Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More Halloween Mask Madness

In keeping with the Johnson Smith Company's spectacular not-so-realistic rubber masks of the 1970s, comes this second wave of horror. These appeared in the 1977 catalog. The color pages of the catalog were the coolest since they contained photos rather than line drawings.
More deluxe masks, two of which appeared previously in the 1975 catalog. I'm glad to see that all the masks boast "heavy simulated hair". Yes sir, there's nothing the kids love more than encasing their heads in rubber covered in questionable fun fur. I'm surprised to see the catalog is still using the same drawing for the inebriated, radioactive Santa mask. Joy of all joys, this catalog has a photo of the deluxe Planet of the Apes mask! He looks so happy and cute, sort of like a baby opposum whose eyes haven't quite opened yet. Isn't he a cute little ape mask? Yes he is, but there is also something about him that is quite disturbing. Speaking of highly disturbing, dare we look at the Deluxe Werewolf mask? Our werewolf has a serious hair issue. I have never seen a werewolf with striped fur. It is confusing and distracting. How very unscary. I wonder if this affliction affects his entire body or only his skull? Kids from near and far will make up cruel playground chants about the Werewolf with the Stripe-y Head. But I don't mean to rain on the werewolf parade. I'm sure he was very scary to small children in the more innocent, drug induced haze of the 1970s. Onward and upward to the Deluxe Demon mask! I'm thinking that if your friend said, "Hey, I've got a deluxe demon mask" you'd be expecting something horrific-ly terrifying! Your knees would knock just thinking about the super scary mask that would be foisted upon your eyes Halloween night. Then he'd show up with this thing on his noggin and you'd immediately have to beat the bejeezus out of him and steal his candy. Calling this mask a Demon is completely misleading. Let's be perfectly honest here. Demon's are scary. This mask is not. Therefore, this mask is not a demon. It would be far more accurate to call this mask the Deluxe Green Haired, Limited Intellect Ape with Candy Dispensing Nostrils.

This brings us somehow to the Professional Star Trek masks. These masks were supposedly done from life masks of Spock and Kirk. I don't ever remember seeing a kid wearing one of these. In 1977 Star Trek was in reruns, so it's not like kids didn't know who they were. But it probably wasn't as cool as costumes of current tv stars or super heroes.

Most kids I knew bought costumes in a box. I dont' even remember rubber masks being available in any local stores. Plus if you bought the rubber mask, then you needed to come up with the appropriate costume. So it was easier just to buy the box that included a costume and cheapie plastic mask.Not a bad Spock mask at all. I'm not sure how this would look on a kid, but there's no mistaking the strange bowl haircut and point ears. But Kirk, what the hell? I would never know this was Captain Kirk. He looks sort of old, feeble minded, and oh I don't know, like there's something really wrong with him. He's giving me the creeps. I keep expecting to see him standing outside my house with a large knife. Why would I ever worry about Captain Kirk being a serial killer? Kirk isn't known for slashing teenagers, just his shirts to show off his ample pseudo-muscley chest. So why is he scaring me? Yikes!That's right. Micheal Myers is Captain Kirk! Aaaarrrgghhh!!! Can you imagine the poor Trekker who bought a Kirk mask and after Halloween came out had kids runnign and screaming in horror when they saw him (even though he stated the prime directive of not interferring in life on your planet, which would include not stabbing you?) Now that's a creepy nightmare in action!


David said...

Thought you might enjoy this picture of Hitler, Stalin, Hirohito and Ghandi(?!?) masks from the 1943 Johnson Smith Catalog.

Chris said...

Funny stuff!

And I remember seeing not only that catalog, but those masks out and about on Halloween, circa'77 or '78.

Phillip said...

Finally I see what the Kirk mask was supposed to look like! Gah, no wonder they put it on a knife-wielding horror.

Phillip said...

BTW, it's good to see you back! You've been boingboinged, enjoy it & keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I want the deluxe demon!


Chris Jart said...

Wow! Thanks for letting me know about the crazy dictator masks, David! How I love Johnson Smith and it's crazy masks. I especially love the inclusion of Ghandi with the lunatic WWII leaders.

Phillip, thanks for letting me know about the post on boingboing. That's really cool! I usually read their blog, but missed that post. I'm very excited about it!

And Chris, I absolutely love the membership card declaring you a Star Fleet captain. That is unbelievably cool! I wish I had one.

Clutch, you may think you want the deluxe demon, but trust me, no one really wants one. They seem neat to begin with, but once the infatuation wears off, you're stuck with it.

Roger Knights said...

Can anyone tell me if Johnson Smith offered ape suits in its 1967 catalog? I'm interested in knowing how easy it would have been to have hoaxed a Bigfoot sighting back then in such a suit, and about how much it cost.

Chris Jart said...

Very interesting question. Since Johnson and Smith seemed to be aimed towards those who read comic books, it would seem that an entire ape suit might be too costly and thus not worth carrying. But that's only conjecture based on their products, which were mostly inexpensive and aimed at kids. I wish I had a catalog from 1967 so I could check.

Roger Knights said...

Thanks for your response. It needn't be exactly a 1967 catalog. If such an item was advertised in any catalog in the range of 1964-70, and especially if it appeared in catalogs on both sides of 1967, then probably it appeared in the 1967 catalog too.

I take your point about it being unlikely that such a pricey item would have been offered. But, if I knew that for sure, I'd at least be out of my miserable uncertainty about this matter.

Even if someone merely has a recollection of having seen, or not seen, such a costume in that time period, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

Dane said...

"professional" Spock & Kirk masks? What manner of professional needs them, one wonders.

Chris Jart said...

Might it be the professional serial killer? Kirk's rubber face has already been defiled. Perhaps the next big horror movie will use an old Spock mask to disguise their killer.

Really Big Junk Drawer said...

Even as a kid these masks were horrible looking and I always remember thinking that somehow the problem lied with the photograph or the catalog paper maybe distorted the images. Did people actually order these things?
Anyhow, thought I'd let you know that I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Can't WAIT for something new.