Summer Superhero Wrapup

After 2012, which saw Marvel seize comic book movie supremacy away from Nolan’s retiring Batman franchise with the juggernaut known as The Avengers, the summer of 2013 saw both Marvel and DC regrouping, eager to pin down the latest phases and franchises, with other studios like 20th Century Fox eager to cash in on behemoths of their own.

For Marvel Studios, now owned by Disney, that meant continuing the fan-favorite Iron Man saga early in the summer movie season to begin “Phase 2″ of its cinematic universe (which will also contain Captain America, Thor, and Avengers sequels along with the anticipated 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy movie). Iron Man 3 follows Tony Stark through the aftermath of the events in The Avengers and in aIronMan3 gamble that paid off, was written and directed by Shane Black, directing only his second feature film (the first being 2005′s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, also with Robert Downey Jr.). Black is probably most well known as the screenwriter responsible for 80′s and 90′s action movies like Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. Franchise tent-pole releases are not commonly known for the enlisting of dialogue-heavy auteurs, but frankly, Marvel can afford to take chances, and must in order to keep the Iron Man brand fresh. Black’s Iron Man 3 stands apart from every movie in the Marvel Studios catalog thus far in its offbeat characters and dialogue, giving audiences a glimpse of what might happen if filmmakers operating in the Marvel universe are given a little more freedom. Downey excels in delivering Black’s dialogue, which helps earn his reported $50 million salary for the film. After it’s release in May, Iron Man 3 went on to gross over $1.2 billion dollars worldwide, making it the fifth highest grossing film of all time (Avengers being the third highest). Marvel continues to dominate not only the comic book and superhero landscape, but the entire landscape of blockbuster box office dollars. Buzz surrounding the remainder of their “Phase Two” slate continues to escalate.

After the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s massive Dark Knight trilogy, the DC universe saw a large hole in their movie release slate and teamed with Warner Bros. in an effort to reboot the Superman film franchise. Enlisting Batman’s Nolan ManOfSteelas a producer and studio darling Zack Snyder to direct, they attempted to drag the new Superman world down into the darker wheelhouse of Nolan’s Batman universe. The result, Man of Steel was successful in distancing itself from the Christopher Reeve movies of old (which appear to be increasingly forgotten) and was received by fans and critics with significantly more enthusiasm than the last attempt at a Superman film, 2006′s Superman Returns (a clean slate reboot in itself, so I don’t know where he was returning from). Man of Steel earned nearly $700 million worldwide, good for fifth highest of 2013 (to date). While unable to unseat Iron Man 3 or Marvel as the top dog in superhero film, Man of Steel doubled the box office take of Superman Returns and is poised to blossom into a legitimate franchise to be reckoned with. Like Marvel, DC and Warner Bros. seek to create a consistent film universe for its characters to inhabit, and the sequel to Man of Steel will contain Batman (to be played by Ben Affleck, much to the internet’s apparent dismay). Rumors also appear to swirl indefinitely regarding a Justice League movie.

Coming in a distant third in the superhero race this summer was 20th Century Fox’s The Wolverine. For the unaware: while the character Wolverine is a property of Marvel comics, his film rights remain tied up by Fox’s studios (along with those of the other X-Men). Thus, his movie exploits, and business decisions surrounding the franchise, remain separate from the Marvel Studios “universe” Wolverineof Iron Man, The Avengers, etc. The last go-around for the character Wolverine was the disastrous X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a flop among critics and fans alike. Throw in his absence from X-Men: First Class (other than a fan-service cameo), and Fox felt it was time to bring Logan back for his own feature, the feature his rabid fans had long hoped for. After several false starts with name directors (including Black Swan‘s Darren Aronofsky), Fox selected James Mangold to direct (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) and The Wolverine hit theaters in July, after the Iron Man and Superman frenzies had long subsided. While substantially more successful with critics and fans than Origins, it remained an afterthought to many moviegoers after a long summer of spectacle. It more than earned back its budget by a considerable margin, but lacked the buzz of past Wolverine vehicles and was unable to outearn 2009′s Origins despite the latter’s flaws. It was successful in lessening some of the anxiety over the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014, which will also feature Wolverine in the leading role, but fans and executives alike have to wonder, with star Hugh Jackman approaching 50, when will Wolverine’s claws no longer draw blood?

