Behind The 'Monster Swim' and Other Halloween Tracks You Never Knew Existed

By | October 15, 2019

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Bobby 'Boris' Pickett performs the 'Monster Swim' on American Bandstand. Source: YouTube

When Bobby “Boris” Pickett and his group of Halloween-mad studio musicians laid down the “Monster Mash” in 1962 they were just trying to cash in on teen dance crazes like the Mashed Potato, the Frug, and the Watusi. In their bid for pop stardom with an irreverent novelty song, they created an entire mini-genre of horror-themed surf rock and dance songs. Released in 1962, "Monster Mash" is the unofficial Halloween party anthem, but what about the songs that followed in Pickett’s shambling footsteps?

These are the tales of mad monster parties, drive-in make out sessions, and an odd obsession with Doctor Frankenstein’s assistant Igor. 

As horrifying as vampires and undead monsters can be, real terror is the possibility that all success is fleeting; that popular pieces of art are simply the product of throwing something against the wall to see if it sticks. Bobby “Boris” Pickett lived this nightmare after the success of the “Monster Mash” as he attempted to follow up his surprise hit with monster themed rock tunes to increasingly diminishing returns.

Bobby 'Boris' Pickett’s Further Attempts At Raising The Dead

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Mommy, Bobby's doing that face again... Pickett doing 'The Monster Mash' on American Bandstand. Source: YouTube

After the Mash hit hard with audiences across the United States, Pickett went back to the studio and recorded a full length LP with 15 more songs that are hit and miss at best. There’s the single “Blood Bank Blues,” a track about a down-on-his-luck Dracula having to scrounge for change so he can eat, and it contains the phrase, “blood is just my meat,” so you can imagine how well the song did on the radio (hint: not well).

The LP also features an inspired slow dance number “Me & My Mummy” that tells the story of Pickett falling in love with a mummy at the pyramids, before launching into a track about “Irresistible Igor,” a song that imagines a world where Igor is so confident that women can’t stop themselves from falling in love with him despite his appearance. The album closes with the Christmas tune “Monsters Holiday,” a track about the characters from the “Monster Mash” kidnapping Santa Claus. The song failed to chart, but two years later it was covered by Lon Chaney Jr. in a version that’s inherently listenable even though it sounds like Chaney recorded the whole thing in one take.

In 1964, RCA released Pickett’s single “The Monster Swim,” which directly references the “Monster Mash” while attempting to cash in on the trend of surf movies. The song isn’t bad, it’s just that it reeks of desperation. The most memorable thing about the single is Pickett’s performance of the song on the Halloween episode of American Bandstand complete with lip-synching, some fascinating eyebrow work, and a vampire octopus.