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.

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Hanna-Barbera Cartoons & Costumes

Can you imagine being a kid 100 years ago, when there were no cartoons? Even as an adult, I love watching them. I have kids now, and it’s so much fun to watch the same silly cartoons I watched, and hear their laughter.

Jonny Quest & Hong Kong Phooey

Unlike today, when kids can watch cartoons 24/7, I had to wait until Saturday morning to get my animated fill. I even set my alarm so I wouldn’t miss them. The biggest cartoon studio was Hanna-Barbera, who had a string of hits in the 60s and 70s, with titles like Josie and the Pussycats (I loved Melody and her goofy giggle. I think she was my first crush.) and Jonny Quest, which had a suspenseful “James Bond” edge that no other (at that time) cartoon had. Hong Kong Phooey, Speed Buggy and Jabberjaw were just plain weird. A crime fighting karate dog (voiced by Scatman Crothers), stuttering cars and talking sharks put a smile on my face just thinking about them. And I haven’t even gotten to their most popular cartoons!

Yogi Bear Cartoon
Yogi Bear
Who doesn’t love Yogi, Boo Boo, Ranger Smith and Cindy Bear? Yogi and Boo Boo steal the show (no pun intended). Their escapades through Jellystone Park were always fun to watch. Almost makes you want to pack a pic-a-nic basket and head for the woods. Well, almost. This was one of Hanna-Barbera’s first cartoon hits. Yogi was originally a character on The Huckleberry Hound Show, but became so popular that he got his own show. It only ran for two years in 1961-1962, but that is all it took for this clever bear to cement his name in the cartoon world. Fun fact: Yogi Bear was modeled after Art Carney’s Ed Norton character on The Honeymooners.

The Jetsons Cartoon Title
The Jetsons
This cartoon originally aired on Sunday nights in 1962 and 1963, before moving to Saturday mornings for years of re-runs. Set in the year 2062, The Jetsons follows George Jetson and his space-age family (His boy Elroy. Daughter Judy. Jane his wife.) And don’t forget Astro the dog, whose speech patterns may have been an inspiration for Scooby Doo’s. Other characters frequently seen are Rosie their robot maid and Mr. Spacely, George’s bad-tempered boss (voiced by the famous Mel Blanc.) I enjoyed watching the intro for this cartoon more than the show itself. A lost art, these jingles were great. If I say “Meet George Jetson,” can you say it without singing it?

The Flinstones
The Flintstones
Like The Jetsons, The Flintstones was also a prime time cartoon, until its years of syndication (which continue today.) In fact, The Flintstones was the first prime time TV cartoon. It aired on ABC from 1960 to 1966. Like The Jetsons, The Flintstones were styled after the popular Honeymooners TV show. Set in the town of Bedrock, a caveman world blended with futuristic inventions (a camera whose insides are a bird etching the picture on a stone tablet, or a woolly mammoth being used as a vacuum cleaner.) Its main characters were Fred Flintstone, his wife Wilma, his best buddy Barney Rubble and Barney’s wife Betty. Fred and Wilma had Pebbles, a baby girl, during the show, and Barney and Betty adopted a son, Bamm-Bamm. And we can’t forget Dino, Fred’s pet dinosaur. Many famous celebrities allowed their likenesses and voices in the series, including Gary Granite (Cary Grant), Rock Quarry/Hudstone (Rock Hudson), Alvin Brickrock (Alfred Hitchcock), Leonard Bernstone (Leonard Bernstein), Clark Gravel (Clark Gable), Walter Concrete (Walter Cronkite) and Jay Bondrock (James Bond). The first two years, the show was co-sponsored by Winston Cigarettes. Fred and Wilma appeared in several black and white television commercials (appearing at the end of the episode) pitching the cigarettes as they smoked. Naughty, naughty! Can you image Homer and Marge doing that?

Scooby Doo Mystery Machine
Scooby Doo
A combination of great characters (Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Daphne and Velma), cool music and fun storylines made Scooby Doo an instant hit with kids and adults. First shown on CBS in 1969, over 250 episodes and movies have been made since, and continue even now. Through the years, voices and animation styles have changed. The recent films are long removed from the original storylines. I would love to see a movie done more true to the original Scooby Doo, Where Are You? series. The show also added and subtracted new characters like Scooby-Dum and Scrappy Doo (both of which were annoying to me.) I believe when people think fondly of the show, they think of the first 49 episodes, which ran between 1969 and 1973. The mysteries were a little darker and funnier (I know there is not such a word.). Scooby and Shaggy stole the show, and any food they could find along the way. Their interactions were priceless. Somehow these two chickens were always in the middle of solving the mysteries that constantly found the gang. Words and phrases like zoinks, jinkies, I smell a mystery and I’ve lost my glasses, all make us smile and think fondly about this cartoon. Interesting fact about this program; two of the voice actors have continued their roles throughout the series and all its changes. Frank Welker has been the constant voice of Fred Jones, except for the films (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and the A Pup Named Scooby-Doo series. That’s 40 years of Freddie. The voice of Shaggy has mainly been Casey Kasem (founder of American Top 40) since day one. The voice of Scooby was Don Messick until his death in 1997; nearly 30 years. Mr. Messick also voiced other notable Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters, Ranger Smith and Boo Boo Bear, Muttley, Bamm-Bamm Rubble, Astro, Dr. Benton Quest, and Papa Smurf. Scooby, Scooby Doo!

