Make horrid scars and gashes.

1.31.2006

Johnson Smith Novelty Company "Horror Record" (Johnson Smith Co, 32071, 1973)

As a kid the Johnson Smith Novelty Company seemed like just about the coolest thing in the world to me, and their ubiquitous ads in most early to mid '70's comics really stoked the flames for my nascent love of stupid crap (not to mention total junk). Given that I was also obsessed with all things Halloween, by far one of the most drool-worthy ads for me was this one:





So you can bet that I ordered off for that "Horror Record" as soon as I could scrape together the required cash (along w/ the U-Control Ghost, but that's another story). When it finally arrived though (as a 7", not the full LP I'd pictured) it was, like nearly all things ordered from comic books, something of a letdown. I think I'd truly imagined that once I dropped that needle down my entire bedroom would suddenly become a haunted house or something, but if any record could manage THAT trick, this wasn't gonna be it. To be fair side one wasn't so bad -- pretty much just 7 minutes of the usual Halloween sound effects I'd come to know already -- but on side two they tried to piece together some sort of semi-cohesive storyline which is where the whole thing fell apart. The narrator's attempts at a sinister voice were risibly lame (he stammers a few times & seems to be making most of it up as he goes along), and as something of a horror purist (I wanted your classic array of ghosts, werewolves, vampires, zombies, witches & ghouls) I was morbidly aghast by the end of the thing when the cartoon voiced "Krishtor the Moon Monster" arrives to blow the world up (this after an extended flogging scene!). To be honest though, I STILL played the living hell out of this record and quickly grew to prefer the cheapo feel it wallowed in much more than if they had pulled things off with slicker results (a preference that would screw up my tastes for the rest of my life). Now through the magic of the internet you too can share in the glory of this B-Grade 70's horror vibe, and as an added bonus I'm sticking up an entire LP released in 1960 that was culled from the identical audio library (it even features the same damn Krishtor scene but in extended/ dorkier form; this time the bit ends with some goofy sounding beatnik guy reciting a poem). Like, boo.

Links Removed

ADDENDUM!



(most of) Side Two of the Johnson Smith Horror Record comes to life! In animated form! Boo!

22 Comments:

Blogger Scott Soriano said...

i like your blog. keep up the good work!

1/31/2006 7:32 PM

 
Blogger Jason said...

Ah, thanks a lot sir, coming from the guy who made it possible for me to hear the Li'l Bunnies AND the A-Frames (for starters) that's plenty good to hear. I can't imagine I'd be turning anyone on to Scott's Crud Crud site for the first time through this comment box, but for those not in the know it's one of the most interesting non-beaten path music blogs out there (and the underappreciated-1990'-punk themed Static Party is no slouch either. Likewise S-S Records. Oh, and don't get me started on Moo-La-La records! I'll plead extended ignorance on Los Huevos, but he DOES like my old pals the Fells.)

So right back atcha on the good work part, and thanks!

2/01/2006 7:25 AM

 
Blogger Chardman said...

Johnson Smith will forever be associated with the concept of 'Life's bitter dissappointments'.
I remember me and my brother poring over their ads and deciding that I had to hae the Lifelike Vampire Bat (with flapping wings!) and my brother just had to have the Bloody Vampire Soap.
After our Mom had meticulously concealed our bills and change with tape and cardboard, she sent it out. After what seemed like ten years we got it.
My bat looked like a little, cheap rubber mat cookie-cuttered out to a vague bat-shape, with raised up little nubs to represent hair and other features, and was painted by what must've been a blind person. It hung from a elastic string, which was supposed to provide the flapping action when you bounced it like a yo-yo. My brother's soap was a little hotel sized bar of white soap that was supposed to turn bloody red when someone used it with water. It came out a foamy pink. It looked more like someone had an accident with a condiment than 'Vampire Soap'.
That's how we came to the realizaion that life is a cheap, bitter fraud, leaving you short your hard-earned money.

2/04/2006 12:09 PM

 
Blogger Jason said...

Well that's a little comforting to me actually, 'cause I always wanted that Vampire Soap. I've got a few old Johnson Smith catalogs around actually; they're pretty effective at dredging up the memories.

Here's some more of the crap I bought: Talking Toilet, Shifty Eyed guy, Bloody Finger trick, U-Control Ghost, Onion Gum, Spooky Coffin Skeleton Bank, Snapping Gum, a number of iron-on shirt transfers (my favorite had a guy excavating a corpse & said "I Dig Your Body" underneath, but a close second was the one with an Ed "Big Daddy" Roth-esque monster which read "Sure I Raise Hell! So What?" -- I think it was the "hell" part of that one that seemed especially thrilling in 5th grade.)

