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  • Writer's pictureSusan Flanagan

Hallowe'en Horror | The Kids are Alright | Oct. 25, 2011

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

Bludgeoned babies were not what I expected to see when I went shopping for a morph suit for #3 to wear on Hallowe’en. When I walked into the Kenmount Road store, the scene that greeted me was horrific. Dozens of realistic life-sized bludgeoned zombie babies rotated on swings and dozens more sat looking eerily demonic. Parents covered their children`s eyes. I heard one mother whisper, “Don`t look. You`ll have nightmares.” I thought she was talking to me. I got the heck out of there as soon as I could.

What’s happened to Hallowe’en? It used to be a time for children to dress up as Winnie the Pooh or Snow White and stock up on treats. Now it’s more an x-rated novelty night for adults with Naughty Nurse costumes outselling Barney. Even my 12-year-old girl who had been to the store before was disgusted by half rotten corpses being eaten by rats. Luckily I didn`t make it that deep into the horror. And it wasn’t only that store. Others displayed the same lack of regard for normal emotions. Imagine a parent who has recently lost a child witnessing that display.

In my experience it doesn’t take such grotesque decorations to make Hallowe’en exciting for a child. When our first three boys were little, we lived near Belvedere Cemetery where a twisted spooky old tree grew alongside the graves. Disneyland had nothing on donning costumes, reading the Berenstain Bears Spooky Old Tree and heading over to the cemetery for a visit.

Yesterday I took surprise baby and his girlfriend to Lester’s Farm. By the time they chose pumpkins, visited the petting barn, sized up huge Hallowe’en decorations made of hay bales, climbed around on used tractor tires and got an ice cream, they were completely wiped out. Now I know they are only preschoolers, but my teenagers can’t wait to go to Lester’s either.

I may as move on to the topic of costumes since I’m on a roll. Store bought or homemade. Das ist die Frage. I vote for homemade any day. Not only because it’ll save you $50 but because it’s more fun. I remember how hard it was to make the hat stay on the year my girl dressed as an orange crayon. We had designed the top of the crayon too tall to be held in place with simple elastic. But if you ask her what costume stands out in her mind, it’ll probably be that cursed crayon.

Another year Number four dressed as a juice box. The paint hadn’t dried by the time he grabbed the pillow case to set out. This is the stuff lifelong memories are made of. The year Guitar Hero came out, Number 2 designed and coloured a cardboard guitar, donned a black wig and cape and he looked great. The time my eldest dressed as Super Mario he was superb, complete with moustache and arm movements. Now you can buy a Mario costume, but it’s not nearly as good as the one my son made.

My friend Jessica teaches at St. Paul’s where costumes are judged for their inventiveness. “A homemade disguise will almost always win out over a store bought one,” she says. I agree with her. If I gave you one minute to think of the best or funniest Hallowe’en costume ever, I’d wager my week’s wages from the Telegram that it is a homemade costume you’re thinking of.

I remember the poorly named Mardi Gras party on George Street and seeing Little Bow Peep with an entire herd of sheep parading behind her into Trappers. I also remember a couple dressed as Tia Maria and Milk, the man’s body encased in a cardboard bottle with face visible in the stovepipe neck; his partner in a huge Sunshine Dairy carton. There was a double rum and Coke – two girlfriends - their heads, along with giant straws and lemon wedges, protruding from inverted brown garbage buckets that had cotton balls glued around the top. These costumes took time to make. The highlight of the evening that year was three mad scientists who carried in an old door with a fair maiden covered in a sheet and the inner workings of a VCR or some such machine connected to her head by wires.

Last year at our family costume party a family of five came dressed as Johnny Depp characters. Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Carribean, Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Edward Scissor Hands, Willy Wonka, and the little girl was the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. Now that’s inventive.

So remember this Hallowe’en if you think your decorations or costumes would offend your grandmother, they’d probably offend others as well. So let’s hear from you if you think I’m a prude and don’t mind the demon bludgeoned zombie baby decorations.

I know what you’re thinking. At the Flanagans they probably give out Bibles on Hallowe’en like the Calgary-based non-denominational Christian group, Jesus Ween. Not a bad idea to fill up the pillow case quickly. But don`t worry you won`t get a Bible at our house. What you will get is a tooth brush.

Susan Flanagan is a journalist and mother if five living in St. John’s. She can be reached at

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