FAVORITED 9 TIMES
NLogan's Retro Halloween Overload
I was born with Halloween in my blood. Halloween has a strong spectral grip on my family. Me and my twin in 1977.
I hope to pass on this love for All Hallows' Eve to my sons. Yes that is the same pumpkin pail my son has that I had in the picture above as a baby.
Most of my love of Halloween comes from my dad. My twin brother and I spent many happy hours watching scary movies with my dad. He taught us how to do monster make-up, which companies had the best masks (I prefer Don Post and Distortions Unlimited), and how to scare the living daylights out of people. The slow, silent, stalk and creep in their peripheral vision beats the startle scare jump and yell every time. Even when not to scare (adults and teenagers are always fair game); but for the super young or clearly distressed whose smile has walked away from their face and are no longer having spooky fun we would instead respond with an out of character normal voice "Happy Halloween buddy" while moving away.
Here is my dad in 1978 with a home-made costume. Home-made cape, carved horns, fake beard, nose made of mortician's wax, and fake teeth. Not one of his best efforts but sadly no pictures exist of the awesome costumes I remember (a full suited gorilla in a cage, a witch, the phantom of the opera, etc.).
My dad volunteered during the Halloween season at the March of Dimes Spook Alley. I remember before the doors to the spook alley opened a pick-up truck pulled up with the bed completely filled with Halloween masks. Because I was so small my dad took me through before the general public so I could see all the props and stuff. The excitement was building as the actors got ready to go and found their places. There was an awesomely loud and scary Jacob's ladder that spit electricity and had climbing electrical arcs jumping between electrodes in the Frankenstein's laboratory portion of the haunted house. I was in awe.
My brother and I worked in a haunted house one year to follow in my dad's footsteps. Sadly the haunted houses of today are all gore and jump out and scare. They have lost some of the magic for me that the classic more elaborate spook alleys of yesterday had; where the scenery itself set the spooky vibe and the actors really knew how to frighten not just startle scare.
Here I am in 1979 wearing a Collegeville Werewolf costume. My twin brother is wearing a Collegeville Skeleton costume. My dad is the one in the Don Post 300 line Werewolf mask that he has customized by painting and adding hair. My uncle is in the Don Post 300 line Bones mask and my cousin is wearing a Kooky Spooks inflatable Ishy Bat costume on her head.
My Dad loved to scare people on Halloween. Here he is for an impromptu scare of my aunt who just loved to take pictures of everything. She actually basically chronicled my childhood with photos. She wore glasses thick enough to see the farthest reaches of the galaxy, much like the Hubble telescope, but unable to see anything up close. Maybe that is why she didn't realize my had dad jumped in between some dummies he had made for yard decorations that year out of old clothes and paper mache heads. He waited until she actually snapped the photo before pouncing and growling. My loveable aunt was 5 foot nothing tall. She immediately spun 180 degrees and put on her boogie shoes. She pulled her best Olympic track star by hurdling the three and a half foot fence in the front yard and sprinted down the block. She ran all that much faster as she turned to see the werewolf chasing her, as my dad was trying to catch up to her to tell her it was just him but he was laughing too hard. She made it all the way down the block screaming her head off.
Exhibit A ladies and gentleman of the jury. One bona fide birthday card for grandpa (whose birthday was in late October) made by a five year old me in 1982. Dracula and wife, check. Wolf Man, Frankenstein, the Fly, bats, Witches, a headless ghost, death angels (inspired by the ark ghosts from Raiders of the Lost Ark), two spooky castles, a graveyard, thunder and lightning, and a Pegasus, check. Well you could see what populated my mind during October as a child.
When I was a kid my grandmother had a little witch house hanging on the wall. I was mystified on how it predicted the weather. I was fascinated by this little house done in the German/Swiss Black Forest Alpine Cottage/Chalet style. On one side there is Hansel and Gretel clinging to each other in fright and on the other is a witch holding a broom. Looking through the facade of the witch's house, inside there is a cool little retro Halloween scene with cauldron, black cat, owl, bats, and a witch on a broom picture.
Made by the Nu-Dell Plastics corporation of Chicago. They were manufactured from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s.This cool little toy has a thermometer on the front for a temperature reading and the Witch and children act as a hygrometer. They are suspended on a piece of catgut from the chimney piece. The catgut responds to the humidity in the air by stretching which lengthens the twist causing the old witch to come out of her house in gloomy weather. In dry weather the catgut retracts twisting tighter causing Hansel and Gretel (wearing cool clogs on the back of it they are referred to as the Dutch boy and girl) to escape the witch's house.
