I’m not OK with kids dressed up as movie murderers

A mom friend of ours, Melissa Rayworth, wrote a great story for The Associated Press examining why very gory, scary costumes are so popular this year even for the youngest kids.

Here is the trend according to AP:

“Gory Halloween costumes aren’t new, of course. …

“But in a year when Abraham Lincoln was depicted as a vampire hunter and zombies are everywhere, gory costumes that were once reserved for preteens and teens are now available in ever-smaller sizes.”

“One example among many: The national chain Party City’s “Boys Skinned Alive” costume will fit, according the company’s website, “most children over 4.” Even costumes that were once benign now have violent twists: The sweet, simple “sock monkey” is now a bloody zombie sock monkey with razor-sharp teeth, sold in sizes small enough for kindergarteners.”

“For the last couple of years, darker is where it’s been at,” says Melissa Sprich, vice president of Halloween merchandising for Party City. For babies and toddlers, Sprich says “darker” may mean dressing as a devil this year, rather than a cheerful dinosaur. But for all other ages, many parents are seeking vampires, zombies and “the Freddies, Jasons and Chuckys” even for kids too young to see those characters on screen.”

Here are some theories about why these costumes are so popular from AP:

“David J. Skal, who has chronicled America’s fascination with horror since the 1990s in numerous books, including “The Monster Show,” says he’s surprised at the level of “monster-ization of children” we’re seeing this year.”

“He points out that for centuries, frightening masks and “scary stories have been used to pass on a kind of coming-of-age message to children that the world is not always a safe and welcoming place.” Perhaps, he says, this year parents are especially preoccupied with just how unwelcoming the world seems.”

“Researching his history of Halloween, “Death Makes a Holiday,” Skal spoke with people who grew up during the Great Depression, and remembered dressing up as what they called “hobos and bums.” At that time, he says, “people were very concerned that the whole social fabric was coming apart. The idea of the rise of the unwashed masses kind of has a parallel with our fascination with zombies.”

“Chris Alexander, editor-in-chief of the long-running horror magazine Fangoria, says in the 1930s, characters we now see as relatively harmless like Frankenstein’s monster or Count Dracula were unsettling moviegoers just like Chucky or Michael Myers.”

“But, Alexander points out, those characters were effectively defanged through decades of adaptation before they became dress-up fodder for preschoolers. Frankenstein’s monster morphed into bumbling Herman Munster and Dracula eventually translated into Count von Count on “Sesame Street.” No such softening has happened with characters like child-killer Freddy Krueger: They are realistically depicted in latex and fabric, then wrapped around little trick-or-treaters….”

So does it matter if kids dress up like killers:

“A single day spent surrounded by horror imagery probably won’t have lasting impact on kids, says Cynthia Edwards, professor of child psychology at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C. But some children will be unsettled by dressing up in realistically gory costumes or by seeing classmates dressed that way.”

“What can be especially confusing for kids, according to Fangoria’s editor in chief Chris Alexander, is that “parents, by and large, will say ‘no’ to horror and say ‘no’ to gore for kids all year long. But once a year they have no qualms about taking them to stores with body parts everywhere and animatronic dead things coming at them” to buy disturbing costumes.”

“Then, he says, without offering kids any way to put all of this disturbing imagery and play-acting into context, “as soon as Oct. 31 is over, horror is buried again.”

I am personally very bothered by kids dressed up as movie killers like Jason or Freddy Krueger. I just don’t think it’s appropriate, or very creative, to emulate killers in movies.

I’m not as bothered by zombies or vampires. I guess because they aren’t real. People get killed all the time by murderers with knives. I don’t know of anyone who had died from vampires or zombies.

What do you think: Are you bothered by kids dressed as movie killers? Where do zombies, vampires or violent sock monkey fall on your scale?

38 comments Add your comment


October 30th, 2012
5:23 am

It seems like the parents are grabbing for some kind of nostalgia. I would venture to say that most to all smaller children of the younger ages have no idea who Freddy or Jason are, and have never seen any of these films, or any in that genre, so how could they ask to dress up as those characters. Zombies and vampires regularly appear on children’s shows, as do ghosts and other more traditional folklore characters. Why not genuinely ask your kids what they want. Not “Don’t you want to be Freddy Kreuger for Halloween this year? Donchya?” but rather “what would you like to be?” and go with it. If your 5-year-old wants to be a serial killer or Honey Boo Boo, fine. And then maybe step back and consider how and why they chose that, and whether it truly is as innocuous as you have convinced yourself it is.


