10 unintentionally terrifying vintage Halloween ads you can't unsee

They were aiming for cute and fun but ended up with creepy and frightening.

Obviously, Halloween is supposed to be scary. But it’s nice to take a break sometimes and enjoy the fun side of the spooky holiday. Sweet treats, silly decorations and cute kids in costumes all help offset the horror elements. But what if the fun things accidentally turn creepy?

Advertising from years past has a way of making things unintentionally terrifying. Here are ten vintage ads meant to show the fun side of Halloween that are actually creepier than many things intended to be scary!

1. Scary wizard pumpkin

We wonder how much of the Rheingold product Nancy indulged in before making this pumpkin. From the hair to the teeth to the demonic red eyes, this ghastly gourd is more creepy than crafty.

Image: Rheingold

2. Toothy Jack-o'-Lantern

Another beer and pumpkin pairing, this Jack-o'-Lantern has approximately ten teeth too many for our liking and the switchblade on the table isn't helping matters.

Image: Blatz

3. Perilous Post Party

There's so much about this Post cereal ad that's unsettling. The donkey costume with human teeth, the pointing clown and the man with the upset stomach whose mask is made much creepier by the fact that we can only see one eye. 

Image: Post

4. Demon Donald Duck

The masks on the right are creepy in a fun, very intentional way. The "cute" Donald Duck costume, however, is another story. Those large, unblinking eyes will haunt us for a very long time.

Image: Woolworth

5. Not feline it

It's hard to put a finger on exactly why this homemade mask advertising Scotch tape doesn't sit right, but something is definitely off. Maybe it's the yellow eyes and eyelashes, maybe it's the whiskers or it could be the long, curved tongue. 

Image: Scotch

6. Saving face

Comic book characters are as common as ghosts and witches on Halloween night, but these costumes are far from heroic. Why does Superman have a Lone Ranger-style mask and more importantly, why is Batman's whole face covered in a creepy plastic mask? 

Image: Sears

7. Minty fresh and frightening

We're not sure what's going on with these creepy, pumpkin-dwelling gum elves, but we're too afraid to ask. 

Image: Wrigley

8. Creepy wizard clown child

Not all clowns are creepy, but this child looks straight out of Stephen King's It. He wants us to try one of his Starburst's but we'll pass. Thanks but no thanks, kid. 

Image: Starburst

9. Broomstick joyride

The boy and the girl in front are having the time of their lives flying hundreds of feet off the ground while the ghost in the back looks absolutely terrified. He's holding on for dear life to what little broom space he's been given — he must be the youngest sibling.

Image: Curtiss Candy Co.

10. Tricky treats

There's nothing scarier than getting raisins instead of candy.

Image: Sun Maid

 
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ma2lyssa 30 days ago
I'm the odd man out here. There's something about the "Minty fresh and frightening" one that doesn't sit well with me 😂
hermanstein2015 1 month ago
I'm 32 and the only thing scary about Halloween when I was a kid was Dad eating all my sweetarts before he was done "checking" my candy stash at the end of the night! I miss the good ole days.
bnichols23 1 month ago
I used to get those raisins when I was a kid. LOVED 'em!
Blondie7 1 month ago
Picky, picky, picky or should I say wimpy, wimpy, wimpy.
Lizk555 1 month ago
None are scary or even creepy to me.
Lasagna_DelRio 1 month ago
The author(s) of this was trying way to hard to put out a blog post. I suppose they were under a deadline and were just grasping at straws. It never would have occurred to me that any of these were scary.
AnnaRentzVandenhazel 1 month ago
Not one of these ads scares me, and I doubt I would have been scared in my childhood years if I had seen these. Whoever writes these articles must be a bunch of wimps!

On #6, Batman's mask isn't the part I object to - it's the word "Batman" on the shirt. I don't care which Batman actor you favor, none of them ever had his name on his costume! Even in grade school I thought costumes with a character mask and a t-shirt with the character's name or picture were stupid. I never saw Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny wearing a t-shirt with their name or picture on it.
nerstrand 1 month ago
Going off topic a little bit, but in minnesota, we always have to wear a coat over our costume. I'm 57, and it still makes me mad.
KJExpress nerstrand 1 month ago
Sometimes I would have to do that too and it always made me mad. It sort of defeated the whole purpose. 😠
JeanInTN nerstrand 1 month ago
I'm in Tennessee and we often had to do that, too. When I was a kid, though, we usually only wore a mask instead of a full costume. Back then, too, trick-or-treat didn't start until after dark. There were times, especially when it was still DST (we used to change to Standard Time the last weekend of the month, so sometimes it would happen before Halloween), when it would be a certain time and seem late enough to get started, but my parents always said I had to wait until it was almost dark. Therefore, after the sun went down, it could get cold quickly on a clear night.
Michael nerstrand 1 month ago
I think here we kind of plan for cold weather, so costumes go over. Not so great on the rare warm Halloween.
Coldnorth nerstrand 1 month ago
In yooperville where I’m from it usually snows on Halloween so wearing a coat is a necessity I only remember a few Halloween’s were mild
idkwut2use 1 month ago
Pretty creepy, but even as a candy addict I'll gladly accept raisins. :33
BrittReid 1 month ago
Terrifying? Like the Ben Cooper masks. None are the least bit terrifying.
Kenner 1 month ago
Too many clowns.
Lasagna_DelRio Kenner 1 month ago
Are you referring to the writer(s) of this?
CaptainDunsel 1 month ago
"Switchblade"? (#2) That's not even close to a switchblade. That's a standard, garden variety folding pocket knife, like every Dad carried daily. Of course that was back in the days when the idea of a boy going to school *without* a pocket knife was the shocker. I mean come on - How do kids today even play mumblety-peg?
Exactly how does the author of this article expect a person to carve a pumpkin? With a spoon? :D

I've seen those pumpkin-carving tool kits that surfaced in the past 30 years, and they actually scare me more than any knife.
retro6 1 month ago
I had the same reaction for number 10. No raisins for me!
Snickers 1 month ago
Raisins? Who wants raisins on Halloween? Might as well throw an apple in there.
Rob Snickers 1 month ago
I got a rock!
The first time I went trick-or-treating at age 7, a storekeeper gave me and my friend each an apple and a pomegranate on our way in to town. When I got home, my mom was checking everything in my bag, I told her where the apple and pomegranate came from (she knew the storekeeper quite well and certainly trusted him), but didn't believe I got the apple from him because it was quite bruised (my own fault because I kept playing with it before I collected any candy), she seriously believe it fell off a tree into my bag! It would have had to be a magical apple, because when I wasn't collecting candy the bag was gripped tightly in my hand (the other hand was being held by my friend's mother). And I certainly would have noticed if anything jumped into my bag.
As a kid I hated getting apples for trick or treating. But back then you didn't worry about someone trying to harm you either.
TonyClifton 1 month ago
I still have dreams of Woolworth's at Halloween time. It was the absolute best. That first day in September when they put out all the Halloween costumes and candy, and the smell that would waft my way as soon as I opened the store's doors, is something I'll never forget. Good times.
Snickers TonyClifton 1 month ago
I agree, nothing better than Woolworths at Halloween and Christmas.
Gossemer TonyClifton 1 month ago
So true, so true. Kids have no clue what they've lost
TheDavBow3 1 month ago
I used to work for Woolworth's from '86 - '91. That ad from #4 must be before my time. My next door neighbor friends had the Superman and Batman costumes from #4. I was in awe!!
stephaniestavr5 1 month ago
None of these ads make me howl with fright. All of these ads make me howl with delight!
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