Monday 26 October 2015

Countdown to Halloween: The Range Does Halloween!

We’re nearly out of October (boo) but I’ve still got time to shoe-horn in one more Chain Gores, sorry about that.

I thought I’d be saving the best ‘till last with The Range, The Range is kind of a hard shop to describe – it basically sells everything except food (though it does have some sweets and biscuits), I think it was supposed to focus on home/garden furnishings once upon a decade but now it’s got pet stuff, toys, a huge arts & crafts section and it always has a big seasonal section: our Range turns over half of its upstairs to Christmas each year and it looks great. And The Range usually fucking LOVE Halloween but this year they had…one display. I’m still going to write a post about it though because I hate you all and also because it did something pretty radical – it scared me.

The Range were the only store to really dedicate their window to Halloween – Sainsburys and Poundland had some adverts but not a display as such, the Range says ‘fuck that’ and gave their first window over to the season. It pretty much sums up their stock this year – pathetic in terms of (ehem) range but really good in terms of horrific. Look at this thing, there’s spayed blood and severed limbs all around the base of it like some horrible Kinder Surprise; you look down “cheap crap, clown, cheap crap…murder scene!” – What’s worse… I’m pretty sure I can guess which disturbed little monkey on the staff is responsible and what’s worse still… if it is who I think it is, I find her rather attractive.  

I then walked in-store, disappointing that the Halloween stuff was so far back and so miniscule and then BAM! Shit myself. The items in the above picture – which is pretty crap because it was taken from a distance while I was shitting myself – shows the offending decorations – the two 4-foot ones, who we’ll call… Carruthers and Wart (though really, the little withered corpse dolls aren’t exactly easy viewing either, and I think the one on the right is the owner of Courage the Cowardly Dog). These things scared the living piss out of me, they’re the only Halloween decorations to do so this year, and for many years actually, and it is solely to do with nothing related to Halloween. I am utterly, paralytic phobic of mannequins and anything that comes close to looking like them, like Carruthers and Wart here, I couldn’t give you an exact criteria for what classes as ‘too close to a mannequin’ (for instance the witches in the Wilkinson’s post didn’t’ bother me at all, neither do most of the Silly Spooks in the Haunted Mansion outside of the ballroom scene and even then it’s really only the dancers) but these two are it – and a trip to Madame Tussauds is my idea of hell. Incidentally it actually has a name – Automatonophobia (which also covers ventriloquists dummies and animatronics). The rest of these pictures are pretty quick and haphazard because, well, I freaked myself out and was feeling all shaky and crap.

The Range really didn’t have time for the Training Wheels Halloween stuff the rest of the stores were allowing on their shelves, I think there was maybe 6 cute items in the whole display, most of it was the hard-core shit you see above and it was utterly glorious. Just because I personally don’t have an issue with the cuter side of Halloween doesn’t mean I don’t thoroughly appreciate it when a someone completely ignores it and I especially appreciate it when it’s a shop willing to risk potential sales to just say ‘fuck cute, Halloween is scary, lets freak some guests out customers’, it’s the stock equivalent of a store going ‘ladies…’. 

These werewolves were utterly fantastic, in fact all of their hanging horrors were pretty grand – you can’t tell in my picture but that skeleton in the head scarf got his picture taken because of how damn huge he was, the bastard was taller than me!  Sadly he was also priced accordingly.

The end-cap was more of the hanging things, but with a slightly cuter edge – I liked the skeleton who looks so shocked, like a werewolf has just dropped his trousers or something, and the bemused pumpkin (which I bought, I just decided he should be my pal, he lights up too, which is cool and spent our Halloween gathering sitting amid fake flowers) and…Groot? What the fuck are you doing here Groot? That Groot tree monster talked to you, no that’s not the right way to describe it, that tree monster sassed you, you got near it and it, in so many words, called you a dick. I really should have bought one. 

This is just Christmas shit painted in Halloween-ish colours, The Range aren’t the only people to have it and I just find it… weird, they have tinsel, paper chains, bows – what’s scary about bows? Unless they’re around a zombie’s neck bows aren’t scary no matter what colour you make them in, especially when they’re sparkly. It just smacks of being cheap and uncreative. Speaking of which the Plastic Skeleton Connoisseur does not approve of these skeletons (he does approve of the totally superfluous severed hands on the plastic chains, it looks like someone has lopped the hands off a vampire Mickey Mouse). I think it’s just because it’s not The Range’s stockist’s thing, they’re clearly skilled in scary shit not cheap novelty crap, but these are some really lacklustre and shitty looking plastic skeletons, they look like 0.1% effort went into them and that was used to staple the bags shut.  

These were the greatest things in stock, evil skeleton bulldogs that lit up and (I think) made noises – unique, scary and yet kind of adorable. I wanted one, no, I had to have one and my desire to own a skeletal pet completely took me out of the post-phobia quiver I was still in and I scrambled through them trying to find one that was complete and worked and…not a single fucking one of them met that criteria and I really don’t think it’s an unfair criteria for an item in a shop to meet – not being broken should really be a basic requirement of an item for sale. But no, every single one was knackered and I’m not paying £8 for a Halloween novelty that doesn’t bloody work  (a fiver maybe…) no matter how cool they look.

So having the 'ump about skeletal bulldogs and having had the excrement thoroughly terrified out of me, I took my bemused skeleton (and the stuff I’d bought for a family member) and left in a huff, well I wasn’t really in a huff, more just in a rush to not be in the shop with the scary things, and when I say rush I did stop and perv over the fireworks and chat to the cashier…I left after I couldn’t find a working bulldog, ok?

And that’s the last Chain Gores for this season, a somewhat lacklustre end to our look at British shops and what Halloween tat they sell, thank you for slogging through all of them and pretending to be interested, your smiling and nodding was greatly appreciated my invisible audience.    

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