Some people are addicted to Christmas. Others can't wait to stuff their faces on Thanksgiving. Still others count the days until they can see the rockets' red glare on the Fourth of July.
Me? I'm a Halloween guy. It's a 365-day-a-year obsession, one that forces me to keep rewatching "Basket Case 3," "Piranha 3DD," "Zoltan: Hound of Dracula" and dozens of other films that should've won Academy Awards.
I consider my annual Halloween party to be the social event of the year. Of course, I also consider Frank Henenlotter to be the greatest film director of all time. Anybody who disagrees with that assessment has clearly never seen "Frankenhooker."
A great party deserves a great soundtrack. So I've been busy concocting the ultimate scary song playlist. Feel free to borrow it for your own Halloween gathering.
Here are my top 10 Halloween songs.
10 "Pet Sematary," the Ramones (1989): It's not one of the Ramones' better songs, but it is the one that talks about moaning spirits and dancing skeletons -- and that's good enough for me. This song, which was written for the Stephen King flick of the same name, was actually one of the punk band's biggest hits. It was also rerecorded by the Plain White T's for the "Frankenweenie" soundtrack. And that really scares me.
9 "Gravedigger," Dave Matthews (2003): Any Halloween party can use a good cemetery song -- and this Grammy-winning cut, from Matthews' sole solo album, "Some Devil," might be the best I've ever heard. The song is built from little vignettes, each of which sounds like it's being read from a headstone.
8 "Nightmare on My Street," DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (1988): proper Halloween playlist needs to mix goofy with gory, right? So I recommend adding one of Will Smith's more ridiculous efforts to the mix -- and I'm not talking about "I, Robot." Instead, try this hilarious DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Smith) hip-hop spoof on "A Nightmare on Elm Street."
7" Godzilla," Blue Oyster Cult (1977): The song thunders along like the big lizard himself (Godzilla is a lizard, right?). It's not a genius number, but it does feature a tremendously catchy chorus. And any party where attendees are shouting "go go Godzilla" is a good party, I say.
6"Science Fiction/Double Feature," "Rocky Horror Picture Show" soundtrack (1975): Who can forget those ruby-red lips singing this song at the beginning of the ultimate midnight movie? This opening number is the best cut on a soundtrack filled with nothing but gems. Make sure you get the Richard O'Brien version (from the film), not any of the inferior renditions to be found in Broadway cast recordings. I like to quiz people at my parties about all the B-movies referenced in this song, which probably explains why so many folks fail to return the following year.
5 "Witchy Woman," Eagles (1972): In general, this classic-rock band has been more about the "Peaceful Easy Feeling" than a good scare. Sure, there was that whole "Hotel California" thingy, which I'm still trying to decipher, but the best exception to the "Take It Easy" rule has to be "Witchy Woman," which remains certifiably spooky to this day. I like Glenn Frey's lead vocals, but it's Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner's harmony work that really makes this track so bewitching.
4 "Werewolves of London," Warren Zevon (1978): There is very little menace to be found in these Lycan lyrics. It's more of a travelogue through the werewolf hot spots of London. Who knew werewolves liked beef chow mein and pina coladas? I guess they are just like they rest of us, except for ripping people's lungs out and stuff. The only downside to this song that I can see is that it immediately causes me to start quoting Tom Cruise lines from "The Color of Money."
3 "Welcome to My Nightmare," Alice Cooper (1975): I am required by law (my own) to put Cooper on this list. He deserves it. His catalog is filled with many creepy ditties that will help your Halloween party go bump in the night. But this one is the most deliciously demented -- a convoluted mix of musical genres that forms one cohesive nightmare. It's hard to fathom Cooper once played it on "The Muppet Show."
2 "I Put a Spell on You," Screamin' Jay Hawkins (1956): John Fogerty did a great job on the famous Creedence Clearwater Revival version, as have so many other singers on this oft-covered song. Yet nobody -- and I mean nobody -- can hold a candle to Hawkins in this arena. His bloodcurdling cut was originally banned by many radio station programmers, who objected to sounds thought to be, of all things, "cannibalistic." Hawkins capitalized on the controversy and soon added vampirelike touches (rising out of a coffin) in his stage show, thus becoming arguably the first "shock rock" artist.
1 "Bela Lugosi's Dead," Bauhaus (1979): The song that kicked off Bauhaus' career -- and, for that matter, the entire goth-rock movement -- is my pick for the scariest song of all time. Peter Murphy's vocals are downright haunting, conjuring the exact type of mixed emotions that Lugosi once did when he played the deadly yet suave Dracula. Bauhaus' first single clocked in at more than nine minutes; amazingly, every second is absolutely riveting.
WHAT, NO 'THRILLER?'
Find out which songs didn't quite make the cut, and why, at www.mercurynews.com/entertainment.