CHARLOTTE, NC – Ever try to determine the scariest Halloween monster versus the best costume? It can be a frightening experience. Even daunting. Particularly when you try to settle on appropriate monster costumes for this year’s Halloween festivities. And so, as a service to trivia-philes, Myth Trivia tries to simplify things today by choosing familiar ghouls, goblins and monstrosities that still make for good costumes. This remains true even though they may not always lurk in imaginations as the most terrifying creatures.
To make our costume choices easier, this column sticks with classic horror characters when recommending monster costumes. We avoid delving into the ephemeral potpourri of popular celebrities, historic figures or fictional animals and personalities.
In other words, our focus lasers in on appropriately scary attire for your upcoming Spookfest 2019 activities.
These ghoulish walking corpses that thrive on human flesh and savor human brains remain the top contenders for 2019’s “Comeback Monsters of the Year.” After years of hibernation, or living-deadness — where they were given up for dead (mainly because they were) — zombies returned once again to make major impact on pop culture.
One expert went so far as to rank zombies number one this year. He claimed, “there is nothing scarier than a corpse walking toward you to eat your brains! Zombies are simply the ‘living dead’ (with) those crooked eyes, rotten lips covered with blood and remains of human flesh.”
On the other hand, zombies prove incredibly easy to spot. Even better, they don’t move very fast. This makes them easy to eradicate in small numbers, at least. Better still, their renewed relevance makes for a great monster costume idea this year, especially for those who like to “kiss and make up.”
Since the Egyptians believed in life after death, they preserved their dead by “mummifying” the corpses of the deceased, presumably to guarantee a fuller and more attractive afterlife. But while we know that mummies are real, thanks to Boris Karloff and the movies, they have consistently been portrayed as monsters.
As with zombies, mummies are slow-moving, despite the relentlessness of their movements. That’s particularly true if you’ve stirred them up by triggering whatever curse hits their start buttons. Though not terribly scary, a mummified monster costume can be fun. It can be a good investment, too, if you want to boost the stock of Johnson & Johnson, or haunt a Halloween party humming to the beat of “wrap music.”
Now we’re starting to get somewhere. Werewolves are humans who turn into wolves. That usually occurs during a full moon. Some find themselves born with this afflictiom. Others get bitten by a werewolf. They then inherit the curse that forces them to become one as well. Tinseltown horror legend Lon Chaney Jr. popularized the legendary beast in the 1940s. But ask any gypsy fortuneteller. She’ll explain that these (allegedly) mythical creatures have existed for centuries.
Thanks to modern, Hollywood-inspired special effects, werewolves in the movie and on Halloween as well prove far more frightening today than they ever were in Chaney’s time. Back then, if you were the Lone Ranger, (another good costume, BTW, but one that doesn’t fit our criteria), you had an edge over marauding werewolves because you could eliminate the hairy beast with one of your silver bullets.
There are two good ways to create a werewolf costume. You could go to a barber shop and ask for spare clippings and buy a bottle of Elmer’s. Or sign a major league baseball contract with any team but the New York Yankees.
Another Karloff creation, “Frankie” is typically green in color. He has a flat head with random tufts of badly coiffed hair sticking out of it. Add thick eyebrows, dark circles under the eyes, a very strong build and bolts in his neck. And voilà!
Frankenstein’s monster, as we know him, was probably not what Mary Shelley envisioned when she published her classic novel in 1816. But that 1930s Frankenstein monster arguably remains the most recognizable and enduring monster of our times. (Trivia note: Frankenstein is the name of the reanimated creature’s creator, not the name of the monster himself!)
To do that classic Frankenstein monster costume justice on Halloween will be time consuming, but well worth the effort. If you pull it off, your startled friends may find themselves sitting “bolt upright” at the sight of you for sure.
Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without witches. Chances are good that a witch was the first evil, frightening entity your parents or siblins introduced you to as a child. Witches have long been an integral part of fairy tales, legends, mythological stories and movies forever. Shakespeare even made three of them key figures in Macbeth.
Associated with black magic and using their magic for evil purposes, people routinely fear witches for their tell-tale sinister eyes, pointed fingernails and signature pointed hats. Though not monsters per se, witches remain truly scary, given that they come in so many shapes, sizes and forms. The standard witch often looks like an dissolute old hag. But some folktales tell us of beautiful witches as well. This can create a real problem with discovering a witch’s true identity.
As for your be-witching garb and appearance, make-up can be complicated or simple, sometimes making it difficult for the unaware to tell “which is witch.”
We’re not talking Casper here. That friendly ghost is waaayyy tooo nice. Ghosts make the costuming cut because so many people believe in their existence. People generally understand that ghosts embody the souls of the dead. But seeing one pop up before you on Halloween night can still give you a fright. Deep down in our hearts, it seems, we all are scared of this unknown phenomenon.
Ghosts probably influence us psychologically more than any other mystery of the occult. They are so terribly real to so many people, particularly those who believe in an afterlife.
As for Halloween costuming, creating a ghostly monster costume can be as simple as putting a sheet over your head. Punching out a pair of eye-holes, of course.
Like zombies, vampires have surged back into the horror spotlight in recent years. Unlike zombies, vampires are dead people who snack on human blood as nocturnal creatures who often take the form of a toothy vampire bat.
Vampires are the most complex of horror monsters, because we have so many ways to recognize them or ward them off. Provided you know what you’re doing with that cross, stake and wreath of garlic.
Dracula is clearly the most famous vampire ever. But Drac is certainly not the only one. That said, the role of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as definitively portrayed by Bela Lugosi marked a turning point in his theatrical and movie career.
As for your vampire costume, you’ll find that making or purchasing a cape may be helpful but not absolutely necessary. Just get some pointed plastic canines and drip a little blood from the corners of your mouth. Now you’ve got a costume that you can really “sink your teeth into.”
And now for the absolute scariest costume for 2019…
(Drum roll, please.)
‘Nuff said. People with a genuine fear of clowns know exactly what I mean. It’s called “Coulrophobia,” where individuals report feeling “shaken and traumatized” at the sight of or even the mere thought of clowns.
The phobia is real and, for many people, it is traumatic. The recent cinematic presence of the terrifying clown “Pennywise” doesn’t help. Show up dressed as a clown at your Halloween gathering and chances are good you’ll be the scariest person there. If anyone is left in the party room after either you – or Pennywise – show up.
— Headline image above: Still from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, 1968. Image is not copyrighted.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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