Top Haunted Hits for Halloween

Just a few days till Halloween and I thought I'd share some of my favorite songs to fit the season. The first ten songs are pretty well known, but great music for Halloween nonetheless. The next list features some lesser known greats to check out if you haven't heard them.

1. "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Hawkins claimed to have fathered 57 children; however, a search after his death has revealed a number closer to 75.

2. "The Thing That Should Not Be" by Metallica
Anything based on the Cthulhu Mythos earns automatic points; but this one is great in its own right.

3. "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)" by Concrete Blonde
Peter Buck of R.E.M. appeared on the Bloodletting LP, contributing to the song "The Darkening of the Light".

4. "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by the Bauhaus
Nearly nine minutes in length and gothic to its core, it was actually recorded in one take. The lyrics are masterful and dark: "The bats have left the bell tower. The victims have been bled. Red velvet lines the black box. Bela Lugosi's dead... Alone in a darkened room, The Count."

5. "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett
Elvis Presley once said this was the dumbest song he'd ever heard. I'm inclined to agree... but it's still a lot of fun.

6. "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne
This was Ozzy's first recording after the death of his original guitarist, Randy Rhoads.

7. "Killing Moon" by Echo and the Bunnymen
As fitting and effective as "The Killing Moon" was for the opening sequence, the director of Donnie Darko actually wanted to use INXS's "Never Tear Us Apart" instead, but could not secure the rights and went with the Bunnymen tune instead. Thank God.

8. "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield
I guess it's only because of its use in The Exorcist that I think it's scary, but it's scary nonetheless. Tubular Bells was actually the first album released by Richard Branson's Virgin Records label.

9. "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult
For me, the dark and sinister effect of the song was shattered upon the airing of the Saturday Night Live skit in 2000 where Christopher Walken, as Bruce Dickinson, demands "More Cowbell!"

10. "Pet Semetary" by The Ramones
Many know that Stephen King was a big fan of the Ramones and included "Who Made Who?" on his crappy movie Maximum Overdrive.

I could also list "Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo, "Season of the Witch" by Donovan, or "Halloween" by Siouxie and the Banshees, or maybe a song from Rocky Horror... but enough with stating the obvious- let's look at a few lesser known gems.

1. "Burke and Hare" by the Scaffold
This one's about those grave robbers from the 19th century done with jazzy 1960's pep. Who would've thought a song about body snatching could be so fun!!

2. "Cthlu thlu" by Caravan
Listen and read about it here on a previous post. Another H.P. Lovecraft inspired recording - this time by an underrated yet extremely talented prog rock band.

3. "The Blob" by Burt Bacharach and Hal David (performed by the Five Blobs)
This may be the catchiest song of all time. I implore you to go here and listen to this finger snappin' classic from the movie. The first part is a peppy lounge instrumental, and then the lyrics kick in.... trust me, you'll love it.

4. "Witch's Hat" by The Incredible String Band
I admit it - it is an acquired taste. Very, very odd stuff. But the String Band was and is highly regarded outside the US and among rock snobs everywhere. It's certainly not something meant for Shadow Stevens to read on the top forty, but it does grow on you if you give it a chance.

5. "Down in the Park" by Tubeway Army/Gary Numan
There something about this song by the guy who recorded the new wave hit "Cars" that scares the hell out of me. Maybe it's the reference to a "rape machine" or the haunting synthesizer... whatever the reason, it's a dark, dark song from the era of Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow.

6. Phantasm Theme
Laugh if you want, but give this one a good listen before you scorn this pick. At first, I thought it sounded like an jazzed up rip off of John Carpenter's Halloween theme. But really, it's just an enjoyable little tune for a movie about putting giant insects in garbage disposals and flying silver balls of death.

7. Profundo Rosso (Deep Red) Theme by Goblin
Yet another movie theme instrumental. I think any horror song list has to contain a song by Goblin - the guys who provided the themes to numerous giallo and horror films of the seventies. This is my favorite of their recordings - it has that generic piano/keyboard intro (similar to Halloween and Phantasm) so common in horror films, but gets really good once the drums kick in. The song is extremely effective in the Argento movie.

8. The theme song to the film Point of Terror (1971)
This song is at the same time my worst and favorite horror song of all time. I can't quite figure out if I love it for its seventies grooviness or hate it for its seventies lameness. The song is performed to utter seventies perfection (or is it utter seventies lousiness) by Peter Carpenter and can be found towards the bottom of my post here.

And finally...

9."Tam Lin" by Fairport Convention
I only just recently devoted an entire post to this classic here.

I could think of more, but my choices seem to be getting more and more obscure, so I'll quit while I'm ahead.


  1. I was listening to "Bela Lugosi's Dead" just the other day. I love Bauhaus, plus I've got a tribute CD that Cleopatra Records did some years ago of various acts doing their songs. This is a song I really love listening to at this time of year. I also really love "Bloodletting" by Concrete Blonde. There are some really other spooky cool songs on your list.

    I was once a really big fan of goth music. As I've gotten older, I've moved away from many of my darker interests of my youth. I still break out a lot of goth music at this time of year.

  2. Keith- I went through a "goth" stage as well - loved bands like The Cure and Siouxie and the Banshees. Listening to some of this stuff recently (including the grunge I was into a bit later), I was surprised at how well it holds up over time. Songs off albums by Alice in Chains and Husker Du sound as great now as they did back then. Ahhh, the good ol' days.

  3. I know what you mean. I was expecting that I might find some of it really cheesy or something these days. I didn't at all. It brought back a lot of memories. Plus those are some really good songs. I've been in the right mood for that type of music lately with all the crap in my life. This season also always makes me want to delve more into darker movies and music. Have a spooky cool Halloween.

  4. Nice list. A bit of trivia about Tubular Bells: Mick Taylor of the Stones did a lot to promote Oldfield's music by playing with him twice in concert to get his career kickstarted.

    My Halloween fave:

    "I Walked with a Zombie" by Roky Erickson

  5. Many know that Stephen King was a big fan of the Ramones and included Who Made Who?" on his crappy movie Maximum Overdrive.

    "Who Made Who" was by AC/DC, of course.

  6. To the Blue Oyster Cult entry I would add two lesser known songs from their Spectres album:

    I Love the Night: A slow, dreamy paean to the joys of being a vampire(!)

    Nosferatu: A sinister narrative that chronicles the Murnau silent film pretty accurately.

    Both interesting little mid 70s ditties.