Halloween is big business, and it’s no better typified than the huge, seasonal stores that poke up in strip malls and shopping centers across the country during the Autumn. Costumes are now a multi-billion dollar business, and getting that perfect Indiana Jones costume is as simple as walking in to the Scare-o-Rama, selecting your plastic bag complete with hat, whip, and relic, and dropping at least 80 bucks.
But where’s the fun in that? Not to mention the individuality. Geeks should know better. As the purveyors of costuming and re-enactment, it’s up to us to set the bar.
So if you’re stumped, here’s some suggestions for more obscure Halloween costumes. Some of them come from mainstream geekery, but they’re peripheral characters. Because, to me anyway, the best costumes are both well-executed and unusual.
10) Edgar Allan Poe. This is as simple as a trip to the thrift store for a black suit, a bit of black hair spray, some eye liner to put circles under your eyes, and a thin little mustache (that same eye liner will do wonders). If you’re feeling really sassy, go ahead and put a stuffed raven on your shoulder… you know, to make it more obvious. And don’t forget the cravat.
9) The aliens from Earth Girls Are Easy. A cult-classic of the 90s, this costume requires a little in the way of work to get just right. But it worked for Jeff Goldblum, Damon Wayans, and Jim Carrey, it should work for you. You’ll need some spandex, and some fluffy bits (poofs, fur, feathers, whatnot, easily obtained at your local craft store). You’ll also need fabric paint and face paint, in matching colors (depending on your alien of choice). I suppose you could do a less clinging version using a tracksuit or sweat pants/shirt combo, but it’s totally up to you. Top it off with a matching helmet.
8) The Hunter, Duck, and Dog from Duck Hunt – Really, you need the hunter look. Which, like most of these costumes, only requires some thrifty shopping (or going to the Wal-Mart hunting section). Find a stuffed dog and a stuffed duck to accent everything. But what works best is if you carry a vintage gun from the Nintendo system, too, which I’ve also seen many times at second hand stores. It’s the little touches that make all the difference in the world.
7) Karen from Watcher in the Woods. I wrote last week about my paralyzing fear of this film, but the costume is brilliantly easy. A white blindfold, a white dress, a blonde wig. Technically, being a woman is probably best suited—but then again, it’s Halloween, so you can bend the rules however you like. Just wander around with your arms out, searching, and I guarantee you, people will start freaking out.
6) Henry Jones, Sr. Sure, Indiana gets all the credit. But Henry Sr. has everything figured out, in my humble opinion. And because most second hand stores have more grey and beige suits than you can throw a stick at, all this requires is a gray beard (or whitening your own with spray), an appropriate hat, a bowtie, and wire-rim glasses. Some people might guess you’re Sigmund Freud, but you can set ‘em straight. Just make sure no one brings by any rats.
5) Fatty Bolger. Did you know that there was originally a fifth hobbit in the Fellowship? Well, he at last made it to Crickhollow. In my mind, and in spite of Tolkien’s rather lacking description of physical traits, Fatty has the most hobbity look. I mean, his nickname says it all. A vest, a pillow, and a curly wig, coupled with a ham hock or a basket of seedcakes and a flagon, and you’re set. Add some rosy cheeks with rouge and stick out that belly. Be proud!
4) Mon Mothma (Picture on top of the post). You know, Slave Leia gets all the love. But Mon Mothma is one classy, smart lady. Plus, her outfit is essentially lots of draping white cloth and some silver chains, making it one of the easiest costumes to pull off last-minute. Find a Julie Andrews-esque wig, and you are totally set. Lovely, elegant, and powerful. I’d say it’s win-win.
3) Roland from Stephen King’s Dark Tower books. Sure, cowboys are one of the standbys of Halloween costuming. But Roland takes that up a notch, mixes it with your worst nightmares, and spits it out again. Darker, grittier, and more magical, Roland Deschain is just about my favorite gunslinger of all time. Make him super shady—keep the colors darker all around—and maybe add a rose for emphasis. Thankee Sai.
2) Uncle Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender. Why let the kids have all the fun with this one? Personally, I’d love to see a good Uncle costume, complete with big belly, flowing beard, and teapot. Kimonos are a dime a dozen at thrift stores, of you can make one if you are so inclined. Still, wandering around doing your best impression of the late, great Mako, spouting words of advice… yeah, sounds ideal to me.
1) A Mystic from The Dark Crystal. I’m taking a page out of my sunday school nativity play for this one. So, when I was in kindergarden, I got stuck with the part of… the cow. (My petite, blond sister got to be an angel) But my costume consisted of a long cardboard tube with a paper mache cow head on the top, and a lot of draping, black cloth. Use the same principle here, but make a paper mache head of a Mystic. Paper mache is ideal because it can stay lumpy (their skin was really bumby and irregular) . Paint it a pale tan color, cut up an old witch wig (grey or brown preferably) and glue it about. Then go with lots of brown fabric. Add a walking stick. Voila!
Tell us about your more obscure geeky costumes. Do you like to stick out in a crowd? Sound off in the comments!