Halloween Horrors!

By Shawn Robare

The most exciting aspect to nostalgia for me is that moment where you experience something mundane that for some reason sparks a memory of days gone by.  Now, I am a reveler when it comes to nostalgia, this site is a testament to that, and I’m also a collector by nature, so finding a cherished childhood item that I can add to my collection in one form or another is great.  Still, the one thing that really gets to me is stumbling onto a long forgotten memory out of the blue.  This is when I sort of stop whatever it is that I’m doing and get that glazed over look to my face (you know the one, think of the boy from The Man Without a Face, but taken down a notch or two.)  At the same time I sort of get chills down my spine, as cliché as that sounds.  It’s pretty rare and fleeting though, which is probably what makes the sensation so appealing to me.

The last time I had one of these discoveries was about a year and a half ago when something or other put me onto the memory of a spooky record that I listened to about a gazillion times as a kid, the 1977 A&M Records release Halloween Horrors

I’m not positive, but I’d be willing to bet that my parents picked it up the year I was born (back in ’77) as they had just moved into their first house together and I’m sure they were preparing for their first real onslaught of neighborhood kids trolling for candy and treats.  When I turned four I received an old hand me down record player from my sister after she upgraded her set-up, and I immediately usurped all of the ‘fun’ records in the house (basically the Halloween Horrors album, a couple Christmas records, and the soundtrack to American Graffiti, which I loved for the picture of the carhop on the gatefold cover) to add to my growing collection of read-along book and record sets. It stayed in a more or less regular rotation all year round, though when I’d put it on the turntable I always made sure to drag the player into my closet where I could listen to it in the almost dark.

Side A of the record was reserved for The Story of Halloween, a short story (14 minutes) about a young man who has inherited an old antebellum mansion called Elm Hall from his Grandmother.  He drives out on a rainy night to take a look at it and ends up with an experience he’ll never forget.  Now that I think about it, the story has nothing to do with Halloween besides taking place on All Hallows Eve; it’s really just a ghost story.  The flipside of the album is dedicated to a series of Sounds of Halloween, a good portion of which were employed in producing the story on side A.  I remember laying on the floor of my darkened closet with a flashlight listening intently to the ghost story, an as soon as it would finish, I’d flick the light on, turn the album over, and make my way through all of the sound effects as well.  There’s also a creepy little introduction that implores the listener to utilize the library of sounds to create a new story. I’m not sure if this is common on these sound effect albums, but it certainly makes sense for this one because as you make your way through the collection it really does end up feeling pretty darn random (which was totally lost on me as a kid, in fact I think I had a subconscious story running through my head as I listened to the tracks, something about a man walking through a maze of craziness, encountering various theme rooms as the tracks on the album are sort of grouped by theme.)

In addition to the album itself, the artwork on the covers was just as mesmerizing to me.  The above painting of the abandoned mansion, with the single shaft of light bursting through the one window, the multiple lightning strikes, the Spanish moss fluttering on the gnarled tree branches, the stone gargoyle post with the green eyed black cat lounging on top, and the oddly skeleton shaped puddle at the foot of the muddy driveway totally set the mood for the story on side A, while the trio of insanely evil looking witches with their bubbling cauldron, and fiendish cat companions on the back was a perfect illustration for the sound effects…

The painting was done by Gary Meyer (who I believe might be teaching illustration at the Art Center College of Design in California), and Joe Spencer created the album font.  The back cover artwork above is a cleaned up version of the original (with the track listing and credits removed by Keith Milford over at Old Haunts.)

Though my young mind never made the connection, two thirds of the cast of the side A story was actually very familiar to me.  Michael Bell provided the voice talents of the ‘Young Man’ and Peter Cullen voiced the grizzled old gas station attendant.  As I’m sure most of you already know, Bell voiced Duke on G.I. Joe (as well as a plethora of other characters in many 80s cartoons), and Cullen is probably best known for voicing Optimus Prime in the Transformers cartoon (as well as Venger in the D&D cartoon among other voices in 80s shows.)  Rounding out the cast is Nadine Arlyn as the lonely ghost, who according to IMDB hasn’t done much else to speak of except for an episode of Combat! and a B-movie or two.  Rounding out the credits are J. Robert Elliot (who wrote and produced the album), Dave Iveland (who engineered it), and Stuart Kusher (who handled the art direction.)

