15 Easy (and Awesome) Movie-Themed Costumes for Halloween

Halloween is nearly upon us. If you’re anything like me, you probably picked out your costume many months ago, and have been strategizing as to how you can make such a costume in time for the big night. But if you’re anything like me, then you can relate to the sad experience of trick-or-treating into your twenties (parents tend to give you nasty looks, no matter how cool your costume is). But I realize that many people in the world aren’t as Halloween obsessive as I, and I imagine the average citizen still has mental plans, even at this late date, to go to the nearest costume shop in order to select a pre-fab costume on a whim. Movie-themed costumes are certain to improve your parties.

I know for certain that I am not the only person in the world who kind of bristles at the notion of a pre-fab costume in a bag. As someone who either had careful instructions for his parents, or, later on, carefully made his own costumes, the thought of lazily going to a costume shop and selecting a ready-made, ill-fitting nylon costume in a bag does slight offense to my creative Halloween spirit. Pre-fab costumes are all well and good, provided you are going to alter them in some way. It’s like a can of soup. Sure, it’ll work on its own, but it’s kind of bland and not very nourishing. You can turn it into a real meal if you decide to add your own vegetables and hot sauces to the mix.

Sadly, not many of us have the time, the resources, or the inclination to brainstorm for months, carefully construct a costume, and parade around in something impressively homemade. The goal, however, may not be to have an elaborate costume. The goal may just be to have a cool costume. And luckily for you, a cool costume is easier than you think. One can easily select and crack out a fun pop-culture costume on a budget. And while you may not dazzle the crowds with an elaborate eight-foot tall demon that involves a four-hour makeup job and working stilts, you still can potentially dazzle with a vaguely recognizable cult figure that people will recognize. It would be cool to go as Pinhead from Hellraiser, but that’s nearly impossible to pull off without access to a legitimate Hollywood makeup studio. But some of the costumes listed below are costumes you can assemble using things around the house, or can be constructed with only the smallest purchases.

Movie-Themed Costumes for Halloween

Here is a good list of Halloween costume suggestions. They are all from movies, new and old, they are all easy to make, they are all pretty comfortable, and they can likely grab the eye of the savvy viewer. In some cases, they may even serve as a pickup tool. You may have these ideas free of charge.



Saban Films

What You Need:

A black or navy blue blazer (double-breasted, if possible)

A white ascot

Hair gel

White grease paint (clown makeup)

Fake blood

The villain in Rob Zombie’s 31 is one of the breakout bad guys of 2016, if you’ve seen the film that is. (If you’re friends missed this gross thriller, about a group of carnies hunted in a giant warehouse by homicidal clowns, you may get a lot of folks wondering which version of The Joker you are.) But that’s the glorious thing about a One-Percent Costume, the one percent of people who get what you’re going for are immediately going to become your closest friends. Besides, Doom-Head’s got a cool look anyway. Just get some white grease paint, the kind you’d find in any over the counter clown makeup kid, and slap it all over your face. Don’t worry about making it look perfect, because Doom-Head sure doesn’t. Now instead of adding red makeup to your lips, cover your mouth in fake blood and make it look like it came from a bloody nose. Wash your hands and put on your blazer and ascot, grease back your hair, and start clownin’ around!


Theodore Twombly

Warner Bros.

What You Need:

A red or dark orange shirt with a breast pocket

A light blue shirt, or white undershirt

A Bluetooth earpiece

Thick-rimmed glasses

A moustache (fake, if necessary)


Your cell phone

Spike Jonze’s Oscar-winning sci-fi drama stars Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly, a man who falls in love with his artificially intelligent operating system. He eventually carries her around with him in his pocket, sharing life’s little moments together. Theodore’s outfit is simply but easily recognizable as long as you don’t forget anything. The red shirt, on top of a light blue or white shirt, with your cell phone in the front breast pocket, and a Bluetooth or ear piece, all of those elements are essential. Throw on some slacks as well, and some thick glasses. You’ll need a mustache to pull this off, and time may be short, so worst-case scenario you’ll need to invest in a fake one but they are very cheap and available at most Halloween costume stores, even the lousy ones. No go fall in love with the future, guy!


