Halloween Was Really Scary When I Was A Kid!

There’s something about the smell of black bin liners that brings it all back to me. Just thinking about them conjures up the scent of October 31st’s past.

Kids these days won’t understand, but in the 80’s when I was ‘Trick or Treating’ (it was a very new thing back then) black bin bags were the staple constituent of every costume I every wore.

The conversation would go like this:

“Mum, I wanted to be Frankenstein this year.” “‘Frankenstein’ is the name of the doctor, not the monster.” “What?” “You want to be ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’. Not Frankenstein.” “Oh.” “OK. That’s easy. We’ll cut some holes in a black bin liner – for Frankenstein’s body. You can wear your green balaclava, I’ll paint your face green with my eye shadow and we’ll put you in some of your sister’s black tights.” “I don’t want to wear tights, or have green eye shadow. That’s not how Frankenstein looks.” “Don’t be silly, I think I know more about Frankenstein than you.” “But Mum!!”
Each year I’d request to go Trick or Treating as a different character and each year it would be the same outfit: the bin bag, the balaclava, the makeup, the tights.

Back then, Halloween was a genuinely scary experience, but not because of ghosts and goblins. The fear came with the concern that, dressed like an idiot, you might bump into someone you knew!

“Nice makeup Chris!”
I’m not 100% sure that the way we approach Halloween now is a change for the better. It probably is a good thing that kids aren’t dressing in bin bags any more (I’m not certain they were particularly fire-retardant) but the amount of effort that is spent on costumes for the little ones these days seems a little OTT to me.

It used to be that your Halloween outfit was something you cobbled together from older siblings’ clothes and your mother’s terrible 70’s makeup. These days things are far too professional! We’re talking CGI hearts beating inside ripped open chest cavities, severed heads, fake blood. It all makes my old balaclava and tights combo look a little anaemic.

It used to be that pensioners were worried to open their doors to Trick or Treaters because they were afraid of getting their house egged. Nowadays, the fear is you’ll be greeted with irate parents – furious you’ve given their child a treat that isn’t completely organic, isn’t gluten-free or too full of ‘e-numbers’.

Now that is scary.

I’m aware that the whole OTT Trick or Treating experience will be inevitable as soon as my son Sam is old enough to get involved we’ll be knocking on the neighbours’ doors and terrifying them with our terrible costume making skills. I know, I know, it’ll probably be fun when we get there, but I can’t say I’m currently looking forward to it!

In the meantime I’ve bought in supplies for any scary folk who turn up on our doorstep. This year I’ve decided to give out something truly terrifying.


I’ve no doubt that within minutes the whole neighbourhood will know our house is distributing one of your five-a-day and any Trick or Treaters will avoid us like the plague.

I’m expecting a quiet night.

Chris McGuire

The Out of Depth Dad.