I have a reasonably large collection of Halloween CDs and I thought I’d start sharing a few reviews here. I know that I’ve often bought a CD sight unseen and / or with no information about the contents, purely for the thrill – but there are many that I may have thought twice about if I’d had even a little info! So every CD I write about will be from my own collection; I physically have it – no downloads or rips. Due to the lack of information - and lack of correct information – online, I’ll mainly restrict credits etc. to the information on the actual disc.
So let’s begin with one I quite enjoy:
“Tales From The Tomb: Frightening Fables From The Darkside”.
1999 Delta Entertainment Corporation.
Compiled, Recorded & Produced by Roy Shakked
First off, the pictures online do no justice – this CD has an awesome foil cover! *sigh* I still love collecting physical media! ��
This is a collection of stories and, as with many Halloween CDs, this album suffers a little from mixing themes rather than sticking with one idea. Primarily it is best described as a collection of adaptations of famous urban legends, however given the seemingly endless number of spooky urban legends out there, it’s a bit odd that Mr. Shakked chose to bookend the album with a pair of Edgar Allan Poe pieces as well as including a more ‘traditional’ ghost story.
I decided to see if I could find Roy online to ask him myself – and he was kind enough to answer!
“At the time (the crazy 90’s) I was working as the production manager and in-house special product producer for the LaserLight label in Los Angeles, which has since gone defunct. I made a series of Halloween CDs for them consisting of original music, cover songs, sound effects, and this album. We collected a bunch of scary stories and urban legends - basically everything we could find online and through word of mouth - picked our favorites, and sprinkled in a little Edgar Allan Poe. I wish I could remember the how and why for each one but it was too long ago to recall… Obviously we were confined to public domain pieces and not newer original stories that would have copyright protection.
I called Larry Moss - a veteran LA voice-over actor and recorded him in our in-house studio in Santa Monica. His voice is just made for this kind of stuff. I remember my direction was minimal. The guy knew what he was doing.
Next came the music. LaserLight was a sub-label of Delta Entertainment which owned a tremendous classical music catalogue. Virtually every important piece of classical music ever written, recorded by mostly Eastern European orchestras. I went through and picked pieces that I thought would fit the mood of each story, and together with my engineer, Sean Nova, edited the pieces to Larry’s voice.
This was a cool little holiday project, but as with all projects I worked on at the time, it came and went and I was onto the next thing without being too emotionally attached. That company released hundreds of CDs every year… But this collection seems to somehow live on. I still get emails about it around Halloween time every year. It's not high art but it’s definitely a lot of fun!”
My thanks goes out to Roy for taking the time to discuss the CD ��
The album is comprised of 10 tracks:
1. Spirits of the Dead – Edgar Allan Poe / narrated by Larry Moss (2:18)
• A short piece and well read. As I’ve said, I’m not sure why the CD starts with a Poe piece, but it’s bite sized and we’re soon into the main ‘guts’ of the album.
2. A Ghost or a Vampire? – Adapted for CD by Roy Shakked / narrated by Larry Moss (5:32)
• Not really an urban legend, this tale is more of an historical, witch trial era tale of mysterious deaths.
3. Do You Know Where The Children Are? – Adapted for CD by Sarah Mason / narrated by Peter Doell (5:16)
• A play on the urban legend about the babysitter and the killer upstairs.
4. Spirit Calling – Adapted for CD by Roy Shakked / narrated by Peter Nordberg (4:39)
• This one is the urban legend about a phone call from the grave.
5. Hooked – Adapted for CD by Sarah Mason / narrated by Peter Doell (4:18)
• The name says it all – this is the one about the escaped killer with the hook hand.
6. Don’t Drink With Strangers – Adapted for CD by Roy Shakked / narrated by Paul Tavenner (3:44)
• The kidney heist!
7. The Lick – Adapted for CD by Sarah Mason / narrated by Peter Doell (3:34)
• This one is about the killer who hides under the bed.
8. The Girl Of His Dreams – Adapted for CD by Sarah Mason / narrated by Peter Doell (3:38)
• The classic legend about the vanishing hitchhiker.
9. Comfort Lies In The Dark – Adapted for CD by Sarah Mason / narrated by Peter Doell (4:22)
• “Just be glad you didn’t turn on the light…”
10. The Raven – Edgar Allan Poe / narrated by Larry Moss (9:26)
• Not a terrible version, but there are certainly better, more lively renditions out there. At over 9 minutes it’s a bit of a flat point to end the album and, frankly, I tend to turn off the CD at the end of track 9.
It can be a tendency for Halloween CDs to cannibalise each other for tracks and then rebadge them as new. I’ve not come across these tracks anywhere else (so far), so I believe them to be unique to this release. I find the level of cheese in these stories to be just about the right level, however the background music can tend to overpower the tales on occasion. Still, it’s a CD I revisit year after year as each tale isn’t too long and they make for great company on an October drive. The stories resist the need to get too graphic and probably suit most ages; I’d say from 8 – 9 years old and upwards. There’s probably nothing here that wouldn’t happen in a Goosebumps book ��
Thanks for reading!