Written by Jonathan Wojcik

TARGET JOINS THE BRAWL



Having been previewed on their website over a month early, we already had an opportunity to review Target's Ghoulish Garden line of decorative, artificial plant monsters, and of course I eagerly awaited my opportunity to buy some in person.

And waited.

AND WAITED.


WHAT TOOK YOU.

For whatever reason, every single Target store I had access to decided they would actually wait until the final week of September to finish rolling out their seasonal decor, nearly a month later than their usual. You cannot imagine the AGONY of walking all the way to the back of Target multiple times a week to see "BACK TO SCHOOL" still screeching at me with hate in its eyes. You know, the eyes that "BACK TO SCHOOL" has. With hate in them. At least my persistence paid off, though, since I'm one of the lucky few people to snag ANY of the Ghoulish Garden selection before it literally sold out day one, wherever it was stocked. Now I know why they made so many redundant varieties, but they don't seem to have manufactured enough supply to meet the overwhelming demand.

The one light in that darkness is that the Ghoulish Garden is obviously not the only thing Target is selling for Halloween this year, and while many of their other offerings are a tad more conventional, they're delightful in quality as always!



FIRST UP: MASCOTS!

I still miss the Hyde and Eek Boutique's lovely spider and fly characters from a couple of years back, but this year brings us a variety of animal characters in different costumes. You've already seen the cat and there's also an owl, but more interesting than them is the spooky black toad dressed as a pink ladybug!


There's also a new spider character anyway, and dressed as a princess! That is ADORABLE! I I can't believe I've never seen a Halloween princess spider character before. Specifically a magical or possibly "fairy" princess, since she's also got what appears to be a magic wand. From the size of that candy corn we can also surmise she is the actual size of a black widow.


The last one we're looking at is this snail, who's dressed for Halloween with a racing theme because snails are slow and all that! They did make an entire CG movie and Netflix cartoon out of this idea already, but the tire shell is a much more novel concept I haven't seen before.



THE BOY

Did I review this little freakazoid before? I swear I did. He's NOT new for 2019. He has however recently gained some internet notoriety for that positively ludicrous face of his, neither the face of a spider nor the face of a skeleton, but some kind of emaciated, hairless monkey-man-goblin. It looks like the kind of thing you might see in some black and white, stop motion student film. There is nothing like this in the movie Eraserhead, but I feel like he lives there in spirit. In the movie. He lives in Eraserhead. SHUT UP!



NEON MINI GRAVEYARD SCENE

There are several of these "mini Halloween scenes" made of wood, but none of them are quite as interesting as this neon-colored affair, giving you three internet-hip gravestones, a scary tree, and a beautifully stylish couple with lovely complementary colors. The pumpkinhead is a lot of fun obviously, but I like the pale woman even more. She's subtler, not obviously any kind of ghost or monster, but her very presence in this set tells us she's probably dead.



SKELETON GESTURES

These are all connected together as outdoor lights, but honestly, they'd be a lot better to set up individually, wherever you need a single skeleton hand to offer a nice thumbs-up or beat some fool at the circle game.



GREEN HANGING GHOUL

This is one of those common "life-size" hanging monster characters, but in a fun, cartoonish style I've rarely seen before, so focused as they usually are on detailed horror. From the outfit, this one seems to be some sort of lich or Skeletor-like figure, someone important, or at least that's what they want us to think. They might just be, like, the Dark Lord's palace janitor or something.



POSABLE PUMPKIN

Now, this is just silly! It's nothing but a pumpkin with bendable arms and legs! I'm sure everybody would have expected it to have a face on it, but nope, just a regular faceless gourd that happens to have appendages. There's something exceptionally peculiar about that, maybe even a little "creepier" than the usual, more obvious Jack O' Lantern characters....but I'd still be pretty tempted to at least put some googly eyes on it.



CAGED PLUSH BAT

This is a soft plushy version of a bat that can also be seen around this year's Hyde and Eek decor, but hanging upside-down in a gothic little birdcage. I like that! You'd expect a more realistic bat in an item like this, but once again they have subverted the obvious.



RUSTIC PUMPKINS

These aren't even for sale in the Halloween section! They're in the aisle with all the fancy vases and decorative plates. The classy stuff! Not only do these have pleasant, muted colors, but their lack of mouths makes them feel a lot more "serious" as well. They're neither happy nor unhappy. They're just sweet and serene.



GHOUL HEAD

From the same sub-sector of Target is this "skull" that still appears to be partially fleshed, making it more "ghoul" or "zombie" than "skeleton." Very nice looking, and with an open top you can fill with whatever you see fit.



GROUND SKELETONS

These are small, hollow plastic skeletons you stick in your yard, and once again we've got a more cartoonish style than the usual, somewhat tired grittiness. I honestly love this stuff. I love goofy, chunky, colorful, child's-drawing Halloween so dang much.



WITCH SCENE KIT

Speaking of which witch, this $15 kit contains everything you need to set up a quick and simple Hex Maniac in your front lawn, cut from vivid and stylized hunks of lightweight plastic. BIG fan of that witch's design and especially her color scheme, as well as the inclusion of a relatively realistic owl and some generic spider webbing for good measure. I'd love to see a lot more of these next year; there's a rather plain ghost-themed one, but how about a mad scientist, werewolf or vampire scene, guys?!



