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POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, September 14, 2012 Share
Back in middle school, I got together with my friend, John Holland, and we would scare ourselves so badly that we never wanted to fall asleep again. Years ago, my sisters gave me their old Disney records and one just happened to be Chilling, Thrilling, Sounds of the Haunted House. I used to listen to it all the time. On Side 1, a woman narrated the plot that allowed you to create a mini movie. She might say something about how you were driving in the rain and forced to stop so you walked outside and saw an eerie old house off in the distance. You had no choice but to venture inside. As soon as you opened the door all kinds of weird things happened. Those stories were good to fuel the imagination, but it was Side 2 that was really scary. On that side that narrator was gone, it was just an onslaught of terrible sounds. To make that even worse, John and I would wait until it was dark and then we would turn off all the lights in the house and blast Side 2 of that record. You start out brave and fearless and then you get scared at some noise then you get frighten. Quite naturally you talk to each other as the fear increases. By the end of Side 2, all the lights in the house went on and you shared ghost stories, and you peered out of the window, hoping not to see anything. All it took was a dog or cat to walk through the front yard to make your heart skip a beat.
Another record we listened to was called Halloween Horrors that had wonderfully artwork of an old scary house by a cemetery. The first Side was called The Story of Halloween about some guy who walks inside a haunted house. That was ok but again Side 2 had all the sound effects. Again, horror records work best at night with no lights on. What bothered me more than moaning ghosts, violent mobs fighting, were the flying saucer and alien sounds. That really got to me because space is so vast, anything could be waiting to descend down to Earth and capture you and eat your brain.
That record was a gift from my cousin. He bought it cheaply at a record store. On Halloween he would hide his stereo speakers in the bushes and wait for kids to come up to the door and knock. As soon as they starting knocking, he would blast his stereo and scare the crap out of them. The brave ones got candy and the wimps ran screaming down the street.
So far I have covered two records that caused me several sleepless nights, however there was also a third record that was another gift, from someone that I can’t remember, called Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of Worlds. Based on the novel by H. G. Wells, it was a double album that contained a booklet with the entire script. Sir Richard Burton narrated the alien invasion as members of Progressive Rock bands from the Moody Blues to Thin Lizzy provided the Sci Fi soundtrack. What really bothered me was the helplessness of War of the Worlds. Once the Martians assembled their fighting machines and the dreaded heat ray zap away everything insight, there was no hope for anyone. To make it worse, the booklet contained artwork with one painting that still haunts me today. At the end of the story, the Martians are dying due to bacteria, and one picture showed the downed fighting machines that resembled mechanical spiders with birds eating “red shreds.” For some reason it really bothered me seeing a close up of one bird, to the far right, eating this sticky looking awful red substance from another world. However the real horror was the Epilogue that was a dialogue between Pasadena and Bermuda about a spacecraft, from Earth, that lands on Mars. The Controllers are discussing how they have just lost contact. Then a green flare shoots off from Mars and the Martians are returning. That provided many sleepless nights. I could deal with zombies by just shooting them in the head, or staking a vampire in the heart, or shooting a werewolf with a silver bullet, but how do you combat fighting aliens? What if nothing on Earth can stop the invasion next time?
Horror records were a big part of my childhood and helped me to write my own stories even more so than books and movies because with the records you really have to listen and use your own mind to have a scary experience. The best part of horror records was that it didn’t take much to get you going. All you had to do was say “what was that noise?” and the fact that you couldn’t identify that noise made it work. That is what is so scary about H. P. Lovecraft when he writes about the thing that was too horrible to describe. To give it form makes it accessible and lessens the fright but to keep something unknown just gets to you like nothing else can.
So the next time you have nothing to do over the weekend, wait until dark, turn out the lights, and turn up something scary on the stereo.
"The Castle of Dr. Fetterstein" is ©2012 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2012 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.
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