2/05/2006 1:20 PM

 
Blogger PopCereal said...

great blog you have here. i too was a monster nut back in my day (still am, i gotta say) and i always wanted to get stuff from JSN Co. never did, 'cause i had a big brother who warned me against it. he said the stuff was primo cheapo, and not to waist my meager allowance on it. i still wish i woulda gotten me a pair of the x-ray glasses though!

2/07/2006 1:43 PM

 
Anonymous Jim Barker said...

Folks like me, in the UK, had an even more distant and complex relationship with this kind of stuff. We used to see ads in the backs of comics, and always wanted the items, but buying stuff from the USA back then seemed an impossible dream. And something at the back of my mind always cautioned me that this stuff could never live up to its promise. Nice to hear these horror/spook records though. This is a good blog. I'll be back often. Keep a chair warm.

2/07/2006 4:19 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh man...johnson smith. they had to be deliberetly set up to hurt kids! I ordered the "bag of horrible creatures" and got these vaugue shapes of bugs,lizards etc. made of of "rubber" but was more like really old foam from a worn down sofa. and scary? the octopus had a smiley face and a big nose! if they had just sent the same kind of rubber creatures you could get at the drug store I would have been happy. ah well...memories.
the 7" inch instead of "33 made me laugh too-EVERYTHING from js was so SMALL!

3/07/2006 7:49 PM

 
Anonymous Erich Reinhardt said...

Not a fan of Johnson Smith, but the Spook Stuff for Hallowe'en record just makes me laugh, particularly on side two. A lot of technical tricks have been used here, such as tape speed ups and slow downs, reverberation, and theramin made sounds. It just seems stupid to put in "Hey Diddle Diddle" at the end at it has nothing to do with Halloween at all, as with some other effects on this platter. In short, a messed up record, I'd call it, particularly on side two where they were just messing around with the technical effects.

9/08/2006 6:33 PM

 
Blogger Pink Frankestein said...

Yowza! Great BLOG!!!

I Downloaded this ditty and was confused by the date on the tracks in iTunes as 1960. But this is such an obvious rip off of Disney Thrilling, Chilling sounds of the Haunted House that I had to come back to the comments to be sure. I see you have it listed as 1973.

I had a similar record that I had my hands on for a while and then lost again. It was I think just called Halloween Sounds, came in 7" format and just had a big drawing of a pumpkin on the cover. The back had a black and white photo of some old mansion that used to really spook me out. More than the Black Sabbath album cover did.

I figured you might know that record. I bought it from a five and dime in Los Angeles back in the day.

In a related story, I remember when we ordered the life like 7' tall Frankenstein. It was a plastic poster, like a big white trash bag with Frankenstein printed on it.

Anyway, this Blog RULES!

9/18/2006 9:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You had the 7' Frankenstein? I got the 7' SKELETON... -Which was two sheets of plastic-sheet (a fancy term for PLASTIC BAG material!) LOL
I hung it on the door of my room. Like everything else from Johnson Smith, it was a let-down! LOL
I had the Horror Record 7" as well... For nostalgia sake, I'd love to hear that again... Anyone know where I can dowload it/ buy a copy? I stabbed on that link above but it was a dead end... Oh well... Sometimes things from your past should remein there... -Unless someone's got one, ready to sell... : )
email me at c_eisenhardt@yahoo.com if you do! Cheers!

11/28/2006 12:10 AM

 
Anonymous Brian Horrorwitz said...

Ha! I had the same reaction you did when I ordered this 7" from J.S. back in the '780s! (And don't get me started on my Spy Pen radio!) And it's funny 'cause now I love it for all the same reasons I was first dissappointed by it! I used to leave Krishtor on my answering machine in the '80s. That really confused people! Any chance of re-uploading the "Spook Stuff" record? I'd love to hear the extended version!

2/11/2007 5:06 PM

 
Anonymous Brian Horrorwitz said...

OOPS! That should say '70s not '780s. DUH!

2/11/2007 9:11 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The links to the Johnson Smith audio files are not working. Could you please check this? I would like to download them.

Pharos

5/31/2007 9:38 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i had that record! ahhhh...the countless hours leafing through the johnson smith catalog...

10/30/2007 7:44 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhh, I always wanted the 7' Frankenstein!! They sent me something else instead!

