Written by Jonathan Wojcik

October 1st: Spirit!

   Every year by September, Spirit Halloween stores sprout up all across America, but vary in size and quality. Some are just racks of items hastily thrown together, while others have whole spooky Haunted House style setups to walk through! They're still never as good as the Halloween Adventure Superstore we used to get up North, where I always found my giant, bendable insects, but Spirit always has its charms. Let's find them!

   There's probably nothing better to start off with than this poor sucker, whose arms may be bendable, but couldn't possibly be in a better position. He doesn't even really look like a "monster" so much as a crazy old hobo engaged in an argument over a restaurant check.

   These latex severed heads return every year with some new additions, and I've definitely never seen the pumpkin before. It's a little cheesy, but it's so pleasingly colored in person that I just might get one if they're still around for the final clearance sale.

   This undead lawn flamingo is something I immediately had to buy; skeletal animals are surprisingly and tragically rare in Halloween decor, and skeletal birds tend to look especially cool. Lawn flamingoes are already sold with skeletal patterns on them, but this fully detailed and sculpted ghoul seems to be a brand new design. I like that it still has some clinging blood-colored feathers holding its shape. There are really only two downsides: it's around 20% smaller than the traditional pink lawn flamingo, and you can't really keep it outside in Florida if you don't want the sun to torch it.

   These matching undead gnomes were also available, but I couldn't get a decent picture before they were sold out. They were the first thing to go at both Spirit locations in my area; I guess a zombie garden gnome is a gag people just couldn't resist. I really hope they expand on the whole "undead garden" thing next year; we totally need some zombie mushrooms, plants and insects to go with these gnomes.

   By far the best new animated prop this year, at least in my book, is this adorable motion activated Medusa bust. She's such a flirt after turning herself to stone and getting 90% of her body chopped off. I sure like percentages today. These things are a bit pricey, but I think they're totally worth it just for the moving snakes. They're so well blended with the rigid head that they caught me by surprise and made the whole thing six times cooler.

   I also had to buy this life-sized, jointed cardboard "skeleton," the only one I've ever seen that still had slimy organs and clinging tissues, like it came fresh from an acid bath. It also has the [i]sassiest[/i] pose I've ever seen in a half-eaten corpse.


   One thing I have to hand to Spirit is that they must have a pretty good handle on what's really creepy, since they've been slowly taken over by babies the past few years. It started small, with just a couple zombified infants available, but every Halloween the selection just grows and grows. Spirit now stocks at least a couple dozen neonatal ghouls, with their own massive displays since at least 2010.

   There are even horrible puppets! You can't see it too well, but the skeletal one is my favorite, with its unsettlingly toothless jaws. If it only had a big hole in the top like it technically should, I'd totally take one home.

   Of the static babies, I think this rotten fatass is the most delightful. almost as hideously nauseating as an actual baby! I'm just waiting until Spirit gets bold enough to give us some embryonic zombies, which would be vastly cooler looking and an immediate must-have. They could at least do ghoulish animal fetuses. Who wouldn't want a giant, latex chicken embryo with a blood-dripping beak?

   The baby theme has also engulfed Spirit's latest Pocket Screamer line, and it's almost hard to pick a favorite, but I think the green one wins. It looks the least human, with such a lovely stagnant pond scum complexion. I just had to get him.

   Better still, the pocket zombie babies have a sound chip I've never before encountered in one of these toys. Just listen to this little bastard! He's crazy!