For anyone interested in giving the story portion of the album a listen, it can be found here…

Here are the individual sound tracks from side B…

Screams, Falling Scream, Cackle/Witches Laughter, Howling, Ghost, Groans, Mob Scene, Creaking Door, Shutters Banging, Creaking Iron Gate, Breaking Window, Chains, Bubbling, Earthquake, Pipe Organ, Violin, Church bells, Chimes, Gong, Foghorn, Ship Creaking, Storm at Sea, Thunder and Lightning, Rain, Wind, Fire, Dripping Water, Bats, Cats, Owls, Crickets, Baying Dogs, Snarling Dogs, Snake Hiss, Panther Howl, Lion Roar, Monsters Breathing, Monsters Roar, Horse and Wagon, Train, Automobile, Auto Crash, Police Siren, Helicopter, Explosion, Gunshots, Machine Gun, Swords Clashing, Flying Saucer, Giant Space Ship, Laser Ray Gun, Galaxy Sounds, Space Station Computer, and an Interstellar Communication.

If you’d like to grab all of the above files in one handy .zip file, right click here and save as…

  • Julia

    Thank you! We had this record when I was little, and we listened to the story all the time. I was totally terrified of it, and yet I couldn’t resist listening. Such an awesome thing to find on Halloween night!

  • Chris

    Um, pardon me. Do you know the way to Elm Hall plantation?

  • JC

    Thank you so much! I have been searching for this forever! I love the pipe organ, it’s still creepy to this day!

  • Jason Scott

    I just loved this album as a kid as well (I was born in ’73), and my 5 year old daughter started listening to it last year as well. I’m sitting with her now at the computer, and she is LOVING the high-res pics that you have here. All she knows is the story, not the pictures, so this really completes it for her. Thanks so much for this.

  • Jay

    the halloween horrors cover is incredible. I really like the colors of the font in the title and the detail of the picture. There’s even a reflection in the puddle of the driveway.

  • Matt

    This album was/is one of my favourites of all time. I have quite a few of the old horror sound and story records and am on the constant look out for others. Do you remember the Hallmark stores putting out 2 or 3 cassettes of horror sounds. They are awesome.

  • Tom Foolery

    Is it possible to get all of these in one zip or rar file? That’d be a bit easier than downloading them one at a time.

  • Tom Foolery

    Ahhh, ok. Well, since I already downloaded them all, I will wrap them up and send you them.

  • Mark

    I just want to thank whoever is responsible for transferring this ablum to mp3 format and also for the album art. You gave to me a piece of my childhood back. You rock!!!

  • JT Mollner

    Thank you!!!!! This album just popped into my head like it did yours tonight. I thought I would never be able to find it because I only remembered the cover and story, but not the actual album title. I googled: Halloween, album, story, sounds and you were the first site that came up. I have goosebumps right now! Thanks to you, i didn’t lose this great memory forever.

  • Cara

    I also want to thank you. This was and is my favorite Halloween story of all time. I’ve looked for it for years, without knowing the title or anything about it. I was very young. OMG thank you. I accidentally stumbled across it never expecting to ever hear it again. I knew it was THE ONE immediately when it started. Thank you! Thank you! I also just recovered a lost piece of my childhood back and one of my favorite memories. When I was searching for it, for some reason I had always thought it had Wolf Man Jack. So, whenever I searched it, I searched that name. I was surprised to find out he wasn’t on there at all. I always thought he was the gas station attendant. lol

  • Raquel Valentin

    Wow. Seriously this album defined MY childhood as well!! Thanks so much, you are awesome for posting this!