Written by Jonathan Wojcik
Things From Hauntedprops!
Haunted Props boasts one of the single largest, most expansive catalogs of any high-end Halloween supplier on the internet, carrying stock from a variety of other prop and costume companies but offering hundreds of their own unique, original items you can find nowhere else. Here, I'll just be picking out a handful of the ones I personally find the most interesting, or would really, really want for my own!
Animated Creepy Mannequins
How cool are these? Such a simple, even common concept, but surprisingly not one I've seen offered before in horror-house decor. At rest, like the one on the right, it doesn't even look like they could move all that much, but check out the demonstration video:
Holy hell. No wonder one of these are almost four thousand dollars. They move like giant, jerky stop-motion puppets or bad CG creations, in other words exactly how an actual, real semi-living mannequin looks in motion. Duh. Even at the risk of somebody just blowing its head off in a panic, those four thousand dollars would be worth every single penny to just set up one of these in an old attic, abandoned building or stock room without telling anybody.
Despite their prevalence in fiction, mutant insects are surprisingly rare in Halloween props and costumes, possibly because they require a lot of intricate detail to pull off correctly. "Cosmantis" takes a lot of liberties with an insect, but that's okay, because the decomposing exoskeleton and withered humanoid rib cage imply some sort of unnatural genetic abomination anyway. I like the little detail of the tissue strands that dangle from its mouth! Video here.
Comfy Chair Costume
While there's also a pretty kick-ass haunted clock costume, the possessed chair monster is downright terrifying, and even comes with a FREE wheeled stool! This allows your horror-house actor to scoot around, still sitting, like I do when I need a snack from all the way across the room, only to stand straight up and morph into full-blown humanoid chair-man at the last minute, like when I go all the way across the room and there aren't any snacks left at all and only being a chair creature can fix it. This is actually some top-quality creature design to boot, from the disturbing suggestion of a human face in the cushions to the fact that its arms basically have skulls for hands. I could actually see this thing as a villain on Super Sentai or Kamen Rider. The video isn't quite as unsettling as the photographs leave you expecting, but in a darkened room, with a subtler performance, there's a hell of a lot of potential.
This is an "actor driven puppet," but the video looks more like just an animatronic statue, if a damn interesting one, where the creepy magician briefly transforms into a ghastly mutant rabbit-man and cackles insanely! It's surprising how rarely you see rabbits used in horror, considering the admittedly eerie way they drift through the air, rambling incoherently from their eye-lips. I guess people would rather not even be reminded of rabbits at all.
Their photograph of this thing is a little too small to make out much, and the video a little on the dark side, but I can tell "Scarionette" is a pretty wicked construct of severed body parts, a wheelchair and chomping mechanical jaws, a little like the guy who delivers those bottles of teeth to my attic.
I went on a whole spiel once about how the mythological Wendigo was really more like a hideously emaciated, frostbitten human corpse, but as far as shaggy, beastly Wendigo are concerned, this one is a pretty pleasing and unique design. I at once get impressions of bat, warthog, sasquatch and bison, without the tiresome injection of wolf you see in so many other interpretations. The animatronic has somewhat limited movement, but it kind of has to, because it's gigantic. The $6,000 something price would seem fair even if it didn't move at all.
I really wish they had a video or at least some more images of this one. From what we can see, it's some cute as hell slug-like mutant with arachnoid eyes and big goofy teeth jutting every which way. I think they should have offered an alternate, latex-prop-only version, but this animatronic setup sounds pretty entertaining. It pops out of its barrel, grabs the fake, sleeping kitty, drags it back inside and rattles around as if a struggle has ensued, complete with sound effects! As much as I love kitties, I could never fault Death Worm for doing what a Death Worm has to do.
The Phoenician Underground Dweller
This is only a static, latex statue, but it's magnificently creepy. It has that sleek, menacing quality I usually find repetitive in modern horror movie monsters, but here, it's done right. That totally eyeless, embryonic bat-baby skull manages to be both threatening and fairly haunting, and even their name for it implies a fascinating back story, much more interesting than the "space alien" you might at first assume. I can't find any mention of this thing outside Hauntedprops.com, or I'd assume it was already the star of its own horror movie. It's still not as unnerving as a real underground dweller, of course, as you would have known if you were awake at the right moment last night.
My single favorite item in the whole bogglingly vast Hauntedprops catalog is also the most affordable one here, but that's not saying much. Even I wouldn't spend almost five hundred dollars on a giant rubber spider-shaped mutant brain, no matter how beautiful its every slimy wrinkle. No matter how delighted I'd be to wake up every morning with its eyeless gaze meeting mine from the ceiling. In the end, it's not only just a poor replacement for an actual, living giant spider-brain, but latex doesn't last. That's my real issue with a lot of these pricey creations. Latex is an organic, bio-degradable material. It's tree sap. No matter how it's stored or cared for, all latex eventually decays. Every single Halloween prop and mask, every single freaky bondage outfit made from the stuff is going to die some day, forever, with only our memories and photographs to remind us they existed at all. How does anybody even function from day to day, knowing that halloween masks are all going to die? I think I found the only sorrow I could ever be driven to just drink away.
Spider Brain is going to die. All of them are. All of them are going to rot and fall apart and future civilizations will have no record that anybody was ever manufacturing giant spider brains at all. I don't even want to live on this planet.