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Halloweens of Yore Were So Much More Disruptive

And deeply creepy! Are any of these Halloween memories yours?


  • Halloween is the holiday for disruptors — dressing up, having fun, switching age, switching gender, switching up the same old, same old. We’re looking back at Halloween, when movies were terrifying and costumes horrifying, and there weren’t 57 adults around to monitor each trick and treat. — George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

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  • Halloween at the turn of the century was a cornucopia of creepy — these folks did not pull any punches to save delicate sensibilities. Even the teachers got into the act of creating nightmares for years to come in full face masks — YIKES. — Getty Images

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  • File this under “Large Therapy Bills” — in the 1930s, six children were locked up in this house for over an hour on Halloween night. — Toronto Star Archives/Getty Images 

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  • In the ’30s, monster movies like The MummyDracula and The Invisible Man gave moviegoers the creepers. Disruptors for years to come would be scared by these same monsters on the late, late movie on TV. — Bettmann/Getty Images 

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  • Apples on a string, doughnuts on a string, bobbing for apples —  these Halloween staples were the rage in the ‘50’s. On Halloween night children roamed in packs, free from parental supervision, dispensing juvenile justice in the forms of flour-throwing, toilet tissue hanging everywhere — as long as it was inappropriate, door knocking, soaped up windows and the dreaded egging. — Getty Images 

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  • Look, there was no Pinterest. There were no crafting Meetup groups. In the ’50s if you needed a costume, you just put a paper bag over your head and punched out some eyeholes with a pencil, capisce? At the box office, we weren’t just scared of monsters anymore ­­—  it was the monster inside: The Fly and Invasion of the Body Snatchers introduced the psychological thriller. Gulp… — Getty Images

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  • Halloween disruptors from the ’60s were mad for horror movies like Psycho and Village of the Damned. Groovy costume parties were all the rage ­­— meet me in the conversation pit. — Getty Images 

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  • Look, he’s just a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania ­­— NBD. The 2016 remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a pale comparison to the funky, freaky 1975 original that weirded out the normals and spawned many bizarre shopping lists for years to come. (Rice, toast, newspapers, squirt guns. Check, check, check and check).  — Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images 

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  •  
    Horror flicks from the ’70s like The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween and Carrie upped the gore factor, while Sonny and Cher kept Halloween sweet yet stylish on TV. — CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images 

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  •  
    Naughty, goofy, gothy Elvira is the best — we loved her in the ’80s, and we love her now. Trick-or-treaters were on the lookout for razor blades hidden in apples and houses that gave out full-size candy bars. — Ron Galella/Getty Images 

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  • New York City disruptors headed to Greenwich Village in the ’80s for the Halloween parade, reveling in the over-the-top costumes, gay pride and a plethora of fishnet stockings. — Anthony Barboza/Getty Images 

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  • Everyone freaked out over 1999’s Blair Witch Project’s truly spine-tingling ending — what is that in the corner?! — and the filmmakers’ mad viral-marketing skills. On a different witchy tip, we loved Caroline Rhea and the Teddy Ruxpin-ish talking cat on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The ’90s was all about group-themed costumes — Charlie’s Angels, Bill Clinton accusers — and when lady costume choices started to show a common theme: sexy nurse, sexy devil, sexy schoolgirl, sexy humanitarian aid worker, sexy cop. So much variety!  — Getty Images

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  • Disruptor musical Wicked opened on Broadway on Halloween weekend in 2003, defying gravity by flipping the Wicked Witch from villain to protagonist. 
     
    And Halloween today? It’s hyper-supervised with rules and adults on all sides, not the roiling, raucous revel of years past. Mass-produced costumes that are part of multi-level marketing campaigns are certainly creepy and scary, but only existentially. And yet... the disruptors are always out there. — AFP/Getty Images 

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  • Corey Root is a writer, needlepoint artist, friend, and mom. Her day job is ending homelessness in Orange County, NC.
     

    Tell your favorite Halloween memories in the comments section. We want to hear!
     
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