Check out these fun Hanna-Barbera Halloween Costumes from SpookShop.com

Yogi Bear Mascot CostumeAdult Jane Jetson Costume
Adult Pebbles Flinstone CostumeAdult Scooby Doo Costume - Shaggy
Adult Scooby Doo Costumes
Yogi Bear Mascot Costume
Adult Flinstones Costumes
Sexy Judy Jetson Costume

Top 13 Jason Voorhees Kills

Jason Voorhees has done it all.  He’s been alive. He’s been dead. He’s been to Manhattan. And Hell. And space. He’s fought Freddy and Corey Feldman. He somehow survived Crispin Glover’s dancing. With 2009’s release of New Line’s Friday the 13th reboot, and with the Halloween season drawing ever nigh, the time has come to reflect on Jason Voorhees and his occupational craft over a long and storied history.

Not one to shirk his duty, this particular staff member, compelled by nostalgia and curiosity, viewed all 11 (yes, eleven)  pre-2009 installments of Friday the 13th with an eye for the quality of Jason’s countless dispatchings. Thus, I submit to you a very carefully selected list featuring my Top 13 Kills by Jason Voorhees. (Note: for the purposes of this list, “Jason” will be credited as the killer in the case of certain installments with annoying, nonsensical plot twists)

13_raft

13) Stabbed Through Raft (Friday the 13th IV: The Final Chapter):

Jason pops up out of the lake, interrupting a late-night float on Crystal Lake by stabbing a young lady through the bottom of the raft. Offhand, this might not seem like the most creative or worthy kill to include on this list, but a brief review of the look on the victim’s face suggests otherwise to me.

12_liquidnitrogen

12) Frozen Face Shatter (Jason X):

Jason in space. In the future. Awkward might be the best word to describe this bizarre 2002 feature, the lowest-grossing of the bunch at the box office. But it did feature a few highlights, including this moment in which Jason gives his victim a liquid nitrogen whitewashing then shatters her visage on a nearby desk. I wouldn’t be surprised if 90% of this film’s effects budget went into the shot of her submerged face icing over.

11_hammer

11) Jason Hammers Trespasser (Friday the 13th Part II):

An oldie but a goodie, and another great victim reaction. After foolishly wandering into Jason’s forest shack and inspecting its contents (including a shrine to his dear mother and a needlessly gruesome latrine), the doomed Sheriff is taught a lesson in teeth-gnashing. Get a warrant next time, Sheriff!

10_barrel

10) Sludge Barrel Swirly (Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan):

Horny teenagers aren’t the only ones on Jason’s list. He has eliminated a host of characters just for being generally annoying, ranging from irritating stereotypes to aggressively cruel parents. This gentleman fell into the latter category, and paid the price for it, violently drowned by Jason in a Manhattan alley. Note the late 1980’s movie version of New York, in which the streets are lined with what appears to be toxic waste.

09_harpoon

9) Jason’s New Mask (Friday the 13th Part III):

Many people forget that iconic Jason Hockey Mask didn’t even appear until the third film, when he swiped it off a victim (in the 2nd film, he wore a pillow case). This particular kill, featuring a harpoon being fired into a woman’s eye, was his first with the mask, making it an instant classic. That’s without even factoring in the amazing victim response, makeup, and hilarity of Jason fruitlessly attempting to hide behind the pictured pillar.

 08_punched

8) Boxer Decapitated on Rooftop (Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan):

As a character in a Friday the 13th movie, one of the worst things one can do is display any sort of fighting ability. Any character doing so will be terminated, probably humiliatingly. This particular character, a boxer, attempted to fend off Jason with a barrage of failed punches while on a rooftop in Manhattan. Jason responded by punching his head clean off and watching it cascade down the side of the building and land in a dumpster (which promptly closed itself).

07_flare

7) Flare Stuffed into Mouth (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning):

This is probably the only memorable moment of this entire film. It shows an exciting new level of inventiveness and a willingness to experiment, as there are surely more efficient ways to kill someone than putting a lit flare into their mouth. Beyond this, though, “A New Beginning”, the 5th installment, has little to offer other than one of the most despicable endings ever.

06_bonesawtwist

6) Bone Saw & Twist (Friday the 13th IV: The Final Chapter):

After waking up in the logal morgue, Jason interrupts a sleazy doctor watching softcoreporn by cutting his head half off with a bone saw, then twisting the remaining portions of his neck around for good measure. I’d be curious to know whether Jason planned on doing that elaborate of a killing when he approached the doctor, or if the bone saw simply wasn’t to his liking. Either way…creative, gory, classic.

