Dressed to Chill

Carl Robinette

Wed October 30, 2013 2:26pm

As the days get shorter and fall approaches, Halloween is creeping closer and soon Spiderman, Iron Man and other heroes will be fighting to be the most popular costumes of the year. 
While superhero costumes for kids are likely to dominate retail sales this year, expect to see teens and young adults dressed as zombies and characters from franchises like “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games.”
“Any movie that Johnny Depp is in, those characters are always pretty popular,” said Molly Mueller, manager at Buffalo Breath Costumes in San Diego. “So I’m waiting to see how many people want to dress up as a Native American.”
The history of Halloween costumes is not exactly clear, but it was the Catholic holidays, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, Nov. 1 and 2, that gave rise to traditions like Halloween and Día de los Muertos. 
There are traditions that resemble trick-or-treating in all variations, but it is believed that the costumes actually come from a northern European custom called “mumming” that was originally part of Christmas and involved dressing in costumes, chanting and play-acting.
The spooky holiday has historically tended to be a night for children in the U.S., but in the last 20 years it has become a very popular night for adults. San Diego has seen a rise in the popularity of big parties and major events in the last 15 years, said Mueller, who has been selling costumes in the city for 25 years.
“Cutsie monsters and cutsie kinds of animals seem to be popular for women,” Mueller said. These are popular among the 25-year-old crowd who tend to wear more risqué costumes, while the 40-and-up crowd tends rent more elaborate and more sophisticated costumes, she added.
Retailers have seen the popularity of non-specific scary costumes like mummies and vampires shift toward a preference for costumes with specific pop culture references. But longtime favorites like ninja costumes for boys and princess costumes for girls will still be top-sellers this year, said employees at Party City in Otay Ranch.
Of course there is no better way to usher in the fall than with a big Halloween party, but planning the perfect monster bash can be a hair-raising experience. Here is a list of four must-haves for a frighteningly fun Halloween party.
A killer soundtrack
Of course any good party comes with great music but don’t be afraid to mix it up with some spooky sound effects and songs. But don’t make the mistake of overdoing the Halloween music. “Thriller” is only good the first five times you hear it in a night.
A frightful entrance
Concentrate your decorations on your entryway for the biggest impact as party-goers show up at your door.  Of course it does not have to be scary.  Some of the other favorite themes are “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Walking Dead.”
Horrifying cinema
Leaving scary movies or Halloween movies to play on the television creates the spooky atmosphere, but don’t expect anybody to pay attention to the film.  Your best bet is to mute the TV and let the ghastly images and music do their magic.
Vile refreshments
Blood-red punch, spooky cookies and weird cupcakes are reliable favorites, but the easiest thing to do is serve your favorite nibbles and beverages on Halloween plates and in themed cups. Of course Halloween cupcakes are always popular.