The Joup Friday Album: ‘Day of the Dead OST’ John Harrison/Modern Man 1985

81xCIYnQsNL._SY355_Despite a rich tradition of horror writers and film, until recently we never really did Hallowe’en in this country. In the 80s and 90s you’d be hard pressed to find a Horror film showing on TV for the night itself (though for some reason we have long upheld a tradition of Ghost Stories at Christmas) and Trick Or Treaters were highly unlikely to darken your door, so we certainly never got carried away to the extent that there was a season-long British equivalent to your Knott’s Berry bollocks, in fact practically everything we know about the festivities of Hallowe’en in this country are informed by your films and TV shows. But we had distinct enough of a handle on the overarching concept to be nonplussed when we watched E.T., or a Spider-Man cartoon where people were flouncing round on the big night dressed as belly dancers and cowboys in search of sweeties.

I always wanted so much more from the hype around Hallowe’en, so much so that my adolescent, late-80s interest in films-my-parents-didn’t-want-me-to-watch naturally evolved from Schwarzenegger Sci-Fi to 70s ‘X Rated’ fare that the dawn of home video in this country hysterically  dubbed ‘Video Nasties’. One among these notorious titles was ‘Dawn of the Dead’ which I utilised many days skived off school to gorge upon. Desolate midweek should-be schooldays in an empty house also largely bereft of any discernible population in the neighbourhood outside provided the perfect backdrop to these multiple viewings and this film penetrated my subconscious to the extent that throughout my life it infested numerous lucid dreams, fuelled anxieties of my passage through desolate suburban streets, and buzzed around my subconscious in shopping centres. I would scurry home with Goblin’s bass heartbeat from the opening sequence and intuit that the world could currently be becoming the designated waiting area for Hell’s population overspill that very moment.

Despite a distinct absence of undead activity from George A Romero after 1985’s ‘Day of the Dead’, the zombie rose again anyway just after the turn of the century and has been indefatigable ever since, and the majority of me wishes it would die. When you’ve got car adverts invoking the zombie apocalypse in their marketing instead of zombie movies satirising car advertising (like that VW Scirocco segment in Dawn) you know we’ve run the red light of the point. When I managed to get someone to rent a copy of ‘Day of the Dead’ for me, it was disappointing in spite of it’s superior methods of blood-letting. Chief among these disappointments was the very much of-its-time synth driven soundtrack, which was a stark contrast to its predecessor’s Italian prog and stock soundtrack that, while admittedly was similarly dated sounding and off-putting to begin with, somehow coalesced to create an overwhelming majority of the atmosphere.

Just as subsequent revisits to the Pennsylvanian bunker served to improve my opinion of the quality of the narrative entombed there, my appreciation of the atmosphere created by the music developed to a point where I obtained the soundtrack 10 years or so ago, and the goose pimples were immediately invoked by the heavy lifting toward establishment of all pervading, earth interred dread it also shouldered.  Given the current penchant for synth in this age of petty squabbles in furtherance of staking one’s own claim, it’s an indispensable listen. Here’s hoping that the work of a certain son of a Spanish-born Cuban father and Lithuanian mother rises again to deliver the satirical bite that once defined this cast of extras and subtext, rather than merely providing superficial blueprints for facsimiles that fuel the fantasies of the Coopers, Wooleys and Rhodes’ of the world that seem to populate the throng of modern fans of the walking dead.

Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks is a peripheral figure on the fringes of existence. Predominantly bothering the local music scene of his native Manchester, England, he has a very finely attuned Justice-button, and knows how to call a spade a ‘Multi-Purpose Murder/Concealment Device’.

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