The Cos Blog has a lot of love in its cold black heart for slashers and costumed killers. If you don’t believe that, then just feast your eyes on some of our previous blog posts. It’s easy when dispensing so much love to the teenage hack-and-slash genre to forget all about the monsters that helped make horror what it is today.
While kids still dress up as Frankenstein, Dracula (sometimes Nosferatu), and the Wolf-Man every Halloween, we believe there are some other pretty great monsters, who deserve a little costume love of their own. And even though the appropriate coordinates may still not be in place for an authentic, officially licensed version, we’d love to see this year’s trick-or-treaters dress up as one or all of the following:
(Note: You actually can find a few licensed versions of some of the costume characters listed below, but they don’t run cheap, when available at all.)
1. Katydid from The Beast Within (1982)
The Strengths: Philippe Mora directed this rural shocker about a couple, who must endure their teenage son’s frightening metamorphosis into a bloodthirsty beast. Tom Holland (Psycho II, Fright Night) wrote the script from Edward Levy’s novel, and veterans Thomas R. Burman, Fred Cramer, and Gary Elmendorf brought to life what is essentially a giant man-sized katydid (a lot scarier than it sounds).
The Beast Within gets a lot of mileage out of that changing scene, which employs air-bladder effects, the same Rick Baker used in An American Werewolf in London.
The Drawbacks: The finished product isn’t quite as intense as the transitional product, which is pretty hard to make and also quite difficult to explain. You may just want to stick with a midnight viewing instead.
2. Quetzalcoatl from Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)
The Strengths: As the movie’s title indicates, Q is a kick-butt demon with the elongated wings of a bat and a head that comes very close to looking like a serpent’s. We notice a bit of dinosaur in there, too, but those two aren’t a heck of a lot different. Watching the neighborhood children try to deal with Junior’s get-up would totally be worth a purchase.
The Drawbacks: Writer-director Larry Cohen’s film is pretty doggone bloody, complete with a skinning, and that’s before Q even shows up. With a tagline like, “Its name is Quetzalcoatl…just call it Q, that’s all you’ll have time to say before it tears you apart,” the all-ages qualities are a bit lacking. Still, that’s not really a drawback if the ensemble is for you. However, maneuvering a headpiece that would boast a floppy giraffe neck may not be what you want from a Halloween costume.
3. Pumpkinhead from Pumpkinhead (1988)
The Strengths: That name is a pretty literal interpretation of what Pumpkinhead actually is. With a noggin that looks like something you’d kick around the pumpkin patch and a mouth full of imposing razor-sharp teeth, the costume gets creepier when you factor in the three-toed talons and the deadly claws this baddie will bring to the Halloween Party.
The Drawbacks: FX director Stan Winston handled the main director chores for this monster movie classic, and we think he did a pretty fine job. The original spawned a few horrible sequels, but remains untouched in its reputation as one of the best of its kind and a Halloween staple. With that said, choosing this as your October 31st get-up could draw sneers from people who’ve watched only the sequels and vicariously believe the original sucked.
4. Rawhead Rex from Rawhead Rex (1986)
The Strengths: Rawhead Rex boasts a mouth that takes up a little more than half his face when fully open. Inside that mouth are some large fangs second only to his claws in the amount of damage they can inflict. Much of his forehead protrudes underneath a dirty mop of long black hair—sort of reminds us of the werewolf-in-transition from John Landis’s horror classic An American Werewolf in London. Creature is human enough, so a costume would not require any special skills or considerations in the wearing.
The Drawbacks: Writer Clive Barker was not a fan of his character’s filmed version, so you may run in to Barker purists, who will deride you for celebrating a movie character so hated by its creator. Nevertheless, we think it’s scary enough they’ll keep their mouths shut.
5. The Unnamable from The Unnamable (1988)
The Strengths: One of the unsung heroes of monster movie lore, this hideous, slimy she-devil was created by famed horror and science-fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft in his 1923 short story, “The Unnamable.” The 1988 film of the same name is conventional dead teenager fare, but at the same time, a lot of fun. It also spawned a decent direct-to-video sequel in The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1993). The monster bears cloven hooves, an old hag’s face, and devil horns while exuding a willowy-like eeriness.
The Drawbacks: Until this thing gets re-released on DVD, no one will probably get the reference. Still, it should scare loose a change of underwear.
6. The Boogens from The Boogens (1981)
The Strengths: A cult classic loved by many a monster movie fan including one Stephen King, The Boogens is a wonderful and bloody little romp that captures small-town life and classic creature feature styling into one nice, gory package with modern sensibilities. The creatures look like really pissed-off turtles, which may not sound like much until you see them with teeth hanging out ready to strike. Ripe for a reinvention, it would be nice to see what improved FX could do for these creatures. At the time, the directors made the wise move of keeping them largely in the shadows, but they did a heck of a job on the headpiece. Track one down or make it yourself. Pair that bad boy up with a TMNT costume, and you’ve got a true original for Halloween.
The Drawbacks: If you were concerned about folks not getting the reference on The Unnamable, then you’re really going to have some trouble being recognized as a boogen. Like Lovecraft’s creation, however, you shouldn’t have a problem raising a few heart rates.
