1. What’s Bueno: The Halloween Aisle

    SURE, we’ve had some fun at the expensive of the 99¢ Only Store lately with some of their more questionable Halloween offerings, but let me tell you, brother, you could do a lot worse by shopping elsewhere for most of your spooky decorations and accessories.

    Above: “Bloody Body Parts Decor,” the first and only time in history
    that particular combination of words has been used together.

    It seems over the last week or so, most 99¢ Only stores around here have really ramped up and revamped their Halloween aisles – they’re keeping them in tip-top shape, sure, and it seems that there’s always one employee stationed there, either restocking merchandise or just making sure everything is just-so. That’s saying a lot for a chain where it’s not unusual to find warm, unrefrigerated hot dogs ironically located next to bacteria-killing Wet Wipes. Which in itself is arguably scarier than anything you’ll find in the Halloween aisle, but I digress.

    I’d have liked to take more photos of these aisles in all their macabre glory, but for some reason, 99¢ Only store employees get nervous when my expensive blogging camera comes out. However, I was able to snap a few on the sly.

    Check out these cool glow-in-the-dark gloves.

    Now you can look like one of my people with our hairy gorilla hands!

    They also had skeleton gloves and skull-and-crossbones gloves. Meanwhile, emo and goth kids are paying probably $25 a pair for them at Hot Topic. Like idiots!

    My favorite  items are these masks:

    They cover your entire head like a ski mask and seem to be made out of nylon. Visibility through the fabric is pretty good, too.

    While I’ve never seen these before, the concept somehow seems pretty old. Makes me wonder if before rubber and latex masks were so ubiquitous, stretchy fabric was the norm for goofy Halloween masks. Regardless, I bet we’ll start seeing more like this next year.

    Here’s me as a vampire:

    Obviously, there are limitations to these masks. You’re essentially putting a nylon stocking over your head, so it flattens everything out. From the side, I looked more like Voldemort than Dracula, and remember that’s with my big honking Slovak nose.

    I think if these things become more popular, the manufacturers or designers will start to realize they need to make the eyes, nose and mouth smaller and position them so they fall generally on top of the wearer’s features to compensate for the way they stretch over a face. Above, Drac’s lower lip is down on my third (or fourth?) chin.

    Frankenstein fared a bit better:

    Oh, oh, pardon – Frankenstein’s monster! Sheesh!

    You could probably put a foam or cardboard square on the top of your head and then slip the mask over it for that boxy monster head look. But as this is not a DIY blog, I am not legally required to show you how.

    The masks don’t really cover up much below your chin, either, so your neck is exposed. Fortunately, I have no neck so it’s not a problem for me.

    Here’s probably the best one:

    You can see it in the package if you scroll up. This one they got right – they pushed all the features together to compensate for when it goes over a three-dimensional form, in this case my grotesquely misshapen noggin.

    It even looks good from different angles:

    The masks available were vampire, unlicensed Frankenstein’s monster, unlicensed Lurch (or zombie, really, but in the package he reminded me of Lurch), and pirate skull (not shown). I think they’re pretty cool for a buck, and now you do, too.

    Another fun item they had were these bottle stickers:

    You stick them over the real label of a bottle of  wine or some other beverage at your Halloween party and everyone has such a good laugh that they don’t care whether they’re drinking a 1996 Chateau La Mondotte Saint-Emilion or that “Two Buck Chuck” swill from Trader Joe’s – potentially saving you thousands of dollars .

    While these are undeniably fun, the manufacturer doesn’t want any lawsuits:

    They’ve noted along the bottom “THIS IS A NOVELTY LABEL AND DOES NOT GUARANTEE THE SAFETY OF THE CONTAINER CONTENTS.”

    Wait, the label reads “poison.” And they’re saying it’s not poison, therefore it may not be safe…?  So it would presumably be safer to consume if it was poison…? I’m confused. I think I need a refill. Bartender, another glass of Zombie Virus, and this time make it a double!

    Like you, I love lenticulars in general, but these…?

    …These were particularly awesome.

    On the left is a photo of a normal, everyday person. On the right is what you see if you look at it at jussst the right angle – a hideous ghoul!

    There were maybe half a dozen different examples for purchase, and most of the (original) photos looked old. I couldn’t help wondering if these were just random photos the manufacturers found somewhere and decided to use. So that someone might have wandered into the 99¢ Only store, saw one, and said, “Why, that’s Great Uncle Melvin, and look at that, apparently he was one of the undead, which would explain a lot. Oh, sure, everyone said he was a ‘confirmed bachelor,’ but I knew there was more to the story!”

    The images are about 5″ x 7″ and come in awful, flimsy vacuform frames. You’ll want to pull them out of those and put them into something a little more sturdy, for year ’round enjoyment.

    Has there ever been any store, anywhere, that’s sold some Halloween merchandise and not advertised itself as being “Halloween Headquarters”…?!

    There’s tons of other neat stuff at the 99¢ Only store – everything from whimsical bobbling owls to horrific bloody aprons – as well as – yes! – some real crap. But by and large, this jaded consumer was pretty impressed by their Halloween offerings.

    What really blew me away, however, is when I walked into one store around eight-fifteen p.m. (whose location I won’t mention) just after a power outage in the area had plunged the store into near total darkness – and they were still letting people in! 

    I was torn between stuffing my pockets with everything I could cram in there or staging a classic slip-and-fall and initiating an enormous lawsuit. In the spirit of the Halloween season, I did both.

    Now, remember, for the depositions next week: You guys were there and even though it was so dark, you saw me go flying and fall on my ass when I slipped on a big puddle of some off-brand Mexican mayonesa.

    And I’m going to take care of you for helping me out with this one. I managed to get out of there with like five packs of Zacky Chicken Franks in my cargo shorts. You like chicken franks, right?

    Posted by on October 27, 2012, 12:27 PM.

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