Movie fans love a good movie-inspired Halloween costume, but for a lot of us, originality is key. That said, you don’t want to be too obscure. You want fellow cinephiles to recognize who you are even if most folks don’t get your get-up. Conversation starters are always fine at a Halloween party, an inquiry about your costume leading to a discussion of the movie you’re referencing. Of course, some conversation starters can be immediate conversation enders, such as your decision to not just wear a Ku Klux Klan robe but be in blackface under the hood — don’t do it, no matter how much you love BlacKkKlansman.
Below is a list of other unlikely costume ideas, none of them so offensive. For the 11th year (begun at the defunct Spout Blog back in the day), I have suggestions for clever, ridiculous, and/or cheap costumes that I doubt anyone will actually take seriously and wear this Halloween. You could just dress up as Thanos or Edna Mode from Incredibles 2 (maybe with Baby Jack-Jack in tow?), but you’ll be seeing a lot of that same thing around the neighborhood this year. Or you can show off your contemporary movie love while being a total outsider with the ideas I’ve come up with below.
Rey’s Parents from ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’
Last Halloween, Star Wars fans might have gotten the jump on the release of The Last Jedi with costumes inspired by the movie solely based on trailers and other materials available ahead of time — the premature Porg love, in particular, was strong. Now, with the sequel almost a year old and properly controversial for certain reveals, it’s time for the fans of this movie to proudly parade Rian Johnson’s decisions. Let’s see a bunch of Rose Ticos. And cranky old man Luke Skywalkers. And, if you’re so bold, get a partner for a very easy couple’s costume: dress as ordinary as possible and tell everyone you’re Rey’s parents.
Shimmer Doppelganger from ‘Annihilation’
One of the most popular movies this year, at least with the diehard cinephiles, is Alex Garland’s Annihilation. The surreal sci-fi horror flick wasn’t a big box office hit, however, and Wal-Mart isn’t carrying costumes based on the main characters’ brown uniforms. Even if you got four friends and went as a group, it’s not easily identifiable. If you want to be a little more pointed, cover yourself in shrubbery and flowers and go as one of the human-shaped foliage structures. Or go as the terrifying exposed-skull bear. Or, better yet, get some iridescent fabric and make a head-to-toe bodysuit to be Natalie Portman’s mimic before it goes full doppelganger. Sadly, most people will just assume you’re one of those weird single-color full bodysuit costumes.
Reverend Toller from ‘First Reformed’
Priest and nun costumes are a regular staple of Halloween. Pastor get-ups a little less common. This year, we’re likely to see a bunch of evil nuns, thanks to the success of The Nun, more than the usual tributes to and mockeries of religious figures. For the indie film crowd, there’s also Ethan Hawke’s character in Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. Even if you get his outfit and his Howdy Doody haircut just right, however, you might not be distinct enough even for other movie fans to realize who you are. To seal the deal, you’re going to need to drink nothing but cocktails of scotch and Pepto Bismol for a full commitment to the idea.
Kid With Noisy Toy from ‘A Quiet Place’
There have been a lot of scary things in movies lately, from that evil nun to that exposed-skull bear, plus Thanos with his genocidal finger snap and anything from Hereditary. But the most terrifying of all is not a monster or villainous Titan or supernatural demon but that which lures the threat near, sound. And the scariest thing for any parent watching A Quiet Place was the idea of our children being too noisy when they need to be silent — something that’s almost impossible to avoid — taken to the extreme as a life or death situation. This can be represented in a very easy costume: camouflage pants, hooded grey puffy vest, a red and white and blue striped winter hat. Finish it off with a prop: a noise-making space shuttle toy.
James Halliday as Willy Wonka from ‘Ready Player One’
I love a good mashup costume, and this one I thought of even before the release of Ready Player One. Having read the book, I was already aware that James Halliday is basically the Willy Wonka of the pop-culture-filled VR world of the Oasis. Steven Spielberg’s new movie hasn’t been enough of a hit to inspire Halloween costumes, outside of maybe influencing fans to go as favorite characters from the past that show up in the movie, such as Buckaroo Banzai and the Iron Giant. Dressing up as just Halliday would be a good obscure get-up, though, and his Space Invaders t-shirt from one scene is easily bought online to get you started. But top that off with a top hat and purple long coat for the win.
The Documentary Box Office Boom
Sometimes a good movie-related Halloween costume isn’t just tied to one single movie. Trend-inspired get-ups and mashups can be especially unique. For this idea, you can take your pick of a few movie-based costumes or combine them for a couple or group idea. While we might see a few Mister Rogers costumes (thanks to the massive hit Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) and maybe a Ruth Bader Ginsburg (via RBG) here and there, documentary fans may want to recognize not just the real-life characters and their new films but also their phenomenal box office success. Dress as these real people, or the brothers from Three Identical Strangers, and then fill your pockets with overflowing cash (fake, of course) and accessorize with lots of blatant bling — gold necklaces with dollar signs and other symbols of wealth. Docs are making money!
