Previous Article - X-Entertainment - Next Article --- By Matt - 7/12/'02
Vincent Price's Shrunken Head kit was groundbreaking in many different ways. First off, kids who were sick of turning potatoes into Mr. Potato Heads now had a creepier outlet for playing with fruits and vegetables: with this kit, you'd turn an apple into a shrunken head! Yes, that was the point of this toy. To more or less rot an apple long enough so that it resembles a decaying, decapitated head. It's the sort of thing you'd normally shrug off with a laugh, but since it's got Vincent's approval it ends up appearing a lot more frightening. I attribute this mainly to the very clear fact that Price is the scariest person who's ever lived or who ever will live, a statement you really can't dispute once you realize this is a person who's been in both movie-transitions of Edgar Allen Poe books and Michael Jackson videos. If that smug and devious look doesn't spook you and if his voice doesn't send chills down your spine, the guy's resume will surely scare the crap out of you.
To be honest, as stupid as a toy involving turning fruit into a corpse's head sounds, I would've loved owning this kit as a child. A lot of the gag and novelty shops I ordered from when I was younger stocked cheap plastic shrunken heads for around four bucks, and while they arrived as advertised, there just wasn't anything really creepy about a plastic skull with some yarn glued to the top. I mean, a kid doesn't just buy a shrunken head toy for kicks. You get it because either you've got a little sister that needs scaring, or simply because you're demented. Well, there's nothing demented about a plastic head and nobody's kid sister was gonna scream in fright over it. Vincent Price might've been the master of horror, but he's even more apt at turning household items into a real great time.
Imagine little kids back then sitting on Santa's lap at the mall, innocently asking for Vincent Price's Shrunken Head for Christmas. I dunno, it probably came cheap enough, but I don't think any mothers would get full of Yule tide cheer sticking that thing under the tree. "Well honey, looks like Santa brought you just what you asked for. A tricycle, army men, and the means to forge a shrunken head without learning the ancient art of voodoo." Plus, no mother, especially back then, would allow such a waste of good fruit. The whole thing really sucked for the moms. When a kid asked for an apple to use with the kit, I can imagine them saying something like 'they don't grow on trees!' and then having to feel really stupid when their six-year-old corrects them. Ah well, mothers were on so much MDMA back then anyway with those diet pills, it's not like they were gonna eat any apples anyway. Let the kid use them with his black rituals, who gives a shit?
As you can see, the kit came with everything you needed to truly give your shrunken head that Midas touch. It all looks so ridiculous and sounds so stupid that it's hard for me not to poke fun out, but I have to admit - it's pretty neat. Aside from all the little ornaments the set came with for you to adorn and decorate your apple head, the process itself sounds like a cool activity. You'd peel the skin off the apple, revealing the rotting 'flesh,' then you'd do all this other weird crap ranging from rubbing it with charcoal to soaking it in vinegar - by the time you were through, you hadn't really done much besides unfavorable culinary techniques but you still felt like Evil Incarnate. And all it took was an apple! See, if this was around today, the world could've been spared from all those school-shooting kids and Mansonites who needed something cruel and unusual to latch on to. Could Shrunken Apple Heads save the world? Probably not. Could they make it a better place? I say they already have.
The best part? Technically, you could eat the shrunken head. At least the parts that weren't made with iodine or mercury. So on top of feeling like some headhunting tribesman, a kid also had an opportunity to be some strange sort of necropheliac cannibal. For a few bucks, this thing carried a lot of weight. I can't believe Vincent Price didn't nail a Nobel for this one. Anyone who could turn an apple into something hideous and star in a movie called 'Confessions of an Opium Eater' deserves a prize in my book. Course, my book also dictates that Chris Elliot must be the supreme ruler of Virginia so that every time I went there for cheaper cigarettes, I'd be entertained by endless comedy skits of the statespeople.
The only way to judge a contest of this magnitude is comparing which is a better foodstuff. The Cap'n almost won because at some point in the past I seem to have spilled sweet n' sour sauce on his head, and it's stuck there as a flavorful tribute to the positive side of making messes. Sadly for him, this was a particularly ripe apple and I can't possibly give Captain Planet a win just because I spilled sauce on his head. It'd be like overlooking corking the bat, papering the ball, or shrinking the head.
Vincent Price's Stupid Shrunken Head
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