Quick One” album, which was another suggestion from Rich Yarges. I’m a little embarrassed I left this one off in the first place. Besides a wicked descending bass line, and a lower-than-low vocal delivery, Entwistle delivers a funny parable about one spider’s life and ultimately, his “sticky end.” It may not have any specific Halloween theme, but the music itself is bizarre enough to not feel out of place in an episode of “The Addams Family.” Entwhistle was a bass virtuoso and all-around weird dude, one of two total freaks that made this British Invasion band so unique in the beginning. Now I’m afraid, many young people know The Who from their “CSI” theme songs and the Broadway musical “Tommy”—a far cry from the madness that surrounded the band in their early days.

List of other “notable” contributions…
AC/DC – Highway To Hell
Alice Cooper – Feed My Frankenstein
Alice Cooper – I Love The Dead
Alice in Chains – Them Bones
Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
Arcade Fire – Vampire/Forest Fire
Arctic Monkeys – Perhaps Vampires is a Bit Strong But…
Audioslave – The Curse
Band of Horses – Is There A Ghost
Bauhaus- “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”
Beck – Scarecrow
Ben Gibbard – Thriller
Black Sabbath – Hand of Doom
Black Sabbath- “Black Sabbath”
Blue Oyster Cult-”Don’t Fear The Reaper”
Bob Dylan – Tombstone Blues
Bobby “Boris” Pickett – Monster Mash
Burn the Witch – Queens of the Stone Age
Cat Power – Werewolf
CCR – Bad Moon Rising
Classics IV – Spooky
Coil – First Five Minutes After Death
Current 93 – Dogun (calling for forgotten faces)
Daniel Johnston- “Haunted House”
Danny and the Nightmares (Daniel Johnston) – Haunted House
David Bowie-“Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”
Dead Kennedys – Halloween
Dokken – Dream Warriors
Donovan- “Season of the Witch”
Echo and the Bunnymen – People are Strange
Edgar Winter Group- “Frankenstein”
Elvis Costello – Spooky Girlfriend
Evangelicals – The Ghost of Abner E. Norman (The Halloween Song)
Evil Boy – Stiv Bators
Fastway – Trick or Treat
Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff – A Nightmare On My Street
Gerard McMann – Cry Little Sister
Geto Boys – Mind’s Playin Tricks On Me:
Golden Earring – Twilight Zone
Helloween – Anything!
Iggy Pop – Candy
Iron Maiden- “The Number of the Beast”
J.J. Cale – After Midnightt
Johnny Cash – (Ghost) Riders in the Sky
Killbot2000 – Murder By Death
KISS- “God of Thunder”
Led Zeppelin – Gallows Pole
Leon Redbone – Witch Queen of New Orleans
Lou Reed – Halloween Parade
Love Spit Love – How Soon is Now
Matt Pond PA – Halloween
MC Hammer – Adams Family Groove
Metallica – The Thing That Should Not Be
Michael Jackson- “Thriller”
Ministry – Everyday is Halloween
Ministry – Scarecrow
Misfits – Halloween II
Misfits- “Halloween”
Modest Mouse – The Devil’s Workday
Mudhoney – Halloween
Murder by Death- “Killbot 2000″
Neil Young – Vampire Blues
New York Dolls- “Frankenstein”
Nurse with Wound – I’ve Plummed Through This Neighborhood
Oingo Boingo – No One Lives Forever
Oingo Boingo- “Dead Man’s Party”
People in Planes – Vampire
Public Enemy – Night of the Living Baseheads
Queens of the Stone Age – Burn the Witch
Radiohead – Bodysnatchers
Ramones – I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement
Ramones – Psycho Therapy
Ramones- “Pet Sematary”
Ray Parker Jr – “Ghostbusters”
RJD2 – The Horror
Rob Zombie – Dragula
Robert Johnson – Me and the Devil Blues
Rockwell – Somebody’s Watchin’ Me
Roky Erickson – I Walked with a Zombie
Rush – Witch Hunt
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins- I Put A Spell On You
Siouxsie and the Banshees- “Halloween”
Sleepy Jackson – Vampire Racehorse
Sonic Youth- “Halloween”
Squirrel Nut Zippers-“Hell”
STP – Dead and Bloated
Suicide – Ghost Rider
Superdrag – Do The Vampire
Talking Heads- “Psycho Killer”
The (International) Noise Conspiracy – Imposter Costume
The Arcade Fire- “Vampire/Forest Fire”
The Cramps- I Was a Teenage Werewolf
The Flaming Lips – Halloween on the Barbary Coast
The Gruesomes – Way Down Below
The Gun Club – Walking With The Beasts
The Lawrence Arms – Ghost Stores
The Melvins – Blood Witch
The Misfits – 20 Eyes
The Stations – The Gutter Twins
The White Stripes – Walking With A Ghost
This is Halloween -from “The Nightmare before Christmas” soundtrack
Urge Overkill – Stitches
Warren Zevon – Werewolves of London
Wilson Pickett – In the Midnight Hour
Wolf Eyes – Stabbed in the Face
Wolfmother – Witchcraft

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 angie October 28, 2008 at 11:16 am

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult – Days of Swine and Roses


2 Ashly October 28, 2008 at 12:39 pm

I met Groovie Mann from TKK at a concert of theirs at the Uptown, he was drunk (we assumed) and wrote all over one the of the table cloth and then, of course, I stole it..


3 Randall October 28, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Two more that I should have added before:

Hoodoo Gurus – “Dig It Up” (about digging up the corpse of your girlfriend)
Dead Or Alive – “Something in My House” (Mortevicar Mix) {This remix has dialogue from The Exorcist and various spooky noises. Very Halloween sounding.)

Also, here are a few appropriate Groovie Ghoulies songs. They have more . . .

“Graveyard Girlfriend”
“Vampire Girl”
“Do the Bat”
“The Blob”
“Blood Beach”


4 rustyc23 October 28, 2008 at 2:56 pm

I believe that the entire “Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls” album would probably apply.


5 The Dude October 29, 2008 at 11:07 am



6 ChrisKnudsen November 12, 2008 at 11:36 pm

Haha, thanks for the shout out, DUDEZZZZZZZZ!! I am starting to use you as my reference from Connex because I don’t think Chris can say that Connex would hire me again but YOU CAN. Haha.


7 Bill Heinen October 30, 2009 at 12:44 pm

SURFIN DEAD by The Cramps!! From Return of the Living Dead. Greatest zombiebilly halloween song ever!


8 Bill Heinen October 30, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Sorry, forgot to mention anything by Samhain, “Michael” by Son of Sam, and “Dead” by Pixies.


9 lance November 1, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Napoleon XIV: ‘They’re coming to take me away’

this song always reminds me of Halloween…


10 travis November 2, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Other possibilities:

Any track from Charles Manson’s album, not necessarily halloween but plenty creepy considering his life.

Another is a track from a group called Presage entitled “Invitation to Hell” it contains clips from The Prophecy w/ Viggo Mortensen as the Devil and Christopher Walken as Gabriel and as an added bonus Dick Vitale yelling, “WHO WILL COME WITH ME!!!”

The Gremlin’s Rag, from Gremlin’s, always reminds me of Halloween even though the movie happened on Christmas.


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