I wanted to revisit the Halloween costumes our generation wore during the golden era of Halloween in the 1980s and 90s. Our costumes were nothing less than battle armor that protected us as we ventured into the darkness in search of every illuminated porch light in town. They transformed us into 4-foot-tall elite trick-or-treating, candy-eating, smell-my-feeting machines. So here they are:
The 9 Halloween costumes you KNOW you wore as a kid
9. The Ninja
Ninjas were cool in the ’80s. Why? The Karate Kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, American Ninja… and Chuck motherfucking Norris. That’s why! You know you dressed as a ninja in 1988. But you probably dressed as a ninja at least twice. The first year your prop was a katana blade. Cool, right? Wrong! The katana was dorky plastic, and the chrome paint was chipping off. All your friends made fun of you because your mom wouldn’t let you wear your badass ninja hood. “You’ll trip and fall in the dark,” she said. The next year you wore that same ninja costume but hid that hood in your back pocket. You showed up this time with nunchucks — everyone knows Michelangelo was the shit. As soon as you were around the corner, that hood was on, and you were whipping those ‘chucks around at every plastic-pumpkin-bucket-toting Care Bear who got in your way. Who’s laughing now, punks?
8. Count Dracula
Admit it. You wore some generic-ass Dracula shit for Halloween at some point in your childhood. You wanted to go as Lion-O, but cartoon character costumes were bullshit back in our day. The Lion-O costume sold in stores looked like a giant plastic apron, and it actually said “Thundercats” on the front. “Thundercats” is not fucking written anywhere on the REAL Lion-O. You cried and complained. When your mom finally offered to make you a Lion-O costume, it was October 30th, and you realized you didn’t have the balls to wear a sky blue tank top and Fruit-of-the-Loom briefs out in public anyway. Chicken. The next day when you got home from school, you begged your stepdad Craig to take you shopping. While Craig sat in his Trans-Am in the Rite Aid parking lot smoking a Camel, you went inside to find out that the only costumes left in stock were 300 Count Dracula capes… damnit. The next year was when you started planning your Halloween costume in January.
7. Jason Voorhees
Who among us wasn’t a fan of Jason Voorhees as a kid? Walking around looking all jacked wearing a hockey mask — that shit was awesome. What an easy Halloween costume, too, right? Come October, every store in the world sold Jason masks. One Saturday morning, between shoveling spoonfuls of Mr. T cereal into your gourd, you bellowed, “Ma, get me a Jason mask at Kmart!” The next day, she came home brandishing the killer of Camp Crystal Lake‘s signature headwear… with a tag that said “GLOW IN THE DARK.”
“Son of a bitch,” you thought, “Jason’s mask doesn’t glow in the dark.”
Thankfully, your stepdad Craig had an array of coveralls in the garage that he wore when working on the Trans-Am. Fuck yeah. The costume was complete. The night of Halloween, you met up with your buddies feeling like a goddamn rockstar on the cover of Metal Edge magazine. You tore through the streets, filling your candy bag like Jason filling a sleeping bag with oversexed camp counselors when, all of a sudden, the safety pin holding up the pant leg on Craig’s man-sized garage attire came loose. You tripped and fell, spilling the fruits of your labor all over the Andersons’ front lawn. Whimpering about your hurt knee and looking to your friends for help, you watched, helpless, as they scooped up your candy and ran off laughing into the night, leaving you with nothing but candy corn and Tootsie Rolls. Good thing Craig liked Tootsie Rolls.
Gordon Shumway, the cat-eating Alien Life Form — ALF for short — was everyone’s second favorite extraterrestrial in the 1980s. (E.T. THE Extraterrestrial was number one, thank you very much. That’s a fact, Jack!) And ALF was one of the best Halloween costume ideas your 7-year-old brain could come up with in 1987. Unlucky for you at sleepovers, but lucky for your Halloween prowess, you still wore footie pajamas in the second grade. The only PJs that still fit were white, but you didn’t fret. Your mom Tammy had spent the better part of her teenage years tie-dyeing t-shirts and experimenting with something called “grass.” In the time it took to read two chapters of the latest Encyclopedia Brown book, your mom had those jammies in and out of a tub of orange Rit. Those babies were ALF-as-fuck orange in no time. You capped it off with an officially licensed plastic ALF mask, and you were looking like an authentic alien from planet Melmac.
