Prepare yourself this Halloween for a procession of pint-sized trick-or-treaters like none you’ve encountered before. If the companies that gamble on offering the right mix of costumes are correct, visitors to your doorstep will include a grisly array of waist-high killer clowns brandishing blood-soaked machetes, deranged convicts and zombie ninjas armed with knives.
Add to that the full roster of fictional killers who gave people nightmares during the 1980s and ‘90s — Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees from “Friday the 13th” and Chucky, the murderous doll from “Child’s Play” — now available in sizes that can fit a 5-year-old.
These costumes make last year’s popular “Scream” mask filled with fake blood seem almost tame.
Amber Boettcher recently brought her 6-year-old daughter Addi to a Halloween store near their home in southeastern Minnesota. They were looking for pompoms to add to Addi’s homemade costume, but their shopping trip ended abruptly when Addi saw the array of gory outfits on sale for kids.
“She freaked out,” Boettcher said. “The store was so gross and scary that we left.”
Gory Halloween costumes aren’t new, of course. And Halloween decorations have gotten just as intense — Spirit Halloween offers a disturbingly realistic mechanical version of the possessed girl from “The Exorcist” for your front lawn, and PaperMart offers plastic severed hands splattered with fake blood packaged as though they’ve been wrapped at a butcher shop, perfect for decorating the buffet table at a Halloween party.
But in a year when Abraham Lincoln was depicted as a vampire hunter and zombies are everywhere, gory costumes that were once reserved for preteens and teens are now available in ever-smaller sizes.
One example among many: The national chain Party City’s “Boys Skinned Alive” costume will fit, according the company’s website, “most children over 4.”
Even costumes that were once benign now have violent twists. The sweet, simple “sock monkey” is now a bloody zombie sock monkey with razor-sharp teeth, sold in sizes small enough for kindergarteners.
“For the last couple of years, darker is where it’s been at,” said Melissa Sprich, vice president of Halloween merchandising for Party City.
For babies and toddlers, Sprich said “darker” may mean dressing as a devil this year, rather than a cheerful dinosaur.
But for all other ages, many parents are seeking vampires, zombies and “the Freddies, Jasons and Chuckys” even for kids too young to see those characters on screen.