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party was but the first step onto a road that led directly to Satanic cults and eternal damnation – have largely been replaced by more secular concerns.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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