A horror movie relies on many things in order for it to work. Apart from a killer plot and good acting, they also rely largely on visual effects that include costume, makeup design, and all the gory special effects that keep us captivated for hours on end. While we more often than not don’t pay active attention to the costumes of our favorite horror movie villains, bad costuming can ruin a movie completely. With that in mind, let’s have a closer look at some of the best horror movie costumes of all time.
Pennywise – IT (2017)
While most horror movie villains sport surprisingly simplistic costumes and makeup, there are a handful that epitomize detailed artistry. Pennywise, the clown from IT, is without a doubt one of Stephen King’s most menacing characters and also a prime example of a character that dons a very complex costume. In the 2017 remake/re-adaptation of King’s classic horror novel (and its 2019 sequel) Pennywise sports an off-white clown costume that is reminiscent of those worn by nineteenth-century Pierrots. The mastermind behind the chilling design is none other than Janie Bryant who was also the costume designer for the hit TV series Mad Men and Deadwood.
Ghostface – Scream (1996)
Ghostface is the identity adopted by a number of characters in the Scream movie series. While the mystery surrounding masked villains is delightfully forbidding, it is no easy task to find the perfect mask for a character. Wes Craven did a stellar job in choosing a mask that instills fear without being overly repulsive. Coupled with a black, hooded robe, the simple white mask makes for the perfect horror movie costume. The Ghostface mask is based on both a painting by the late Edvard Munch known as ‘The Scream’ as well as the ghosts from a well-known Betty Boop cartoon. Moreover, it was originally manufactured by Fun World in the early 1990s as part of a series of Halloween masks.
Candyman – Candyman (1992)
In Bernard Rose’s 1992 horror film, Candyman, Tony Todd portrays the role of Candyman – a character who probably boasts the most tragic backstory of all horror movie villains. After the Civil War, Daniel Robitaille is attacked by a lynch mob that not only cuts his hand off but smears him with honey and sets bees on him to sting him to death. Apart from the rather unsettling hook that is jammed into the bloody stump of his right arm, Candyman looks rather dapper as far as horror movie villains are concerned. Sporting a pair of formal pants, a necktie known as a cravat, and a fur-trimmed topcoat, the title character would not look out of place in any post-war soirée – until you take a peek inside his coat, that is.
Pinhead – Hellraiser (1987)
The makeup artists and costume designers who worked on the supernatural horror movie Hellraiser are sheer geniuses. While neither the makeup nor the costumes are overly complex, they definitely hit the mark as far as being visually appealing. Although all the Cenobites in the movies sport a uniquely gruesome look, there is one that is particularly repugnant: Pinhead. Donning a full-length dress-like garment and black boots, actor Doug Bradley looked every bit the part of an extra-dimensional creature. It is his makeup, however, that truly sets Pinhead apart from the other Cenobites. With nails embedded all over his pale-white head in perfect symmetry, it is no wonder that Pinhead is considered to be one of the most abhorrent of all horror movie characters.
Freddy Krueger – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Freddy Krueger is without any doubt one of Wes Craven’s most disturbing characters. After being hunted down by a mob of angry parents who lived on his street (Elm Street), Freddy Krueger was locked in a boiler room where he was burnt alive. This was not the end of his reign of terror, however, as he started killing his victims in their dreams. Freddy sports one of the most noticeably iconic costumes in the history of horror movies and makes for a very popular costume choice at Halloween. As if his severely burnt face isn’t menacing enough, an unsettling red and green striped jersey, burnt fedora and a glove of knives certainly add to his ominous look.
Through the years we have come face-to-face with some extraordinary horror movie costumes. While not all villains are costumed, those who are tend to be just that little bit more intimidating.