10 Unlikely Halloween Costumes Based On Recent Movies

By  · Published on October 6th, 2014

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

You can tell how boring a movie year is by the state of new Halloween costume ideas each fall. At least in terms of memorable characters. When I walk into one of those seasonal pop-up shops and see the same superheroes year after year joined still, a decade after, by Napoleon Dynamite-style “nerd” package costumes, I worry that there isn’t enough fresh and popular movie iconography being entered into the history books of late. What is the 2014 film zeitgeist but more Spider-Man, Captain America, X-Men, Transformers and Hunger Games? New costumes are repeats of old, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and even my old unlikely X-Men meet Forrest Gump and Smurfette ideas), or based on already familiar icons, like LEGO people. Frozen is new but familiar. Same with most of the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy, to a degree.

If you want to go against the grain of the mainstream and easily recognized, though, here’s my 7th annual list of unique Halloween costume ideas based on recent movies. If you don’t mind explaining your outfit to everyone at the party or every homeowner you encounter while trick or treating, many of these are relatively obscure. Some of them may stump even your friends who regularly went to the movies over the past 12 months. Others might just seem unnecessarily different or inappropriate or just plain dumb. That’s why I always label them as being unlikely options. As always, if you use any of them, you’re obligated to share photos with us. And let us know (and take photos) of any other clever movie-related costume idea you go with instead of these.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Sexy Computer from Her

Obviously we have to include some of the “sexy” variety of Halloween costumes here, so let’s just start off with one inspired by a late 2013 release. Thanks in part to Scarlett Johansson’s voice, a lot of us could understand how Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) could fall for and be turned on by an operating system. But you can’t go as a sound, so you’ll need to package your “Samantha” idea inside of a computer costume. Just make it the kind where you’ve got a cardboard PC for a mask, and then dress “sexy” (bikini? lingerie?) from the neck down. And to make sure it’s properly identified with Her, make sure your computer screen is red with the three-loop ribbon icon of the OS in the middle. And maybe have some Johansson soundbites to play at random.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Dr. Will Caster from Trancendence

This might make a nice pairing with the Samantha sexy computer costume. And for anyone who’s into Johnny Depp, you could also consider this a true sexy computer costume. Based on the disappointing directorial debut of Wally Pfister, this is another idea for dressing up as a character who has no physical body. On his deathbed, Caster is uploaded to a computer (and the Internet). Unlike Samantha, he not only had a face but he continues to have a face, which regularly pops up on computer and TV screens. Just get some form of computer costume and then either wear a Johnny Depp mask inside a hollowed-out PC monitor or put a picture of the actor on whatever sort of screen is part of your get-up.

Drafthouse Films

Anwar Congo from The Act of Killing

People love to dress up as villains for Halloween, and in fact disguising yourself as a monster of some sort is traditional. But the world’s worst real-life monsters aren’t so common as the fictional sort. Not a lot of people go as Hitler for Halloween, but they’ll go as another mass-murdering genocidal icon like Darth Vader. Anwar Congo, from one of this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Documentary, is another figure who isn’t likely to be found wandering your neighborhood in search of fun size candy bars. But he’d be an easy obscure idea, requiring only a short curly white wig, glasses, a green Hawaiian shirt and white pants. Maybe make it a group costume where someone is dressed as any number of Herman Koto’s showy cross-dressing costumes.

Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Constantine from Muppets Most Wanted

Here’s another villain idea, one that’s a lot more kid-friendly yet doesn’t seem to be manufactured for the holiday alongside the Megatrons, Electros and Winter Soldiers. Maybe because there’s no reason to sell a separate costume that is just Kermit the Frog with a mole on his face. No reason? Wait, this is a capitalist manufacturer’s dream. But it’s only partly their loss that you’ll be just buying a regular Kermit costume and adding the mole yourself. If you want to be especially clever, you can also tell people you’re actually Kermit after he’s had a fake mole glued to his face by Constantine.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Agatha from The Grand Budapest Hotel

Another costume that’s all about a facial marking. As with any Wes Anderson movie, there are plenty of distinct character looks in his latest feature, from the purple-garbed bellboys and concierge to the warmer-hued frocks and more majestic hair of Madame D. But the easiest to pull off is going to be Saoirsie Ronan’s role, which merely entails a crown-braid hairdo and a large birthmark on your cheek in the shape of Mexico. You can pretty much wear any dress, regardless of its closeness to those worn by Agatha, if the neck-up stuff is right.

Marvel Studios

Knowhere from Guardians of the Galaxy

This year I seem to be going with a lot of ideas that are all about what’s going on from the neck up. This costume from the biggest movie of the year is yet another. While a lot of people are sure to be dressing up as Star-Lord, Drax, Gamora, Groot, dancing flower pot Groot, Rocket, the Collector, Nebula, Nova Prime and any other living character from the Marvel movie, I suggest something more original. As Knowhere, you’d be going as a place more than a person, but the Collector’s residence is a location made from the decapitated head of a formerly living creature, a Celestial being. For this idea, try to get a good sense of what that head looks like and make a mask out of it. As for your body, wear a starry print bodysuit, dress or any other item that will make that head of yours out to be like it’s floating in space.

Twentieth Century Fox

Ceasar on Horseback from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I suggested an unlikely idea for Rise of the Planet of the Apes a few years ago, so I might as well do something for the sequel if there’s a possibility of not repeating myself. If there’s one image that’s associated with DotPotA, it’s the one of apes riding horses – particularly an ape riding a horse while wielding a machine gun. Horseback costumes are always a hoot, whether you’re doing one of the solo types where your legs wear the hind legs of the animal and the front part just protrude from yourself or you’re paired up with someone who wears the front half of the horse. This has the added fun of dressing your upper half as an angry chimp with a weapon.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Horse from A Winter’s Tale

You can also go with the kind of solo horse costume where you’re just a horse, but upright. If there’s an animal character from a movie this year most deserving of a costume, it’s the white equine miracle from the ridiculous adaptation of Mark Helprin’s novel. Because Horse is a winged beast, you can easily go with a simple Pegasus costume, but it’d be more fun if you could just be a horse that has secret wings that you pop out as a surprise.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The Edge of Groundhog Day from Edge of Tomorrow

This year has brought a few movies with premises similar to that of Groundhog Day. There’s the teen movie version, Premature, and the time travel romance movie The Infinite Man, but the most mainstream and familiar is the Tom Cruise sci-fi action flick Edge of Tomorrow. It’s also the one with the most distinct costume potential. For this year’s obligatory mash-up costume, we suggest you dress up in Cruise’s battle armor but mix it with a Bill Murray mask – homemade if you can’t find any that already exist. This can also be a couple’s costume if you pair it with a Rita/Rita: another battle armor costume, this one with an Andie MacDowell mask.

Marvel Studios via Slashfilm/Yahoo UK

The Punisher from Captain America: Winter Soldier

Want to go as Marvel Comics’ The Punisher but don’t want to bother with the iconic skull-shirt costume once again? Here’s a fresh new way of dressing up as your favorite vigilante antihero based on unconfirmed fan speculation about a jokily hinted at idea about a piece of product placement from the Captain America sequel. The Punisher is believed to be driving a Penske truck that appears in two separate parts of the movie. Therefore, you can wear a Penske truck costume and say you’re Frank Castle. Extra points if you make up a doll to look like a certain character who gets killed by the truck and attach it to your front grill.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.