Written by Jonathan Wojcik

TODAY: Marshalls Stuff!

   The Halloween offerings at Marshall's and their sister chain TjMaxx seldom disappoint me. These stores specialize in re-selling brand new yet heavily discounted items from dozens of retailers around the world, resulting in some of the most diverse and eclectic seasonal offerings you can come by; just look at the chaos ensuing on one table. You have to appreciate the clawed, metal mummy teaching her (because it's a Mummy, duh) unliving progeny the ins and outs of a proper mummy-walk.

   Also adorable were these self-decapitating monsters in tutus, all of whom make reasonable sense to be pulling their heads off except for the cat, which I guess we can assume is a dead cat, and if you still wonder why I love Halloween so much, this isn't even the first time I've found myself pondering a cat with a detachable head.

   This large, gauzey wraith with light-up eyes was a steal at only fifteen bucks. the same one is available at Spirit Halloween stores for more than twice that, boasting only the addition of plastic skeleton hands on its bendable, wire arms. Does it even surprise you that I've already got bags of plastic skeleton hands lying around? If I wanted, I could give my new ghost four plastic skeleton hands. Hell, I could give her forty plastic skeleton hands. Eat it, Spirit! This is why I'm reviewing you later!

   Consisting of little more than styrofoam balls with stuff glued all over them, these happy spiders aren't something I could trust myself and my various living creatures to keep intact forever, but I thought they were worth sharing just for that grisly, bloodshot gaze. Everything else about them goes for sheer cute factor, but a few red strings are all it takes to give their goofy, googly eyeballs a truly ghoulish countenance. What foul madness festers behind those felt smiles?

   I came so close to getting this $12 haunted tree candle holder. I never actually even use candle holders, but it's not often a haunted tree, one of my favorite holiday icons, gets its own dedicated decor. They only had one of them, too. I really really should have taken him home. If not a candle, I could at least fill it up with something else tasteful, like rodent bones or dead bugs.

   I always save the best for last, and I dare you to come up with anything better than these decorative junk-spiders. The minute I saw these, I knew I couldn't leave without one - whatever the price. They've got heavy, solid pewter-looking bodies, bendable legs, sparkly rhinestone eyes and whole handfuls of tacky junk-drawer flotsam wantonly hooked and glued just wherever the hell it will fit.

   I wound up picking this one, with the dangling key, though others were tricked out with clock parts, broken jewelry and just about anything else you might dig up from a grandmother's couch cushions. To anyone with conventional, sane decorative sensibilities, these have to be the stuff of pure nightmares.

   Both species - or possibly sexes? - of junkspider sell for an admittedly rather hefty $17, the only reason I didn't pick out one of each body type. These others are smaller, but chunkier, evening out to just as much spider and just as much junk for your dollar. The fanciful, big-nosed faces are something I've actually seen before, in vintage rubber spider toys, undoubtedly cast from the same molds.

  When I look at these ungainly monsters, I see solid year-round classy centerpiece material, but something somehow tells me that nine out of ten people, presented with one of these beauties as a gift, would wait until nobody was looking and chuck it straight into the garbage, never to be spoken of again. These are bug-eyed, monstrous arachnids with an irregular coating of sparkly garbage. They're the distinct opposite of everything a normal human being would ever refer to as tasteful, sensible or attractive.

Maybe that's why I love them so much, because they're just like me.