With no end in sight to the parade of blockbuster superhero films, and as we come to grips with a landscape where nearly every top hit comes from a franchise machine, studios and owners of intellectual property will continue to grapple over which cash cow produces the most milk. For now, Marvel seems unbeatable as their “Phase Two” progresses into 2014 (which may contain its biggest gamble yet with the potentially bizarre Guardians of the Galaxy). DC is out of the picture until the Batman/Superman film of 2015, and Fox looks to strike again with the X-Men with Days of Future Past. Columbia will return to the fray with another The Amazing Spider-man 2 – and Spidey is always a box office foe to be reckoned with. It seems unrealistic to expect these films to routinely climb into the all-time Top 10, but until audiences say otherwise with their box office dollars, we can only expect more “phases”, more origin stories, more reboots, and more caped adventurers.

Create your own superhero team by checking out the roster of costumes at Spookshop.com.

Let Us Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is a particularly American holiday. The word evokes images of football, family reunions, roasted turkey with stuffing, pumpkin pie and, of course, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians, the acknowledged founders of the feast. But what did they wear to such an occasion? Read on to find out…

Most of us have the idea that the Pilgrims’ clothing was    quite simple, mostly black and white, with white collars,  silver buckles on the hat, belt and shoes. This is a   common myth.

From the passenger list of the Mayflower, we know that the Pilgrims were familiar with colored clothing, such as blue, green, violet, yellow and red. While in Holland, just before they set sail, they knew about clothing dyes (taken from plants and roots), that were used to produce color for every day clothing. The colors were not bold or bright, but they were muted shades of blues, greens, violets, yellows and reds.

Pilgrim women wore petticoats, dresses with bodice and skirt, aprons, capes for coats and low-heeled round-toed shoes. These came in the variety of colors. Pilgrim men wore undergarments, breeches, shirts with turn back cuffs and wrist ruffles, stockings, belts, capes, and low-heeled round-toes leather boots or shoes.

Even though historically, Pilgrims wore colorful clothing, nothing is as iconic for the holiday to modern-day Americans as the black and white, buckled outfits that are perfect for reenactments. See our wonderful selection of pilgrim costumes here: http://www.spookshop.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=pilgrim&Submit=

 

This is a more accurate depiction of the Fist Thanksgiving. Notice the various pastel colors and heavy layered fabrics. They also didn’t wear buckles on their shoes or wastes. Buckles were expensive and not in fashion at the time. They simply wore the much cheaper leather laces to tie up their shoes and hold up their pants.

 

Wampanoag Clothing

You have probably seen many inaccurate pictures of Native People in books and movies. In the 1600s, the basic Wampanoag clothing for men, older boys, young girls and women was the breechcloth. Breechcloths were made from soft deerskin and worn between the legs with each end tucked under a belt and hanging down as flaps in the front and back. Men and women wore mantles in cold weather.

The mantles, often made of deerskin, fastened at one shoulder and wrapped around the body in various ways. Often, mantles were tied at the waist with a woven belt. During especially cold weather, mantles of raccoon, otter, beaver, and other animals were worn with the fur side closest to the body.

Women and girls often wore skirts made from deerskin. A woman wrapped a skirt around her waist and tied it with a thin belt. Skirts could be worn under mantles. Leggings were worn in cooler weather or to protect from the scratches of brambles and brush. Women’s leggings were made of deerskin and were tied at the knee, while men’s leggings were longer and tied at the waist to the breechcloth belt.

In the 1600s, Wampanoag men and women decorated their bodies. Faces were painted with red or yellow ocher, black from charcoal and graphite, or white from clay. Sources often write about the beautiful ornaments of the Wampanoag People. Men, women and children wore bracelets made from shell or glass trade beads. Earrings, necklaces, garters, belts and breastplates were made from various materials such as bone, copper, wood, shells and stone. Tattooing was reported by Europeans, who saw it on the faces and bodies of some 17th-century Wampanoag People. These were usually very important people in the Nation.

Dressing up for Thanksgiving is not traditional for many people but however you choose to celebrate, costumes can make any holiday more fun & festive for children and adults alike. Schools and community centers often put on plays for Thanksgiving, which can require a costume. Whatever the reason you are dressing up, there many costume choices that would be perfect for Thanksgiving.