Raptor Girl from ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’
For this costume, we’re using a bit of the ol’ imagination. There is no visual of a raptor-human hybrid in this year’s Jurassic World sequel. And the little girl, Maisie, is very unlikely to actually have any dino DNA in her genetic makeup. But there is a strong enough tease, if not a genuine hint or implication of truth to the idea, that the human clone could have been topped off with velociraptor genes. Unfortunately, there was no reveal of a second eyelid or any other trait to acknowledge this possibility. But don’t let that stop you from bringing the idea to life as a costume inspired by if not modeled after Fallen Kingdom‘s obligatory kid character. Put on a striped shirt, a red hoodie, and a raptor mask, and maybe add a ponytail wig atop that mask.
Solo-Free Group from ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’
If there’s one thing most critics seemed to agree on with the Han Solo prequel, it’s that Han Solo is the least interesting character in his own movie. That’s a big deal considering everyone wanted to be Han Solo after the first Star Wars came out (and it was a pretty simple costume, too). If you were to get a group of Star Wars fans together to go as characters from Solo, chances are you’d all avoid choosing Han, preferring to dress up as Lando, Val, Qi’ra, Beckett, L3-37, Dryden Vos, Enfys Nest, Rio Durant, Maul, and franchise staple Chewbacca. That’s already 10 characters. How many friends do you have? If you’re so popular, go ahead and have a Han Solo, but I mean, there’s also that Imperial border guard who named him “Solo,” and that Kessel Run monster, and Lady Proxima, and more Wookies, and more Cloud Riders, and other deserving characters, too.
Kid-Size Ant-Man from ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’
One of the funniest sequences in this year’s Ant-Man sequel is when Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, is stuck between his normal size and his miniature version. Fortunately, it’s a time when he needs to navigate an elementary school so he fits right in — save for the fact that he would appear to be wandering around without a hall pass. To pay homage to the bit, get yourself an actual Ant-Man costume and then wear an oversized blue hoodie over it. Basically, you’ll just look like you went as Ant-Man and then got chilly and needed a sweatshirt. But the fans will get it! Sometimes dressing up as superheroes’ alter egos or in their daily wear is more fun than the expected costume. Go as Tony Stark in his cool Infinity War leather jacket. Or as T’Challa in his Wakandan wardrobe complete with the ugly sandals.
Vanisher from ‘Deadpool 2’
The cool kids are dressing up as Deadpool. The especially funny cool kids are going as Peter, Rob Delaney’s regular guy X-Force recruit. The lazy parents are going as Vanisher. Or, that’s the idea I’m suggesting (but not really encouraging, unless you want social services calling). Put your kid in a Deadpool costume and attach a free-floating parachute pack, maybe with a wire attached to their own pack (like those invisible dog walking gag items), and send them out trick or treating by themselves. When anyone asks where their parent is, they say: “My dad is right here beside me, as Vanisher.” Just advise your child not to forget about the extensions and accidentally get tangled in power lines, even if it’d complete the joke. More seriously, though, if you do dress up as Deadpool, don’t try to be bold and go as plainclothes Wade after being sliced in half. No baby private parts costumes!
Yeti Wearing an Airplane from ‘Smallfoot’
As if Smallfoot couldn’t be enough like Moana most of the time, plot-wise, there’s a funny moment where the main Yeti, Migo, gets stuck inside an airplane that covers most of his body that reminded me of the shark-head Maui gag (which I highlighted as a costume idea last year). Smallfoot costumes already exist, so get one of those and then build an airplane costume to wear over it. Don’t worry, the kids will get it. Maybe. Smallfoot hasn’t made the kind of money that Moana brought in, so who knows? If you want your children to fit in, you’ll put them in an Incredibles super suit or Hotel Transylvania monster make-up. If you want them to be individuals, go with the most obscure (i.e. lowest-grossing) animated feature you can.
The Dark Cheney from ‘Vice’
This one is a callback to the very first of these Halloween costume lists (now only found on the Internet Archive), and technically it’s not for a recent movie but an upcoming release. In 2008, when The Dark Knight came out, many were comparing Batman’s methods to those of the Republicans. Entertainment Weekly featured this cartoon of presidential hopeful John McCain as the Caped Crusader (I think it was because he cited Batman as his favorite superhero), while critics were saying the Dark Knight in Christopher Nolan’s sequel represented the exiting President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney politically. Now that Dark Knight trilogy star Christian Bale is actually playing Cheney in the biopic Vice (out in December), it’s time to try this idea again, with a Batman costume and a Cheney mask.
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