My Haunted Library

All things spooky. Your source for paranormal and supernatural book and movie reviews, strangeography, Halloween crafts and a little cozy fall baking.


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Alternoween 2: Dark Classical and Evocative Instrumentals for an Ominous Halloween Playlist

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Some of us may want a more atmospheric Halloween than last week’s hard rocking songs offered. Here you go. I’ve made a playlist of my favorite dark classical pieces, spooky movie themes, and other eerie instrumental snippets. Sit out on your porch at midnight on Halloween and watch the fall clouds racing by under that almost-full moon and listen to these tracks, if you dare.

Ave Satani (from The Omen) – Jerry Goldsmith. (1976) Goldsmith’s satanic version of a Gregorian chant was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in ’76.  Goldsmith worked with his orchestra’s choir-master to create a musical black mass. Highly unnerving.

Danse Macabre – Camille Saint-Saens. (1874) One of my absolute favorites.  I get goosebumps every time I hear it.  According to old superstition, at midnight every Halloween, Death appears and calls skeletons from their graves to dance for him. They dance until the cock crows the next morning. In this piece, you can hear the harp at the beginning, striking midnight, and the oboe mimicking the rooster at the end. Magnificent, wild, eerie, brilliant.

The Fog Prologue – John Houseman. (1980) “11:55, almost midnight.  Enough time for one more story…” The epitome of a creepy ghost story from the 1980 film classic. If Houseman’s voice and the deep swell and single theme notes in the background don’t give you chills, nothing will.

Theme from The Fog – John Carpenter. (1980) Followed immediately by the iconic theme from the king of spooky synthesizer himself. Carpenter considered it one of his best scores.

Carnival of Souls – Combustible Edison. (1994) Lounge-y tribute to the ’62 cult classic film.  Sticks weirdly in your head.

Suspiria (Daemonia version) – Goblin. (1997) Creepy, whispery, synthesizer-heavy theme to Argento’s horror masterpiece. John Carpenter later credited Goblin’s work on another Argento soundtrack – Profondo Rosso – for inspiring his own use of synthesizer on the Halloween soundtrack.  Cool.

The Bookhouse Boys – Angelo Badalamenti. (1990) Think: alone on a late and rainy night in a strange place. Darkly bluesy song. Eerie sax. Badalamenti won a Grammy for the Twin Peaks Theme in 1990.

Dies Irae (from the Requiem Mass in D Minor) – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. (1791) “Dies Irae” means “Day of Wrath” when souls are summoned for the Last Judgment and the worthy are delivered and the unsaved are damned. The Dies irae was used as part of the sequence for the Catholic Requiem Mass and funerals. Roman Catholic reforms removed it (and other off-putting texts that focused on terror, despair, punishment, etc.) from funerals and masses in 1969-1970.  Small wonder – this is terrifying!  Powerful, fast, almost violent.

Theme from The ShiningWendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind. (1980) Based on Berlioz’s Dies Irae from the Dream of a Witch’s Sabbath movement of Symphonie Fantastique. Dissonant and uber-creepy.

Confession Modulation – Broadcast. (2012) From the Berberian Sound Studio soundtrack.  The British band did haunting bits of song for this mesmerizing film – a must for audiophiles.  I couldn’t find the clip for you, but here’s the movie trailer.  Trust me on the haunting part.

Two Steps from Hell – Exhumed. (2012) Two guys joined forces in 2006 to create original music for movie trailers…now they’re known for dynamic genre albums.  This one is from the Halloween album, of course.

Tam O’Shanter Overture Sir Malcolm Arnold. (1955) Read Burns’ poem first – and you can completely envision drunken Tam weaving home on his old horse Meg, chased by witches and other terrifying creatures.  Can he make it to the river and cross before they catch him? Amazing tone poem blending humor and horror.

