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If there’s one thing horror fans pride ourselves on, it’s knowledge of genre trivia. If there’s a second thing, it’s our Halloween costumes. We love the opportunity to dress as our favorite horror movie characters almost as much as we love showing off our intricate memory of cult classics. Any opportunity to combine those two treats feels like a spooky season miracle.
Classic costumes like Michael, Jason, Freddy, and Jigsaw will always be available, but sometimes you want a look that will help you stand out in a crowd. The following list will get you started on a deep cut costume sure to impress the hardcore horror fans at your Halloween soirée.
Lee – Bones and All (2022)
The Character: Lee (Timothée Chalamet) is a loner turned lover who wanders the country feeding on the unsuspecting scoundrels who happen to cross his path. His luck turns when he meets fellow “eater” Maren (Taylor Russell). The two young cannibals merge their paths and explore the country before fate deals them a devastating blow.
The Look: Known for his posh bone structure and impeccable curls, Chalamet sports a vagabond look in this earthy film. Cherry red curls and a late 80s mullet add the flair while severely ripped and oversized jeans pair with a western shirt or a pink blouse. Top it off with a hemp necklace and a grungy fedora.
Above and Beyond: Cover your chin and chest with blood. Shirt optional.
Brenda Bates – Urban Legend (1998)
The Character: We love our favorite final girls, but sometimes it’s more fun to dress up as the villain. Brenda Bates (Rebecca Gayheart) appears to be a late victim of the hooded killer using urban legends to slash through Pendleton University. However, a dramatic monologue reveals her to be the culprit, a scorned woman determined to exact deadly revenge.
The Look: Brenda’s curly hair and perfectly smudged eye-liner are the stuff of horror movie legend–the wilder the locks, the more dangerous she becomes. Brenda completes most of her kills in a heavy parka with a fur-lined hood making this costume perfect for chilly nights at an outdoor event. In a warmer climate? Wear that parka over Brenda’s stunning red bikini.
Above and Beyond: Grab a mini white board and fill it with details about your tragic motive. Don’t forget the visual aids and a list of your favorite ULs.
Frank – Hellraiser (1987)
The Character: While most casual fans associate Doug Bradley’s Pinhead–ahem, Lead Cenobite–with the first Hellraiser film, dedicated fans know that Frank (Sean Chapman) is the story’s true monster. This cad shows up on his brother’s door and has quasi-consensual sex with his sister-in-law-to-be on top of her wedding dress just days before the wedding. Having solved a notorious puzzle box, Frank finds himself pulled into a torturous domain, but escapes to slowly reanimate from a bloody mass of goop and bones in his brother’s attic.
The Look: A black button-down and tight, belted jeans form the anchor of this look topped with a five o’clock shadow and a devilish grin. Pop into the shower to get that just-rained-on look, but “Jesus wept,” leave the switch-blade at home.
Above and Beyond: Get Frank’s stolen skin look by smearing blood and gore around your hairline and allowing it to slightly seep through the inside of a pinstriped dress shirt.
Pam – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The Character: A fun-loving 70s gal, Pam (Teri McMinn) tags along with friends checking on the graves of relatives in the Texas countryside. Hoping to take a quick dip in a non-existent lake, Pam unfortunately winds up trapped in a house of horrors. She may not be a legendary final girl, but this early victim graces the film’s iconic poster as she writhes in pain while impaled on a meat hook.
The Look: Style your hair with a center part and a pair of vintage barrettes then pull on a blue backless halter and red short shorts to complete this summertime look. Go for verisimilitude by attaching a silver bar to the center of your back and periodically grasping it above your head with an agonized scream.
Above and Beyond: A book on astrology adds the finishing touch. Wander around the party scaring guests by reading their horoscopes–the more ominous the prediction the better.
Jerry Dandridge- Fright Night (1985)
The Character: One of history’s sexiest vampires, Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) causes quite a stir when he moves into a vacant house on a suburban street. A consummate lady’s man, Jerry’s dates start to go missing and the terrified teen next door begins to suspect that his new neighbor may have more than love on his mind.