7. Baby from It’s Alive (1974)
The Strengths: Larry Cohen, the same guy that gave you Q (see #1), is back to ruin the beauty of childbirth. Unexpected pregnancies are scary in and of themselves. They are still the best argument for safe sex, and perhaps none at all, because of the enormous toll they take on your personal life and your personal finances. When that same baby looks like a fanged demon and wants to kill you, forget about it. This costume could combine the hilarious standard of a man dressing as a baby with the horror hallmark for which Halloween is known—bloodthirsty monster madness.
The Drawbacks: Wearing a diaper is never one of those things we adults look forward to, but with this costume, you must. If you’re already feeling down about the probability of having to wear one for real in the next couple of years, then you may want to pass on this one.
8. Boggy Creek Monster from The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)
The Strengths: Charles B. Pierce was perhaps the father of modern independent horror. Before Blair Witch Project came along, he was shooting documentary-style horror flicks like The Town That Dreaded Sundown and this film, for which he is most known. The Legend of Boggy Creek features a monster that takes its cues from the famous Yeti, but spreads its terror to the rural landscape of Fouke, Arkansas. By bringing a timeless monster to what has been defined as America’s heartland, Pierce sends a message to everyone in the nation: you aren’t safe anywhere. His film has generated $20 million in revenue to date. Not bad for a $100,000 budget.
The Drawbacks: Getting mistaken for the Himalayan Bigfoot when you’re shooting for hick monster can be frustrating to Southern-fried sensibilities. Make sure your costume has three toes on each foot, red eyes, and a monkey-like posture and movement pattern. It may also help to growl with a bit of a twang.
9. Gill-Man from Creature from The Black Lagoon (1954)
The Strengths: More than a half-century old, director Jack Arnold’s little B-movie about a fish-man hybrid has stood the test of time. The creature, now known as Gill-Man, was both menacing and sympathetic as he struggled to show his love for the stunning Julia Adams while killing his way through a team of explorers. The original spawned two sequels, Revenge of the Creature (1955-featuring Clint Eastwood) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956). Of the big time movie costumes that you can track down in time for the holiday, this one is the most likely. It was also a heavy influence on Mike Mignola’s Abe Sapien when he created Hellboy and the BPRD. As with everything in Hollywood, a remake is on the way.
The Drawbacks: Full body from head to toe, the costume will get hotter the closer you get to a duplicate of the original. Like walking around in your own personal mini-sauna, Gill-Man as worn by you is not something we’d suggest taking a whiff of when the night is over, especially for those of you with small bladders.
10. Alien from Alien (1979)
The Strengths: Slick, slimy and dark, the Alien from Ridley Scott’s original has terrorized audiences for more than 30 years unless you hold every film after the second one against it. We prefer to block those from memory. Whatever you decide, Alien the film is still creepy and effective. It’s impossible to come face-to-face with someone in an Alien mask without feeling at least a little uneasy (unlike most of the monsters on this list, you actually can buy an Alien mask).
The Drawbacks: Try all you want, but you’re not going to get a version of this costume that spits acid. A head-to-body replica may also break the bank for Halloween. As long as you don’t mind telling trick-or-treaters to do their begging elsewhere, this may be the costume for you.
11. Predator from Predator (1987)
The Strengths: Director John McTiernan (Die Hard) brought the Predator to life with a solid film that blended elements of action, horror and science-fiction to create a suspense-thriller that has endured in spite of Predator 2 and the ill-fated AVP films. Predators (2010) may have gotten the series back on the right track, but if history is any guide then we may be in trouble should there be any follow-ups. The creature’s look is by now iconic. Part-giant, part arachnid, part Rasta, he will ruin a day or two if you ever cross him (like the Alien mask, there is a Predator mask available, and even a hybrid PredAlien mask, none of them cheap).
The Drawbacks: You may just want to stick with the helmet and the armor. Adding the fangs and the facial grotesqueries would be expensive and so time consuming that all the fun would probably get sucked out of that special day along with your money. As for invisibility, you’ll have to leave that one to the folks at Apple. They’ll think of something.
12. Jaws from Jaws (1975)
The Strengths: Steven Spielberg’s classic summer blockbuster was one of the greatest monster movies ever made at the time of its release. Many believe it still is. No arguments here. Its title character had a name unlike the other sharks swimming in the deep blue sea, and like Dracula or Frankenstein, that gave him some identity beyond his species. Maybe the name was never mentioned in the film itself, but to the audience, there are sharks, and there is Jaws. One is a natural predator. The other is an otherworldly cold-blooded killer. They look alike, but know this: there is only one Jaws. For the costume get-up, you’ll have to make the head piece mean and nasty. Perhaps sprinkle some fake blood on the teeth. For the body, try to keep the color consistent with the top. Good luck down below.
The Drawbacks: You can’t walk upright on fins and without the concealment of water, and that John Williams score, to scare everyone you’re probably going to look like a mascot for a beer company.
13. Pennywise from Stephen King’s It (1990)
The Strengths: Show us the guy, who wasn’t scared by Tim Curry in this 1990 mini-series, and we’ll show you someone who’s just trying to impress a lady. Curry prides himself on looking weird. Stick that mug behind clown paint, give him a funny nose and some needle-like teeth, and you’ve got a whole generation of children, who never want to go to the circus again. The giant 50’s sci-fi spider that Pennywise morphs into at the end is laughable. King’s story should have kept him in clown form. But then again, we’re not sure how much more of this Bozo we could have taken.
The Drawbacks: Are you kidding? Everyone’s afraid of clowns—especially this one. Suit up and knock ‘em dead.