I got my hands on a spooky nostalgia bomb. Behold, Imagineering’s 1989 Halloween catalog!
If you don’t remember Imagineering, they were one of the major suppliers of costumes, makeup kits and assorted Halloween accessories. If you grew up when I did, you definitely bought their stuff.
This wasn’t a retail catalog available to the general public, but instead a wholesale catalog that was only shipped to certain stores. So like, if Genovese wanted any “Disappearing Vampire Blood,” they had to call for the price and be okay with ordering at least 72 tubes.
Below are several highlights from the catalog’s thirty awesome pages:
Elvira Children’s Costume!
Imagineering had a major partnership with Elvira at the time, with at least twenty different Elvira-branded products littering their catalog. Everything from punk rock bracelets to big black press-on nails!
For me, nothing topped their Elvira Children’s Costume, which was such an amazing blend of “perfect” and “weird” that I’m now obsessed with tracking one down. I’ll look at it once every five years while wondering if it was really worth the 80 dollars, but whatever, live and learn.
It was the basic mask-and-smock combo that was so popular in children’s costumes of the era, yet somehow a step above and fourteen steps to the side. I’m especially fond of that bonkers Elvira mask, which acted as the visual midpoint between Jem and the master of ceremonies from Eyes Wide Shut.
Maniac Costume Kit!
One of the lowkey great things about Jason costumes that weren’t Jason costumes was how companies often created whole-ass bootleg Jasons to feature on the package art.
Take a look at that “Maniac” on the card art. You can easily imagine an entire movie starring him. It’d be kind of like a Friday the 13th film, but with grosser kills and much worse audio. Probably SOV, and definitely directed by someone with that as his sole IMDB credit.
Complete Makeup Kit!
The thing about these makeup kits was that they were sold pretty much everywhere, despite how ghoulish the imagery was. (That’s still mostly true today, though not to the same degree as back then.)
Like, I don’t think anyone would walk into a Spirit Halloween without being mentally prepared for sights like that, but if you were a seven-year-old in a 1989 drug store, this shit was intense. That “drooping eyeball guy” is arguably R-rated, but there he was, just one aisle away from the marble notebooks.
As a kid, I loved those little bursts of horror. Images like this didn’t send me screaming in terror, exactly, but they did give me pause, and unless I worked hard to distract myself with video games and Cheers reruns, they might’ve crept back into my brain just as I was trying to sleep.
These were more “elegant” versions of the bloody finger puppets that we all had as kids — mostly thanks to casino arcades, where they were popular low-point prizes for those of us who sucked at skeeball.
I don’t remember if I ever owned a proper Fright Finger, but I certainly had similar things. To be honest, I rarely wore them myself, instead preferring to stick them over the heads of four-inch action figures to create wild demons that seemed straight out of The Thing.
What? You mean you didn’t do that, too?
I never owned any of these kits myself, but I distinctly remember being intrigued by them. At the time, I viewed them as crosses between Halloween costumes and third grade science fair projects.
There was a whole series of kits for different monsters. The idea was that they were technically masks while operating more like facepaint. You’d decorate them, trim them and then wear the various pieces almost like facial armor.
I assume it took a severe level of artistry to get them to look as cool as they did on the boxes, but if you had that sort of talent, these rocked.
Alien Skull Mask!
There were tons of rubber masks in the catalog, of course, but this undead alien zombie emperor dude really jumped out at me.
Once I got over my years-long fear of “mature” Halloween masks, I naturally began begging my mother to buy me them. She rarely agreed, reasoning that no Halloween mask should cost more than the phone bill.
In truth, my intentions weren’t that pure. I wasn’t as interested in wearing the masks for Halloween as I was in using them to film stupid movies with my father’s video camera, or for other non-Halloween purposes. I looked at them like “toys” and worked hard to “trick” my mother into buying ‘em on non-toy outings.
She knew better, most of the time.
Halloween Accessory Center!
My typical Halloween costumes were just oddball mixes of accessories picked up from CVS or Kmart on like, October 28th.
It usually started with some sort of “weapon,” including several of those featured in Imagineering’s Halloween Accessory Center. I’d grab a plastic scythe or something approximating a lightsaber, and work backwards from there.
Until seeing this photo, I’d forgotten just how important “weapons” were for my Halloween costumes. I’d wear the dumbest masks or occasionally no mask at all, but so long as I was brandishing a rubber cleaver or playing air guitar on a pitchfork, I felt complete.
Thanks for reading. I hope this catalog brought back as many memories for you as it did for me. If not, I hope you at least appreciated me working an Eyes Wide Shut reference into a paragraph about an Elvira costume.