The Look: In addition to the requisite fangs and perfectly styled hair, Jerry dons a neutral trench coat reminiscent of Dracula’s cape and a blood-red scarf.
Above and Beyond: Ditch the outerwear and pull on a boat neck sweater to achieve Jerry’s tantalizing night club look. Bonus points if you can find someone to spin around the room with you to recreate one of horror’s most seductive dance scenes.
Dr. Katherine McMichaels – From Beyond (1986)
The Character: This versatile costume offers a wide range of sexy options. Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton) is an altruistic psychiatrist who hopes to cure schizophrenia with a mysterious invention called the Resonator. Along with Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs), she studies this device and the sinister scientist who uses its powers to explore the furthest reaches of pleasure and pain.
The Look: Begin the night with a feminine suit, a tucked-under french braid, and a pair of killer 80s glasses.
Above and Beyond: Later in the evening, take off the jacket and skirt to reveal a black leather corset complete with elbow-length gloves and a bold, red lip.
Pat – Green Room (2015)
The Character: Pat (Anton Yelchin) plays bass for punk band The ‘Ain’t Rights on a shoestring tour of the Pacific Northwest. After booking a questionable gig at what turns out to be a Nazi skinhead bar, Pat witnesses a horrific murder and becomes trapped with his bandmates in the club’s grungy green room.
The Look: Dirty jeans and a Minor Threat T-shirt form the basis of this rebellious look. Feel free to swap the tee with merch from your own “desert island” band so long as it’s nothing too embarrassing. Wrap your hand and forearm in duct tape and smear it with blood to replicate the aftermath of one of cinema’s most excruciating injuries.
Above and Beyond: Buzz your head and paint your face with black camouflage to embody Pat’s daring escape ensemble.
Madame Blanc – Suspiria (2018)
The Character: This gifted choreographer is a leader of the Markos Tanz Company, a prestigious ballet troupe which doubles as a powerful coven of witches. When Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) arrives to dance the protagonist, Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) finds herself caught up in a power struggle that may tear the company apart.
The Look: “It’s a hot thing we do,” dressing as dancers and you’ll need to wear a garment that allows for flexibility. Don a long-sleeved dress with a full, floor-length skirt in a dark, neutral color to achieve Madame’s rehearsal look. Plait your hair in a long braid that hangs down your back or over your shoulder.
Above and Beyond: Swap the dress for blood-red robes and paint a large, bloody gash on the back of your neck. Blink uncomfortably with your head bent forward at an angle and wander around asking friends to help you reattach the appendage.
Jim – 28 Days Later (2002)
The Character: Jim (Cillian Murphy) is an injured bike messenger who awakens from a 28-day coma to find London deserted save for hordes of speedy zombies and a ragtag group of survivors.
The Look: Buzz one half of your head, grow a bit of stubble, and wrap a white bandage around your forearm. Don a pair of light blue scrubs and wander around with a confused look on your face toting a plastic bag filled with sugary snacks and various personal effects.
Above and Beyond: Remove your shirt and cover your hands with blood as if you’ve just gouged out someone’s eyes to protect your one true love. Calmly state, “That was longer than a heartbeat.” then stand back and watch the entire party swoon.
The Woman – Inside (2007)
The Character: This unnamed terror spends Christmas Eve breaking into the home of a heavily pregnant widow named Sarah (Alysson Paradis) on the night before she’s set to give birth. As her disturbing plans unfold, we learn that the Woman (Béatrice Dalle) is attempting to rectify a tragedy by stealing the helpless baby growing inside Sarah’s belly.
The Look: The Woman emerges from the shadows, seeming to exist outside of time and space. Wear a fully black Victorian dress complete with a corset and black leather gloves. Carry around a large pair of sharp scissors but don’t forget to sterilize the blades.
Above and Beyond: Recreate the film’s shocking conclusion by darkening your head with faux burn scars and carrying around a bloody baby. Complete the horror by gently rocking the infant and singing it to sleep with a sinister Christmas carol.
No good? Still need a costume? Head to your local Spirit Halloween.