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Shock ‘n’ Roll High School: The Origins of Shock Rock and MORE!
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The Bite #79
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Shock ‘n’ Roll High School: The Origins of Shock Rock and MORE!

October 8, 2019

In this Issue:


HORROR HISTORY: SHOCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL: SCREAMIN’ JAY HAWKINS

By Tomb Dragomir*

History crowned Alice Cooper the king of shock rock a long time ago, and rightly so. But it’s always fun to remember who paved the path for our modern music monsters. So, with our holiest of holidays on the horizon, let’s look back at Cooper’s great-granddaddy of shock – Jalacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins.

I was trick-or-treating as Luke Skywalker way back in 1980-something the first time I remember hearing Jay scream. “Little Demon” was blasting from a souped-up speaker on a pumpkin peppered porch somewhere in suburbia. My bitty brain was blown. What the hell was I hearing? It was a macabre combination of grunts, groans, yelps, and moans and I’d never heard anything like it. I was spellbound.

Hawkins had his biggest hit right off the bat.

His first single, “I Put a Spell on You”, was huge in 1956. It was supposed to be a proper love ballad but, during a drunken recording session, too many beers transformed Jalacy into “Screamin’ Jay”. The rest was history; a former boxer and wanna-be opera singer became America’s blues-rock Boogeyman seemingly overnight and it didn’t know what to do with him.

Draped in tattered capes with an Elvis Presley pompadour and a big bone through his nose, his performances were rife with voodoo ju-ju, rhythmic rot ’n’ roll, and a Vincent Price-like presence behind the mic. Mixing his horror with humor, he even carried around a smoking pet skull on a stick named Henry.

He made a long career by performing across the country for decades with TV appearances ranging from The Merv Griffin Show in the ’60s to Arsenio Hall in the ’90s. Sadly, he never received the acclaim of the Alice Coopers and Arthur Browns that followed, eventually resenting his own gimmick and moniker. He died of an aneurysm in February 2000.

So, when cooking up those pernicious playlists for the spooky season ahead, show a little love for the original screamin’ demon, a musical madman who literally set the stage for all the rocking monsters we love today. Lest we forget Screamin’ Jay Hawkins on our holiest of holidays this year. Happy Halloween!


*Tomb Dragomir is an artist and composer whose scores can be heard in Brett Kelly’s creature feature, Ghastlies, and Christopher’s Giroux’s horror short, Scraps. He was the long-time host and programmer of Rue Morgue Radio and recently opened his Etsy Shoppe of Horrors featuring original horror artwork.


IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Your Favorite Creeps Together Again - The Bite #79 Image Of The Week

Your Favorite Creeps Together Again!

We may think of horror as the dominion of the macabre, but horror fans really know how to get silly. Take this killer behind-the-scenes shot from the set of The Comedy of Terrors. No big deal, just Vincent Price reading Variety headlines to Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone, and Boris Karloff while hanging out in coffins.


TINY BITES

THE MONSTROUS FEMININE, THE GRUDGE REIMAGINING AND MORE

In honor of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s 45th anniversary, take a look back at how it earned its cult status after its initially terrible reception.

Fresh from New York Comic Con, writer/director Nicholas Pesce and stars Lin Shae, Betty Gilpin, and Andrea Riseborough talked about the “very R-rated” upcoming The Grudge reimagining.

Get acquainted with 25 of the greatest Slashers of all time, complete with OG’s like Black Christmas, meta-Slashers like Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, and feminist fare like The Slumber Party Massacre.

Author Victor LaValle wrote about the lasting impact of H.P. Lovecraft’s work, and where you can see traces of his DNA in contemporary horror fiction.

Julia Armfield, the author of Salt Slow, talks about the Monstrous Feminine, and why the female body goes hand-in-hand with the horror genre.

These 23 music videos were either inspired by or directly connected to some killer horror movies. Pet Sematary by the Ramones still slays.

It may be hard to understand, but horror movies often feel comforting. Bustle explores why that is.

Dread Central asked 40 voices in horror to list the horror movies that impacted them the most. The result is a massive, diverse list of 40 titles to scare you senseless this Halloween.

These 22 new and upcoming horror books are just what you need to keep you up this October.

According to The New York Times, in each story from Joe Hill’s new anthology, Full Throttle, “the gruesome skin of horror […] wraps around a darker psychological root: the horrors of everyday life.” If you nab it now, you can read his story By the Silver Waters of Lake Champlain before its Creepshow adaptation arrives at the end of the month.

Martin Scorses opened up about his love of Ari Aster’s Hereditary in a 40-minute Q&A at the New York Film Festival.

If you’ve wanted to buy the axe Jack Nicholson used in The Shining, you missed your chance. It just sold for over $200,000(!) at auction in London.

Reddit user history777 put together a comprehensive study of where horror movies are set from a list of over 700 films.

For some, horror and Halloween are literally their worst nightmare. But it sucks to miss out on the spooky festivities. These four steps should help you work up to finding the horror that suits you best, without keeping you up at night.


Pawsitively Terrifying - The Bite #79 Things We Love

PAWSITIVELY TERRIFYING

Just in time for Halloween, Target is selling very special cat houses shaped like haunted houses and we are completely obsessed. So while you’re decorating for the season, make sure to treat your little Thackery, Church, or Jonesy to the haunted dwelling their little paws deserve.


HEY, THAT’S US! – SHUDDER IN THE NEWS

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[Review] The Furies is a Lean and Mean Tale of Revenge

The 10 Best Shows on TV Right Now: Lodge 49, Stumptown, and More (Creepshow)

‘Creepshow’ is the cure for ‘elevated horror’ fatigue

15 HORROR MOVIES YOU CAN STREAM NOW THAT ARE ACTUALLY GOOD (The Ranger, Revenge, Prom Night 2: Hello, Mary Lou)