The Late David Turpin’s We Belong Undead (Remixes) features contributions from Hunter-Gatherer, Cathy Davey, Carriages, Strands and Jon Dots, and is available from iTunes or from thelatedavditurpin.bandcamp.com
Films can be a wellspring of inspiration for Hallowe’en costumes. Here, The Late David Turpin rifles through his mouldering VHS collection for some particularly fertile choices.
In my experience, Yetis are sorely under-represented in Hallowe’en costume choices. This could well be because they have a Christmas association, thanks in no small part to the popular 1964 TV special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, which features a spectacular white Yeti. The Yeti is really a monster for all seasons though, and represents a golden opportunity for those of us who prefer to make only fleeting appearances at Hallowe’en parties, disappearing into the mists before anybody can be sure exactly what they’ve seen. The Yeti is a total immersion costume, as well, so anybody can do it. My personal favourite screen Yetis are those appearing in the Dr. Who serial “The Web of Fear”, first broadcast in 1968. Striking the perfect balance of menacing and cuddly, Dr. Who’s Yetis are also easy to emulate with a little patience and a lot of fake fur. The BBC’s effects department wasn’t always working with significantly higher resources than the average home crafter, after all.
Like many aficionados of the macabre, I am increasingly dismayed by the proliferation of “sexy” Hallowe’en costumes. If it’s absolutely necessary to sex up Hallowe’en, why not just dress as an alluring character, rather than an “alluring” parody of a standard one? The pick of the litter, surely, is Dracula’s Daughter. As played by Gloria Holden in Lambert Hillyer’s 1936 film, Dracula’s Daughter (actual name: Countess Marya Zeleska) manages to haunt London and Transylvania, seduce men and women, and experience an existential crisis about her vampirism – all without compromising on glamour. A floor length backless gown and a hypnotically bulbous ring will complete the look, but to go the distance you’ll need to accessorise with a sinister manservant and a persistent expression of forlorn bloodlust.
THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN
Released in 1977, The Incredible Melting Man is one of those drive-in exploitation films that’s a delight to imagine, and torture to actually watch. However, the Rick Baker-designed eponymous character – an astronaut who’s transformed into an ill-tempered gelatinous mass after returning to Earth – is a Hallowe’en costume gold mine. As melting is a progressive state, our hero appears in a variety of states of escalating liquidity throughout the film, most of which can be achieved with a creative use of masks and coloured candles (and possibly were: the film’s Italian title, “L’Uomo Di Cera”, translates as “Wax Man”). Beware of destroying your host’s furniture, though (the film’s Spanish title, “Viscosidad”, translates as “Stickiness”)
Daria Argento’s ludicrous/brilliant Suspiria (1977) is unusual for many reasons, not least because it’s an adult horror film about capital-W Witches. There are plenty of contemporary witches-in- disguise in horror cinema (in Rosemary’s Baby for instance), and there are any number of full blooded witches in children’s cinema (from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Anjelica Huston’s immortal turn in Nicolas Roeg’s The Witches) – but unambiguously “witchy” witches in films for grown-ups are few and far between. In that respect, Suspiria delivers (although it’s debatable how “grown-up” Argento is). The film’s queen witch, Helena Markos, is a fantastically lurid creation when she finally materialises at the end, but my vote goes to Joan Bennett’s Madame Blanc, a ballet teacher who couldn’t be more obviously a witch if she wore a pointed hat. The criminally underrated Bennett’s final role, Madame Blanc is ripe for impersonation, although her witchiness is as much a matter of demeanour as costume, so pretenders to her throne will have to put the work in.
Best known today for his appearances in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) and Orgy of the Dead (1965), Criswell (full name: Jeron King Criswell) enjoyed no small measure of celebrity in the 50s and 60s for his psychic powers. Boasting that 87% of his visions came to pass, Criswell vaguely gestured in his mystic effusions toward the Kennedy assassination and the election of Ronald Regan.
He makes a good Hallowe’en subject because he has an occupation – one can perform as Criswell, rather than merely dressing up as him. I can say from experience that if one finds oneself among strangers at a party, cold-reading them is always a good way to break the ice. Criswell is also easy to do – all you need is a black suit, some hair lacquer and the slight suggestion of a hangover.
The Late David Turpin’s We Belong Undead (Remixes) features contributions from Hunter-Gatherer, Cathy Davey, Carriages, Strands and Jon Dots, and is available from iTunes or from thelatedavditurpin.bandcamp.com.