Written by Jonathan Wojcik
Only accessible during our Iowa trip, Menard's is similar to "Home Depot" or "Lowe's," but unlike either of those failures, these guys tend to go all-out for Halloween with a huge decorated holiday section!
An entire aisle of the place was devoted to large, hanging skeletons, of which these gloomy gooses were the first to grab me. What do you have to be sad about, skeletons? You're skeletons! Skeletons don't cry! They frolic!
This one was the very largest "skeleton" in the store, though its outfit doesn't really give the illusion of arms or a body under that huge skull. What kind of outfit is that even supposed to be. A priest's robe? A nun costume? That's all the black and white fabrics call to mind. This is a gigantic skull who dresses as a nun and I'm going to assume flies around. Maybe this is what nuns summon to punish unruly children.
The Halloween Lawn & Garden section included a number of spooky outdoor statues, the cutest of which had to be these skeletal dogs eager to play fetch with what was probably a living person's femur only hours ago. You know those skeletal dogs.
These garden gnomes are probably intended to give the impression of "zombies," but honestly, who says this isn't what a gnome normally looks like? It's not as if they were always cute, rosy-cheeked little fairy-folk in mythology, and gnomes always ate brains, right? Isn't that why they wear pointy hats? For drilling holes in foreheads?
By far the best of the horror-gnomes was the skeletal lady gnome. Sure, the bearded pipe-smoking skeleton is cute, but a squat little gnomette without any soft tissues is something totally new, and yes, this is the one we wound up buying. We're probably never going to put her outside - something might happen to her! - but she'd look great just about anywhere in the house, especially the kitchen, where she could look down from the refrigerator or microwave with those kindly judgmental eye-sockets. "More peanut butter cups? Well, you do what you want. No skin off my back!"
Menards even had some pocket screamers I hadn't encountered before; satisfyingly chunky, vividly green ghouls with differing degrees of hypercephaly. I think the sharp-fanged one is the cooler of the two.
This skeletal reaper with tattered wings was actually a Menard's item my girlfriend got for her birthday before we ever went to the store itself, and the most interesting thing about it is by far the noise it makes:
I really wouldn't have expected a flying, cloaked skeleton to emit a chipmunk-like giggling, church bells and bird-like chirping, which the wings are nicely designed to flap along with. I suppose that's intended to give a bat-like impression, but I can only see these things orbiting someone's head after some sort of anvil-related "accident," possibly instigated by the animate, rotting remains of Bugs Bunny.
Finally, we have these "Halloween Wobblers," plush monsters that play music and allegedly "wobble." The vampire was rather passe, but his buddy appeared to be some sort of black, bat-winged ghost with a skull face, and as explained by its tag, it sang "I'm Your Boogieman," so I'm going to wager that's exactly what this little monster is supposed to be.
Of course, I had to buy it. You just don't see a lot of things marketed as "boogiemen," and how can you say no to a "boogieman" with all the menace of a baby-level Digimon? I apologize for the crappiness of my video, but you get the idea. "Wobbling" was more than a little misleading; they putter around in aimless loops like squat, maniacal penguins. Penguins with skeleton heads and bat's wings, the way nature intended.