DOWNTOWN TRANSYLVEINYA -- Musical genius Phantom of the Opera gets up in the evening like everyone else, he eats worms and dead things like everyone else, and he captures victims and tortures them like everyone else. But then he goes out into the monster world and makes masterpieces.
What began in 1980 as a search for some spooky background sound effects to use in a new album of pipe organ music turned out to become one of the greatest soundtracks for Halloween night of all time. JLP recently sat down with Phantom in his chilly office at the Loudmouth Opera House on Phantom Boulevard and talked to him about it.
“Really, anyone could’ve recorded this stuff,” Phantom said. “I just so happened to turn it into a multi-million-dollar success that monsters and people to this night still use to set the absolute perfect mood for Halloween.”
The Phantom’s 1980 classic, “Haunted Horror: Terror on Tape,” is 60 minutes of spine-tingling, bone-chilling, blood-curdling audio madness, one of the wildest nights in and around a haunted house ever captured on cassette tape. On Fri., Oct. 31 in 1980, Phantom picked up a nagra tape recorder and omnidirectional mic, hailed a horse-and-carriage ride to the Black Lagoon’s Haunted Mansion Row, located a house that was buzzing with monster commotion, and began recording. He said it was a real Halloween rager.
“There were witches opening portals from other worlds, pulling through spirits and creatures of all kinds,” Phantom said. “Worst of all, they brought over humans. We all had a blast chasing them around the property, torturing them, you know.”
Phantom added that the night sky was filled with vampire bats and monstrous birds for hours. Wicked cats added luck -- bad luck -- to the party, wild dogs ran off with skeleton bones, ghoulies and creepies dug up the graveyard so the sorcerers there could bring the dead to life. Wizards spent the evening toiling with the weather. It was a night of all tricks, no treats, and it was all caught on tape.
“The windows of the haunted house had been broken,” said Phantom’s sound editor Jack the Clipper. “So Phantom could just walk the wraparound porch, and with his omnidirectional mic, capture the sounds from not only the graveyard and front yard, but also all the wonderful chaos going on inside.”
For those who don’t know -- what is an omnidirectional mic?
“It’s technical,” Phantom said.
Jack the Clipper said, “It’s really just a microphone that picks up sound from all directions equally.”
“Well,” Phantom said, “yeah, that’s the non-technical way of putting it.”
Once Phantom ran out of tape that Halloween night, he knew he had something special. The sun eventually showed its ugly brightness on the horizon to usher in Nov. 1, and all the wicked that had come, just up and left. Except for the humans.
“I’m sure they were just reported missing in the human world,” Phantom said, “blamed on alien abductions, Bigfoot, or worse, domestic violence -- and listen, folks, there’s no excuse for domestic violence. But these are the stories you read about in the news or hear about on the Nightmare365 Podcast, people going into dark forests and never coming out. And that’s true -- they probably went into a dark forest on Halloween night for a fright, or maybe ventured into some unfamiliar neighborhood for some tricks and treats -- I’m talking to you, all you kiddies out there -- and they got pulled into those witches’ portals and transported to our house. For all we know, those people might still be alive and not well in the dungeons of the place. I really don’t know. I haven’t been back since.”
Monsters, ghouls and goblins who were there that night said they hadn’t been back either. But so many have visited the place through Phantom’s classic recording, and they relive the magic that hasn’t been duplicated since.
“I’m humbled when others talk so highly of this work I did,” Phantom said, sipping a glass of iced tanna leaf tea. “I merely just picked the right Halloween night, the right haunted house, the right recording equipment, and I recorded. Granted, my high-profile magnetism probably attracted more monsters and spirits to show up and perform than if some random kook had been making the recording, but I really can’t take all the credit. Well, maybe I can. Because I really do make masterpieces. You're welcome.”
Click HERE to hear “Haunted Horror: Terror on Tape.” CAUTION: Do not listen alone. Or do so and enjoy!