Generally speaking, I don't have a lot of time for vampire stories. Sure, I love the notion of the undead, but I don't buy into the hoary fables as slavishly over-romanticized by people like Anne Rice (now a Jesus freak) and Stephenie Meyer. Film-wise, "Bram Stoker's Dracula" by Francis Ford Coppolla certainly featured a commendable performance by Gary Oldman -- although that guy could read from a phone book and still make it riveting. But the rest of that film was marred by Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves; two people who have no business being in such a period piece. My favorite vampire film is Tony Scott's "The Hunger," starring David Bowie, Catherne Deneuve and Susan Sarandon (plus blink-&-you'll-miss'em cameos from Anne Magnuson and Willem DaFoe and an amazing opening credit sequence featuring Bauhaus performing "Bela Lugosi's Dead"). Refreshingly, the vampires in this film dispense with the whole fang motif and slay their fare with the help of tiny, ankh-shaped daggers. For fans of sapphic erotica, the film also boasts a tasty love scene between Deneuve and Sarandon.
Beyond that, though, I couldn't really give a damn about vampires, which is what makes my final selection for Halloween songs somewhat incongruous. To hear them explain it themselves, "Tenderness of Wolves" by COIL (taken from their pointedly disquieting debut LP from 1984, Scatology) concerns "several species of vampire." There are more creepy songs in COIL's prolific catalog than you can shake a wand of unspeakable depravity at, but I've always been especially taken with this one, not least as it features the histrionic vocals of Gavin Friday of my beloved Virgin Prunes (also no strangers to the scary and harrowing). Gavin wrote the lyrics, which mine the fertile mythology of vampire lore, but that isn't the part that gets me. I still privately shudder at the sounds the emanate in the background of this track. Tucked behind the booming Fairlight synthesizer and some sparingly plucked acoustic guitar, there comes a piercing cry. It's hard to say if it's a human child or animal, but its wordless caterwaul connotes torment and terror, as if the anguished entity waits in some damp, squalid cell somewhere, begging for merciful release. Heard in certain circumstances, the effect can be quite chilling.
I remember inserting this song (somewhat cruelly, in retrospect) on a mixtape for a female friend of mine several years ago, squeezed in between incongruously sunny pop ditties. Suffice to say, she was not at all amused.
Anyway, here's COIL with "Tenderness of Wolves." Take a bite. Happy Halloween.