What better way to wrap up the Samhain season than a fond look back at all the wonder and whimsy supplied to us by the fly-by-night Halloween shops that -- much like the magic of the holiday itself -- will soon cascade off into the pre-Thanksgiving ether?By: Jimbo X
Every year here at the Internet Is In America (uh, except 2013, for some reason) we close out the All Hallow's season with a fond, heartfelt recollection of the fly-by-night Halloween supply stores that popped up -- then quickly vanish -- from the hinterlands of metro-Atlanta. (For those of you feeling nostalgic already, here are the links for our first, second and third annual recaps.)
Ever the traditionalist, I reckon we ought to close shop on Halloween 2015 the same way we've wrapped it up every year since the year of our Satan 2011 -- with a photographic essay detailing all the odd, icky, and oftentimes offensive Halloween costumes, props and supplies that dumb people squandered their disposable income on since late August. Pop open a nice cold beverage and stash away a little Halloween candy for yourself, amigo ... it's time to wax nostalgic on what, as of tomorrow afternoon, will be nothing but a memory of what once was...
Despite my particular grievances with their use as generic genre film fodder, I suppose zombie props are as good a place as any to being our whirlwind tour of all things seasonal-supply store, no?
I'm especially intrigued by the electronic zombie displays, which seem to get goofier and more garish each and every year. I mean, where exactly can you go after selling motion-sensing animatronics of the undead springing out of the shitter?
Of course, if you are more into classical decor, stores of the like have you covered as well. I also like the redundancy on the vampire and monster parking signs -- couldn't you have changed the verbiage on one of them to read "violators will be chased" or something?
And yes, you also get your more standard tee-shirts and mock zoot suits, pending you ever feel like cosplaying as a McDonalds Halloween bucket or the Samhain version of Matthew Lesko.
It's always good to see Robert Englund's latex-soaked face on store shelves ... even if there is an entire generation growing up having no idea what a "Freddy Krueger" is, outside of a hokey Halloween costume that "old people" sometimes adorn.
Although this spider skeleton thingie looks cool, my inner biology student is crying foul ... arachnids don't have bones, you purveyors of anti-science!
If dressing up like Jason or Max Headroom is too predictably 80's, why not dress up like Tom Hank's iconic character from Cocktail? Or is that his flight jacket from Days of Thunder? Oh well, not that it matters. Meanwhile, some stores are trying to convince you to spend $40 on DVDs of looping ghosts flying up to your TV screen going boo and shit. Naturally, I bought four of 'em.
I know I've brought this up in Halloweens past, but the "pimp" section at certain retailers has always irked me. I don't know what's more troubling here: the brazen general cultural appropriation of urban violence and sexual debauchery or the fact they sell child-sized pimp canes?
That's a really nice take on old Scratch. Why not fuse the devil and the Grim Reaper into one entity, anyway? If nothing else, it makes for a bad-ass unused Castlevania boss, at least.
One of the things I LOVE about Halloween is that it's literally the only time of year you see certain objects on store shelves. Por exemple? Do you know how hard it must be finding plastic horror bicuspids for technical fruits around May?
The same goes for fog machine juice. I, for one, never knew there were this many competing brands of the stuff.
Of course, you can't really have a Halloween without funky-hued light bulbs. I always buy these things in bulk, just in case Obama has a mind to take these away from me like he did my old 40-watts.
When it comes to Jason rip-offs, this has to be one of the better costumes I've encountered. This kid totally could have been a WWF villain circa 1993.
...and here we get three or four different unlicensed properties in one; with only twenty bucks in my pockets, do I vouch for the unauthorized Scream voice changer with the X-Files alien on it or the fusion Jason Voorhees/Hannibal Lector mask?
2016 being an election year and all, I suppose the political-themed masks were pretty much a given. Strangely, there weren't any Donald Trump costumes on display at this store, although they did have a cherubic JFK mask and one of Ronald Reagan, which looks so much like Zeke the Plumber from Salute Your Shorts that it's almost pants-peeing.
While the liberal politicos were well-represented, I saw nary a Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio mask anywhere. Although I suppose if you modify the eye holes in a Jabba the Hutt mask, you could probably mod it into a Chris Christie costume, if you really wanted to.
Not to get overly sociocultural here, but when it comes to appropriation of black culture in costume form, it's either civil rights hero or 1980s TV star, with virtually no costume selections in-between.
The best part? It doubles as a Morgan Freeman and/or Fred Sanford costume, if your friends are really, really ignorant.
Yeah ... I am just as shocked as you are that PETA hasn't called for a boycott yet, either.
I think one of my favorite things about Halloween that wasn't one of my favorite things about the holiday before I started this blog is the hilariously nondescript titles given to obvious rip-off costumes. I mean, it isn't easy coming up with a marketing-friendly stand-in for "Richard Simmons," but "Exercise Maniac Character" was the best these folks could come up with? I bet these same people also offer a knock-off Charlie Brown costume, probably named "big headed yellow shirt depressed kid character" or something.
Get it! Because the sexual exploitation of women is funny!
Then again, there are quite a few costumes that are subtler...
... and more refined.
The sad thing is, for the $50 asking price, you could probably buy enough ingredients to make $300 or so dollars in bathtub meth.
Man, this makes me wish I would have bought that one Resident Evil 4 controller for the GameCube when I had the chance!
But if the more traditional blades are more your thing, you've got quite the assortment to choose from, as well. Including, uh ... gay pride machetes, I think?
And lastly, we come to a cheap-o latex mask that is one part Freddy Krueger, one part Mars Attack alien and one part Tar Man from Return of the Living Dead. An over-priced, needlessly garish, utterly functionless piece of crap probably made by a half-starved Chinese child, modeled after a fusion of American media advents, mass marketed and sold on store shelves from Bangor, Maine to Spokane, Washington -- this, my friends, isn't just what makes Halloween great.
Indeed, it's what makes this far and away the best time to be alive in the history of humanity. Happy Halloween -- and civilization -- folks!