Main Theme from Psycho – Bernard Herrmann. (1960) Herrmann used a muted, all-string orchestra to ramp up the tension in the soundtrack.  The main title gets me most of all: the speed, the rising and falling: nail-biting.  Interestingly, Herrmann only unmuted his strings in the famous shower scene, creating terrifying contrast to the rest of the score. Hitchcock later commented that “33% of the effect of Psycho was due to the music.”

Funereal March of Marionette –  Charles Gounod. (1872 for solo piano, orchestrated 1879) Speaking of Hitchcock… This was the main theme for Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Not scary, but piques the imagination.

Calliope – Nox Arcana. (2006) A “dark ambient” duo that musically depict gothic and horror fiction.  They turn out some really, really eerie albums.

Carmina Burana (O Fortuna) – Carl Orff. (1935-1936) The Carmina Burana is a series of medieval poems that Orff brought to life in music.  O Fortuna bemoans the fickleness of fortune and the inescapablem cruel nature of fate.  Absolutely chilling.  It begins ominously with deep, fast, forceful chanting, and climbs to a stunning, hair-raising conclusion.

Main Theme from The Amityville Horror – Lalo Schifrin. (1979) It starts out so innocently, yet with ominous undertones.  Happy children singing…and then, not so much.  Classic theme.

Theme to Kolchak: The Nightstalker – Gil Mellé. (1974-1975) One of my favorite television shows of all time.  Darren McGavin is a crime reporter who keeps getting sucked into supernatural encounters. I think this show singlehandedly made me spooky.  And a writer. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Ah…I can’t let go! Here are a few others without as much annotation:
Dead Silence Theme – Charlie Clouser. (2007) Creepy song, creepy film.

Béla Bartók – Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. (1936)  Tense, brooding, dark tones. Excerpts were also used in the original version of The Shining.

Witch’s Ride – Engelbert Humperdinck. (1891-1892) From the opera Hansel and Gretel. You can almost see the witch herself, madly flying through the night sky. Evocative.


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Alternoween: A Halloween Playlist for the Rest of Us

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I love cheesy Halloween music as much as the next person – that is, minimally – but having worked in an elementary school for twelve years, I will tell you that “Monster Mash” has worn especially thin. To the point where hearing it makes me want to cry. Here is a rockin’ alternative playlist for those of us who like our Halloween songs on the…less saccharine side. Enjoy!

Haunt You – The Pack a.d.  (2011)  Two Canadian garage rockers inspired by sci-fi and horror films.  Hard-hitting, big sound.  About someone dead.

Red Right Hand – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. (1994)  Dark and ominous…”red right hand” is a line from Paradise Lost, referring to the vengeful hand of God.

The Sky is a Poisonous Garden – Concrete Blonde. (1990)  Whip fast and chilling.

Howlin’ for You – The Black Keys. (2010)  O.k., not really anything spooky, but you can pretend werewolf.  Bluesy with great drums.  The official video parodied action flick trailers…maybe not so work-safe.

One of These Days – Pink Floyd. (1971)  A quiet, ominous windstorm. One disturbing sentence. Menacing bass. Screaming guitar. Beautiful.

Ballroom Blitz – Sweet.  (1973)  Yes, you’ve heard it in Suicide Squad, but it was cool way before then.  Supposedly inspired by a concert the band was playing in Scotland when the crowd started throwing bottles at them and drove them off the stage.  Awesome!

Vampire Blues – Neil Young.  (1974)  Vintage Neil…amazing guitar…sink your teeth into this one.

The Darkness – Zombie Girl (Darker Mix by Komor Kommando). (2009)  Synthy, B-horror movie industrial rock with a heavy beat.

Lullaby – The Cure. (1989)  Giant spider. Childhood nightmares. Drug addiction? Deceptively pretty song with a high creep factor.

Devil Behind that Bush – The Cramps. (1997)  A she-devil scares the lead singer out of his pants.  Hmmm…  Upbeat, surfy, psychobilly.

Night of the Living Dead – The Misfits. (1979) No one does horror punk like these guys.  This song was released on Halloween, 1979.

