Halloween Decorations That Were a Little Too Good
One of the aspects of human culture we’ll have the hardest time explaining to the aliens is that, for one month out of the year, it’s acceptable to decorate your home with the falsified remnants of unspeakable atrocities. Some people live for this time of year, spending the rest of it planning their horrific displays, and whatever else that says about them, some of them get entirely too good at it. Like, “neighbors calling the police” good. Hey, it’s not like a dead body has never been mistaken for Halloween decorations before, so better to be safe than sorry. Like when…
A Hanging Dummy Looked Like a Lynching
A dummy hanging from a tree is a classic Halloween prop because nothing is scarier than the modern epidemic of chronic depression, but in this day and age (by which we mean, oh, the last 200 years or so), you have to be careful with that stuff. You especially have to be careful with it if you live in that middle-finger-shaped southeastern part of the country, where the middle finger is decidedly not directed at racism.
That’s why, when residents of North Carolina’s Harnett County spotted what appeared to be a man hanging from a tree by the side of the road in late September 2022, they were alarmed, to say the least. It didn’t help that the dummy was made of dark fabric, which made it look dark skinned, and fully dressed with its hands tied behind its back. It’s that kind of attention to detail that wins decoration contests and visits from the cops.
After photos of the display were shared on social media and residents alerted the authorities, investigators knocked on the house’s door. After all, even if it wasn’t a real body, it definitely looked like it was supposed to look like one, but it turned out the house belonged to “a Hispanic family” who “said it was a simply a Halloween decoration they put up and once it was explained to them how it was perceived, they realized that and they were very apologetic and they took it down immediately.” It could have gone so much worse.
Firefighters Responded to a Cleverly Lit House
Too many Halloween displays feature zombies, ghosts and other fantasy scares that are ultimately nothing to worry about. We need to focus more on the real horrors of this world, like the ever-present possibility of burning alive trapped inside the blazing coffin that was once your home. Two guys from Glen Falls, New York, identified only as John and Matt and hopefully some truly tight bros, seem to agree, creating in 2023 an effect made of “two LED lights, a box fan, a silver sheet and a fog machine” that looks exactly like a house getting roasted from the inside out.
The display, complete with a cloud of “smoke” emanating from the structure, gave neighbors such a genuine fright that they summoned firefighters to the scene. As you can hear in the video they quickly posted to Facebook, the firefighters soon figured out what was going on and were just happy not to have to storm any infernos to save lives for once. They even advertised the display, posting that it would “be up Friday and Saturday nights for the public’s entertainment until the end of the month,” and thanked the decorators, adding, “We like these calls.”
According to People, “Some commenters were troubled by what could have happened if a real emergency had happened at the same time as the false call,” but these are what we call “party poopers.”
Police Responded to What Looked Like a Grisly Car Accident
Car accidents are another all too common and horrifying part of modern life (or lack thereof), so if you happen to have a car lying around that you can bash to hell, that’s an excellent Halloween prop. One resident of Lily, Kentucky really went to town in 2021, slumping a bloody mannequin in the front seat, spreading some extremely fake spider web across the back and mounting a giant Grim Reaper on the roof.
You’d think several of those elements might give away the game, but police who were called to the scene insisted that, in the dark, it was hard to tell. “That night it was pouring the rain, it was dark and that is a poorly lit area,” one said. “The tail lights were on and one headlight worked, so it definitely looked like an accident … and you couldn’t see the Grim Reaper on top of the car.”
There was apparently some dispute between the homeowner and police, probably because they threatened to tow the car, resulting in the compromise of adding some lights and a sign that says “HALLOWEEN DISPLAY DO NOT CALL 911.” One neighbor commented that “there’s a lot of traffic through” the nearby road and “people expect wrecks,” so, you know, maybe look into the infrastructure instead of Halloween decorations.
The Humane Society Was Called to Rescue a Fake Spider
Everyone loves a giant spider. It’s almost not spooky season until the six-foot inflatable arachnids retake their perches on suburban rooftops, but they actually have to be giant. If they’re just regular spider size, people are going to think they’re real, and while that’s arguably the point, the Humane Society has better things to do. In 2021, they were called out to a Bay Area home when a resident reported a tarantula stranded on a neighbor’s roof. It wasn’t until a rescuer climbed up there that anyone realized it was a Halloween decoration.
Even the homeowners didn’t know it was there, which really calls into question either their memory or the cleanout skills of whoever lived there before them. The rescuer did say that “it looked like it had been up there for a while” and noted that tarantula sightings are not uncommon in the area around that time of year because it’s their mating season, so at least this was an educational mishap.
Police Were Called Multiple Times on What Appeared to Be an Unhinged Crime Scene
The true Halloween artists don’t just throw up some foam headstones and string lights and call it a day. They set a scene, and Steve Novak has made headlines for doing just that. In 2020, police were called multiple times to his Dallas home because it appeared to be the scene of some kind of robbery gone extremely wrong, complete with body bags and a wheelbarrow full of limbs accompanying a man who seemed to be rushing from the house when a safe crushed his head, another falling from the roof and one impaled on a lightpost. Apparently, they tried to rob Jigsaw.
Novak was far from deferred by the visits. “I welcome (the police) to come out and take more selfies,” he said in 2021. That year, he added a Fargo-inspired vignette with an old wood chipper (whose “sellers were not pleased with its new purpose”) concealing a fountain that pumped 3,000 gallons of blood per hour across Novak’s yard and into a kiddie pool full of “shredded mannequin remains.” Mans is out here doing engineering.
Now, we’re not saying this is all an elaborate ruse to allow Novak to actually enact some kind of complicated mass murder undetected. We’re just saying that would be a brilliant idea. We’re watching you, Steve.