ELDERLY CORPSE

Sorry if my video don't work in your browser! This is a little, broken coffin with a skull and a single bony hand inside, and when activated, he lights up a wonderful pale green with red eyes, waving back and forth as he speaks in the persona of a lonely old man. Everything about that is adorable, though I hate to admit I wish items like this came with a mute function. No, I'm not against his dialog, but how rad would this just be as an all-night light source??? I could sleep so peacefully with a green skull slowly watching and waving for eight hours straight. He can regale us with his opinions on real estate in the morning!



HAUNTED COMPUTER

Now this is an odd one. It's an obsolete-looking computer monitor with a mirror for a screen, and when activated, displays a wire-frame skull who begs the viewer for help...and nothing else. There are no other phrases. Guess he's trapped in VR land!



SKULL GREETING CARD

There's a bunch of cards in this beautiful, adorable art style, but this one is my favorite, because it's the most wholesome and sweet image ever fabricated of a rat on a skull. That's everyday Halloween imagery, but it's almost always played for gruesomeness. I love the darling, happy little face on this rodent who has presumably been or intends to begin gnawing on these long-rotten human remains, who are perfectly fine with that anyway.



SILLY SCREAMER 2019

These are back from last year, still known as "Silly Screamers" despite the fact that they play music, and only that music has been changed for 2019. Perhaps that's a bit of a cop-out, but it's such a groovy tune I just had to record it to my phone and share it. Is that...is that piracy? Can I get in trouble for bootlegging the musical clip that plays when you squeeze this one rubber pumpkin woman?!

I guess we'll find out!



...And please ignore the miscellaneous Target Supermarket chatter.



150 SPIDERS

This $3 bag of spiders is actually one of my favorite things this year besides the Ghoulish Garden, and you're probably wondering how that could possibly be. These are cheap, generic plastic spiders we've all seen a million times, and I even already own in various grades and various materials, but here's the thing:



THEY HAVE A MOMMY.

Yes, for $3 what you actually get are 149 tiny, hard plastic spiders and ONE bigger, jigglier, beautifully crystalline arachnid I can only possibly interpret as the mother of the nest. She, too, is a rubber spider I already have, but not in this lovely icy-clear glitter form! The sheer novelty of these being packed together like this brings me far more joy than probably makes any sense, though admittedly, you lose that novelty if you ever dare to separate them. NEVER FEAR!


Check out this Robot Ghost Jar I got! This isn't from Target or even from this year at all - I've had it since possibly one of the first Halloweens I ever shared over the internet, possibly as long ago as 2007. Despite having it for that long, however, I've NEVER settled on what to actually put in the jar part.


I am proud to say that after over a decade of emptiness, Robot Ghost Jar can now be the happy home to an entire spider family, which fits exactly into its confines with exactly enough free space to actually still see their mama on top. IT WAS MEANT TO BE!



SOCIAL AWKWARDNESS

So our last item is more of a Real Life Social Anxiety Creepypasta than a product review, because there's really nothing at all remarkable about this plastic fly as far as plastic flies actually go. I am, however, someone who demands every plastic fly that exists and someone who kept returning to the same Target day after day waiting to snatch at least one of those carnivorous plant decorations.

So there I was, catching some employees unpacking a few boxes, when I noticed this stupid plastic fly lying in one of them. For some reason, I asked the worker whether it was "okay" to buy it. I do not know why I thought I should ask that when I knew there was nothing stopping me other than the awkwardness of buying something she hadn't even unpacked yet.

And she said, "sure-" and I grabbed the plastic fly much faster than I intended to, like it was some fucking life or death moment, before she finished saying "but I haven't put it up yet."

This was obviously the worst possible thing for me to hear when I already felt even slightly weird in front of a stranger, and now weirder still that I had so abruptly taken a bug-shaped hunk of plastic out of a box like it was pure, shining gold. Like I knew something she didn't. Like plastic flies specifically were my everything.

Literally the only thing that would have felt more awkward about this particular scenario - OR SO I THOUGHT - was putting it back after all that, so I said nothing and I walked away, again much faster than was probably normal. There's no telling what in the world she might have thought. Maybe nothing at all, or maybe a grown man descending like a starved eagle on a single plastic bug the moment she exposed it to the light is something that's going to keep her up at night. Less weird than that has sure stuck in my memory.

You know what would have been worse, though?

If I didn't find anything else to buy that day.

And if I felt weird buying nothing but a single plastic fly.

And if I walked around debating to buy anything else, put it discreetly back on a shelf somewhere, or just toughen up and look mildly odd in front of a cashier.

And if I decided I was being ridiculous, and nobody would care, and I went ahead and got in line for my single stupid plastic fly that isn't even one of the better plastic flies I've ever purchased.

And then, despite telling myself that my mutant brain was making a big deal out of nothing at all, if both the cashier and the customer behind me began making multiple jokes with me specifically about how weird it was that this was the only thing I was buying.

Turns out the real holiday spook was self-consciousness!


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