I'm an Aussie who used to collect Famous Monsters in the seventies. My grandmother took a trip to the US at that time and I asked her to post my mail order form when over there.

She did and months later I received a large photographic poster of Lon Chaney Jr as the Wolfman! The quality was so poor that it had been touched up with a pen!

10/30/2007 9:15 PM

 
Blogger Lunarshape said...

Yes, I too ordered the "Horror Record" with high hopes. I even wrote to Johnson Smith asking if they could show me how large the record was and they sent back a piece of paper with the record's outline. Pretty thoughtful.
I also ordered their miniature ventrilloquist dummy and remember my friend and I getting all excited thinking it would be a Charlie McCarthy look-alike. But once it arrived, the wind left our sails. It was nothing but cheap plastic with cloth attached and pouches you stuffed with paper towels. I did take it to class the next day and everyone was impressed! I even put on a show. So it wasn't a total loss being the little guy was such a hit in school. A girl brought in a professional (and more expensive) dummy the next day and no one accepted hers saying that mine stole the show. What a comeback for "Archie".

1/16/2008 3:26 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

URGENT
Morning , I search the exactly cover magasin about "horror record johnson smith co".and the haunting
gayle house cover magasin ???
This is my blog
http://halloweenrecords.blogspot.com/ ,you can see my collection.
Jocelyn .

10/15/2008 2:24 PM

 
Blogger Captain Kaboom said...

I had this one! The other day I was reading another website about Johnson Smith stuff, and I started thinking about it, and I was shocked to realize how much stuff I bought from those guys over the years. Considering it was for kids, I guess this record was scary enough. Saw one sell on eBay about 8 or 9 years ago for around $50. Geeze.

Thanks for making this link available. I'm making a CD for next Halowe'en!

2/21/2010 6:37 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting the album cover and soundtrack from the Spook Stuff for Halloween record. My brother and I listened to this record over and over and over in the early '60s and I never ever thought I'd ever hear it again. This has been amazing to listen to again, absolutely amazing. Like it was yesterday. Thanks again so much!!

10/31/2010 10:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This brings back some memories when I always looked forward that new catalog with the cool stuff in it (yeah right!?). Believe it or not, I still have this record sitting in the boxes with my donut records (45's). I did try to clean it up and record it using the latest digital technology, but the only thing it brought out was the actually tape hiss (which must have existed on the original analog master). every time i listen to this, i break out laughing hysterically at myself for thinking that this record was cool. all and all, it does make a cool novelty item in the class of pure junk that a 13 year old kid must have (that's when I bought it.)

3/24/2011 12:41 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! You really CAN find everything on the Internet these days. Just a few hours ago I woke from a bad nightmare and didn't feel like going back to sleep, so I threw an old monster movie in the DVD machine (yeah yeah, go figure) and somewhere around the middle I suddenly remembered an old Halloween record I used to own as a kid. Couldn't think of anything but the cover art, but lo and behold after literally TEN MINUTES of Googling I found your blog on it (Pickwick's "Sounds of Terror") and was almost at once transported back to the 70s when the mad laughter of their Phantom of the Opera haunted my brain after the lights went out. THAT got me to thinking of my old Johnson-Smith record, and I thought "surely no one but me remembers that one". Brother, I stand corrected. I mean I'll guarantee those two records haven't crossed my brain since at least 1980, and here they are again just as fresh as the day I bought them both. As odd as it sounds, these two records mean a lot to me now, and I give you the greatest and most sincere of thanks for the chance to reconnect with my gloriously misspent childhood.

8/04/2011 6:54 AM

 
Blogger Magician Chuck Caputo said...

Johson Smith Company in the early 70's held my imagination as a child....I'd save my allowance and ofter do more chores around the house so I could mail my hard earned money into this company for what I hoped was a ground breaking toy or at least something beyond imagination.

I remember ordering the pack of eight walking dinosaurs for a dollar...and the ever popular U control ghost. Of course upon their arrival I realized I was hood winked. The dinosaurs were hap hazardly painted on an inflatable balloon which had thin cardboard flat feet that you secured to the tied end of the balloon...I also learned "U Control" meant a string...for the ghost it was a white balloon which you blew up and put through a hole in a white garbage bag with a string around its resemblence of a neck..I hooked this over a bent nail in my basement. You know what's weird....even though I was generally disappointed I could not wait to mail in my next order. I guess the old P.T. Barnum saying really is true - A sucker is born every minute...and I loved every minute!!!

12/17/2015 11:34 AM

 

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