Halloween picks from the Recess editors

Dario Argento's 1977 film "Suspiria" is one of Recess's picks for Halloween-ready pop culture.
Dario Argento's 1977 film "Suspiria" is one of Recess's picks for Halloween-ready pop culture.

As Halloween approaches, Recess editor Will Atkinson and managing editor Nina Wilder have a few recommendations for conjuring up the holiday spirit. Here are their most spooky selections in music and film:

What to listen to:

The Sonics, “The Witch”

Released not long after the dawn of rock, The Sonics’ debut single didn’t get much radio play in 1964 due to its subversive content. Today, lines like “She’s gonna make you itch / ‘Cause she’s the witch” seem pretty innocuous, but there’s a definite thread of terror running through the track that’s only amplified by its aggressively lo-fi production — just listen to the banshee shrieks from lead vocalist Gerry Roslie that punctuate each verse. Along with “Psycho” and “Strychnine,” “The Witch” makes The Sonics’ 1965 debut album “Here Are the Sonics!!!” a true Halloween classic.

Peter Ivers & David Lynch, “In Heaven”

One of David Lynch’s greatest strengths as a director is his conspicuous use of music — often vintage pop — within his films. Known simply as “the Lady in the Radiator song,” this track written for 1977’s “Eraserhead” is a spooky couple of minutes from what is arguably Lynch’s spookiest movie, from the cryptic refrain of “In heaven / everything is fine” down to Ivers’ haunted house-ready organ riffs. I don’t recommend watching (or listening, for that matter) alone.

The Cramps, “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” 

The Cramps’ 1980 debut album “Songs the Lord Taught Us” is a readymade Halloween playlist, channeling horror movie tropes through rough-edged garage rock. “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” moves at a steady, stalking pace, culminating in an outburst of howls and wails from lead singer Lux Interior as he makes his transformation into the titular character. It just so happens to be based on a 1957 horror film of the same name, making it a soundtrack for a season ripe for binging B-movies and cult classics.

Geto Boys, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

Pioneers of what would later be dubbed “horrorcore,” Houston’s Geto Boys were known for the surreal, violent and often controversial imagery of their lyrics. On 1991’s “Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” that formula reaches a definite peak, with Scarface imagining “visions of bodies being burned” while Bushwick Bill recounts a hallucinatory night of trick-or-treating gone wrong. It’s the perfect paranoid anthem for this holiday.

Will Atkinson

What to watch: 

“Halloween” (1978)

Psychotic sister-killer Michael Myers breaks out of the loony bin on the spookiest night of the year and decides to harass a nerdy babysitter as his doctor frantically searches the streets for him. John Carpenter’s seminal thriller defined the horror genre with its smart female protagonist and jumpy score. Plus, Myers wears a William Shatner mask — who knew the Shat could be so scary?

“Practical Magic” (1998)

While “Hocus Pocus” is the most referenced witch film around Halloween, Griffin Dunne’s “Practical Magic” doubles as a study of witchcraft and a loving ode to sisterhood that’s guaranteed to tug at your heart strings. Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock star as witchy sisters with complicated love lives — the men of their lives are doomed to die because of a family curse. But by the film’s end, you’ll be ready to leave men behind forever and embrace all of the closeness that womanhood has to offer.

“Suspiria” (1977)

Dario Argento’s neon-lit thriller is a special brand of horror — it’s at once beautiful and terrifying, the film’s candy-colored cinematography harshly contrasting its graphic depictions of violence. From Winding-Refn’s “Neon Demon” to Wingard’s “The Guest,” “Suspiria”’s influence on contemporary horror films is evident. If you don’t mind poorly-dubbed German and its jarring score, Argento’s most popular film will undoubtedly satisfy.

“What We Do in the Shadows” (2014)

Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, the creative forces behind the cult-favorite TV show “Flight of the Conchords,” team up for this mockumentary about four vampires living in a house together. It’s entertaining, hilarious and endlessly quotable (“We’re werewolves, not swearwolves!”), the perfect film to put on if you’re deeply afraid of horror flicks.

— Nina Wilder


Share and discuss “Halloween picks from the Recess editors” on social media.