I recently attended a flat party with a dress theme: Dead and Famous. I didn’t want to spend much time, money or effort on a costume. So I found some pants suspenders, clipped them on to a torso-sized piece of cardboard, blu-tacked an A3 printout of posters (Home Alone, My Girl, The Pagemaster, etc.) and came as Macaulay Culkin’s career.
To my surprise, people really dug my half-assed attire. It was then I discovered a hidden talent: the ability to make decent costumes with minimal amount of skill, effort or funds.
I’m guessing a bunch of you will get boozed this Halloween with a lot of disguised strangers (aka. Facebook friends), and so you should. But you don’t want to be that douche who’s too cool to make a costume. But if you’re like me, you also don’t want to try too hard or spend too much. So, just for you, I’m gonna reveal some extremely minimalistic costume ideas for the tight-assed and lethargic.
Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men
What you’ll need: A cheap, plastic shotgun, a tin can, a bowl, a 50c coin (optional)
There are three iconic things to Javier Bardem’s maniac, and since an air-pressured cattle-killer is most likely too expensive, you’ll have to settle for a bowl cut and a cheap $2 plastic shotgun with a tin can on the end of it. If you also want to go all Harvey Dent on people, invest in a 50 cent coin too.
Total estimated cost: Assuming you own an appropriately sized bowl, $4.50
The Obelisk from 2001: A Space Odyssey
What you’ll need: A long obelisk-shaped cardboard box, black rubbish bags, staples
The trickiest part is finding a box that can comfortably surround your entire torso (a quick trip to the cardboard storage behind Bond n Bond or JB Hi-Fi should do the trick). Cut holes on the side for your arms, legs and head.
Next, stretch black rubbish bags over every surface of the box and staple them into place. This’ll give your obelisk a creepy, otherworldly shine. Put your creation on and voila, you are now a walking Stanley Kubrick reference (or a hobo in a half-shell).
Total estimated cost: $5
Eli from Let the Right One In
What you’ll need: Fake blood, pale skin, long black hair, shortness (optional), pelvic stitches (optional)
You’ll have to be fortunate enough to have the physical qualities listed above to pull this one off. If you are, I hope you’ll consider this costume, ‘cause it’s gonna be fun. Just make sure you’re barefoot and wearing a white/beige shirt.
When you arrive at your shindig, try to enter the residence before the host has a chance to formally invite you in. Every now and then, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, take out the fake blood and pour some across your eyes, mouth and forehead. People will be confused, but don’t let on. With each consecutive visit to the bathroom, pour on more and more blood. When someone finally asks what the deal is, simply tell them “No one invited me in yet.”
Total estimated cost: $2
Scarecrow from Batman Begins
What you’ll need: A recyclable shopping bag, thread, a needle, bleach, dirt, a suit (optional)
If you have a grotty-looking potato sack lying around, you’re pretty much sorted. If you don’t, get one of those Countdown/Warehouse/Pac-n-Save recyclable bags and remove the colour by bleaching the shit out of it. Rip the bag to shreds and sew it back together, forming a mask that will cover your entire head. You don’t need to be precise; the roughness will give it authenticity. Cut some eyeholes and stitch in a scary sad mouth. Now kick it around in some dirt to give it that grungy brown colour.
There you have it. You are now one of Batman’s nemeses. However, people are probably going to avoid you because, well, you smell like dirt. If you’ve got a business suit in your wardrobe, put that on. It’ll look more like Dr. Jonathan Crane and might counteract the funkiness of your mask. Probably not though…
Total estimated cost: If you can borrow the bleach from your mum, $7
The Man with No Name from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
What you’ll need: A name tag, the ability to squint all night long (optional)
Here’s the simplest, cheapest and obscurest movie-referencing costume on the list. Get a “Hi, my name is ______” tag and put it on your lapel. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. The only way you can mess this up is if you actually put your name on it. So don’t put your name on it. That would be stupid.
If someone manages to guess your costume correctly, you owe them a drink.
Total estimated cost: $1
Maggie from Million Dollar Baby
What you’ll need: Black boxing gloves, a small wooden footstool, a mouth guard (optional)
It’s not that big of a task imitating Hilary Swank’s look in Million Dollar Baby. If you don’t have your own pair, you should be able to find some cheap black boxing online. Put on a white tank top, wear some baggy sport shorts, tie your hair back and you’re pretty much ready to go.
But if you really want to sell the costume, carry around a small wooden footstool. Whenever you stop to chat to someone put the stool down on its side. Every now and then, glance at the stool as if you’re deeply disturbed by it, but don’t directly draw attention to it. If they still haven’t caught on, trip over and pretend to break your neck on it (just don’t actually break your neck on it).
Total estimated cost: $30
Leonard Shelby from Memento
What you’ll need: A sharpie
This is possibly the one that requires the most amount of effort, but the reward is stupendous. It’s simple: study Christopher Nolan’s Memento, memorise all the tattoos on Leonard’s body and sharpie that shit into yours. You may need to get a pal to help you out and it’ll probably help if you walk around shirtless for the entire night (so no self-esteem issues allowed).
That’s all you need to do. If there’re film geeks around, at least one person will pick up on it. However, they might incorrectly say “You’re Memento!” Let it slide.
Total estimated cost: Whatever the hell a sharpie costs
Costumes for the Courageous
Ripley from Alien 3 / Evey from V for Vendetta
What you’ll need: A razor, dedication
The iconic clothes Ripley and Evey wear are pretty easy to maintain, but the greatest hurdle for the women who brave this ‘costume’ is your love for their hair. This is not going to work for ladies who have been rocking the bald look for a while. No, the big factor in this costume is the shock and awe of seeing you bald, imitating the shock and awe of seeing Sigourney Weaver and Natalie Portman bald. Don’t worry though; it’ll grow back. Probably.
Total estimated cost: Three months of your pride
Pinhead from Hellraiser
What you’ll need: A pack of acupuncture needles
Shove as many acupuncture needles as you can directly into your noggin. You don’t have to be precise with your measurements, just as long as you evenly distribute them around your head. Just don’t shove them in too hard or you’ll puncture your skull, causing you to either have a seizure or an increased fascination with colouring books. I know this shit; I have a psych degree.
Total estimated cost: $10 for the needles, $16,000 for the neurosurgery bill when you inevitably impale your frontal lobe with 10cm of Chinese therapy
Got any more costume ideas for cheap lethargic tight-asses like me? List ‘em below. Let’s put a frightening amount of effort into effortlessness.