Grandma also had this cool jointed Frankenstein with Glenn Strange likeness made by Eureka in the 1970s hanging from her door on Halloween.
This is my mom (sorry about the blurry picture) in a very rare Halloween appearance actually in costume. My mom was generally a big believer in the Halloween sweater instead of a costume. She still does the sweater thing to this day. My sons say she is too old to dress up (although grandpa still does). How old? Well if you ask my son he will say, "She is old enough to have babysat Yoda." If you look closely my cousin is wearing vintage checkered Vans shoes sitting on the chair.
3D Halloween Spooktacular
The year was 1982. We were trick-or-treated out, grabbing a bite to eat at grandma's house; always the last stop of the night, to show her our costumes and collect our Halloween treat bags she would prepare for us.
But that night was special. Halloween that year fell on a Sunday so in my area Halloween was celebrated on the Saturday, a day earlier. Besides being Halloween it was my first time watching a 3D movie on television. That was the first year in history you could watch a 3D movie from your own home without going to the theater. You needed a color T.V. though. You had to go to 7-11, Pizza Hut, Hardee's or various other fast food joints and pick up your 3-D glasses beforehand.
Look very closely at the picture, my glasses are on my lap (I am the vampire), my brother's (the skeleton) glasses are lying on the couch between his leg and my cousin's. We were all set to watch the 3-D Halloween Spooktacular, a rebroadcast of Revenge of the Creature (from 1955) the sequel to Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Watching old horror movies in 3-D on television! What a Halloween! I think we actually fell asleep however and didn't finish the movie. Too much fun had worn us out.
Here are what my glasses and my brother's looked like.
Earlier that year in February in the U.K. 3D on television made its first appearance in history with a short segment on the show The Real World of 3D. Old horror movies from the 1950s were the first syndicated broadcast movies in 3D shown on regular T.V. in the United States they aired nation-wide.
Revenge of the Creature 1954 in July 1982 hosted by Son of Svengoolie.
Or in some cities it was hosted by Bob Wilkins on Creature Features July 1982
Some cities saw Gorilla at Large (1954) during Labor Day weekend in September 1982.
In Canada they broadcast the Canadian film The Mask 1961 hosted by Blackstone the magician.
The Mad Magician (1954) with Vincent Price hosted by horror hostess Elvira May 1982.
For that Halloween night I was treated to a rebroadcast of the Revenge of the Creature. Here are what some of the glasses looked like for those 3D T.V. broadcasts.
Looking again at that picture of the Halloween night, for those very observant people my cousin is holding a pair of Ben Cooper monster jigglers (1970s-1980s) House Haunter Dracula and Mighty Monster Frankenstein.
What are those awesome costumes you ask? Well they were the Ben Cooper Hairy Scary Vampire (me) and the Hairy Scary Mr. Skeleton (my brother).
Do I still have them? Yes, yes I do as well as a few others I have collected over the years.
Here are the Collegeville Skeleton 1960-1970s, Collegeville Skeleton 1970s-1980s (my brother in 1979), Ben Cooper Hairy Scary Mr. Skeleton 1980s (my brother in 1982).
I also have the Ben Cooper Hairy Scary Vampires 1980s (I was the green one in 1982), Ben Cooper Dracula 1980s, Collegeville rooted hair Dracula 1983.
My Frankenstein's Monster collection includes the Collegeville rooted hair Frankenstein 1983, Collegeville Frankenstein 1960s (this however is the reflective version with reflecta-light safety spots reissued in 1973), and Ben Cooper Spook Town Frankenstein 1960s.
Continuing along I have the Ben Cooper Masquerade Costume Phantom of the Opera 1969 based on the James Cagney portrayal of Lon Chaney in Man of a Thousand Faces, Collegeville werewolf late 1970s-1980s (me in 1979), Collegeville Spooky Spooks Wolf Man 1983, the Collegeville Pumpkin with a tophat is the Scarecrow or Harvest Harvey masquerade costume and comes either with a Trick-or-Treat costume or a scarecrow one late 1950s.
