Let’s Rank: Iconic Costumes in Horror
They say the devil is in the details… in this case, literally. For spooky szn, we walked through the (virtual) closets of costume designers throughout the ages and ranked our favourite devilish designs from the best in cinematic Horror.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Arriving at the dawn of Horror movies, Leatherface brought the gory and sadistic nature we’ve all come to recognize in its many iterations over the years. He is easily the most iconic figure on this list as many believed the story of him and his family to be true. Upon release of the film, fans were horrified seeing him in his all human skin mask, wielding the most bargain bin Home Depot Chainsaw you’ve ever seen (he would get a flashier one in later films). But don’t mistake this killer for any run-of-the-mill mass murderer – his favourite midnight snack is YOU. But remember kids, this character is FICTIONAL. Leatherface does in fact NOT sell eggs at your local farm.
The Exorcist (1973)
Pazuzu dominated movie theatres (and your dreams) across North America in the early ’70s. Many of you or your parents remember the awful and gruesome gradual possession of poor Regan played by Hollywood actress Linda Blair. Production noted that the process of transforming Blair into Pazuzu was strenuous - both disturbing and laborious - accounting for many fine details with prosthetics and makeup. Pazuzu become one of the most menacing, powerful, crass, and downright disgusting figures of the early 70's.
The Evil Dead (1981)
What’s a costume horror list without the iconic Ash Williams from the Evil Dead franchise. Though a little comical by nature, Ash became one of horror’s most notable “heroes” by virtue of his detachable chainsaw for an arm. This weaponized appendage proved to be quite useful when fighting off all the evil, damned creatures from the Book of the Dead. Ash is so iconic his character was immortalized in the ever-popular Dead by Daylight series and might be included in Mortal Kombat 11’s next expansion pack.
The Thing (1982)
John. Carpenter. Enough said. From the man that created the Halloween franchise, brings you “the ultimate in alien terror” with The Thing. This parasitic extraterrestrial life-form leeches off other hosts bodies and then imitates their likeness to kill and consume anything in its path. You would think that a monster that merely looks like you isn't scary or groundbreaking, but you would be wrong. In 82’ the prosthetic work for “The Thing” during the transformation scenes were bloody revolting. What you thought resembled your favourite character is now just a pile of heaping mass with teeth, claws, and a hunger for YOU.
The Babadook (2014)
A more recent entry to the list is 2014’s The Babadook, which is loosely based on Eastern European children’s folklore and a short movie called “Monster.” You want to know how good it was? The Director of The Exorcist, William Friedkin said in a tweet “I have never seen a more horrifying film than The Babadook.” But what made this film so unique was the craft and creation of “The Babadook” itself. Production stated that in order to keep costs down, they used basic makeup products, hid the character in darkness as much as possible, and used video game sound effects for the inaudible noises it makes. Obviously, the character didn’t need much else as it nearly scared fans as much as Pazuzu.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1982)
The zaddy of the horror genre (jk). We can't deny Freddy Krueger's iconic (and somewhat infamous) legacy in horror. Truly, this choice was between Freddy vs. Jason but we had to choose the supernatural specter for his grotesque demeanor. Freddy brings to life our worst childhood horrors in a dreamscape that is virtually inescapable. He also has the ability to transform into familiar faces, objects, animals. But truly his most menacing form is his own. The razor claws, the tattered, striped sweater (which looks oddly cozy), and the burnt face were enough to cement his name into horror for better or worse...
Hellboy (2004, NOT 2019) was the hero nobody asked for but soon everyone wanted. The fire slinging King of the Underworld became a horror/sci-fi classic figure with his brash and endearing demeanor. Adapted from the comic book series of the same name, Hellboy is most notable for his severed horns, noticeably larger arm and red skin while enjoying his favourite cigar in an oversized trench coat. What truly hit different was his final form, where the horns would expand and the fire would resemble that of a crown. Shout outs to Abe Sapien for his incredible design as well.
The Ring (2002)
7 DAYS. The two words etched in our brains forever. Remember after this movie came out, every phone call felt like a death sentence? Beyond the creepy calls and night terrors what really stuck with audiences was Samara’s look. A drenched, demented, and disfigured young girl cracking and crawling through your TV screen was enough to put her on the list. Though her garb is rather conventional, the way it’s used in conjunction with the scenes are perfect. SELL THE GARMENT HONEY.
The Pale Man
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Considered the meme queen of 2006 onward, The Pale Man became the budding joke of social media thanks to his ability to see with his hands. But truly, this abomination is no laughing matter. In 2006's Pan's Labyrinth, The Pale Man could be seen sitting at the end of a dining table, idle - almost asleep - only provoked when someone takes a bite of his luxurious spread of fine delicacies. The prosthetics and makeup for this costume took hours according to the production team, with the highlight being the 'hands for eyes' feature that haunt us to this very day (or just me).