Tricks & (Musical) Treats for Halloween

Every year around this time, a chill shudders through your leafy block, disfigured gourds appear up and down your street and creepy neighbors you’ve taken great pains to avoid suddenly materialize on your doorstep. Halloween can be a terrifying time – but only if you let it. The trick, so to speak, is to go on the offensive. Lean in, gear up and get into the, uh, spirit.

We all know well the sights and sensations of the season – costumes, candy, trees festooned in toilet paper – but sometimes overlooked are its sounds. As a reminder of how best to celebrate the holiday (and how to throw a scare into friends, family and the pre-teen punk two houses over), we present our list of Halloween music highlights.

Songs: No date on the calendar holds a candle to Christmas when it comes to seasonal tunes, but Halloween has contributed its fair share to the holiday canon. “Monster Mash” has collected some dust since 1962, but it’s iconic – and the go-to move for a mood-setter that won’t actually inflict emotional scars on the kiddies. “The Addams Family,” “Purple People Eater,” and “Spooky Scary Skeletons” are cut from the same cloth – fun, faux-frightening ditties that play to any audience.

Movies: Ghostbusters and Little Shop of Horrors gave us eponymous, inoffensive tunes that you might hear over the loudspeaker at your local Walgreens. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” takes on an eerie new pall thanks to American Werewolf in London, and Tito & Tarantula’s “After Dark” has its intended effect in From Dusk Till Dawn. Other scary flicks have featured songs so incongruous to the material that they become ironically, inexorably linked: Shaun of the Dead breathes new life into Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and Harry Belafonte’s “Day-O” is somehow perfect for the weirdo energy of Tim Burton’s classic, Beetlejuice. But the cult classic Rocky Picture Horror Show might be the titan of them all, featuring a mix of clever choreography and rock tunes that introduce us to Dr. Frank-and-Furter’s latest creation.

Sound effects and spoken word: Create the perfect haunted house environment with ominous background TV fuzz, a la Poltergeist or The Ring. Intersperse with a tinkling teacup (Get Out), demonic whooshing (Evil Dead) or any old nursery rhyme whisper-sung by a possessed schoolchild. Wanna watch a Gen Xer go ghost-white? Queue the piano-tinkling, spine-tingling instrumental themes from Halloween and The Exorcist. Or hang a mirror on the exit door and leave a note with the password: Candyman, Candyman, Candyman.

More music: Some tunes aren’t quite of the holiday, but nevertheless should be near the top of your Halloween music playlist: Outkast’s “Dracula’s Wedding,” Alice Cooper’s “Feed My Frankenstein” and Ministry’s “Every Day Is Halloween” dial up the doom – but all with a killer backbeat. Scare the bejeebus out of grandma with Rob Zombie’s “Dragula,” the Cramps’ “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” or Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” The king, of course: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which still has a chilling effect on the MTV generation – and features a cameo from horror auteur Vincent Price.The best way to enjoy the sounds of the season? By pumping tunes and terror through POW Audio’s speakers – at a party, in a haunted house or outdoors. Two Mo speakers can even be synced for a true left/right stereo experience. We’re sure you can find a fright-inducing use for that feature.

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