Posted by Richard Harland Smith on September 21, 2012
We had just celebrated Labor Day in my household when the Halloween costume catalogs began flooding in by mail. My children were delighted, of course, and due to the high volume of offerings from Party City and Costume Express and Wishcraft and I don’t even know who else my kids had their costumes picked out early. Orders were made, money sent in, and the mailbox was put on round-the-clock stakeout. Every day Vayda and Victor ask me “Did our costumes come yet?” and every day I say “Not yet, children.” (Psst, they came in on Wednesday but it’s over a month to Halloween and if I let the kids wear their costumes now the things’ll be in tatters by 31 October.) Occasionally the kids take time away from their wonderment to turn their little heads my way and ask “Who are you going to be for Halloween, Daddy?” And I chuckle and draw on my pipe as I rock in my chair — hold on, I thought I was Dick Foran in THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1942) for a moment — and I say to them “Oh… I don’t know.” And I don’t. I don’t want to be a superhero, I don’t want to be a zombie. I don’t want to be a character from Harry Potter or Mario Brothers or any of the dumb-ass costumes adults wear. (Ketchup and Mustard? WTF? It’s Halloween!) And as I reflected on the kind of character I’d like to be for All Hallows Eve, I began to imagine… what if I owned a costume shop? Where I was free to sell any costume imaginable? Surely, with my encyclopedic knowledge of horror films, I’d be able to offer something, well… something altogether different. And my costume catalog might read a little something like this…
Who’s that lonely middle-aged man in the cardigan sweater and flannel shirt? That’s not just somebody’s laid-off dad stumbling home from a fruitless afternoon of day trading, that’s THE PSYCHIC KILLER! With the amazing power of voodookinesis, he can make your car run off a cliff, cause your shower’s thermostat to go from hot to scalding, crush you under a construction site cornerstone, or make you cut off your own hand in an industrial meat slicer! Beat that, Michael Myers! This deluxe costume ensemble comes with gray cardigan, poly-cotton blend flannel shirt, Sansabelt slacks, and an exclusive two-tone Psychic Killer wig. (Helpful Halloween Hint: smear some non-toxic Elmer’s Glue on your face to create the perfect Psychic Killer wrinkles!) Ideal for wallflowers, angry loners, and those too awkward to dance — the longer you sit watching other people and resenting them for having more fun than you, the more you’ll freak them out! Stand apart from the legion of trick-or-treaters in hockey masks and Father Death cowls and party with the power of positive(ly frightening) thinking!
Nothing says Old School Halloween quite like dressing up as HORACE FEMM. Costumed in a traditional mourning suit, celluloid collar, and cravat, you’ll scare the wits out of anybody with an innate fear of bitchy old men in undertaker clothes. Perfect for those hosting a home or office Halloween party, you will send guaranteed chills up the spines of those unlucky souls for whom you open your door, whether you fill their grubby mitts with candy treats, popcorn balls, wax lips, and leftover Valentine’s Day hearts or invite them into your house to “have a potato.” You’ll know you’ve created Halloween memories to last a lifetime when the neighborhood children point at you through the rest of the year and shout “Femm! Femm! Femm!” WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD – small parts! Horace Femm’s inimitable tie tack may prove fatal if swallowed. Not recommended for children under 3 years — but how cute would they be?
You will set tongues to wagging and spinster ladies to whispering when you slink through the moonshadows and autumn’s carpet of fallen leaves dressed to kill as DIE ALTE FRAU VON FRIEDHOF, DER VAMPYR! From the top of her old snowy head to the tips of her presumably bunion-studded feet, this supernatural specter in a shapeless sack dress is sure to be the hit Halloween costume of 2012, combining freedom of movement and low-flammability with maximum fright potential. Terror drips from your fingertips as you hover with vague menace over unconscious and vulnerable virgins, mock your premature buried classmates as they repose helpless in their windowed coffins, or even if you just creep from house to house staring hard at anyone who crosses your path. And if some Boy Scout should volunteer to walk you through the crosswalk, where’s the shame?
Is this the missing link? A human being transformed by dint of blasphemy and bad science from a captive jungle ape? A hunchback? A Sicilian-American with exceedingly bad posture and unfortunate hair? Don’t ask me, kids, go ask Dr. Renault… but Dr. Renault won’t tell you a bloody thing because this is DR. RENAULT’S SECRET! More terrifying than a fake cat scare, this classic Hollywood monster changed the course of horror filmmaking in 1942, erasing from the minds of a nation gearing up for World War II all memories of such quaint bogies as Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and both Wolf Man and She-Wolf of London. (But strangely, not the Mummy. People never stopped loving the Mummy — we can’t keep Mummy costumes in stock so don’t even think of being the Mummy this Halloween!) We provide the gray double-breasted business suit, Milburn Stone string tie, and Shemp Howard wig… you provide the vaguely simian walk and BOO-LA… screams galore!
Some costumes just sell themselves. Year after year. Guaranteed. Like the Hobo with his bindle, the Adult Baby in his diaper and bonnet, the Convict with his striped prison uniform and flight-discouraging ball-and-chain, and the Plus-Sized Devil Women with or without her pitchfork, nothing says “Happy Halloween, Bastards!” more succinctly than EXPLODING DON RICKLES. Talk about clearing a room! When you stroll into a social situation with this sizzling headpiece (hospital johnny not included), you will see the line for the buffet or bathroom magically vanish in front of you! Cut right to the front of the queue for tricks and treats, too, as your competition either falls away to sob in uncomprehending horror or scrambles, repulsed, to wretch behind the hedgerow. Either way, win-win! (Helpful Halloween Hint: maximize the instant recognition factor with Don Rickles fans by peppering your “agonized death throes” with the legendary entertainer’s patented caustic catchphrases, modified for the holiday of course… such as “Curse you, hockey puck!” and “I’m burning up here, stupid!”) Literally immortal.
Girls, in your cozy terry bathrobe and low maintenance sanitarium bob, you’ll really stand apart from the swarms of princesses, fairies, sorceresses, Dora the Explorers, Sexy Nurses, and Belle Swan wannabes this season o’ the witch. SCARED JESSICA is the hot new horror icon for you young ladies of the night (Halloween night, I mean – I don’t mean prostitutes… although that is a good costume, too). You’re plagued by anxiety, you hear voices, you see things that just aren’t there, you’re afraid of everything, you wear out-of-style old lady clothes, you don’t put out, and you spend a lot of time talking about your feelings… you’ll be every boy’s worst nightmare! Long after the toilet paper has been pulled down out of the tree in the front yard and the egg yolks have been hosed off the Prius, people will be talking about the night they saw SCARED JESSICA, the most popular trick-or-treating costume for young girls since SEXUALLY REPRESSED CAROL and UTTERLY USELESS BARBRA. Watch the front porch lights go off before you’ve even gotten halfway up the walkway… such is the spook power of SCARED JESSICA! Mole cutter and boat hook sold separately.
Ahhhhh, well. (Beat) Okay, fun’s over. Too bad I don’t own that costume shop, eh? But you know what… EXPLODING DON RICKLES excepted, you can create all of these costumes yourself, just by dipping into Mom and Dad’s closet and medicine cabinet. Use your imagination! Stop giving your hard-earned allowance money to Big Costume and show the slobs what’s really scary this Halloween!
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