5. The Devil
Unless it defied your parents’ religious beliefs, you dressed up as Mr. Lucifer T. Satan himself, the Devil. In every trick-or-treat scene on the silver screen, there’s always some little punk dressed up in a devil costume. But — let’s face it — that dude always drops gut-busting punchlines that have you rolling for days. You unloaded one of his rude disses on your older sister’s boyfriend Bret — she pinched your arm so hard that you screamed like R2D2. Worth it! “This year, I’m going as the little bastard next door for Halloween,” you thought. That devil costume was easy. All you needed to buy were the horns and some red greasepaint. For the devil’s duds, you wore your Chicago Bulls sweatsuit inside out. On Halloween night, that little red costume was a miss with nearly every old woman on your block. Your bad judgement resulted in your weakest candy haul to date. After a year that will forever be known as The Great Candy Depression of 1986, you never ever danced with devil costume again. Karma’s a bitch, and Bret’s still an asshole.
4. Casey Jones
Damn, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were rad, but Halloween costumes that represented the heroes in a half shell were downright shitty back in the day. To top it off, the live-action movie that hit theaters in 1990 debuted highly realistic animatronic costumes that brought the ninja-fighting teens to life in the real world. The mere thought of wearing anything less than a Jim Henson creation made any self-respecting Turtle fan such as yourself want to throw up in his Trapper Keeper. While crying about it under your bed one day, you saw something glowing in the darkness. It was that motherfucking Jason Voorhees mask — that stupid glow in the dark… hockey… mask. A HOCKEY MASK! Boom! You had the foundation of what would become your most original costume yet. NOBODY would be dressed like the Turtles ‘roid-raging, sports-nut sidekick Casey Jones. You could have a badass, realistic costume and still represent your favorite cartoon. This costume got you into a lot of trouble, however…
- Casey Jones carries a golf bag. Your stepdad Craig was PISSED when he found his golf shit dumped all over the garage floor.
- Your next door neighbor, Old Man Morgan, tattled to your mom about how you knocked on his door using a baseball bat and then proceeded to call him a “purse-grabbing puke.”
3. He-Man and She-Ra, the Masters of the Universe
In the 1980s, He-Man and She-Ra were the baddest-ass twin siblings on the face of the planet… or at least on the face of planet Eternia. Weak-ass children of royalty by day, they were interdimensional ass-kickers of evil-doers by night. Their swords were magical tools of destruction. Their armor made them look like medieval gods. They lived in castle Grayskull — and the front door was literally the mouth of a fucking skull. It looked like they bought it from Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne. Hell, even their pet cat Cringer could transform from a frightened kitty into a helmet-wearing tiger with mandibles of death. They were everything you wished you could be. Every day when school bully Bobby Bradley pantsed you in front of the entire gym class, you wished you had the Power Sword so you could summon some downright evil shit on his ass. What’s a kid to do? Masters of the Universe halloween costumes! Unfortunately, as we all know, character costumes of the day looked like a trash bags. The elastic band on the back of your mask broke before you ever even left your house on Halloween night. The next day at school, Bobby Bradley still had on his Cobra Kai costume, and he stole all your Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
2. Pumpkin / Jack-O’-Lantern
Before you were old enough to be capable of cognitive thought, you were your mom’s Li’l Pumpkin. Instead of doing you a solid on Halloween and dressing you like Slash from Guns N’ Roses, she went all literal and dressed you like a Jack-o’-Lantern. Inside your budding brain, you suspected you looked like a jerk, but you were 2 — you barely had the mental faculties required to keep from crapping in your OshKosh B’Goshes, let alone argue with your mommy about your Halloween costume. So you played along. Instead of following the epic trick-or-treating route you would later perfect with your buds, your mom took you to your Aunt Helen’s house around the corner. You wound up with four pieces of Werther’s Originals and pinched cheeks.
“I’m not going to bother taking him around the neighborhood,” your mom said. “He won’t even know the difference.”
You knew the difference. You fucking knew! That’s the exact moment you started thinking for yourself.
1. Generic ’50s Costume
Like many of the costumes in this list, the generic ’50s costume falls into the category of cheap and “fuck, I waited until the last minute!” It didn’t take much to transform the ’80s fashion in your closet into something that would make you fit right in on the set of Grease. You already had the straight-leg Levis and the plain white tee, and Chuck Taylors never go out of style. Plus Reagan’s America looked back on the 1950s with fond wonder. This costume was modern and a good idea! Shoot, the greasers from The Outsiders were bad as hell. This costume was about to improve your middle school social life! All you needed was a leather jacket and a handful of grease in your hair. You’d be looking like Kenickie in no time! However, instead of a black leather biker jacket, your mom got a good deal on a brown leather coat with fur around the collar. You tried on your costume, and your stepdad Craig laughed so hard he almost choked on his Stroh’s. Against your better judgement, you went to the sixth grade Halloween dance anyway. Instead of seeing a cool ’50s gear head, everyone thought you were dressed as a pilot. Way to go, daddy-o.