The other day I had a drive through a remote region and was scrolling through the radio dial looking for something good when a certain talk radio program caught my ear—they were discussing a company that was renting actual coffins for Halloween!
Some quick internet web browsing revealed that there are actually a whole lot of coffins that can be found on the internet. For example…
Morris Costumes offers a $49.99 wooden coffin on Amazon that has the sleek dark wood look, reminiscent of something that would have been sitting in the dank earth. But Morris Costumes coffins also come in various colors. They appear to be popular with shoppers, earning some 273 ratings. One user who was clearly serious about Halloween and coffins wrote in 2015: “The coffin is not real wood, obviously, and made of the same material that is used for pop-up car sun blockers. It is a little flimsy for outdoor use in my opinion, but it does come with stakes and can be weighed down easily by placing something heavy inside. I keep mine indoors, however, where it looks quite eerie indeed.”
Target offers a Dracula-shaped coffin with a stylized bat logo for $20, though oddly it appears to have few or no reviews. At Party City, one can find a “Pop-Up Black Coffin” for $25. “This life-size coffin reads ‘RIP’ across the front in white block letters,” reads the product’s description. “Use the included plastic poles to maintain the shape.” Another site, Shindigz, has a coffin with a true dusted and worn-out feel, adorned with a skull, cobweb designs, and appearing faded and smoky. But at last, according to their website, “Due to distribution and licensing specifications, this product cannot be shipped outside the USA.” It is $43.19.
Of course, one quickly realizes that these coffins are not what I heard being talked about on the radio program. These are small plastic or cheap wooden coffins that can be ordered online and swiftly assembled. The coffin being discussed on the program was a real live one, sturdy and glossy and wooden, with all the metal latches and bells and whistles. A coffin that one could crawl into, like Dracula. For that, we have to enter the world of movie props.
The site, Movieproprentals.net says that their wood casket is “authentic” and a “Great prop for music videos, production, plays, or Halloween.” One of its tags is “Morgue Production Props”. There is also the New York City-based prop rental site Abracadabra, which appears to stand out for not just their unique coffins but also their extremely realistic torsos and heart valve props.
An even more vibrant site is Gory Girl, which has been in the business of offering spooky movie props for more than 50 years. They offer a selection of glossy wooden and metal coffins, and also a set of coffins hand-built in their own design studio, made of thin spooky wooden slats with nails sticking out and covered in bits of vegetation that looks like Spanish moss and other organic debris. One of their coffins even has what appears to be a burnt alien corpse inside, which would make sense for Gory Girl. The site also offers all manner of horror props, including full-grown aliens, baby aliens, mutated aliens in jars, scary clown dolls, mummies, and an impressive diversity of werewolves.
If one goes to the next step, one moves past the world of props, and into the actual movies that used them. Surely readers will remember the infamous coffins from such films as “Nosferatu,” the original 1922 vampire film about an absolutely frightening Transylvanian Dracula that feeds off human flesh and sleeps in very tidy black coffins. Another coffin classic is “Premature Burial” from 1962, which is based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe. “An artist grows distant from his new wife as an irrational horror of premature burial consumes him,” reads a description on the movie site IMDB.
There are also a number of less obvious movies with famous coffin scenes. Such as the 1991 film “My Girl,” featuring the superstar child actor Macaulay Culkin. His character, Thomas J, dies after having an allergic reaction to bee stings he received while trying to retrieve his friend Vada’s mood ring. At the funeral he lies peacefully in the coffin, the welts from the bee stings still visible on his forehead, and Vada breaks into tears as she approaches. This creates one of the most powerful scenes in the film. “He can’t see without his glasses!” she screams and then breaks down crying and runs out of the funeral service. The movie does have a happy ending.
Which reminds me, Happy Halloween everyone! Stay safe out there, and stay out of coffins, unless of course—you actually rented one~