Most of my kids’ record collection is made up of read-along record books with pop culture tie-ins like He-Man, Transformers, and Star Wars. However, the album I’m presenting today wasn’t produced to sell toys. Halloween Horrors was created just to give kids a good fright and get them in the mood for ghosts and ghouls.
Halloween Horrors was released in 1977 by A&M Records. A&M was founded in 1962 by legendary brass band leader Herb Alpert and his business partner Jerry Moss. The duo would release hundreds of records under the A&M label, including many from Alpert, as well as The Police, Quincy Jones, The Carpenters, Supertramp, and Janet Jackson, among many, many others.
The album was written and produced by J. Robert Elliot and, as far as I can tell, this was his only record. The cover artist was Gary Meyer, whose illustration portfolio ranges from sci-fi novels, to video game box art, to album covers, and promotional artwork for movies like Jaws 3, Superman, Jason and the Argonauts, The Deep, and, a movie I watched far too many times as a kid, The Private Eyes, starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway. Meyer’s work is pretty iconic here, as many kids who grew up with Halloween Horrors were first attracted to the cover and its detailed depiction of a haunted house.
Side A of the record features a short audio drama called Halloween Horror that stars Michael Bell, Peter Cullen, and Nadine Arlyn. Michael Bell is well-known in the voice acting community, with feature roles in many of the defining cartoons of the 1970s and 80s. For example, Bell played a handful of Smurfs, a bunch of Transformers, a couple members of Voltron Force and GI Joe, and he played superheroes like Plastic Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Zan, the male Wonder Twin from Super Friends. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s the godfather of a certain member of the Police Academy, Steve Guttenberg.
Peter Cullen is no stranger to cartoons either, of course. He’ll always be remembered as the definitive voice of the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, but he’s also handled the roles of Venger on Dungeons & Dragons, he was the first voice of Mario in Western media on Nintendo’s Saturday Supercade, he’s played Eeyore in a few Winnie the Pooh movies, a handful of characters on GI Joe, and he was the voice of the evil KARR, KITT’s nemesis on Knight Rider. His filmography is a mile long and this album is one of his earliest efforts.
Finally, Nadine Arlyn, is a little-known actress who only has six credits to her name. She made her acting debut in one episode of the 1960’s World War II drama series, Combat, and then only had a few small roles before appearing in the 2015 horror film, Bastard. Despite her short career, she holds her own on this record among cartoon royalty, and gives a very chilling performance as a ghostly woman spirit.
Side B of the album is filled with sound effects, not only used in the Side A audio drama production, but is intended to inspire creative kids to make their own scary stories. Sound effects records were kind of a fad back in the 1960s and 70s, with many leaning heavily on the horror side of things, and this one has some exceptional effects.
This album has quite the cult following among Gen X kids. My family never owned this album – I found my copy at an antique store and picked it up before knowing of its Xer legacy – but if we did have it when I was a kid, I guarantee it would have been one of my favorites.
If you’d like to listen to Halloween Horrors, check out this episode of my podcast, When You Hear This Sound!