A veteran of small repertory companies in Philadelphia, in 1958 actor John Zacherle grabbed an undertaker’s coat from a prop room somewhere and auditioned for a gig as a late-night horror movie host at WCAU-TV, turning the spot into his calling card, re-imagining what a horror movie host could do by designing a laboratory set full of purposely cheap props and inhabited by wacky, ghoulish sidekicks and characters. After moving on to repeat the same sort of format at New York’s WABC-TV, Zacherle started a side enterprise by recording Halloween-themed songs and parodies for Philadelphia’s Cameo/Parkway label, including “Dinner with Drac, Pt. 1,” which became a novelty Top 20 hit in 1962. Having access to the Cameo/Parkway, ahem, vaults meant Zacherle voiced (he really recited more than he sang) his skewed, goofy, and often impossibly juvenile lyrics over some pretty cool backing tracks, complete with wailing saxes and reverbed guitars and sporting spirited support vocals from the likes of the Orlons, the Dreamlovers, and the Cameos. Yeah, Zacherle was definitely a one-trick pony, but that one trick was so deliberately dumb that one can’t help but grin at it. This set combines his 1962 LP Monster Mash with 1963’s Scary Tales, and the result is one big hayride into a world where everything is comic book ghoul, with Zacherle punning along and acting pretty much like he just wandered in from the street -- the whole routine is oddly endearing somehow. “Dinner with Drac” is here, along with the horn-driven R&B of “Popeye (The Gravedigger),” and several other tracks of like ilk, but the real delights are Zacherle's fractured takes of various Mother Goose rhymes that close this set -- he takes each rhyme and drives it straight to the graveyard with an easy, eerie charm. It makes for some pretty demented children’s music.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett