A guide for anyone who wants to be unique but not hip.
Before you conclude you’ll be going as Eleven from Stranger Things for Halloween this year, think about how many other people will be dressed as her. Then remember that while you continue to obsess about the Netflix series, movies are dead. And dead things are the very heart of this holiday.
Maybe you should just go as “Death of Cinema.” Or you can take one of the below suggestions from my 9th annual list of surely rare costume ideas. Some are too clever, some are too dumb, some are too obscure, and some are just bad ideas. But you probably won’t see anyone else in these getups.
Nick Wilde as Robin Hood from Zootopia
One of my favorite kinds of costumes is the mashup, and one of the best ways to do a mashup is to combine something new with the old thing that inspired it. It’s no secret that the makers of Disney’s Zootopia were influenced by the studio’s own version of Robin Hood, right down to making one of the protagonists a fox similar to the title character of the 1973 animated classic. So find a Nick Wilde costume, add a green hat and a quiver full of arrows and you’ve got yourself a conversation starter.
Keanu from Keanu
The first big movie from the duo of Key & Peele was neither as acclaimed nor as popular as it promised to be, but it probably has some hardcore fans who will be dressing their cats up in a do-rag and gold chains. But what if you don’t have a cat or you don’t want to take your cat out and show him off or, most likely, maybe your cat wants none of it. Get yourself a cat costume and then dress your own cat self in a do-rag and gold chains. You will run into at least person who recognizes you and admits they liked the movie okay.
Mel the Pug Dressed as a Minion from The Secret Life of Pets
Similarly, if you like the pug Mel (voiced by Bobby Moynihan) from the hit animated feature The Secret Life of Pets, you might just be inspired to dress your own pug (or other breed of dog) as a Minion. Or you can find a pug costume (apparently Mel is not popular enough to have his own costume among those Secret Life of Pets characters that do) and then put a Minions costume over it. Bonus if you can get a friend to dress as a dachshund dressed as a teddy bear, like the Hannibal Buress-voiced Buddy does.
Blue Face from The Nice Guys
The whole ensemble of characters from The Nice Guy would make for a superb group costume, if you can find enough friends who saw the movie (let’s face it, if they ignored such a great movie, are they really your friends?). Of course most people will think you guys are just “The ‘70s” or maybe Boogie Nights. If you want to go as one distinct character from the movie, though, Blue Face (Beau Knapp) is the way to go. He’s just a creepy guy from the ’70s with permanent blue paint on his face. Unique and easy.
Abs Buddies from Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
The group from the Neighbors sequel is another fine group idea, especially if you get to be the Ike Barinholtz’s character in his clown outfit. Speaking of the outfits worn in the tailgating scene, there’s shirtless Teddy (Zac Efron) and shirtless Mac (Seth Rogen), the latter with abs painted on. The difficulty of this pair costume idea is finding a partner with abs as great as Efron’s. If you can’t find such a person, you can still go as Mac and (boringly) find someone to dress in a cheerleader outfit to be your Kelly (Rose Byrne).
Farting Queen from The BFG
Halloween is a time for people to truly show how immature they are. There are gag costumes in stores so awful in their dirty puns that it’s hard to believe anyone actually buys them. This costume idea, which is from a kids movie, isn’t sexually crude but it is similarly obnoxious. Basically you just need a Queen Elizabeth II costume (or mask) and something that plays fart noises. Extra points if you bring farting corgis into the fold and extra extra points if you find a way to make green smoke emit from your backside.
Sexy Sphere from Independence Day: Resurgence
It’s obligatory of us to include one “sexy” costume on this list, and seeing as anything you think wouldn’t exist actually already does (including “naughty” Nemo, “sexy” Minion, “sassy” Optimus Prime), here’s one you won’t find in any store or anywhere at all. Nobody likes the Independence Day sequel enough to dress up as one of its characters, but I at least have a soft spot for the alien sphere with a female voice (by Jenna Purdy). She’s already curvy! Just don’t let anyone mistake you for Sexy Death Star.
Steven Seagull from The Shallows
The seagull from The Shallows is pop culture media’s favorite non-CG movie animal since Black Phillip in The Witch, and so he should be one of the hottest Halloween costumes of the year. Maybe alongside some friends dressed as a shark and a woman in a bikini. There are seagull costumes easily found, but is anyone going to realize which specific bird you are? No, you must mash it with the real Steven Seagal by adding on a black-haired wig with ponytail and some black, preferably Chinese-influenced clothing.
Jared the Goblin Joker from Suicide Squad
There will be a lot of Suicide Squad costumes this year, mostly Harley Quinn and maybe some Jared Leto-version Jokers to go along with her. For this mashup idea, though, I propose looking to one of Leto’s inspirations for his portrayal of the villain: David Bowie. You could do something as simple as an Aladdin Sane lightning bolt over your Joker makeup. Or combine villains by mixing the Joker with Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth. Don’t forget the codpiece or the prop baby in stripy pajamas.
Bat Trump from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad
In my first ever list of unlikely Halloween costumes – which back then (2008) was at Spout.com (later reprinted by Indiewire) – there’s an idea to go as “The Dark McCain,” which is just John McCain dressed up as Batman. That was inspired by a sort of political cartoon, and then when 2012 came along I carried over the idea of the GOP candidate being Batman, so there was a “Dark Romney.” Another presidential election is upon us, and another rich guy is running on the Republican ticket and he doesn’t like playing by the rules, so now he’s Batman. And it’s not a stretch, thanks to this video: