Halloween is never quite Halloween for me without “The Monster Mash,” sung by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. I have a ridiculous affection for this song, though someday I really need to learn all the lyrics so I can stop singing, humming and thinking the same few snatches of lyrics over and over again every time Halloween rolls around.
The song was recorded in 1962, by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. Pickett once did an imitation of Boris Karloff during a performance that was so well received that he and a fellow band member, Lenny Capizzi, wrote this song, and the band that recorded it was then designated The Crypto-Kickers. The song was also partly a spoof on a popular dance at the time called The Mashed Potato. I had to look that dance up (anything called the Mashed Potato deserves to be looked up) and found the Mashed Potato is supposed to be somewhat related to the twist and was popularized by such songs as Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time.”
The song was released as a single, though the BBC banned the song from being played, nominating it “too morbid,” but was a #1 hit during October of that year in America. After the success of the song, the Crypto-Kickers recorded an entire album called The Original Monster Mash, which contained various monster mash theme songs, including “Monster Holiday,” which is a bit of a spoof of Boris Karloff’s classic narration of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and the poem “The Night Before Christmas.” Boris Karloff himself actually liked the song “Monster Mash” and apparently sang a version on TV, which, alas, appears to be lost. I wish I could have seen that. There is, however, a version sung by another major monster actor, Vincent Price.
Without further ado, here is that classic Holiday favorite, “The Monster Mash,” set to a collection of images from those wonderful, classic horror movies made at Universal Studios.
And here’s a rather different version. In 1997, a band called The Misfits recorded a horror punk version of the song. I confess I am not well versed in the various genres and forms of rock music, so I had to look up what horror punk (or horror rock) is. It is apparently a blend of punk and gothic (which unfortunately didn’t enlighten me). According to Wikipedia, horror punk “leans towards a 1950s-influenced doo-wop and rockabilly sound.” In the article “Top Ten Horror Punk Bands” from the OC Weekly, they describe it as:
“the classic sounds of hardcore punk rock, with hints of goth, death rock, rockabilly, shock rock, psychobilly, metal and even sometimes industrial and pop music.
This musical subset of punk is a sure way to go if you like songs about zombies, sci-fi, old horror films, monsters and other tales of gloom, mystery, morbidity, in many instances taken from comics, cult films and pop culture’s obsession with violence, and the macabre.”
So, here is the Misfit’s version, recorded anew in 2003 for the album Project 1950.
And just for fun, “The Transylvania Twist” from Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypto-Kicker’s album, The Original Monster Mash. It is mostly instrumental, with some dialogue as Dracula (complete with Bela Lugosi accent) solicits the opinion of Frankenstein’s monster on his new dance. It seems that he likes it.
And because I apparently just can’t let go of this song, here is that version sung by Vincent Price (who knew he could sing!). It’s not radically different from Picket’s version, but you gotta love that evil laugh at the end of the song.
Of course, if you actually listen to every single video (like I just did) you might never want to hear this song again, or at least not for a good, long while. 🙂