 

See our festive selection of costumes & accessories here: http://www.spookshop.com/Thanksgiving_Pilgrim_Costumes_s/455.htm

We’re running a facebook costume contest!

Halloween is just around the corner, and here at SpookShop we’re gearing up with some great giveaways and savings to make your Halloween the most horrible yet. We’re hitting the ground running this year with a Facebook costume contest* – winners will be awarded with gift certificates for SpookShop.com! So start your engines and show us your finest, fiercest, and most frightful looks on our Facebook page. The two best of the best adult costumes and child costumes will receive $50 and $25 gift certificates for SpookShop. You only have until November 8th, so ready…set…SCARE!

* Employees and their families are not eligible to win. All content submitted to SpookShop’s Facebook page is subject to approval. Images featuring inappropriate content, nudity, or illegal activity are ineligible and will be removed. First prize winners in Adult and Child costume categories will each receive a $50 gift certificate for SpookShop.com valid from November 13th, 2012 to January 31st, 2013. Second Prize winners in each category will each receive a $25 gift certificate for SpookShop.com valid from November 13th, 2012 to January 31st, 2013. Contest runs from October 12th, 2012 to November 8th, 2012. Winners will be selected no later than November 13th, 2012 and will be notified via e-mail. Gift certificates are not redeemable for cash, or eligible toward previous purchases.

Seasonal Shop Info and Upcoming Events!

Greetings followers,

We’re in our 15th year here in Bellingham, Washington – yes, that’s FIFTEEN Halloweens that we’ve been serving all of the world from our little corner of the Northwest. We’re proud to announce that our less-than-frequent blog posts will become more consistent in the coming months so that we can keep you all up to date on our upcoming events. Two such goings-on are just around the corner!
 
First and foremost, SpookShop’s seasonal retail location is now open on Bakerview Road in Bellingham, WA, and we’re ready to celebrate!
 

Join us on October 7th at our Steampunk Bash!

Boundary Bay will be providing us with their excellent root beer to make it a true party. Snacks will also be provided by SpookShop’s own crew. We’ll have face painting for the kiddies, a scavenger hunt, a costume contest for all ages, as well as an impressive steampunk costume exhibition. Top hats and bustles required – well, okay, not required, but everyone who shows up in costume will receive a 20% discount on any purchases made during our bash! No Steampunk gear handy? No problem! Vampires, witches, and werewolves are also welcome. Just show us your costume pride and come check us out in the Fred Meyer complex on Bakerview Road for a great party and for your all of your Halloween needs. The festivities start at 3pm. Visit us at www.SpookShop.com for more information about our seasonal store and the party, including driving directions.
 
Second, and no less exciting, we will be hosting a booth at Tacoma’s Zombpocalypse on September 29th. Join us and all of the other flesh-eating ghouls for an unforgettable day of blood and mayhem. We’ll have you covered for all of your frightful needs with make up, appliances, costumes, and more. With adult and kids costume contests, a scavenger hunt, and an adults-only evening concert, there will be something for everyone.Don’t forget to stop by our booth to pick up a flyer with a coupon for our website!
 
 
- Your Spooky Friends

Halloween History: Samhain

We here at Spook Shop are excited to get in a new costume that will hopefully have our customers feeling wistful for rolling hills of  heather, some haggis, and strong pint to wash it down with. That’s right, now you can channel your inner Scot with our Men’s Kilt costume. This kilt costume comes as a complete outfit, sporran and all, in a bold red tartan.

Of course, not to leave the girls out, we also have Scottish Lassie version. I don’t think anyone told this particular lassie what the weather in Scotland is like…..               

 

 

 

All this Scottish pride got us thinking about the role Scotland has played in Halloween’s origin. Most people know that Halloween is derived from All Soul’s Day, but the story of how that Christian holiday was born out of a pagan celebration is a little less known.

Samhain (pronounced “sa-wane”  and also spelled Samhuinn) was an ancient Celtic ritual held on October 31st of every year. It marks the end of summer and light and begins the transition into winter and the ‘dark half’ of the year.