In the picture above you can see some of my cherished Halloween items saved up over the years. There are my pumpkin pails I've had since I was a baby. My Halloween noise makers inherited from my grandma were made by German and US manufacturers from the 1920s -1940s. Mine are all from the 1940s made by companies like T Cohn Inc., Kirchof "Life of the Party" Products, and U.S. Metal Toy MFG Co. There is a ceramic ghost from the 1970s hand painted by my grandma that was a lamp. There is a blow mold pumpkin lamp made by Bayshore Industries in 1972 also from grandma.
In the photo are some of my candy containers from the 1980s, a Boot Hill Candy company tombstone with candy bones still inside. I know there were also generic bone shapes for arms and legs, and a rib cage but all I have left are hands and a skull.
There are also my Mr. Bones candy coffins in Halloween colors orange and black of course, that had a jigsaw puzzle skeleton candy that you could assemble.
You can also see some of my Halloween Pez Dispensers. My favorite was Dr. Skull with the missing tooth, nose hole, and brooding brows. Later versions were changed to appear less menacing with hexagonal eyes and even glow in the dark. Dr. Skull was available from 1972-1990.
Here are some more Halloween Pez.
Halloween Witch versions A and B from 1957.
Universal Monster Pez: Fishman (black or green) 1970, Creature from the Black Lagoon (all green) 1965, Frankenstein 1965, and the Wolf Man 1965.
Octopus 1970, Witch 1970, Fishman 1970, Dr. Skull 1970, Mr. Ugly 1970, and the One Eye Monster 1970.
Eerie Specters soft heads 1978-1979 Air Spirit, Diabolic, Scarewolf, Spook, Vamp, and Zombie.
My mom used to make little Halloween treat bags for us (and still does every year). In 1985 she included a candy tube just like you would see at Christmas time with a large plastic candy cane filled with M&Ms or Hershey's kisses, but this one had a plastic witch head stopper with orange and black M&Ms in it. I think my brother's tube had candy corn or orange and black jelly beans.
My mom would buy us spooky cereals to munch on while we waited for that magic trick-or-treating hour to begin. This was back when you could actually get cool prizes in the boxes or at least if it was a mail in, it was worth it. Here are some of my favorites.
General Mills Monsters Cereals
Count Chocula came out in 1971 as the first chocolate flavored cereal. I vividly remember the chocolate, strawberry, and blueberry smell of the scratch and sniff stickers.
Here is a mail in offer from 1982 for a four foot tall monster mansion playhouse!
Can you imagine getting this huge package in the mail and assembling it?
Frankenberry came out in 1971 as the first strawberry flavored cereal. I remember that it turned your milk pink.
Boo Berry came out in 1973 as the first blue berry flavored cereal.
Fruit Brute a fruity cereal with lime marshmallows came out in 1974 and lasted until 1983.
Fruity Yummy Mummy a fruity flavored cereal with vanilla flavored marshmallows came out in 1988 and lasted until 1993.
The General Mills monster cereals were usually seasonal so we would stock up when they were available.
Here are some new boxes done in a retro style that I bought last year for my sons to eat up with one of my original boxes for comparison. For that year General Mills brought back Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy out of the vault. My sons enjoy them too even though they are not the same as when I was a kid.
Other Spooky Cereals
Post Super Sugar Crisp had some awesome monster offers in the late 70s.
These glow in the dark monster heads were very similar to the Aurora monster models from the sixties.
Flip off the light and these posters glow in the dark! The Glenn Strange Frankenstein's monster was painted by James Bama who painted the Aurora Monster models box art. The Creature from the Black Lagoon and the Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera were painted by Basil Gogos who did several covers for the monster magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. I of course have a couple of the glow in the dark posters.
The Ghostbusters cereal came out shortly after the movie (1984) in 1985. I sent away for the glow in the dark frisbee.
Addams family cereal was also a movie tie in 1991. I had all four flashlights.
Throughout the year we would bone up on our monster knowledge with the Crestwood House Monster Series books from the school or town library, late 1970s - 1980s. They followed the history of each monster through their various film incarnations over the years. They are loaded with movie stills and I stared at them for hours drawing monsters on everything. I checked them out multiple times throughout the school year, so if you went to my elementary school the same years I did you may have never even seen them before because they were always checked out by me or my brother. My favorites were:
My sons know quite a bit about monsters as you can imagine. My dad when he was a kid built Aurora monster models 1961-1966. I bought reproduction ones made by Polaris or Revell for me to build and paint with my sons also.