Novocaine – Switchblade Symphony. (1995) Orchestra meets goth rock with haunting vocals.

Earth Died Screaming – Tom Waits. (1992) Deeply unsettling.  Waits’ growly voice and the eerie “sticks” percussion – created by guys actually “banging two-by-by fours against stones or rocks on the ground” according to Songfacts – make a creepy combo. Clips from The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) zombie film accompany the song in this video.

Yummer Yummer Man – Danielle Dax. (1988)  – Don’t let him near you!  Great ’90s experimental/pop rock. I saw her in concert, opening for the Sisters of Mercy in Boulder…

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – David Bowie. (1980)  A woman withdraws from society and goes a little crazy…Great guitar and perscussion.  And of course, it’s Bowie.


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Strangeography: Coffin Races, Cryonics, a Hearse Parade, and a Bacon Tent. Welcome to Frozen Dead Guy Days!

Nederland.   A rustic little town seventeen miles west of Boulder.  Gateway to Eldora ski resort and the glorious Rocky Mountains.

Altitude, 8,230 feet.

Population, 1 ,500.

Unless it is Frozen Dead Guy Days.  When 15,000 cheerful and slightly morbid visitors from all over the globe arrive to celebrate “Ned’s” famous and quite literally frozen dead guy, Grandpa Bredo Morstoel.

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A Tuff shed just like Grandpa’s.

The Weird History

Voted by the New York Times as one of the 10 Best Parties in Winter – a “Cryonics first Mardi Gras”- Frozen Dead Guy Days commemorates Grandpa Bredo who died in 1989 and is preserved in dry ice in a Tuff shed somewhere in the Nederland hills.

You read that correctly.

Grandpa Bredo died of heart disease in Norway.  His daughter, Aud, and grandson, Trygve believed deeply in the future of cryonics and dragged their deceased relative to California and placed him in the Trans Times cryonics facility from 1990-1993.  After that, they moved him to a shed behind their home in Nederland.

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Grandpa Bredo

This became problematic for a number of reasons.  Trygve was deported for Visa issues.   Aud, living in her house with no electricity and no plumbing, was evicted.  Panicked that Grandpa Bredo would thaw out, she let the local news know that she was harboring a dead relative in her storage shed.

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Hearses getting ready for the parade

Alarm ensued.

The city of Nederland rapidly passed an ordinance (Chapter 7, Article 2, section 7.34.) regarding the “Keeping of bodies.”  The law prohibited keeping “the whole or any part of the person, body or carcass of a human being or animal or other biological species which is not alive” on one’s property.  However, as the much-cited joke goes, Grandpa Bredo was – wait for it – grandfathered in.

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Skull graffiti near Barker Reservoir

Things got weirder.  Trygve  tapped local planetary ecologist, Bo “Iceman” Shaffer to keep Grandpa frozen.  Trygve supplied money from overseas for Shaffer to make a run down the mountain once a month and pick up 1,600-1,800 pounds of dry ice.   Shaffer would truck it to the Tuff shed (Tuff now a proud sponsor of FDGD!) and pack it around Grandpa’s metal coffin in his homemade plywood and Styrofoam freezer box. He would also check the temperature inside, to make sure it was cold enough.    After eighteen years (!) of caring for Grandpa, Shaffer and Trygve had a falling out.  As Shaffer put it on his website: “overseas management and local labor couldn’t agree on terms” and he gave up the job in 2012.

There was talk of moving Grandpa back to Norway, but he remains (Remains! Ha! Sorry…) in his shed above Ned, and one Brad Wickham is the current iceman.

Frozen Dead Guy Days turns a funky little mountain town into one heck of a bizarre three-day party.

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Our Visit

We drove to Nederland the back way to avoid traffic in Boulder Canyon.  The Peak-to-Peak Highway was deserted and we rode past snow-frosted pine trees through an eerie mountain fog that had us thinking of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (my husband) or alien abductions and missing time (me).

