It happens every year.
Like a dark carnival that blows in with the wind overnight, this time of the year brings new life to boarded-up shopping centers Valley-wide. Long vacant Mervyn's locations become temporary havens for stores specializing in the best goofy, gory and grosteque fashions for Halloween.
And although the holiday is still predominately for pint-size candy panhandlers and Level 85 cosplayers, Halloween superstores also serve a new, burgeoning demographic: last-minute shoppers looking for a mildly-outrageous yet instantly-recognizable get-up for their holiday festivities.
For these Hallo-weinies who never bother to plan ahead, a cottage industry of poorly conceived, unlicensed (read: rip-off) costumes has sprung up...
The Good: Heroic Maria
I've previously spoken out about Halloween's regrettable trend of over-sexualizing non-sexy things, but this slinky little number with the moustache necklace is still the best of the bunch. Whether you've got a thing for pipe laying, cross dressing plumbers or you become strangely aroused by the sound of an 8-bit melody, this tawdry Super Mario knock-off delivers.
The Bad: Celebrity Chef
Face it, if you feel enough of an affinity to dress up as uber-douche bag Guy Fieri, you're already a bit of tool. Don't spend $17 on a bad wig and fake goatee. Be yourself this Halloween and save your money to buy some Taco Bell for the girl you picked-up at the all ages dance club.
The You're Not Fooling Anyone: Tommy Tater
So you have two days before the office Halloween party, an extra $110 (seriously) laying around and a life-long fascination with Mr. Potato Head. Yep, you're Tommy Tater material. This full body suit goes for twice the price of the officially licensed version and has a sweet amount of bunching in an inopportune location. Sadly, you won't win the costume contest this year but you also won't be counted among the throngs of meatheads that believe they're built enough to pull off a Bane costume. Advantage: weird guy in the lumpy potato outfit.