Hello, "boys" and "ghouls!" Welcome to Spooky Steve's Halloween Sound Effects Album Reviews: the Internet's definitive source on Halloween sound effects albums since 1996! Your ghosting host is back thanks to two years of deprogramming, and no thanks a certain motivational seminar that severely poisoned Spooky Steve's life choices back in 2010. Crooks busted into the old bungalow and made off with Spooky Steve's Aptiva -- yes, the very Aptiva that Brent Spiner (Or "Star-Trek's Database" if you haven't turned on a TV in 25 years!) himself brushed against in a crowded Galac-Con '95 elevator. But after upgrading to a multimedia-capable netbook and the newest version of Encarta (Research doesn't do itself!), Spooky Steve is ready to move to the next level of Halloween Sound Effects Album reviews: streaming Internet clips. WARNING: Do not attempt to view unless you've made the leap to 56k!
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kevin "Jackal" Johnston when he spoke on a panel at my local Spirit Halloween Superstore in February, and you had better believe that 2013 could shape up to be another 1987 with so much new talent revitalizing the same industry Novelty Quarterly recently called "microscopic and of trivial value." Hope you like eating those words, boys, since Mr. Johnston's classic buildup and payoff techniques reflect on years of study under greats like Jim "No Bones" McCullough, who according to rumors has lived in "The Jackal's" living room for nearly eight years. Mr. Johnston is not afraid of using the same scream twice, or even multiple times within the same scenario, just as he frequently refused to go to the Dairy Queen with Yours Ghouly to talk shop. Spooky Steve needs some stability in his life, and that involves friendships with defined boundaries. Don't you worry, Kevin, you'll down some Dillys yet!
This deep cut comes from Wade Denning and Frank Daniels' Monster Mash: Sounds of Terror, and provides a stunning example of the "tell, don't show" school of Halloween sound effects album design that threatened to take over our industry in the 1970s. Thankfully, quality eventually won out over mass appeal, but we still have these relics as grim reminders of a future that could have been. Listen, if you're going to trap the listener in a coffin, Spooky Steve strongly advises against telling them to first think about how terrifying such a situation would be. This is simple Theater of the Mind 101, and Sounds of Terror exists as proof that the smoke and pill drugs of the 1970s destroyed the minds of an entire generation. I managed to track down the grave of Mr. Denning, and let that headstone know in no uncertain terms how Spooky Steve feels about his legacy! Will his family react in horror when they come to visit and notice that their dearly departed is now Resting in "Pieces?" Probably not, since wild dogs appeared to have dug him up in that abandoned pauper's cemetery years ago. But, as with voting third party, Spooky Steve knows that symbolic actions often speak louder than words.
Spooky Steve made a few bucks in the late '80s as a freelance haunted house inspector, traveling to and fro elementary school gyms to make sure they were making the best use of their available floor space. But make one complaint about a wheelchair-bound teacher dressed as a skeleton, and you have the whole school board breathing down your neck. Apparently in our race to the bottom as a country we have simply tossed out the idea of skeleton authenticity, when we should all know perfectly well that a debilitating brain disease like cerebral palsy would NOT affect an undead skeleton. That said, Spooky Steve remembers clucking his tongue at bargain basement compilations like Scarewear in the past, and the clucking will continue. No cohesive theme or narrative runs through this random collection of stock sound effects, which includes Theremin use that could be described as "haphazard" at best. And the organ out of nowhere? Please. If Spooky Steve wanted to hear that, he'd break the oath he made in 1989 and re-enter the Catholic Church. Sorry, Scarewear, but you'll have to do more than that to shake up a guy who recently had three consecutive and self-inflicted near-death experiences.
This special review request comes in from longtime Spooky Steve fan firstname.lastname@example.org, which doesn't exactly fall into the Halloween sound effects album genre, but I managed to keep down the three pounds of expired fudge she sent to my P.O. Box in February 2011, so this fan has definitely earned and entry in the SSRB (Spooky Steve Record Books). Let's just say that this Happy Meal treat leaves much to be desired, and here Spooky Steve sat, anticipating the clown-terror of Stephen King's "The It." Instead, this fast-food concoction centered around a middle aged man in grease paint caring for a special needs friend, whose brain disorder is so overwhelming that entire seasons are confused amidst the misfiring neurons. As someone with a history of Alzheimer's in the family tree, this depiction hits a little too close to home, longtimespookystevefan67! Dr. Marczak told Spooky Steve to avoid reminders of his mortality, and this nightmare on vinyl conjures up memories of visiting grandpaps at the nursing home and trying to convince him he wasn't on a train.
Yes, it's the perfect form for surviving a car crash. But it's also the perfect form for so much more, like surviving the trauma of reading any news headline in 2016.
It's just a little confusing, is all.
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