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“The fog rolled in…”

We scored parking at the lovely Nederland Community Center – busy hosting a pancake breakfast – and walked down a short trail into the foggy town: perfect ambiance for a dead guy party.  And yes, there was Oingo Boingo being played over a loudspeaker in the street at one point.

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1st Street: Weekend before Frozen Dead Guy Days, March 4th

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1st Street on Frozen Dead Guy Days – Saturday, March 11

We purchased wristbands to allowed us into the three festival tents: the Bacon, Bourbon & Brews tent, the Re-Animate tent boasting a cryogenically created “Bredo’s Brew” by a local Longmont brewery, and the Brain Freeze tent.

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Ice pig sculpture in the Bacon, Bourbon & Brews tent.  A token got you a plate of bacon!

Then we went to check out the hearses getting ready for the parade.  The owner of the Phantasm hearse actually took time out from his preparations to show us a photo of his son with Angus Scrimm (the Tall Man) from the films.  I geeked out.  If you haven’t seen the Phantasm movies – at least the first three – you’re missing some classic horror.  Watch them!

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The Phantasm hearse!

We caught street performer Sam Mallory – great standup comic, o.k. fire-juggler – and then found a spot to watch the parade.  The crowd was massive, but everybody was in great spirits.  (Spirits!!  Ha!  Right.  I’ll stop.)

A dead Shriner (?!) kicked off the parade, followed by the hearses and the coffin racing teams.

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Coffinmobile

 

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Co-founder of FDGD on right.

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They’re having fun!

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Beautiful matte finish on this hearse.  Love the red treatment on the windows!

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A St. Patrick’s Day hearse…

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Perfect!

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The Facial Hair crew

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Team Mario Bros.

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Trash bag costumes – appropriate for what will come.

We had Super Heady Tacos with Patrick Swayze and lots of other folks outside the 3B tent, then went off to see the coffin races.

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I’m not sure why, really.

We secured a nice spot close to the muddy, snowy, frozen course that we had watched the city surveyors create with backhoe just a couple of hours earlier.  They had to truck snow in from Eldora to help make the course as there wasn’t enough in Nederland.  The city Mayor, Kristopher Larsen, was in great spirits presiding over his first coffin races in office.

Two coffin teams raced at a time.  The winner would go on to compete against the other winners of each heat.  Teams had to carry their coffin – with a living body in it – up the slushy  hill, around a tight corner over to a short pole.  Their coffin member would leap out, spin themsleves around the pole five times to get nice and dizzy, and then balance across a log where their team would pick them up.  They would race through the giant frozen puddle/water hazard to the finish line.

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The Facial Hair guys!

 

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They won their heat!

 

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The Lady Lawyers: a  poor footwear choice slowed them to a walk.  Note: high heels are never a good choice in deep frozen slush.

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There’s teamwork!  And shiny spandex!

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Warm, if weird costume choice.

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Good, morbid fun for all ages!

Sadly, we didn’t manage to get a tour up to Grandpa’s actual Tuff Shed – available first-come, first-serve leaving from the Carousel of Happiness –  but there’s always next year.  We also missed the polar plunge, frozen t-shirt contest, and icy turkey bowling; but we were exhausted. We had been outside for five hours in 35 degree fog. Yet, as we drove home we were also oddly contented.  We’d seen a hearse parade, coffin racers, listened to two great bands (The Whiskey Charmers & Banshee Tree) and basically had a second Halloween in March.  Bizarre.  Awesome.  I can’t wait to go again next year.

Sources:

Town of Nederland

Nederland “Keeping of bodies” ordinance

About Frozen Dead Guys Days

Ice Man Chronicle

“Meet the Colorado Man Who Got Paid to Look After a Frozen Corpse for 18 Years”

“How One Colorado Town Honors a Corpse It Keeps on Ice”

The Official Frozen Dead Guide, 2017