The Nightmarish Halloween Costumes Of Yesteryear

The horrific homemade costumes and cheap masks from the pre-corporate era of trick or treating.

These days, Halloween is a huge corporate moneymaker and the fears of the past – that allowing your kids to attend a Halloween party was but the first step onto a road that led directly to Satanic cults and eternal damnation – have largely been replaced by more secular concerns. A year can’t pass without the followers of the new religions of social justice and critical theory fretting over inappropriate costumes that are cultural appropriation at its worst, horrible micro-aggressions against the vulnerable or simply wildly offensive to someone, somewhere.

Perhaps now is the time to throw aside those store-bought costumes and cliched looks, and instead return to the simpler times of the past, where a cheap plastic mask – sweaty, blank and flimsy – or better yet a papier-mache creation of your own, and a home-made outfit was all that anyone needed. Back in the day, the amateur Halloween outfit was often a seriously unsettling sight, either an extravagant creation that can only be the result of too much cheese at bedtime or some thrown-together affair that looks like your worst nightmare, with the feel of actual demons from Hell unleashed onto the world. The grotty amateurishness of these outfits gives them a real authenticity, an organic realism that no fancy-pants costumes could ever match.

Admittedly, the vintage photography – itself basic and blurry – adds to the creepiness of these images. But still… imagine any of these creatures turning up at your door demanding treats.

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