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When Decorations Echo A Gruesome Reality – Halloween Horror In Your Face

As a follow up to last week’s post regarding the scary, hairy dog spider prank and strangers being frightened by horrific scenes of death, today’s post will be about the escalation of horror images in public places as Halloween nears.

Last year I was stunned when a younger member of my extended family pinned a particular disturbing image of a Halloween lawn decoration to her Pinterest board. It was an image of a toddler sized skeleton dressed in female toddler sized dress sprawled across the lawn. “Casey Anthony” immediately came to the mind.

Since then, the quality and detail of some Halloween decorations has escalated to the point where the line between fantasy and realism are blurred. It’s no longer titilatingly spooky in a fun way but rather designed for maximum revulsion and a dehumanizing of people as merely dead props. Several websites encourage readers to “take it to the next level” as if it is a competition to see how far one can push the boundaries of not just taste but community good will. Some examples of those “decorations” include realistic flayed (as in all the skin removed) human torsos, hangman’s nooses with bodies in front yard trees, body bags, decomposed decapitated heads, child sized skeletons chained together, bloody hand prints, bodies that appear to have died of extreme torture, humans in the midst of extreme torture, just to name a few. Every one of those “decorations” has a strong connection to recent events worldwide that are so horrific that the news media will not show it on air (or even mention it in some instances) yet the residents of some communities are visually assaulted with this too realistic images on their own streets. An example of some of these decorations that have raised community ire are below…



It’s one thing when people choose to be frightened by buying tickets to haunted houses where the gore level can be quite high. Having been forewarned about the graphic nature of the experience, people have the freedom to choose to see this. That freedom is totally removed when gore scenes are displayed on front yards forcing drivers and passersby to see what they may prefer not to. I’m not a fan of Homeowners Associations but in this instance, I would be petitioning the community to codify new standards of taste in regards to Halloween decorations. With freedom comes an equal obligation to act responsibly and with restraint in the best interests of the community. People lose the freedom to do with their own property as they wish because they fail to apply reasonable restrictions to themselves to avoid offending the community at large. What you display inside your home or a fenced backyard is no one else’s business but splat it across the front yard with the intention of horrifying as many people as possible and you’ve gained the attention of those who will wish to curtail that.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • acr October 20, 2014, 9:14 am

    I don’t particularly have a problem with gruesome displays, provided they are confined to a week or less before Oct 31. I don’t really LIKE them, but frankly I’d rather grimace at gross displays than have a HOA or a city council or whatever tell me what I can and can’t do with my property.

    These displays are distasteful – but a neighbor of mine puts an inflatable Santa on his roof. The inflating mechanism doesn’t work very well, so Santa inevitably flops forward. We call him Drunk Santa. That’s pretty tacky as well.

    • Library Diva October 24, 2014, 3:44 pm

      I agree with everything you said. You hear some real horror stories about life under an HOA — grandparents whose grandchildren aren’t permitted to play in the yard anymore, rules about what colors you can paint your house, ridiculous stuff like that.

      The inflatables look horrible when they’re not inflated. I’m not sure what my opinion of them is because of that. My parents’ next-door neighbor LOVES them for Halloween and for Christmas — but during the day, it just looks like there’s garbage on her lawn. On the other hand, I’ve seen some really cool, really clever ones (the horse-drawn hearse has to be my favorite). I think they’re definitely a type of decor to be used sparingly.

  • LonelyHound October 20, 2014, 11:44 am

    I had a funny run in with a neighbor the other day. They have a fairly scary display up that I avoid, just like I avoid watching horror movies, scary tv shows and going to haunted houses. They came up and told me to take down my political signs because they were offensive to them. I told them only if they take down their tacky, scary Halloween display. Neighbour left in a huff.
    NOTE: We have no HOA.

    • Library Diva October 24, 2014, 3:45 pm

      It is pretty funny that your neighbor actually thought he or she could get you to take down your “Vote For Joe Smith” sign simply because she was supporting Patti Brown and didn’t want to see it. How ridiculous. If you want the freedom to hang up whatever you like in your yard, you’ve got to accept that others have that freedom, too.

  • BagLady October 24, 2014, 12:11 am

    If there’s one conclusion to be drawn from the 200-plus comments on this post, it’s that different people are frightened of different things, regardless of age. John’s 6-year-old might find the neighbors’ yard display of zombies and severed body parts terrifying, while Jane’s 6-year-old might think it’s the coolest thing ever. I’m a middle-aged adult, and I’d take the goriest “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” yard display over giant fake spiders any day (::shudder::). Also, “in bad taste” or “offensive” is not the same thing as “scary.”

    As far as the “Halloween isn’t a holiday” debate, it all depends on your definition of the word “holiday.” It isn’t what our friends in the U.K. would call a “bank holiday” (when banks, schools and government agencies are closed), but it’s a religious holiday for Pagans, the eve of a religious holiday for Christians, and a purely secular, fun holiday for most Americans. It’s like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, which also have religious roots but have become almost completely secularized.

    Here’s the thing about holidays (all kinds), though: Nobody is required to celebrate or observe them. Conversely, nobody has the right to tell anyone else how to observe or celebrate a holiday, provided they aren’t breaking any laws.