05_folded

5) Sheriff Folded in Half (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives):

In this film, after having his corpse reanimated by lightning, Jason goes on one of his trademark killing sprees and offers up some very memorable and bizarre methods along the way. In this scene, after ignoring cries of “Jason!” the entire film, the local Sheriff wises up and takes his stab at redemption, only to be literally folded in half by Jason. Folded. In. Half.

04_sleepingbag

4) Sleeping Bag Swing (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood):

We are getting to the real classics. In this oft-discussed moment, Jason drags a victim from her tent while still in her sleeping bag and bludgeons her against the side of a tree. There’s not much more to say about this. It just looks amazing.

03_skull

3) Exploding Head (Friday the 13th Part III):

This has to be one of the more ambitious effects shots of the entire series. In it, Jason sneaks up on a guy wearing an ugly sweater and crushes his skull with his bare hands. As if that weren’t enough, a 2nd shot reveals the victim’s eyeball jetting out. If anything, the shot is too ambitious, as the awkwardness of the eyeball sliding along an obvious string makes it simultaneously laughable and endearingly memorable.

02_faceplant

2) RV Faceplant (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives):

Another one from Part VI, this kill defies all logic. Jason attacks a woman in the back of a moving RV (being driven by one of the more aggressively irritating characters of the entire series) and somehow smashes her skull into the wall of the RV so hard that it leaves an imprint of her face. Nevermind the laws of science or the structural subtleties of the human face against steel. It’s sheer mad genius, and it’s only amplified shortly after when Jason causes the RV to crash and stands atop it triumphantly.

01_machete

1) Machete in Parapalegic’s Face (Friday the 13th Part II):

When this character is introduced, his overall likability and appallingly uplifting attitude make him nothing but a victim waiting to happen. After going to the porch to check on a suspicious sound (a classic premise), Jason’s machete is soon found embedded in his face. He rolls back, his wheelchair racing down the steps where it feeds into a larger flight of stairs. The camera lingers as he crashes all the way down. The classic premise as well as greusome nature and dedication to humiliating the victim make this my #1 choice.

Whatever your cup of tea in terms of Jason’s shenanigans, his various looks, weapons, accessories can all be found in droves at SpookShop.com.

For more information on Jason Voorhees, go to Friday the 13th Films.

We’re a little Greener!

We have always been big on recycling at
spookshop
. We recycle cardboard, paper, glass and plastics at our warehouse. Our shipping boxes are 60% post-consumer cardboard, and our paper has high recycled content. 

This year, we further reduced our use of paper products. Our boxes are thinner, which means significantly less cardboard. We no longer print packing slips for our orders. Instead, we print an invoice (receipt) only, and use this as the packing slip. This saves tens of thousands of sheets of paper over October alone. And we have opted to use a soy-based ink that, unlike petroleum-based products, is not harmful to our environment.

We do not print faxes or emails, nor do we offer a paper catalog. We use boxes from our manufacturers for storage, rather than replacing them with “pretty” ones.

It’s all small stuff, but it adds up. Now when you see our staff in bright sunlight, we all have a slight green tinge to our skin…

SPOOKSHOP 2008

First, let’s go back a year. To be honest, 2007 was a rough year for us. We had a horrible shopping cart system that kept us from operating at an optimum level. It was as if there was a poltergeist in our computer system. Unfortunately, it got worse as we rolled into October, and we couldn’t make a change until the season was over.

Priority number one for 2008: Fix it!

After months of tweaking, sweating and some cursing, the site went live in July. We are still making adjustments here and there, but this is a major improvement over 2007, and we are extremely happy. If you are one of the customers that experienced our problems last year, we sincerely apologize. We hope we can win your trust back.

That said – Let me tell you about some of the new features that will make your Halloween shopping experience more pleasant.

Email notifications. Seems simple, and it should have been. But our software last year never worked properly, and email notifications didn’t happen. Well, that is not a problem any more. Customers get a confirmation email when their order is placed, and another when it is shipped, tracking numbers included (if applicable).

Faster checkout time. Our shopping cart is greatly improved. When you are ready to check out, the process is simple and fast – Just the way it should be.

Processing time. Last year, this was a major issue. This year, we’ve cut that time in half. We’re ready for all you last-minute Halloween shoppers!

We’ve also started our SPOOKSHOP Newsletter to provide you information on upcoming sales, new Halloween products and how-to tips. We don’t want to clutter your inbox, so when you sign up, expect to see one email a month, unless something really exciting is happening and we feel you should know about it.

Now the really fun stuff.  Look at the bottom of our home page, under “Halloween Fun” and see all the activities and articles that are available. Ever wanted to know the History of Halloween? Or maybe you like games. Do a Halloween Crossword Puzzle with the kids. Like movies? Read our film reviews, like The Dark Knight or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. See what films are on the horizon, like the new Friday the 13th… in theaters (You guessed it) Friday the 13th, February 2009. View movie trailers. Or vote in one of our many film polls. Who’s the scariest villain in a horror movie? Read FX makeup how-to articles, and find other costume and Halloween ideas. Find Haunted Houses close to you. Best of all, these pages are all FREE!

Come and visit our newly improved site. Let us know what you think.