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Shock 'n' Roll

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BBC Sound Effect Series Captures True Spirit of Halloween

Of all the holidays, Halloween is the closest to the spirit of rock 'n'

Beginning with Screamin' Jay Hawkins through Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Alice Cooper, Ozzy, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue and Barry Manilow, they all embody the good times we had as lit' ghosts 'n' goblins stumbling around the dark block wrapped in cheap flame-retardant fabric begging for candy from strangers.

As Halloween approaches it might be wise to consider setting the begging, stumbling and screaming mood with an song or two. And while tunes such as "Bark at the Moon," "Dead Babies," "I Put a Spell on You," 'Monster Mash," "Thriller" and "Mandy" are fine, I recommend the BBC Death and Horror sound effect series.

One can't go wrong with classics such as "Red hot Poker Into Eye," "Staking a Vampire: Three Mallet Blows," "Nails Hammered Into Flesh," "Fingernails Pulled Out, Assorted," "Self Immolation" and, of course, the ever popular "At The Dentist."

The three albums ("Death and Horror," "More Death and Horror" and "Even More Death and Horror") are the work of BBC sound engineers in London and represent the top of the line.

"The best sound effects in the world are from England, these are the primo sounds," said Dan Husted, a sales representative for Gemcom Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which manufactures and distributes the LPs. "They're more into sound in an aesthetic way, they're more open to artistic rather than financial considerations."

Noted producers such as Glyn Johns (Who, Rolling Stones), Alan Parsons (Himself, Pink Floyd) and Roy Thomas Baker (Cars, Foreigner) got started doing these and similar effects for the BBC, he said. Some, such as Johns, continue to dabble in it. "It allows them to experiment, it's one of the things that keeps them fresh," Husted said.

Which explains the obvious craftsmanship that went into "Head Chopped Off" and the sequel "Sawing Head Off."

"It is ghoulish in a way, it's almost gross, but that was actually a cabbage being chopped up," Husted said by phone. He added that a guillotine effect was a achieved by sliding a metal bar along a coat rack and editing that onto the sound of a mutilated cabbage dropping into a basket of straw.

"A cabbage is good, but a melon works, too, especially a honey dew for a real good 'thunk' sound," confirmed Marilyn Reiss, an American freelance engineer who does custom sound effects for Gemcom.

The market for audio gore and lesser effects —such as "Grave Digging (In Stoney Ground)," "Grave Digging (In Wet Ground)," "Three Werewolves Howling," "Hellhound (Panting)" and "Vampire Feeding" — is enormous, Husted said.

Amateur theater groups and spook houses are part of it, but the largest segment — the ones that nearly pushed "Death and Horror" onto the national record charts last year — are sci-fi and horror buffs. In particular Husted singled out the "Whovians," afficiandos of the low-budget British science fiction "Dr. Who" series broadcast on PBS. He estimated about 250,000 copies of all three LPs have been sold.

"It's a strange market, totally untapped," Husted said. "They like to make their own tapes and use the sound effects to segue between songs. Chains and whipping are pretty popular."

Husted put me in touch with 15-year-old John Rosenbloom, president of the Dr. Who International Fan Club in Sarasota.

"I like the head chopping off. Werewolves always do good, too. But I like the chains, really it's always been chains. They seem to stand out," Rosenbloom said.

In fact, the one he likes to play during Dr. Who conventions or relaxing at home is "Dr. Who and the Sea Devils" followed by "Ghostly Footsteps with Chains" which leads into the "old" Dr. Who theme music.

Rosenbloom also recommended "Three Werewolves Howling."

I promised to check it out, right after "Involuntary Regurgitation."

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  • APA 6th ed.: Mitchell, Justin (1984-10-30). Shock 'n' Roll. The Town Talk p. 1C.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Mitchell, Justin. "Shock 'n' Roll." The Town Talk [add city] 1984-10-30, 1C. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Mitchell, Justin. "Shock 'n' Roll." The Town Talk, edition, sec., 1984-10-30
  • Turabian: Mitchell, Justin. "Shock 'n' Roll." The Town Talk, 1984-10-30, section, 1C edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Shock 'n' Roll | url= | work=The Town Talk | pages=1C | date=1984-10-30 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=9 December 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Shock 'n' Roll | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=9 December 2023}}</ref>