Written by Jonathan Wojcik


Now that I live in Iowa, I have access to a couple more Halloween resources than I did in butt sweat world, and one of those is Menard's, which is like a Home Depot or Lowe's, except unlike either of those stores, it cares strongly about the holiday season worth caring strongly about, as you can see from the startling size of their seasonal section. This isn't even all of it.

Let's check out the best of the best that they're selling this year!

Mummy Garage Door Cover

If you're one of those upper-class uncle moneybags Americans, you might have a garage attached to your house with a door of some sort on it. It might even be filled with something other than garbage you didn't feel like taking to the curb, if you're extra fancy, but it's likely you're still stuck with a plain, boring garage door. Thankfully, this handy item will fool passersby into believing your garage is both already open and leads to an empty, black void occupied by gigantic mummies.

Large Plastic Ghosts

These goofy sheet-ghouls may not look too remarkable in a photograph, but they're at least three and a half to four feet tall, allowing you to greet the average trick-or-treater with a chilling reminder of what their little soul will look like when it's doomed to wander the Earth for eternity.

Life-size Medusa

This is a hundred dollars, but it's really nice to see some more gorgons as Halloween decorations, especially with vicious-looking jaws and the intense, luminous eyes they ought to have.

Hanging Zombie

They call this a "hanging zombie," but it's not quite like anything else I've seen the z-word tacked onto. It's one of those items that consists of just a head and a long, dangling veil to give the illusion of a complete body, but what an interesting head. Just white cloth with very simple drawn-on features. Anybody could make this at home for cheaper, but it does look really cool and unsettling.

A variation on hanging zombie trades the sleepy expression for round, dark eyes and no other facial features. Again, so simple you may as well do it yourself, but the crude, hand-made quality of these things only adds to their creepy charm, whether you buy them pre-made or replicate them with some gauze and markers. Which is even eerier? That "zombies" might look like this or that somebody sat there making these things to hang in their yard? The latter is pretty scary outside a Halloween context. I think these might be even better for outdoor decor the entire rest of the year.

Spooky Town Tree

What? Spookytown!? Spooky town is supposed to exclusive to Michael's! This particular spooky tree doesn't even show up on their official website, although that is definitely their logo. What are you trying to pull, Spooky Town!? This tree even LOOKS scandalized, like it was caught red-handed two-timing on Michael's.

Light-up Candle Skulls

Light-up lawn stakes are a common item, but usually in the same conventional shapes of ghosts, skulls, bats or sometimes disembodied hands. These skulls with dripping candles on top are a nice change of pace, and even one of those rare examples with a thematic reason to emit light!

Singing and Dancing Skeleton

I don't know what song this skeleton plays. Probably one of the same dozen songs repurposed for millions of Halloween items, but it doesn't matter what he dances to or even how well he dances, because he's adorable even sitting there silently. I love cartoony skulls, and especially when they've got eyeballs in the backs of their sockets. It just has the sweetest, most endearing little fleshless face, and the greenish splotches are a nice touch too!

Haunted Tree Face

I really like the gnarly big-toothed smiles on these guys, which you're supposed to mount on a tree trunk so it looks like the tree has been possessed by some sort of boggart, though they also kind of look strikingly like tapered logs of excrement, too. That's not a point against them, it's just that anywhere other than a tree, that's probably what they're going to bring to mind. The little twigs on their heads even look more like tiny, broken bones, like these are the haunted droppings of a werewolf who's been eating mice or small birds. Or maybe it ate a hobgoblin, which reconstituted itself as best as it could.

Rat Sign

I've seldom seen Halloween rats in a tasteful context like this. Usually they're designed to look filthy, ravenous and feral, the polar opposite of actual real rats. This is a more realistic depiction of a rat as a more elegant creature of the night, illuminated by the moon in a way usually reserved for black cats. Rats, I guess, kind of occupy a "second tier" of Halloween animals. Cats, spiders and bats constitute the first, the most abundant and easily recognizable, while the second has the rats, vultures, crows, reptiles and insects who get only part of the limelight. Owls, meanwhile, are off in their own category, a major Halloween mascot yet just as often marketed with no "spooky" connotations at all.

Animated Scarecrow

Nice! Living scarecrows are one of my favorite lesser-represented Halloween monsters, but I'm picky about their faces. This one's vaguely skull-like markings are perfectly terrifying with just enough whimsy to pass for someone's sincere attempt at painting a human face on a burlap bag. It's the toothless smile that really makes it - much scarier than the snarling fangs or corpse gums they put on so many other scarecrows.

"Witch's Night Out" Inflatable

Why would a tombstone say "Witch's Night Out" on it? That's a pretty weird epitath. Then again, the tombstone has eyes of its own, which is the main reason I had to share it with you. Adorable, innocent ghost-eyes with sweet little lashes! Maybe this sentient, haunted grave marker can change its own writing to communicate, and it's warning us all that some witches are having a night out, even as one of the devil's brides herself perches mockingly atop our dear friend in the guise of an ordinary, gigantic purple owl. LOOK OUT, TOMBSTONE!!!

Wind-up Hopping Monster Balls

Of these bouncing orbs, the mummy is the coolest looking as well as the most believable. A tiny, round mummy I can swallow just fine. Somebody shrunk a head and sewed the feet of a pickled fetus onto it. Most of us did it in first grade. A tiny, spherical vampire or werewolf with feet, however, is just silly.

Sticky Creatures

I love sticky toys so much. The way they feel, the way they look, they're the toy equivalent of enticing, colorful, gooey candy...but they don't last any longer, either. Touch the too much and they're done for. The temptation to touch them is high, but I manage to keep my sticky toys "mint in package," and have amassed quite a collection over my lifetime. Maybe some day I'll show you the rest of them, but here's their latest siblings, a bat-like demon and a three-eyed martian ghoul in a gorgeous tomato-red-on-jet-black color scheme. I took them out of their plastic wrapping just long enough for a photoshoot; now they go back in their protective sleeves forever.

At a few points, though, the flash lit up their lovely red in an even lovelier brimstone-orange. It never happens under any lighting "in person" and I'm not sure which look I like more.

Skeletal Lawn Gnome Woman

Menard's is the same place I picked up a skeletal gnome woman a year or two ago, but she's joined this year by a sexy sister and a couple of new dudes, assuming skeleton boobs and skeleton beards are actually indicative of skeletal gnome genders. They're not necessarily indicative of human genders in the first place, so who the hell knows what anything means with gnomes. Maybe gnomes are fungi, and just have literally thousands of sexes anyway. Aren't fungi amazing?!

Skeletal Lawn Dogs

Skeletal lawn dogs were also offered at Menard's once before, and the same varieties have come back for 2015, though they're now joined by an even more tragic and unsettling specimen, its Disneyesque proportions uncanny enough without their still-fleshy ears, noses and tongues still attached to their otherwise old and dusty bones. Chilling.

Skeletal Lawn...FROGS!!!

Didn't I just say something earlier in the season about how nice it was to get a skeleton frog in our Halloween selection? Now we've got another one, in an entirely different, unrelated context! Spirit Halloween released a lovely giant zombie toad for your garden back in 2013, so I can't be too shocked, especially how common frog and toad statues have been alongside garden gnomes, and this isn't even exactly what a frog's skeleton really looks like, but it's close enough and it's adorably spooky, especially the puzzled look on its little open mouth and empty eyes. Halloween 2015 is clearly the year of skeleton frogs, even if we only ever get the two, because that's still two more skeleton frogs than I've seen most other years.






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