Andrew Neiman

Sony Pictures Classics

What You Need:

A black suit


Fake blood

One of the best films of the decade stars Miles Teller as an aspiring jazz drummer who will do anything to be the best, even give in to his teacher’s abuses, even get hit by a car and leave the scene of an accident to perform onstage, bloody and broken. To dress as Andrew Neiman from Whiplash you don’t need much. You just need a black suit, preferably an inexpensive one because you’re going to splatter fake blood on it and just because the package says it washes off doesn’t mean you should assume it’s a guarantee. Get some of that fake blood on your face, too. Now grab a pair of drumsticks and hit the skins, hit the town, and you’ll be a hit at your indie film friends’ costume party!


Nancy Adams

Columbia Pictures

What You Need:

A bikini, or…

A wetsuit (especially if it’s chilly)

Fake Blood

Strip of fabric

Hemp bracelets

A wristwatch

Optional: A stuffed shark, a stuffed seagull, a flare gun, a surfboard, a (fake!) severed head with a GoPro camera on it

The surprisingly thrilling shark movie The Shallows stars Blake Lively as a surfer stranded on a coral reef, unable to swim to shore after a shark takes a bite out of her leg. She’s a heroic protagonist, able to think her way out of difficult situations and muster her courage when all hope is lost. And best of all, she’s got a pretty easy costume. Just wear a swimsuit or, if you have one handy (and especially if it’s cold where you live) a wetsuit, and tie a strip of fabric around your leg as a fake tourniquet. Do NOT tie off a real tourniquet, you’ll hurt yourself. Just wrap some fabric around your thigh. Add some fake blood to the “wound.” Your choice of props is optional but you’ll need at least one of those options to really sell that you’re not just wearing a swimsuit, your Nancy Adams from The Shallows. The stuff seagull and shark are cute items, and probably not too difficult to come by. A surfboard could be expensive, but you may already know a friend who has one. And a fake severed head with a GoPro camera on it would be awesome, if you’re the kind of person who already has something like that lying around.

And hey, if your significant other wants to go as either a shark or a seagull, this also makes a sweet couple’s costume too!


Dr. Jack Griffin

Universal Pictures

What You Need:

A smoking jacket

An ascot



Dark Glasses or Goggles

Optional: A test tube

The invisible villain of The Invisible Man is one of cinema’s greatest villains, and for a guy who literally can’t be see, he sure does have an unmistakable sense of style. To play The Invisible Man you are going to have to cover your body, but it’s not hard. First, get a smoking jacket – he’s nothing if not stylish – and some gloves for your hands. You’ll need an ascot (or something similar) to cover your neck and upper chest. Now just wrap your head in gauze and put on a pair of dark glasses to cover your eyes. Make sure you leave gaps so you can breathe. Now, go out there and be seen. Or not!


Arthur Dent

Touchstone Pictures

What You Need:

A towel

A robe



Optional: A prop book

The befuddled lead character of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent is a gently acerbic and put-upon middle-class white guy from the suburbs of England. In the film, Arthur is whisked off of the Earth right before it is destroyed by an evil race of alien bureaucrats. Since he is given little warning as to the fate of the Earth Arthur never had time to prepare. As such, throughout the film (and the book on which it is based) Arthur can be seen wearing his pajamas, slippers, and robe. I can think of no costume easier, as you likely have these items already. They don’t have to match the movie exactly to be recognized. It’s vitally important that you have a towel for this costume, as galactic hitchhikers are constantly advised to have one. Carry a towel. Also, make a cover for a book that says “DON’T PANIC.” It will serve as your very own hitchhiker’s guide. Nerdy, easy, and recognizable.

Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski

Gramercy Pictures

What You Need:

An old robe



Knee-length shorts

Longish hair

A beard

Optional: A bowling ball, an urn, a prop White Russian, a rolled up rug

Few modern films have a cult as formidable as The Coen Bros’ 1997 outing The Big Lebowski. Indeed, the cult is so vocal and passionate about this noir-ish slacker parable, that there is even a backlash to the film. I still hold that Lebowski is funny and enjoyable, even if you’ve heard the dialogue shouted in your dorm room far too often. What’s more, the film’s main character, nicknamed The Dude, is a fun personality to emulate, and an easy one to dress as. If you already have a thick goatee and longish hair, you’re halfway there. Throw on a white t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Get some flip-flops, and throw on a dingy-colored robe or unflattering button-front sweater (it must be brown or grey). Wear sunglasses. You are now The Dude. If you want to have a prop, know that The Dude prefers White Russians. Get a plastic cup and paint the interior with Liquid Paper. Done and done.


Rogue Pictures

What You’ll Need:

A white, short-sleeve, button-front shirt

A red necktie

Black pants and shoes

A dab of red ink

A nametag

A goatee

Optional: a cricket bat

One of the more celebrated horror comedies of the last decade, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead is a rambunctious and fun zombie-themed romantic comedy, reminiscent of Sam Raimi. The now-familiar trope of the slugabed boyfriend is turned on ear in this film, as it combines it perfectly frank comedic style with a perfectly accurate zombie apocalypse movie. The film’s title character is caught off-guard at the film’s beginning still wearing his drab office clothes, which are easy to replicate. Just throw on your nice pants and shoes, and dress up like you’re going to a dull retail job you hate. Dab the bottom of your shirt pocket with a small but noticeable smear of red ink. If someone says “You’ve got red on you” to you, then you’ve succeeded. Shaun also carries a cricket bat throughout the film, but I realize those are hard to come by in America.

Harold and Maude

Paramount Pictures

What You’ll Need:

For Him: 

A black suit with a vest and nice shoes

A well-combed hairdo

For Her:

A heavy brown coat

A nicely done up hairdo

Big boots

Perhaps age makeup

Optional: a large potted plant, a noose

One of the best movies of the 1970s, and one of the sweeter film romances, Hal Ashby’s classic Harold and Maude is well-loved by young outsiders the world over. The film follows a death-obsessed twentysomething man, and his discovery of an wild and interesting life, introduced to him by a loose-cannon septuagenarian woman. What follows is one of the screen’s most unlikely but deeply-felt relationships. For a couple’s costume, it’s best to go as an on-screen couple, right? I’m assuming you have a funereal tuxedo or some kind of really nice suit already, which almost takes care of Harold. Make sure your hair matches his, though. It must be dark hair. Harold is also fond of staging suicides to shock his complacent mother, so you could also carry around a hangman’s noose, which are easy enough to find in Halloween stores. For Maude, you’ll have to look old and dowdy, so age makeup may be appropriate. Local thrift stores often have the right kind of heavy coat as well. Pop on your rubber boots, and you two are off to the races. There’s a million ways to be.


The Cannon Group

What You’ll Need:

A heavy coat

Unkept hair

A scarf

Many many cigarettes

Optional: A teakettle

Another cult classic, Bruce Robinson’s 1987 comedy of misery Withnail & I is strangely beloved by a passionate group of British blokes who are drawn to its endless string of profanities and examples of boorish antisocial behavior. Withnail is a dour fellow on the best of days, who fancies himself a Bohemian, but who is in fact a shiftless and angry unemployable bum. But, y’know, in a funny way. You do have to have the right frame to pull this one off, however. If you’re tall and thin, and can grow some five o’clock shadow, then you’re in already. More impressive: A woman going as “sexy” Withnail. Expose your midriff, cut off your tweed pants. Paint on the five o’clock shadow in addition to the sexy makeup. If a nearby person recognizes sexy Withnail, you’re definitely in. The teakettle should be brass, and should have some chicken sticking out of it.

Dr. Bill Hartford

Warner Bros.

What You’ll Need:

A long black cloak with a hood

An Italian mask

I am still very fond of Stanley Kubrick’s 1999 swan song Eyes Wide Shut. It’s a bizarre, almost surreal sexual parable about the unlimited sexual possibilities that fall into the lap of a largely blank-faced and un-initiating New York doctor. Even if you’re not familiar with the film (and you really ought to be), you still likely know of the film’s infamous set piece wherein Bill wandered, largely by accident, into a cult-like ritual that turns into a bizarre sex orgy of masked bourgeoisie. The scene is dream-like and strange, and any costume from this orgy can only invoke the sexual thoughts that went through Kubrick’s head as he directed. It may be hard to track down just the right mask (it needs to be a full-face mask with a white chin and elaborate gold around the eyes), and I understand that proper cloaks are usually hard to find too, but making such a mask shouldn’t be too hard with gold paints, and cloaks are about $8-$20 at Halloween stores. A costume that refers to a high-minded art film with nudity and sex, all on the cheap. Go to it.


