monstermash

‘Monster Mash’ Was a Novelty Joke. It’s Also a Perfect Song.

The strange-but-true story of how a Boris Karloff impression became an unironic smash hit

In the Twitter era, where people are scrambling for opinions, what could be a hotter take than declaring that “Monster Mash” is actually good?

Surprisingly, though, it ended up being one of those hot takes that actually isn’t that hot because everyone agreed with it. Not only were people tweeting about their own love for the song, but dissenters were being harshly taken down.

Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, it was common to hear people bemoan the pervasiveness of the “Mash,” so it seemed like a sudden turnaround. (Nostalgia truly is a hell of a drug.) The novelty song is corny, old-fashioned and doesn’t at all bang. But it’s remained the Halloween song almost by default, much like Adam Sandler was able to corner the market on Chanukah, with all due respect to the “I Have a Little Dreidel.” After all, unlike Christmas, Halloween doesn’t have an unending catalog of iconic songs; beyond “Monster Mash,” all a Halloween playlist really has to choose from is vaguely Halloween-ish songs like the “Ghostbusters” theme, anything with “hell” or “devil” in the title, “Thriller” and long stretches of “spooky sound effects.”

So where did “Monster Mash” come from, and how the fuck did anyone think it was a good idea to begin with?

Much like the modern internet whore might try to go viral with a TikTok of their cat dry-heaving rhythmically to Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” in the 1960s, people were achieving near-instant stardom by pushing out novelty songs that capitalized on a, for lack of a better term, trending topic. And in the early 1960s, there was no bigger trending topic than dance-craze songs (e.g., “Mashed Potato Time,” “Madison Time” and “The Twist”).

This is where a wannabe actor named Bobby Pickett comes in. At the time, he was in a doo-wop band called the Cordials, but to fast-track their success, in 1962, he and his bandmate, Leonard Capizzi, cooked up an idea for a dance-craze song of their own. Long story short: Pickett did a dead-on impression of horror movie icon Boris Karloff, and after it went over big at one the band’s performances, they rebranded themselves as Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt-Kicker 5 and “Monster Mash” was born.

PEOPLE FUCKING LOVED IT! And who could blame them? It was a catchy tune and had lyrics like “the coffin-bangers were about to arrive.” Coffin-bangers? What is this, my high school goth sex fantasy?

The dance moves were also super easy. You basically just acted like Frankenstein’s Monster, a move so jarringly white guy you can see why it easily supplanted the song’s supposed rival, “The Transylvania Twist.”

By October 1962, it was atop the Billboard charts just in time for Halloween. A holiday earworm had begun its reign. In fact, over the years, the song has been covered rabidly, including by the Misfits, the Beach Boys, and yes, the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen.

It’s even been parodied, most notably by reggae band the Toyes with their “hit” single “Monster Hash.”

As its nostalgic popularity grew, so did the need to rip all of our childhoods apart, much like disturbing fan art of Marge Simpson gargling Ned Flanders’ balls would. The internet started asking questions that changed the “Mash” from a one-hit wonder to something bordering on an Infowars-level conspiracy theory. Someone, for example, took a deep dive into the lyrics and made a shocking discovery: Despite the consensus that over the years the song had oversaturated the Halloween market, had we ever even heard the ACTUAL song?

Cue the Charlie Day conspiracy meme and all the usual reaction GIFS. FWIW: I fall firmly into the camp that the song and dance are one-in-the-same. (Also, I miss the days when we used to debate this kind of shit on Twitter instead of the breaking down of democratic norms.) But perhaps even more disconcerting was the idea that the ultimate Halloween classic wasn’t even taking place on Halloween:

COME ON. It’s irrelevant whether or not this song happens on Halloween. You can mash all year long or you cannot, but on Halloween, we definitely all do the mash, no exceptions. If Die Hard is a Christmas movie, then “Monster Mash” is a Halloween song. Do NOT fucking @ me.

One thing is for sure, though: “Monster Mash” continues to remain entrenched as the all-time Halloween song champ with no Mariah Carey-esque “All I Want for Christmas” neo-classic Halloween song on the horizon. Prove me wrong, Mariah!

Finally, to answer a question that absolutely no one is asking, yes, while doing my research, I discovered that “Monster Mash” is a porn search term. People want to fuck monsters, and I’m not just talking about the psychologically abusive ones. You can find all sorts of monsters banging while the “Mash” plays: vampires, swamp things and even a zombie girl who is 100-percent dead, but apparently still has a little life left in her pussy.

I, for one, am totally DTF the absolute broken dreamboat, Frankenstein’s Monster. I’ll have him screaming that busting makes him feel good in no time.