It’s like Christmas! Except with more blood. And scary masks. And really cool costumes.
OK, so it’s nothing like Christmas at all, in a certain sense, but this is definitely the season that Taney’s Costume Shop in Scranton waits for all year long: Halloween.
Taney’s first opened its doors in 1926 and was originally owned by Pierce L. Taney. The business was acquired by Jim O’Hora in 1974.
Taney’s is a year-round operation that deals in more than attire; the shop also specializes in balloon decorating (with a delivery service) and large flags (which are made in Pennsylvania), among other things.
Over the years, O’Hora has watched the industry change quite a bit, with the coming of the Internet and big box stores that sell a plethora of costumes during the Halloween season.
Even so, with the market saturated by costumes (even the Dollar Store has full princess and ninja attire), Taney’s holds strong, and that’s because it’s the only full-service costume shop in Northeast Pennsylvania.
“There was a time when there was a costume shop in every city,” O’Hora said. “Now, you have to go to Philadelphia to get something that would match what we have.”
Taney’s both rents and sells costumes, though those of the Halloween variety are more on the “sell” side of things. The rental outfits are geared towards the likes of theater and television work and parties, though if you’re looking for an authentic period piece or very detailed outfit, they aren’t off-limits.
There is a wall of attire to choose from, though it’s nothing like what you’ll find at a larger chain store.
“If you want the hottest greatest costume that pretty much everyone is going to be wearing, go to the big box stores,” O’Hora said, “but if you want to be original, something different with high quality, that’s high end and costs about the same as what you’d get at a bigger store, come to Taney’s.”
Taney’s also specializes in makeup, as evidenced by the recent zombie cover The Weekender ran, where O’Hora and another Taney’s employee created the undead gory effects for the shoot.
O’Hora has trained with Bob Kelly of Bob Kelly Cosmetics and James Cola, who was a makeup director at ABC. He also recently received his hair and makeup license in Pennsylvania.
Taney’s currently sells Ben Nye Makeup, a high-end product that’s perfect for television, movies, and general costuming.
“It’s high-end at a low price,” O’Hora said. “It’s a great quality. I actually have a lot of female friends that use it because it’s smear-proof, run-proof, doesn’t break down under hot lights, and has a lot of pigment, so it covers easily.”
And, of course, Taney’s also doles out blood in droves. There are three types: liquid blood, gel blood, and blood paste.
All three of these gruesome accessories can be used to accomplish what Taney’s did on our zombie models – disgusting gashes in the skin. It’s a process that O’Hora said is really quite simple.
“You put a thin layer of liquid latex on the area of skin you want to look scarred, then apply a single-ply piece of tissue to it. Let it soak in, then put another coat or two of the latex on it, then use a hair dryer to harden it up. After you have a nice solid piece that’s stuck to the skin, take a pin, or a scalpel, and very carefully poke holes for pock marks, or pull gently at the tissue so it looks like flesh is hanging off.”
And then comes the blood.
“I like to use blood paste as a paste, a very dark color that gives an open wound look,” O’Hora said. “Then put blood gel on top of that, which is thick. When it heats up, it slowly starts to drip. And then, to top it off, use liquid blood in a spray bottle to spray clothes for a splattered effect.”