dr-paul-bearer

Doctor Paul Bearer

If you grew up in the Tampa Bay area in the 1970’s, as I did, we had our own version of Krusty the Clown: Doctor Paul Bearer, a chain-smoking cadaver with a glass-eye that pointed the wrong way (and nearly popped out of his head), wearing a cravat. I worshipped him lavishly, and not just because he lip-synced to the Tom Lehrer classic “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” on occasion. He knew the Saturday afternoon movies he was hosting were terrible, and said as much during his skit time, often discussing them with his spider sidekick Doctor Spinjamin Bok.

The good doctor would toss back to the movie by saying, “And now back to our horrible old movie.”

There was an international flair in all these movies: The oeuvre of Roger Corman; the Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee pairings from England; Japanese monster movies; and so on. A theremin often was employed for much of the background music.

In honor of my hero, I present six songs that evoke the spirit of those horrible old movies.

1. Pere Ubu, “Red Sky”

Pere Ubu’s liberal use of the theremin is in full effect here, and then there’s Dave Thomas warbling on about Mars and Texas. Oh, my: Yes.

2. The Residents, “Hello, Skinny”

Just about everything that the Residents produce has an creepy horrorshow quality to it, and “Hello Skinny” is possibly their creepiest song ever. For my money, their best album is “The King and Eye,” on which they performed covers of Elvis songs, in the process transforming the King of Rock n Roll into someone from whom you should hide if you ever saw him stalking the streets of your neighborhood. Listen to their cover of “Teddy Bear” and then figure out if you can ever again listen to Elvis without a shudder.

3. Blue Oyster Cult, “Godzilla.”

This one’s a gimme.

4. Warren Zevon, “Werewolves of London”

This one, too.

5. Angry Samoans, “They Saved Hitler’s Cock”

The Angry Samoans do have a song based on the Japanese horror/sci fi classic “Attack of the Mushroom People,” but I chose this one instead for its wonderfully over-the-top quality.

6. The Delinquents, “Alien Beach Party”

Oh, the beach! Where monsters come wading out of the surf to scoop up virgins and take them to their lairs beneath the waves. This song has everything.

Yes, I know: I didn’t list the song you had in mind. Good thing there’s a comments section, right?

John Sheppard served four years in the United States Army as an Illustrator (MOS 81E). He was honorably discharged after Gulf War I. He went on to receive an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Florida, where he studied under Padgett Powell, Marjorie Sandor and Harry Crews. He has worked as a grill cook, web site designer, junk mail writer, small town newspaper editor and civil servant. He lives in Chicago.

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