Here are my son's models that he completed when he was 6 years old. He painted and assembled them.
On Halloween we would listen to spooky records while we got ready and let one play all night long. We set up the record player connected to speakers in the bushes outside so the trick-or-treaters could also listen. I remember the scratching noise of the needle before they played and the ghostly sounds permeating the neighborhood. Spooky records are awesome, I had several.
Peter Pan records 1950s-1980s that I had (with cool George Peed art on them).
Power Records (a division of Peter Pan) 1975 that I had:
Some other great old ones we had.
Famous Ghost Stories 1975
Ghostly Sounds 1976
Chilling Thrilling Sound of the Haunted House 1964
Have you made it this far? Are you willing to go a little further? My sons now love Halloween nearly as much as I do. I have tried to provide them with the same wonderful memories of Halloween that I had growing up. Family tradition is strong. Even though the holiday is changing from what it once was I bet my sons' children will fondly reminisce about their memories with their dads too. At least I hope so.
My sons and I. Wolf Man and Dracula enjoy a spooky story time on Halloween.
My son carving his first pumpkin.
The tiger (me) is growling approval.
Here is one of my pumpkin carving designs, Frankenpumpkin.
My sons watch as my twin brother and I apply makeup and slowly transform into monsters and creatures of the night. They know there are no such thing as monsters and are not afraid. They know just as we knew as kids that it was just dad underneath the makeup or in the Gorilla costume or whatever he happened to be that year.
Here are some of our costumes over the years:
My son Darth Vader and a Skull (me)
Skull (me), Vader (my son), and the Tooth Fairy (wifey). Mom doesn't do spooky, usually opting for funny or cute costumes. Yeah my sons and I have to pick what we will be for Halloween early, sometimes months in advance to avoid becoming part of a cute family costume. Yechhh! Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate some well planned out family costumes like the Incredibles,a Wizard of Oz group, or a Peter Pan and Captain Hook theme with Lost Boys and Tinkerbell. But generally for me and my sons it is spooky all the way for us, or "smooky" as my son would say when he was just a little guy. "It's really smooky daddy!"
One year we were almost the big bad wolf and the three little pigs, shudder. I wouldn't mind being the wolf but I knew I could not doom my poor sons to floppy pig ears. "I don't wanna be a pig dad! I want to be scary!" Guess who won.
Frankenstein's monster (me)
The Headless Horseman (my brother)
"Shhh! You're making enough noise to wake up the dead! "
"I don't have to wake him up. He's up." - Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein 1948
Walking Dead (my twin brother) and the Wolf Man (me)
Zombies (my brother and his girlfriend) and a Grim Reaper (my son)
Nosferatu (my brother), Dracula (me), and a Ninja (my son)
The Wolf Man (my son) and the Mummy (my brother)
Count Dracula (my son)
I still trick-or-treat with my sons. Every year my twin brother, my dad, and my mom come over for a Halloween party. My dad still dresses up every year even though his costumes are not quite as good now-a-days (my brother and I surpassed him in skill around high school). I am happy my sons are learning family traditions like picking pumpkins from the pumpkin patch or growing them in grandma's garden, dressing up, carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating, watching Halloween specials, and getting together with family.
They are also getting a sense of community spirit as we meet other families on the main street trick-or-treat, during the church party/Halloween carnival, and while roaming the neighborhoods trick-or-treating. I hope they are learning that Halloween is not all about stranger danger as the generosity of strangers fills their candy sacks and that traffic is more hazardous especially in a dark costume! They know people are generally good natured but that it pays to be careful all the same. Hence the reason I still go with them. What you thought I would miss out on an opportunity to trick-or-treat? I don't think so!
Is it worth it? To me it is priceless. To them? Well just look at my son with his spoils of war.
As Halloween night ends, the memories do not. They live in my family's hearts forever.
"Look into my eyes! Look, ... deeper! Tell me what you see."
A love for Halloween!
Special thanks to those I borrowed pictures from:
Dr. Wolfenstein who knows how to make a kick-butt monster scene. What an awesome Frankenstein Lab.
http://www.steltercreativewoodworks.com/STELTER1/Frankenstein_x.html these guys know how to make Mad Scientist props like nobody's business.
Toy Ranch who has an awesome hand display for the Glow in the Dark Monster premiums.
Todd Franklin at http://neatocoolville.blogspot.com
Pez Visitor Center
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