Sinister streams for All Hallow’s Eve: your October Press-Playlist

Jaeden Pinder, Arts Editor

Do you like scary movies? What’s your favorite? October is officially here, and so are fall festivities like perusing pumpkin patches, biking through Central Park during peak foliage, and the spookiest night of the year, Halloween. Here at The Pace Press, we are pleased to share this month’s Press-Playlist as your companion for all things Halloween and fear-inducing. Each song scores a particular movie or cliché in horror, from beguiling occult-based songs to synthy tracks from the 80s. 

Beware, malevolent melodies lay ahead, so get out your flashlight, lock your doors and enjoy October’s Press-Playlist.

clipping. – ’96 Neve Campbell (feat. Cam & China) 

It’s no surprise that the rap trio is back on our list this year with a track from their second horror-influenced LP, “Visions of Bodies Being Burned.” Building upon the momentum that came from its sinister predecessor, this song directly references the final girl trope in slasher movies, notably “Scream,” with its final girl serving as the title for the song. Masters of sound design, as always, Daveed Diggs and company managed to create a traditional rap song while still sending a chill down your spine with the plethora of sound effects spliced throughout. Knife scrapes, aggressive knocks, and white noise all create the authentic atmosphere of the opening scene of “Scream,” with Diggs serving as the murderous caller and you as the naive Drew Barrymore. A bizarrely feminist song, the verses by Cam & China takes the “good for her” phrase to a new level with their macabre lyricism.

Spellling – Magic Act

Most of what people know about Spellling comes from music critic Anthony Fantano endorsing her new album with a rare 10/10 rating, yet, the musician still remains hidden under some veil of obscurity. For the student who prefers tarot from terror and films like “Suspiria,” “Magic Act” is the perfect intersection of beauty and fear to play under the full moon later this month. Chrystia Cabral’s voice is hypnotic and entrancing; it feels as though you are being held under her spell for nearly six minutes of the track. “Magic Act” is precisely what its title states, by some ominous yet enthralling force, it propels you forward unwillingly towards something beyond human understanding. Spectral and sincere to her (witch)craft, “Magic Act” is the track to check out from her newest record, “The Turning Wheel.”

Portishead – It Could Be Sweet

Portishead is a musical anomaly one can never quite place in a definitive box of who they are and when they came to be, but this has never stopped them from creating work that intrigues any ear. Our pick from their debut album, “Dummy,” is haunting but equally stimulating, in the same way finding an old recording on a seemingly defective camcorder can be creepy yet captivating. “It Could Be Sweet” is a fitting counterpart to David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” with its surreal and disorienting qualities parallel to any scene from the TV show. Beth Gibbons’s syrupy voice layered on top of the edgy instrumental is perfect for someone who wants a track to add to their playlist that is not distinctly scary but still has an eeriness to it. 

Ministry – Every Day Is Halloween 

No Halloween playlist would be complete without some tracks from the 80s and the characteristic synthesizers of the era, this entry courtesy of the band Ministry. Quite straightforward in its message, “Every Day Is Halloween” is a goth anthem for the nonconformists of the world. Mirroring the angst of this song is the equally edgy film “Donnie Darko,” with its ending still being debated over 20 years later. When you omit the supernatural aesthetic of the movie, “Donnie Darko” is a coming-of-age story about feeling misunderstood. Much like this track, you can find solace in lyrics like, “Why can’t they see they’re just like me?/I’m not the one that’s so absurd.” Even more peculiar is how Ministry began as a synth-pop group but evolved into a wild industrial metal band. It’s as if the masquerade sung about in this song was always hiding their true intentions to make their art palatable to the masses. “Every Day Is Halloween” is a declaration to be your true self and let your freak flag fly.

Siouxsie and The Banshees – Spellbound

On the other spectrum of defining music of the 80s is post-punk with bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees. Like our Portishead pick, “Spellbound” isn’t inherently spooky, but it is a welcome transition song and also a fan favorite from the band. Even though it was released 40 years ago, “Spellbound” still sounds relatively modern, and you can hear the echoes of their influence in artists today like The Weeknd (who you’ll hear about later in this list). The guitar work by John McGeoch is a wild chase through the woods; think of putting this one on after watching the cult classic film “The Blair Witch Project.”

Grimes – My Name is Dark (Art Mix)

Grimes is so deeply intertwined with otherworldliness and science that at this point if she announced that she was an alien, everyone would believe her. With her song “My Name Is Dark,” Grimes fuses the sounds of machinal destruction with equally bleak lyrics to address the pessimistic views of the public towards politics and the climate crisis. Via Apple Music, Grimes spoke on this worldview, saying, “I think that’s a very dangerous attitude, a very contagious one. You know, democracy is a gift… It seems like such a modern affliction to take that luxury for granted.” Taking just the sound of this song, you could relate it to Ridley Scott’s classic horror movie “Alien” or in its themes and lyrics to the psychological anime “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” Regardless, put this one on when you’re facing some existential dread that needs purging.

Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead (Official Version)

Halloween wouldn’t feel complete without vampires, so what better way to usher it in with a song that openly references one of the first actors to play Dracula? From the pioneers of gothic rock comes Bauhaus with their first single, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” transporting you directly to the Count’s castle in Transylvania. Even at a whopping ten minutes, the song keeps you hypnotized, much like Dracula does to keep his helpless victims under his control. Yet another piece riddled with psychological dread, the lyrics have been interpreted as a display of the metaphorical death of Bela Lugosi as he seemingly became typecast as the brooding villain in the rest of his filmography. Of course, if you just want to listen to the minimalist production and Peter Murphy’s ghostly vocals, put this one on late at night to emulate a paranormal vibe.

The Weeknd – House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls

While never explicitly stepping into a realm of horror, The Weeknd’s early mixtapes are parallel to stepping into a haunted house of the worst versions of the mind. Vices, excess, and hedonism galore, this song is still a club banger that you’d want to hear any time of the year. Similar to this song is the terrifyingly realistic “Black Swan,” which concerns a disciplined ballerina who slowly succumbs to madness, best visualized in a distorted and disturbing scene in a club. “House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls” is a sensory experience; you can smell the smoke around you, feel the sweat in the air and taste the burning alcohol in your throat. Making a call back earlier in our list, the first half of this track samples “Happy House” by Siouxsie and the Banshees. This song is panic with only one cure, that being Abel’s soaring voice.