Prokino Filmverleih

What You’ll Need:

A grey tank top

Bright red hair

Loose-fitting, lightweight pants (no jeans)

A thick black belt

Running shoes

Tom Tykwer is known to America today largely because of his impressive film Run Lola Run, which hit American theaters in 1998. The film is a fast-paced actioner about a feisty woman named Lola who must literally sprint across a huge city, looking for a huge amount of money, just in time to save her boyfriend. Lola runs. That is what she does. She also has one of the more distinct looks, sporting, as she does, a mop of fire-engine-red hair. Throw on your grey workout outfit. Your bra should show from underneath. The pants aren’t as important, but they should be loose and made of lightweight material. Seriously, no jeans. The most important detail is the hair. Wild red dreadlocks. Lola is a badass, an athlete, and a romantic. Why not be her for a night?


What You’ll Need:

A black tanktop

Boxing gloves

Boxing head padding

Tight black pants


This one is way obscure, and will be appreciated by few. It’s what we like to call a “1% Costume,” intended for only 1% of the people who will see it. Stuart Gordon made a perfectly entertaining sci-fi action flick in 1989 called Robot Jox. In the film, war had been outlawed, and international disputes were settled in massive robot-on-robot battles held out in a huge arena. I’m not suggesting that you go as one of the robots, but as one of the titular jox, an elite athlete trained in piloting said robots. The training outfits that the jox wore were essentially the same outfits used for sparring in a boxing ring, but with the appropriate symbol emblazoned across the chest. Look at that symbol, and see if you can find an iron-on for your tanktop and your boxing helmet. Again, very comfortable. And if anyone gets it, you have a new friend.


United Artists

What You’ll Need:

A blue t-shirt with a dinosaur on it

Blue hair

Horn-rimmed glasses

A plain shirt

Doc Martens

Optional: A stack of old 45s

A dour hipster if ever there was one, Enid from the excellent 2001 film Ghost World set a lot of standard when it came of sarcastic, disaffected teen girls. Here was a girl who was so attached to her outsider status, that when it came time to graduate high school and get a real job, she saw only pain and selling out. Sadly, her badly-sketched antisocial principles proved to be both her entire character and her undoing. Very punk rock, Enid sported a blue short hairdo. You can get away with a wig. The glasses are a must, though, and the t-shirt, while perhaps difficult to locate, is also central. The skirt, not so much, but it can help. Docs are easy enough to come by. If you’re willing to dress as Enid for Halloween, though, I’m guessing you own Docs already. Carry around some 45s, and scoff at everything.


Columbia Pictures

What You’ll Need:

A plain red t-shirt

A black bike helmet

Black shorts

A chain

A padlock

A messenger bag

Fingerless gloves

Optional: a bike, an ominous envelope

If you missed Premium Rush, then you missed one of the best films of the 2012. Seriously. Premium Rush is a minor classic, borne of genuine thrills and actual awesomeness, as opposed to studio-sanctioned manufactured awesomeness that so many people mistake for the real thing. The film’s main character, Wilee, is a fun-loving loose cannon bike messenger, somehow escaped from a Capri Sun commercial, who rides around the streets of New York with no breaks, delivering packages at breakneck speed. Wilee is a bike deity of sorts, and dressing like him could only be fun. You’ll need to walk around with a helmet all night, and Wilee carried his bike chain around his waist, fastened with a padlock. You might have to get those things. If you’re already a bicyclist, you’ll have the helmet and maybe even the gloves. Why not, then, go as the awesomest bicyclist to ever grace a screen?

10 More Easy Halloween Costume Ideas for Movie-Lovers

Top Photos: Gramercy Pictures / Rogue Pictures / Warner Bros.