Bogleech Halloween Classics:
Screamers, Screechers and Cacklers
Forgive the small, crappy old photograph, but this was the very first time I had ever encountered the "pocket screamer" phenomenon, all the way back in 2004. This little rubber woman, roughly three or four inches tall, once emitted a hideous shriek and flashed her eyes when squeezed, until her un-replaceable batteries were finally worn out. Since then, toys of this type have continued to multiply, new sets appearing at various stores each and every Halloween.
These screamers showed up at "Rite Aid" in 2006, with some interestingly gory, gruesome details; all except for the hilarious "bad boy" skeleton, complete with "BOO" shirt under his leather biker jacket.
In 2007, a set of screamers with "ghost" faces appeared, this one found at Michael's craft store. These have appeared again and again since, with various hair colors and paint jobs.
The "cacklers" were another 2007 variant, and twice as tall as other toys of this type; too large to really be carried in a pocket. I got all three varieties, knowing they may never appear again, though the green mummy is the obvious winner, even if Death is looming over a tombstone and everything.
These two came from Factory Card Outlet in 2008, with a slightly different "ghost" design than usual and a delightful Jason Vorhees knockoff! I love how this hockey mask has a wide open mouth, completely defying the entire point of a hockey mask. No wonder it's smeared with blood.
The same year and same store also offered an entire separate line they called "Guillotine Ghouls," nothing but hideous, severed heads! It's hard to pick a favorite here, really, but I might lean towards the third one.
In 2009, Michael's sold two particularly unique and interesting Screechers; a vampiric looking ghoul clawing its way out from inside a tombstone (!?) and a wonderful Frankenstein's monster with an utterly gigantic head and the most adorable broken-toothed smile you ever did see.
"Spirit" Halloween carried an all clown-themed screecher line in 2009, though these actually giggled, cackled and chuckled rather than howled.
Meanwhile, Party City in 2009 had this hilarious mutant zombie hillbilly, or something, who gibbers in an uncharcteristically high pitched voice.
Collecting pocket screamers seems to be taking off lately as its own mini-hobby, and you can see a bunch more (some of which I'm rather envious of!) at one of their only devoted fansites, Pocketscreamers.com! I especially love the "Ghost with Teeth."