Also popular at Samhain: partial nudity

At Samhain, fire plays a large role in the practices and festivities. Of course, in modern-day re-enactments, the massive bonfires are  more for dramatic effect of the ritual presentation, but for centuries, lighting a fire during these times between seasons served as a protective measure against witches, fairies, and other supernatural beings. It was believed that contact with the otherworld and afterlife was heightened during this time of transition and people were vulnerable to attacks from spirits. Thus the fire would ward them off, while also walking through two fires or being immersed in the smoke of a fire would purify and cleanse people as they prepared for the darkest part of the year. This widespread use of fire to mark transition however, slowly died out among the British Isles with the emergence of Christianity, and Samhain was eventually Christianized into All Soul’s Day because of its correlations with death and darkness.

The Green Man

In 1988, the Beltane Fire Society in Edinburgh, Scotland, reintroduced the traditions of Samhain as a community arts project and shared them with locals and tourists through street performance theater. The festival has since turned into a huge communal event, with hundreds of people volunteering to be a part of the performance. The modern-day festival of Samhain still carries on the same themes of death, darkness, and the otherworld. A character known as the Green Man, or the Summer King, is killed by a Cailleach, or Winter Witch, thus symbolizing the end of harvest and the summer. The Society’s performance involves hundreds of painted and costumed people who dramatically reenact the demise of summer.

One of the Society’s member’s, Matthew Richardson , captures a common theme among many types of folklore as he describes Samhain: “The two characters fight to the death, winter overcoming summer as inevitably as the seasons, but the mysterious healer steps in to revive the summer figure, thus ensuring the return of spring and light.” The reenactment continues the following May, at Beltane (the Celtic version of May Day), where the Green Man emerges as an old and frail figure. A new character, the May Queen, representing spring and fertility, is introduced at Beltane and she eventually breathes new life into the Green Man, so that summer can begin again. Many other performers, painted green, blue, white, and red, represent different elements, such as Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, and each group has a performance of its own.

While the festival of Samhain has been embellished in present times to include many other aspects of Celtic and pagan mythology, this festival, as it did in the past, plays a large role in bringing the local community together (as well as thousands of outside spectators) and marking the coming of winter in a very prominent way.

See all of our Scotland-inspired costumes at Spook Shop.

Vampires Put the Bite on Other Monsters!

Twilight. True Blood. The Vampire Diaries… and on BBC, Being Human. All popular movie or television series, most based on books of the same flavor. Apparently there’s not yet enough blood flowing; a U.S. version of Being Human is in development. Always a classic for Halloween, vampires are now also popular in gaming, cosplay and visual entertainment. But fangs aren’t just for grownups any more.

Vampires have gone from being evil, bloodthirsty killers (Vlad the Impaler, Elizabeth Bathory) to literal bloodsuckers (Dracula, Nosferatu.) They had no remorse, no “moral code,” they were simply hunters, and humans happened to be their prey. In recent popular vampire lore, the “emotions” in vampire characters range from nonexistent to practically paralyzing. Barnabus Collins of Dark Shadows (late 60s) had issues exsanguinating his friends. In Interview with the Vampire (based on Anne Rice‘ novel), a bit of humanity also came into play.

From there, vampires’ human sides began to have more influence over their behavior. Rather than being driven only by lust for blood and flesh, bits of guilt and indecision had more influence. Today’s True Blood, the Twilight series, and The Vampire Diaries all feature creatures of the night that often wish they were still human. They fight their natural tendencies, and teach their “children” to do the same.

Popular children’s characters have also “cutified” vampires (The Count from Sesame Street; Count Chocula). And the kids that grew up with these non-monstrous versions have no trouble identifying with, and swooning over, current vampire characters.

Whatever style vampire you may want to fashion yourself after, there is one thing they have in common. FANGS. Some dracula fangs are placed over the pointed canine teeth; others over the incisors – and some over both. Regardless of where you think they should be worn, you will want them to stay in place. We used to sell less expensive teeth, but had customers bringing them back, saying that they didn’t stay in well. Now we offer only the best fake vampire fangs on the market, tested and approved by our own staff and countless customers over the years.

When you decide to buy fangs, expect to pay at least $15 for a pair. Otherwise you are likely to get some that may look nice in the package, but won’t stay in your mouth.