October 30th, 2012
7:14 am

No, our fine hostess is correct. Art and Life are now totally interchangeable. We are what we tweet. We tweet what we are. Monkey see. Monkey do. When I was a kid, my perennial Halloween costume was an unshaven, unwashed couch potato. A fat costume with a five oclock shadow. Of course I was just a kid, and some makeup was required. Well, I don’t have to waste too much time on the makeup nowadays. Hey, I’m 61, I’m supposed to be fat. I have old people skin tags now, and I could easily go as Goldmember now. Anyone notice how most skintags are keepers? My biggest expense these days are biopsies for all those skin tags. Ooh…this one’s different. Better run this sample by the lab. My doctor pays me to skip appointments. He’s a nice man.

Aunt Shell

October 30th, 2012
7:49 am

“I am personally very bothered by kids dressed up as movie killers like Jason or Freddy Krueger. …. I’m not as bothered by zombies or vampires. I guess because they aren’t real.”

Um, and Jason and Freddy are real?

Phil from Athens

October 30th, 2012
8:11 am

“I am personally very bothered by kids dressed up as movie killers like Jason or Freddy Krueger.

Yes, because nothing says “real” like a guy who can kill you in your dreams. Nothing says “real” like a guy in a hockey mask who is impervious to guns, saws, cars, fire and bombs.

Jane Goodall

October 30th, 2012
8:15 am

Have your kids dress up as Richard Nixon – or George W. Bush.


October 30th, 2012
8:22 am

A kid dressed as Jeffrey Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy would freak me out, TWG. But all those other characters you mentioned (Freddy, Jason, zombies, vampires) are fictional. I’m not saying I would want my child donning a hockey mask and holding a knife while trick-or-treating, but you’re just off on your reasoning and arguments against certain costumes.

Voice of Reason

October 30th, 2012
8:24 am

This is one of those times where I have to smack some parent’s with logic and reason.

If your kid understands the difference between right and wrong, what difference does it make what they dress up as for Halloween? Within reason of course. You don’t want to offend anyone.

Phil from Athens

October 30th, 2012
8:32 am

They could always dress up as a loser aka Barack Hussein Obama.

And, Jane Goodall...

October 30th, 2012
8:32 am

…if you really want to scare them dress them as Obuma, Biden or Bookman…

Zombies are not real?...

October 30th, 2012
8:33 am

…the how come they are on TV each week…


October 30th, 2012
8:39 am

I went to Home Depot and Lowe’s to find every sample of the color grey they had. I taped them all together and wore them like a vest over a long-sleeved grey shirt. I went as 50 Shades of Grey. I wasn’t sure how to explain my costume to the younger kids at the Halloween party this past weekend, but some of them got it……which kind of scares me.


October 30th, 2012
8:54 am

@ chaos I love it!

Burt of The Burt Show said this morning his boys are going as ghostbusters. He mentioned that other kids were going as Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and other 80-90 nastalgia. All that old is new again! (I do think some parental influence there).

I have one that is going as Eponine from Les Miserables. Eponine is of course a homeless, theif, who is prostitued out by her father on occassion. I suppose that makes me horrible for letting her do that?

I am more concerned about the skimpy costumes for tweens. Since when did Cinderella wear a micro mini or Snow White look more like a french maid?

I do not see the harm in Jason or Freddie as costumes.

Vince Doodley

October 30th, 2012
9:03 am

My 4 year old wants to go as scooby doo. A run over, bloody scooby.


October 30th, 2012
9:08 am

@fjermey..My two are 10 and they both have seen the Jason movies..We have a scarecrow in our yard and he is wearing a Jason mask and his name is Jason..They don’t even know who Honey Boo Boo is.. lol..

I have one that is going as Harry Potter and one that is going as a black cat..Guess, not real creative, but cute..At this point, I think both are concerned with staying warm versus looking scary..At least, I know that what I’m looking for for them..


October 30th, 2012
9:09 am

Please seek help. You are on a downward spiral of paranoid delusion that must be stopped. Overbearing, cleuless, and helicopter mom mania is a dangerous combination.


October 30th, 2012
9:17 am

I also find those disturbing, along with some others that are apparently okay with most moms. I might be a little oversensitive, but I don’t want my kid dressing up as any kind of fictional murderer, whether it’s the bad guy from a slasher movie, a bloodsucking vampire, a brain-eating zombie, or Darth Vader (intergalactic mass murderer). I don’t want to glamorize evil and death, so I would much prefer for my kids to dress as heroes or princesses or something else ‘good.’


October 30th, 2012
9:19 am


“or Darth Vader (intergalactic mass murderer)”

Not sure if serious or trolling…….please be the later.


October 30th, 2012
9:21 am

You guys worry to much.
See you tomorrow.


