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Scifi Film Halloween Costume Tips

Today’s e-mailed question is a practical one:

I’ve been invited to a Halloween party and my fiancée and I want to go as something science fictional. What do you suggest?

I’m glad you asked! Science fiction films offer a rich vein of characters to dress up as. The secret is not to go with the usual — to dig a little deeper and come up with something fun that people aren’t expecting from you, or from anyone else.

With that in mind, let me offer two initial prohibitions:

Don’t go as any character you cosplay.
“Cosplay,” for
those of you who don’t know, is short for “costume play” — it’s what
all those people who go to science fiction conventions dressed up as a
Klingon or a Stormtrooper do. While there is nothing wrong with cosplay,
if you’ve already got the Stormtrooper uniform or the Klingon
head ridges in your closet, then you’re kind of already known for
that, aren’t you? Halloween costumes are about doing something
different. You show up as a Klingon and everyone’s gonna go, “Oh,
look, here’s Bob in his Klingon suit. Again.” Don’t be that cosplay guy!

Star Wars characters are forbidden.
Because, come on.
A little originality, please. Even the Slave Leia costume, the
veritable gold standard (as it were) of geek woman desirability, is overplayed at this point.
Going as a Star Wars character for Halloween is the nerd
holiday equivalent of being the guy who goes to a concert wearing the T-shirt of the band he’s come to see. Don’t be that nerd holiday guy!

Now that we have that straight, here are some specific suggestions for you.

1. Bones
I almost put that Star Trek characters
were forbidden too, but then I realized that should probably just be
for the Klingons. And besides, I think this year is a fine year for
people to recognize Leonard “Bones” McCoy, the most
underappreciated of the top-billed Star Trek characters. Whether
the old school DeForest Kelley version or the somewhat hotter new Karl
Urban version, Bones is the gold standard in scifi characters with
cranky horse sense, and besides, there’s nothing more fun than saying,
“Damn it! I’m a doctor, not a [insert thing here]!” for an entire night.

2. Buckaroo Banzai (or any member of his entourage, the Hong Kong Cavaliers)
In fact, if you were really awesome,
you would get together with, like, seven of your friends and come to
the party walking like you were in the ending-credits sequence of that
. Of course, it will help if a) you can play musical instruments as well as understand particle physics, and b)
are as good-looking as Peter Weller in the mid-’80s. Also, remember to
bring a watermelon. When people ask, “What’s the watermelon doing there?” you can say, “I’ll tell you later.” And then never do.

3. The Thing
Go to the party dressed like you usually do. When people ask what
you’re dressed as, say, “I’m the Thing.” When they say, “But you’re just
dressed normally,” say, “That’s the point,” and then suddenly grab them,
make your eyes go wide and scream “WHAAAAAAAA,” like tendrils are going
to shoot out of your mouth and go up their nose and take them over. First
they’ll be scared, and then, man, will they pissed!

4. Ellen Ripley
Actually you have four choices here. There’s All-Business Ripley (Alien), Maternal Gun-Toting Ripley (Aliens), Bald Ripley (Alien 3) and Sexy Leather-Clad Ripley (Alien Resurrection). All are good, although, of course, some are better than others. Chest-burster optional.

5. The Machine Man (who
is actually a woman)

This is the famous iconic robot from Fritz Lang’s
1927 science fiction masterpiece Metropolis. This is a fun one
because everyone recognizes the robot when they see it but very few
people can actually remember where it’s from — it’s iconic of the
entire genre of film more than of its own film. However, do
expect a few people to ask if you’re dressed up as a sexy C-3PO, or
the Statue of Liberty. Those people you can smack with your shiny metal

6. The humans of WALL-E
This will be perfect if
you’ve been lax in the exercising department lately and/or have a lot of
pillows around the house you can employ for costuming. If you’re really
committed, you can make it so there’s a reclining lounge chair at your
waist with fake feet in front of you while your real feet are covered
underneath. Then it will look like you’re lazing about chubbily on a
floating chair. Don’t forget your cupcake in a cup!

What? Some of you are still mad you can’t be a Star Wars character? Fine. You can be a Star Wars character — if you
do something creative with it. Some examples: Singles Bar Yoda (“Size
matters not, baby”), Han Trio (Three Hans doing a capella covers of the
Meco disco versions of Star Wars themes), Boba Shemp (the bounty hunting
off-brand member of the Three Stooges), Mon Mothra (rebel
leader/50-foot insect) and, of course, Darth Waiter (“I find your lack
of tip … disturbing“). You get what I’m saying. The world doesn’t need another Stormtrooper or Slave Leia. It probably could use a Darth Waiter.

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