I'm writing this over ten days since Halloween 2022, but when we last looked at Halloween City, we focused on the props and decorations. Together with its parent company Party City, the brand also had a lot of interesting costumes and masks this year...though some, unfortunately, "interesting" for the wrong reasons. You'll see.
HALLOWEEN SHOPPING 2022:
Halloween City Masks and Costumes
We'll start with the morally respectable ones, of course, especially the incredible costumes that seem largely restricted to kid's sizes, for some reason. Red Eyed Ghoul is pretty great, a black-cloaked figure whose grey-blue, long-fingered hands are stained with blood, and more blood oozes from a snarling demon skull that goes on top of the wearer's head, so they look like a taller, long-necked monster! The best part is that, in the dark, it'd look more like the head and hands are just floating around independently. hell yeah.
RED EYED GHOUL
That's what this was labeled, anyway, even though this greyish alien has five eyes, lovely little globular ones very much like the eyes of a spider. It also has a little round mouth full of long, thin fangs, and the arms of the costume are designed to extend longer than those of a normal human. I'd have had SO much fun in some of these when I was a little trick or treater; they never made anything quite this cool for us in the 80's and 90's.
FOUR EYED ALIEN
Love this classic combination! A body textured like patchwork burlap, a scowling and indeed rather rotten-looking Jack O' Lantern head dribbling with orange goo, and best of all a pet crow prop to carry around. I love how the kid in the example image is just holding it perched in his hand like any bird owner. It's like this pumpkin monster is just showing off its crow around town in exchange for candy.
I believe this glow-in-the-dark costume actually came out a couple years ago, but it's still hilarious. A skeleton dripping with green slime is a sincerely cooler "zombie" than most, but this one also has a video game controller tangled up in its ribs, a headset, a hoodie, and sunglasses (or VR goggles?) that say GAME OVER in the lenses. The question is: what does "zombie gamer" really mean here? Is it a radioactive ghoul who took up gaming, a gamer who became a radioactive ghoul for unrelated reasons, or a gamer who was turned into a radioactive ghoul BY video games?! Each is a deeply different distinction and it is very important. Maybe even the single most important thing for America to debate over in November 2022, I'll bet!
Who doesn't love an undead spaceman!? It's a simple and straightforward costume, a grimy spacesuit with a skull face in the helmet, but the skull face also lights up blue, which is badass.
This sure is a high concept costume! Not the Predator ripoff the name might imply, but a human or humanoid bounty hunter character, with a metal mask and everything, who carries around a goofy, green octopus-like alien in a cage! I hope at least one person modified that so they could reach in and operate it as a puppet.
It certainly is! Why don't I see more Halloween masks with two faces like that? Even individually, they're pretty cool designs; pale white, bony faces with penetrating eyes and lipless mouths, exposing very "Smiledog" or "Jeff the Killer" sort of grins. Just one would be creepy enough, but there's TWO of them!
TWO HEADED GHOSTLY GHOUL
Plague doctors continue to be popular, including this subvariety with a semi-organic mask. This one is like an otherworldly grey bird skull, but with the beak appearing sewn shut. Clearly that isn't just a mask. That has to be this entity's actual face.
But speaking of masks, they'll be the rest of this review! For better or for worse...
...I don't think "deranged" is all we're seeing here. This pained, sickly looking clown is swollen with lumps and blisters, and weirdest of all is the pointy clown hat mostly embedded in its scalp. It actually looks like it's in the process of breaking out through the skull, as if it's growing. As if this is someone infected by some kind of clown infection. A clownfection.
Love how detailed and zany this one is! Just a grotesque, gooey slice of pizza with crazed, bloodshot eyeballs and a mouth full of rotten looking teeth. One thing I always appreciate are Halloween masks that still work as props without even being worn; on its own, this is just a single, living slice of pizza, so you could also just carry this around as a little sidekick to a more elaborate costume, like a pizza chef zombie or something.
A fairly interesting metallic gas mask, though instead of large lenses or goggles it has skull-like eye sockets with beady red eyes, and then it's also sculpted to have bunny rabbit ears. Is this actually from something else? A reference to something? It's oddly enough not the only rabbity gas mask on offer.
See, this one's in a whole different style! A more classical gas mask with large circular eyes, but it also has rabbit ears and a bright red bow tie. Additionally its texture and details are very organic looking, like it's actually a living rabbit gas-mask creature. Pretty fascinating! Or is this stolen from somewhere? More about that later.
I think this is another I've seen before, but never reviewed. A really cool looking character wearing a stitched-together burlap bag over its head, but with a bloody tooth-lined bird beak tearing out of it!
I'm almost mad that I'm finding this in 2022. I was obsessed, OBSESSED with humanoid fish for a few years of my childhood and wanted nothing more than to be one for Halloween. I was thrilled to get an actual fish creature mask, but if it could have been an Anglerfish I would have absolutely LOST MY MIND. It's not quite as charming as any real species, more of a grumpy-eyed cartoon angler, but it's still very cool. Plus, the lure and the teeth all glow green under a blacklight, apparently! Or maybe they actually light up? I forget.
This is the last one that isn't upsetting, so bask in it while you can: it's only a partial mask that covers your face from the nose up, but it's a beautiful tentacle-faced creature regardless, like a D&D Illithid with much blunter tentacles and deep blue pupil-less eyeballs. I especially like how the design sort of has a vertical mouth area? I refuse to accept the mouth and chin of the human wearer as canon to this mask's concept, sorry. If you wear this you should probably also have something under it to hide all that hominid anatomy.
We've seen some pretty fun and interesting costumes, but now it's time to SHAME Ghoulish Productions, the company making most of Party City's exclusive masks:
These are beautifully designed masks, but in case you're new in spooky internet town, all of these are original monsters created by our long time spooky internet friend, Trevor Henderson. They are lifted straight from his popular artwork, from the physical details to the color palettes, even recreating his Bridge Worm's awesome peel-away face gimmick. The only thing the company changed were the names...almost. Siren Head is "Siren Monster" here. Bridge Worm is "Bridge Maggot," and the adorable Big Charlie, an increasingly beloved Henderson creation with a sort of "embryonic bird" vibe, is sold here as.......Big Charlie, actually. They just kept the name and everything.
GHOULISH PRODUCTIONS 2022 "CREEPYPASTA" COLLECTION
You may recall that in 2021, I reviewed small, plastic figures also ripped off from Sirenhead and related entities, but those were at least cheap little knockoffs from China that were mostly their own original creatures. Ghoulish Productions clearly puts professional-level detail into designing these masks, and it sells them through retail chains as mainstream as Party City. That they would directly swipe the original characters of independent artists without even crediting them is unbelievably saddening; many of said artists would thrill at the prospect of an official partnership, and there's no doubt whatsoever that a company this big could afford to compensate them.
Creative works are absolutely not, in any way, public domain until their respective artists choose to release them as such. It's common for people brand new to the entire internet to presume that everything they find "viral" on the web is free for use, but the people putting this much time and work into making these particular products have no such excuses.
Legally pursuing this kind of thing is unfortunately impossible for small artists, especially when the company is based out of the country, in this case in Mexico. Party City, however, operates within the USA, and really ought to be accountable for carrying these sorts of things, which they've unfortunately already done with other "creepypasta" costumes the past couple of years.
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