My Scariest Costume
By Jeff Salter
Clear winner for the scariest costume I ever WORE goes back to the Halloween of 1979. My wife was in the Junior Guild, which hosted a large part (if not all) of the Halloween Festival at the local high school gym. My wife’s involvement was chiefly the ‘horror house’ … which occupied the entire, fairly spacious, back-stage area. Naturally, I was enlisted to help.
I must have had my choice of spooky characters, because I ended up with one of the scariest — the Frankenstein Creature. And I went all out. I took a pair of my military boots and cut-out pieces of wood four-inches-thick … which I glued and taped to the soles. Now that I had the Frank-Creature’s footwear settled, I borrowed a set of shoulder pads from the football coach. The only thing left was the mask itself.
Nowhere in that small town could I find anything close to what I needed so I drove some 100 miles (round-trip) to a mall. This is significant because in those days, every nickel counted and it was unlike me to ‘waste’ gasoline or spend fifteen precious dollars on a (non-essential) mask. But I did. I wanted to be the scariest Frank-Creature those kids would ever see in real life.
With my built-up boots, I was about 6’ 4” … with those shoulder pads, I was nearly three feet wide. And, when I looked in the mirror, that mask scared even me!
Night at the Horror House
Fast-forward to the evening of the Carnival. It was warm and I was sweating like a hog inside all that clothing (and extra padding). The mask made my glasses fog up, so I had to take them off.
Besides me, the ‘cast’ included a mummy, a wolf-man, probably a ghost or two, and a vampire inside a REAL coffin. There was also a mock-up electric chair (with no power, fortunately).
A steady line of kids waited to get in, but only about half a dozen were admitted at a time. As each group of kids entered the ‘horror house’ they would encounter a new monster at every turn of the twisted ‘path’ in that large back-stage area.
The youngest kids came with parents and if they got really scared – or began crying – we’d get out of character and tell them who we really were. I even lifted my mask for at least one upset child. But most of the kids wanted to be SCARED!
Most of us monsters merely stayed in-place for the younger children, but we’d growl, or reach, or do something especially spooky as the older kids neared us. [We probably looked scary enough even without moving!] As kids neared the vampire’s station, he would sit up in his coffin! That was enough to send most of these groups on through the rest of the Horror House very quickly … many with their eyes closed.
‘Please don’t kill me!’
But one particular group happened to be older girls. I mean several years older than most of the kids we’d entertained. These were clearly high school girls … all in a cluster. For their special entertainment, the mummy moaned and moved … the wolf-man growled and lunged even farther than normal. By the time they reached me and I stepped a few paces in those platform boots — one of those girls literally begged me, “Please don’t kill me, mister!” Before I could explain that I was not the real Frank-Creature, but actually the county librarian, ole Dracula reared up in his coffin!
In their frantic effort to escape, those shrieking girls jumped over the coffin, causing the lid to slam down on Dracula! The girls tore past the huge, heavy ‘theater’ curtain and hurled themselves into the concession area right in front of the stage … and a good four feet below. They landed where the popcorn was sold … and freshly-filled bags went flying everywhere.
I was certain we’d never see them again.
All the commotion as those terrified older girls ran and screamed was terrific advertising — even more kids lined up and waited to enter our Horror House.
Funny that the oldest ‘kids’ would scare the worst … yet return for another dose.
Yep … that’s what I said — within about 15 minutes, those same girls came BACK through our Horror House!
My performance as the Frank-Creature has gone down in family lore.
What was the scariest costume YOU ever wore for anything related to Halloween?