October 30th, 2012
9:36 am

OK, two of my comments have been eaten in cyberspace…..


October 30th, 2012
9:38 am

By early October I start asking my daughter what she plans on dressing up as and because I’m her parent, I get to approve or disapprove. She’s a girly girl so for the past few years I’ve been lucky that she just wants to be some sort of princess, however, if that ever changes, like say when she’s 13 and wants to become a slutty princess…. guess what? I’m still her mom and I get to approve or deny.

Don’t ever feel bullied into letting someone else determine the validity of your concerns. You’re the parent, if you don’t like it, the end!

Phil from Athens

October 30th, 2012
9:45 am

“My 4 year old wants to go as scooby doo. A run over, bloody scooby.

They should go as Mike Vick’s dogs.

Phil from Athens

October 30th, 2012
9:46 am

“I don’t want to glamorize evil and death, so I would much prefer for my kids to dress as heroes or princesses or something else ‘good.’”

Have them go as Lance Armstrong. I hear he’s a real American hero.

Chas Foster Kane

October 30th, 2012
9:58 am

I’m answering the door as Hitler. Can’t wait to see the looks on parents’ faces.


October 30th, 2012
10:10 am

I plan to open the door in my negligee…….which, I admit, is an odd place to have a door.


October 30th, 2012
10:31 am

@Jessica..Because evil and death or not a part of life? And so many girls grow up to be a real princess in life?

@Phil from Athens..I guess the thing that confuses me about Lance Armstrong is this..Hasn’t he passed hundred’s of drug test that were given by the racing people or whatever they are? Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, so won’t get in to much about it..


October 30th, 2012
10:43 am

If you tell them it’s ok to be LGBT then how can you tell them they can’t pretend to be a monster?
Moral relativism parenting is a failure.


October 30th, 2012
11:03 am

Get a grip, parents!

Phil from Athens

October 30th, 2012
11:04 am


I don’t know.

Phil from Athens

October 30th, 2012
11:05 am

“If you tell them it’s ok to be LGBT then how can you tell them they can’t pretend to be a monster?”

Because, that’s how it works in the mind of a left winger.


October 30th, 2012
11:08 am

Didn’t John Wayne Gacy dress up as a clown alot?

Soccer MILF

October 30th, 2012
11:46 am

My kids dress up like SAW victims. Its just good fun.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 30th, 2012
11:58 am

Obviously I know those characters are fictional — the 17 year old who has been charged with mutilating that little girl in Colorado is real. The other teenage boys turned in by their mom are also real. I don’t think kids should even be thinking about slicing people up or killing people.

Taxi Smith

October 30th, 2012
12:03 pm

Kids will ape what they see adults and older kids doing. Always have.


October 30th, 2012
12:06 pm

Kids have dressed up as Nixon, Clinton, Lincoln, Bush, and Obama and nobody seems to be outraged about that – and those folks are well-documented criminals. One has ordered the assassination of american citizens without due process, regularly orders the killing of individuals without due process, and another has even been found guilty of war crimes by a foreign court. One decided to “protect” the union by orchestrating a war that cost the lives of 650.000 american citizens instead of just ending slavery in a peaceful manner as had every other western nation at the time.

At least Freddy, Jason, etc. are make believe. It is the real criminals that we should be counciling our kids against dressing up as.


October 30th, 2012
12:08 pm

TWG…Transfromers, Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker….they all beat the snot out of (and sometimes kill) folks. I am failing to see how it is different. I agree with those who said that if they are going to be a Dohmer or something…..but then that guy in Arurora gunned those folks down while dressed as the Joker.


October 30th, 2012
12:14 pm

I’m not sure I understand why any of this is classified as “disturbing” or why anyone is “very bothered” — If you don’t want them dressing as a “killer” then just tell them no – or don’t buy/create the costume – but no way would I be disturbed and certainly not “very bothered” either way.


October 30th, 2012
1:37 pm

I understand how Theresa feels about this. It might seem weird that your kid wants to dress up as a murderer, ect, but this is more of a Halloween thing than a real life thing. Some kids just like the scary and freaky costumes for the shock value. My son went as Jason at least once but he was probably middle school age or so. Also he went as the guy from Scream. It is an easy costume to wear as he would never allow me to put makeup on him because he said it was itchy. My girls have gone as zombie cheerleaders, ect. which is also an easy costume as they don’t mind wearing the makeup. I pretty much have let them pick what they want. It is all in good fun and just pretend!


October 30th, 2012
1:46 pm

I read somewhere that a lot of adults have been in stores asking for Casey Anthony costumes. Unable to find them, they are making their own. To me that is pretty scary!