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AMC FearFest – Greg Nicotero Shares Tricks for The Walking Dead Halloween Costumes

Greg Nicotero, Executive Producer, Special Effects Supervisor and Director for The Walking Dead, gives fans some advice for how to dress like their favorite character or walker from The Walking Dead for Halloween.

Q: In Season 1, you made a short video detailing how to zombify yourself at home, but what other tips can you offer fans who want to trick-or-treat as a walker?

A: Don’t use bright colored clothes for walkers. If you notice, in the show, walkers wear dark colors, like greys and blacks. You almost never see a color like yellow. We have teams and teams of people who make walker clothes all day, but if you want to do it at home, you can use some sandpaper to make the clothes look more distressed. You can sand the edges of clothes to make them look worn and torn.

Q: In a behind-the-scenes video for Season 2, Costume Designer Eulyn Womble mentioned you have vials and vials of prop blood for humans and zombies. How do you develop and differentiate between the different kinds?

A: We have three different types of blood for humans and zombies: dressing blood, pumping blood and gel blood. To make dressing blood, we have these different powders called “tattoo colors” — reds, browns and blacks. We add them to water spritzers so we can make uneven splatters on clothes and skin. Using brown, beige or black in the water spritzer can add that extra look of dirt and grime. Pumping blood is thinned out with distilled water so it sprays and splatters. We hook it up with tubes for the zombie bites, so a fresh wound looks like its really gushing.

Gel blood has a grape jelly consistency, so you can use it to fill in wounds and it will stay. To make it at home, you can take peanut butter or toothpaste and add some powdered food coloring. It’s important to use powdered food coloring, which you can find at bakeries, and not liquid food coloring because liquid food coloring will stain your skin. Add in some Caro corn syrup with liquid soap. The liquid soap helps provide a barrier for your skin. You can add some liquid caramel for color. Then, we use shaving cream to help clean it off the skin. We’ve found it’s the best way, so that the blood mixture won’t stain your skin when it comes off.

Q: So what about some of the living characters? What would fans need to pull off a convincing Rick?

A: For Rick, the most important is the greased-back hair and a little bit of stubble. For the stubble, you can take a black stipple sponge and apply brown makeup and dirt. He wears black pants, cowboy boots, and a T-Shirt — covered in zombie blood, huge sweat stains and dirt. We use hair product for the normal greased-look. If you want to be “deranged Rick”, though, like when he ripped out Joe’s throat at the end of Season 4 [Season 4, Episode 16, “A”], his hair is wild and crazy, and you need blood all over your mouth.

Q: What about Michonne?

A: Michonne is the easiest. Michonne’s look was designed with the bandana so we wouldn’t have to glue the wig onto Danai everyday. She has that dreadlock wig, and the bandana covers where the wig meets her forehead. She has the katana, of course. She usually wears dark pants, and usually a light colored or beige shirt, sometimes with the leather vest.

Q: And for Daryl?

A: Norman loves Daryl to be dirty. Daryl needs to be covered in dirt. When Norman leaves the makeup trailer, he puts more dirt on. If, in the world of the show, Daryl found a lake where he could rinse off, he wouldn’t do it. Being clean is just not a priority for him.

Q: The actors have mentioned the “sexy dirt” over the years. How do you make that?

A: The dirt is a huge part of the show. It’s a mix of an alcohol base so when you put it on it stays on. You can mix it with glycerin and brown make-up. The glycerin helps set the makeup, and it makes you look sweaty without having to reapply water spritzers all day.

Q: So, if you could dress as any character on The Walking Dead for Halloween, who would it be?

A: I feel like I would say a walker, but that’s too easy. I would be Merle. I just love Michael’s character. And I designed the hook he puts on his arm, so I would just take that out of the box and put that on.

To buy your own The Walking Dead costumes, such as zombie makeup palettes, latex wounds and more, visit

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