Halloween means different things to different age groups. For older adults, it is a season of decoration and preparation. Entire neighborhood communities work together to cover their homes in increasingly scary items and fill their candy bowls with all sorts of treats. For young adults and teenagers, this is a time to wildly celebrate and consume piles of horror media. House parties full of costumed patrons overindulge in autumn drinks and scary movies. And for kids, Halloween means costumes, candy, and trick or treating. The holiday is certainly spooky, but there is a sense of goofiness just behind the scenes. All of the ghouls and ghosts take on a playful demeanor, as kids dress up and make believe.
Typically, it is the more lighthearted media of the Halloween season that transcends the age groups. Campy horror movies, fun animated television specials, and spooky platforming video games can be fun for a broad audience. The Nintendo 64 classic Banjo-Kazooie provides a great example of this with the Mad Monster Mansion.
Mad Monster Mansion is full of traditional horror elements. The world features spooky locations like a graveyard, a hedge maze, and a creepy old mansion. The main enemies are ghosts, skeletons, and animated tombstones. Banjo even gets in on the act, transforming into a little pumpkin to complete certain challenges. This haunting area also features an appropriately fun track:
Composer Grant Kirkhope crafted a bouncing melody inspired by the film Beetlejuice, and included tons of campy sound effects to enhance the playful mood of the piece. The track matches the goofy and spooky aesthetic of Mad Monster Mansion, creating an experience that is fun for all ages.
For an episode of their podcast, the Super Marcato Bros. featured an exclusive interview with Grant Kirkhope. Their talk with the composer is fantastic, giving all sorts of insight on the history of developer Rare and the creative process behind the music of games like GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, and of course, Banjo-Kazooie. If you are a fan of the glory days of the Nintendo 64, or just an enthusiast of game music and composition, I highly recommend listening to this episode!