Halloween has increasingly become a holiday celebrated by adults as much as by kids. With adults trying to outdo one another and posting the results on social media, the game has definitely changed. Costume parties with judging and prizes have a prominent place along with Jack O' Lanterns, haunted houses and trick or treating. The simple children's costumes of a couple generations past have been replaced by sophisticated and ingenious creations. Near movie quality make up effects, edgy designs and in some cases even audio-visual technologies have transformed expectations in a big way. What was once a child's exciting quest for their favorite delicious treats has been turned into a macabre fashion week for adults eager to strut their stuff.
Today's costumes run the gamut from genuinely creepy to unabashedly sexy. The coolest Halloween costumes come from all kinds of sources: a memorable movie character, a unique take on a classic theme or an oddball choice that leaves people saying, "That's so cool, why didn't I think of that?"
10 Pennywise the Clown
Bozo notwithstanding, a lot of people can't help having a visceral fear of clowns, especially kids. For some reason, it's easy to turn jolly, silly characters with red noses and floppy shoes into sadistic freaks. The horror fiction master Stephen King ran with this idea in his 1986 novel It when he created the demon clown Pennywise. Tim Curry played the character to great effect in the 1990 television miniseries adaptation. The British actor brought the character to life with a palpable and scene stealing creepiness.
Any clown costume will do, but it should have a skull cap and the bright red hair. One of the hallmarks of a cool costume is its ability to project scary. The combination of frilly clownware with a malevolent smile makes for a particularly frightening and cool costume.
9 Roller Coaster Riders
This is a Halloween costume on literally a different scale. It's not just a costume, it's a group costume, a prop and an attraction all rolled into one. Many of us are afraid of roller coasters, but ride them anyway because getting scared is a lot of fun. This mix of fear and excitement is what had made roller coasters fan favorites at amusement parks everywhere.
This costume requires some logistical planning and some assembly is required to construct a mock-up of a roller coaster car. Once you have the coaster built, you can stage it with your friends. Of course it has to stay intact long enough to get some pictures to post on Facebook. A costume made from a classic piece of Americana: it's not only inspired, it's pretty cool.
8 Little Green Army Men
Part costume, part performance art, the Little Green Army Man costume is a tribute to one of the most popular toys ever, doing battle with Little Gray Nazi Soldiers or whatever other evil enemies you could find to do battle with your men. Hi-tech toys pushed these fierce little soldiers into the background for a while. However, they enjoyed a bit of a resurgence after making an appearance in Disney's animated Toy Story franchise.
Not only do you get to dress up like a soldier, you can practice mimicking the classic poses of these tiny warriors. Kneeling with a bazooka, throwing a hand grenade and charging with a bayonet thrust toward the enemy are just a few examples to master before the big costume party.
Hitchcock's 1960 movie Psycho proved showers can be very frightening, especially if you're on the wrong end of a butcher knife. But Ralph Machio as Daniel in the 1984 Karate Kid showed us they can be cool, too. You don't need a lot: a shower head, a curtain and a harness can easily be transformed . The shower costume gave the Karate kid enough private space to charm his girlfriend and prank his enemies.
A shower get-up might not be on the top of any list of sexiest costumes, but it does deserve some points for being clever. Daniel was kind of square so he wore ordinary street clothes in his shower scene. However, people obviously associate showers with nudity so a "nude" body suit would be a cool finishing touch.
Black and white movies were relegated to film history decades ago; the silent and monochromatic era in Hollywood has seen a resurgence in interest, at least among costume enthusiasts. The first thing to know if you're planning to go black and white is that you don't actually want to use much black make up or clothing.
Fifty shades of gray isn't necessary, but the more shades of gray, the more realistic the effect will be. One variation on this theme is to emulate the black and white characters from Frank Miller's visually innovative Sin City movies. Others choose to go old school and remain silent while they're out on the town. They opt to communicate with dialogue cards as a homage to Hollywood's silent film era.
5 Hole in the Stomach
A complicated Halloween costume used to mean paper mache, some wire and your mom's eyeshadow. But that was an analog world and our plugged in digital culture demands a much higher bar. The cool thing about this costume is how it simulates the predicament Goldie Hawn's character found herself in from the 1992 movie Death Becomes Her. She suffered a grievous injury that allowed stunned viewers to see right through her.
It turns out you don't need a pricey Hollywood special effects department to accomplish this feat. A compact camera and a strategically placed DVD player is all you need to project the background onto the front to present the illusion the person has been aired out. Some basic hardware and a little preparation produces an impressive effect that is hands down cool.
Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, with an assortment of bandmates, have been rocking hard and spewing fire since the 1970s with albums like Kiss Alive and Hotter Than Hell. KISS abandoned the makeup and costumes in the 1990s, but thankfully they were compelled to return to the iconic look that made them famous.
The goth-glam silver and black makeup and costumes are tailor made for Halloween. You'll need some appropriately rock & roll black wigs and a little practice applying the makeup to get the facial designs just right. You can either dress up as a solo act for the Halloween festivities or team up with three of your closest friends. The four of you can round out your band with your own demon, lover, catman and spaceman.
3 AT-AT Dog
If you're not a big Star Wars fan you might be asking "What the hell's an AT-AT?" For your information, it's an All-Terrain Armored-Transport. In other words, it's a giant four-legged metal machine used by the forces of the Galactic Empire to stomp on the rebels like cigarette butts. Their most memorable appearance came early in the 1980 Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, when they were deployed to the frozen planet Hoth to destroy a hidden rebel base.
Assembling the pieces from cardboard or construction paper will take some doing, but the result will be worth it. This a perfect Halloween costume for your four-legged friend because we all know the only thing cooler than wearing a Star Wars costume yourself is putting a Star Wars costume on your dog.
2 Na'vi Body Paint
The Na'vi are the blue catlike humanoids from the hit 2009 movie Avatar. Slinky blue women with barely there bikinis are a fan boy fantasy come to life. Or at least you can make it come to life if you can convince your better half to cover her body in blue paint.
Na'vi women were a popular theme at comic book and science fiction conventions when James Cameron's movie came out six years ago. Halloween has made them fair game so scantily clad blue women aren't just for fan boys anymore. These revealing aliens are perfect for Halloween when the full moon rises and inhibitions slip. Body paint is not for the self conscious or faint of heart, but it is a reminder that science fiction can be sexy as well as cool.
1 Princess Leia Slave Girl
It's one of the coolest costumes in the galaxy. The vile gangster Jabba the Hut forced the always dignified Princess Leia to wear a skimpy slave girl outfit often described as the "metal bikini." Props to Jabba for having enough fashion sense to demand and allowing us to bask in the metallic glow. The metal bikini's debut was a bit of a shock to young fans used to seeing Leia pretty buttoned up and serious, not the object of a lustful slime ball with a bondage fetish.
One of the cool things about this costume is that it's functional as well as hot. The princess aptly demonstrated this when she strangled her bloated captor to death with the chains that bound her to him. To the countless young men who will try to convince their girlfriends to wear this Leia costume - good luck!