The Fashion of Horror Villains

[from corey: join me in welcoming, cara, our newest writer to the regular staff! you may already be familiar with cara’s pithy commentary from our fashion articles and our comparison of twilight to let the right one in where she wrote using the pseudonym “A GIRL.”]

Are you are an aspiring horror villain, preparing diligently for a career in scaring and slashing and stabbing? Have you thought about your motivations? Should you be mysterious or bold? Openly terrifying or cunningly disguised? If you have settled on a persona, do you know how to convey it to the world? In short — what are you going to wear to achieve the right first impression with your victims? After all, you’re not going to get a second chance.

To help you get started on your malevolent makeover, let’s examine some popular villains skilled in presenting their message through their appearance.

Harry Warden (My Bloody Valentine)

Creating the right ensemble must have been a challenge for Harry. He must always be menacing, occasionally terrifying, all while keeping his identity secret. Harry probably thinks he has the perfect disguise, because he’s a miner and thus has good reason to wear an outfit exactly like the outfit worn by every single person around him. If he had thought this plan through though, he would realize that the coveralls and mask are perfect for escapades in or relatively near the mine, but in town it’s going to be a little suspicious if he doesn’t uncover his face. The ax is also a giveaway, as they are no longer a common urban accessory. At least in Pennsylvania.

Tip: Make sure your wardrobe is suitable for each location you plan on scourging.

The Creeper (Jeepers Creepers)

The Creeper is more monster than man, and therefore does not need a tailored look to get his point across. His face alone conveys the message “I am a scary mean monster and I am going to kill you.” Since his intentions are not complex, he needs little further visual embellishments. He has the freedom to choose clothing according only to utility, like his long pants which offer excellent leg protection when running through the corn and underbrush. On the other hand, I think he will find that his selection of a long coat is a mistake – it’s only a matter of time before that thing gets caught in a hay baler.

Tip: Remember that each item, no matter how irrelevant to your overall image, must be practical for your environment.

Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street)

There is a lot of room for Freddy to go wrong. He originates in the dream world and therefore can take on any appearance imaginable. If he were not disciplined, he could easily dilute his image by taking on too many forms. A fiend you don’t recognize doesn’t inspire much fear. But it’s possible Freddy goes a little too far in the other direction. Accessorizing with the claw is a good choice, since it is not only a practical and effective weapon, but also unique in appearance. This alone would have been enough to create an iconic look for Freddy. An incessant stripe-iness and a rather worse-for-wear fedora create a campy air, but then again maybe that’s just what he was going for.

Tip: It’s easy for your look to slip from spooky to silly. When in doubt, leave something out.

Pinhead (Hellraiser)

Dear, earnest Pinhead is my favorite of all evil beings because he perfectly conveys his wonderfully quirky evil personality in the unique image he presents. He’s come to torture, yes, but only because someone invited him over, and he takes a keen interest in the reactions to his efforts. His intellectual approach is represented by his long leather ensemble, a black version of the traditionally white mad scientist’s garb. The metal studs sprouting from his cute little bald head serve to distinguish him from lesser Cenobites, and their precise grid-like arrangement further emphasizes the structured and cerebral nature of his bloody pursuits.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to tweak an existing iconic look for your own purposes.

Samara (The Ring)

It’s increasingly difficult to come up with new and exciting ways to express the concept “evil drowned child”, especially when you have only the limited resources of an evil drowned child. Samara’s waterlogged dress and soggy hair just don’t give her a lot to work with. A less creative drenched girl might be content merely to vary the placement of her dirt stains. Instead, Samara creates a profoundly terrifying appearance just by the way she works the room. Her jerky movements and odd body contortions lend menacing movement to her heavy skirts, and she can vary the yurk factor by how much hair she flips into her face. You go, soggy girl!

Tip: Focus on what you can do with what you’ve got.

Santanico Pandemonium (From Dusk Till Dawn)

I dislike Ms. Pandemonium nearly as much as I adore Pinhead. She is appallingly uncomplex, and initially appears to make only a halfhearted attempt to present herself as evil by wearing red. However, I must admit that her costume is amusingly suitable for her character. Her representation of the stripper who disappointingly does not strip is a clever allusion to the misfortune of meeting a beautiful woman who is actually a ravenous bloodsucker who will bite your head off. Using an actual boa constrictor as a boa is much too punny for me, but I can see how it would go over well with some bar crowds.

Tip: You don’t have to create the most impressive image, just one that works for you.

Hopefully these examples will inspire you as you begin constructing your own horror villain look. Join us again next time as we take a look at famous slashers Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Leatherface and more…

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