It's time to announce the winners to this site's first-ever Halloween costume contest, a weird thing to say on a website that's revolved around Halloween for nearly twenty years.
The goal of the contest was to create an all-original costume, however cheaply or easily, that would be unsettling or strange in a similar sense to old-fashioned homemade Halloween.
Ultimately, we wound up with only a couple dozen entrants - not enough for special categories after all - and most of them in only the final days of the entry period, but the total amount of creativity and effort on display here made it almost impossible to declare any particular "winners."
That said, everyone
who entered can pick out any pin still available in our etsy as a thank-you! If you're a winner, you can pick out $50 worth of stuff!
Specter and Night Man by David Haire:
While several people submitted multiple costumes and I've treated most as their own individual entries, these two by David Haire were so perfectly tied in quality, for such different reasons, that I had to fold them together.
is pure, classical dread, and that second photo feels like one of those "disturbing images" that would have gone internet-viral with no explanation or context back in the days before Reverse Image Searches and integrated social media made that mystique a thing of the past.
Night Man, meanwhile, is scary with more "personality," the kind of maniacal figure that tends to develop a thriving character fandom for one memorable role in a creepypasta or an indie game; I could really see this being going places if it ever finds a life outside a Halloween costume!
"Do you know where clowns come from? You don't? Well, I suppose you've never met Mrs. Merrymaker then! You'll find her puttering around, this way and that, and wherever she goes she leaves behind colourful little eggs, not unlike the eggs you eat for breakfast! From each egg hatches a special, silly little clown to entertain all the good children in the world. Isn't that wonderful? I know Mrs. Merrymaker would love to be your friend. Just watch out for her tickly fingers!"
Mrs. Merrymaker by Teddy Cottel:
I love this one so much. It has thought put into it as an uncanny entity, a deliberately freaky creature design, yet still so flawlessly captures the exact same special flavor of "accidental" horror as some of the costumes that inspired this whole contest!
"Currently taking job offers. Giant eyedrops don't pay for themselves, sadly."
Seymour & Mike by Arthur
"No, I did not know MIKE when I still dwelled among the living. We met in this farcical afterlife and good sound technicians are hard to find, plus he came with the van. He insists I capitalize his name since he can't write."
Seymour and Mike are "Ghastly Filmmakers" and I'd be delighted to see them in any sort of narrative some day; they're fun, vibrant, wacky characters with a lot of thoughtful design touches. One little thing I enjoy - intentional or not - is also how much MIKE's microphone ends up looking at a distance like a little hairdo; like a pompadour.
Now this is just fantastic. Sculpted from aluminum foil, we have an insectoid entity complete with wings whose tentacled, trunked face is also kind of like a gas mask designed for a nonhuman. That single large, central eye-lens is a gorgeous effect!
Skin Product Salesman by John Lander:
This was in fact the very first entry sent in, and set a pretty rad precedent! The Skin Product Salesman is a truly nightmarish character with a beautifully grotesque costume design that also includes peeling hands
, and was submitted with an unsettling video!
Though the nature and motives of the being aren't known, context cues paint an implicit picture of a nonhuman creature that goes door to door to offer dubious wares that, most likely, don't do at all what you want them to do. He's even got a not-quite-right way of moving!
THE RUNNER-UP ENTRIES!
Uncle Chuckster's Face Filets by Arthur
""FACE FILETS! FACE FILETS STRAIGHT FROM UNCLE CHUCKSTER'S CHACURTERIE! Hey kiddo, you want a face filet?"
"Uncle Chuckster sent me here to sell these face filets, but apparently you guys think they taste like motor oil, which is kinda rude if you ask me."
"I mean these are my people's faces yer talkin about, pal. Just cause I gotta sell em to make a livin don't mean I'm gonna like em being insulted by tastebuds."
"Seems like masks are all the hotness to you guys. Wish I could be selling those instead."
"Wait, whaddya mean you guys don't eat faces? What the hell do ya do with em, then?"
I like how this one's description ends up being kind of a mini-creepypasta. It's a more "normal" or "human" and more straightforward "creepy" entry by the creator of Seymour and MIKE, and perhaps overshadowed quite a bit by those two, but it's still a fun concept and leans more into the horror side.
CASKET JONES is a cool, shadowy figure whose horse-skull head is completely homemade from individually cut pieces, which at a distance looks convincing enough anyway, but on close inspection has a more unique feel than a real actual skull might have.
Rag doll characters and monsters pretty much always
look great. I can't think of one that wasn't exactly as cute, charming and spooky as it set out to be. There's an original twist here, though, where it has the mis-matched button eyes of any good ragdoll design, but there's a more human-like eye on the upper chest. Maybe it's just there to look cool, which it does, but what if that's the one "real," functioning eye?!
Sweet Tooth by Colin:
Sweet Tooth was crafted from a stuffed Unicorn, lives in a magical forest in the mind of a little girl where he works as an accountant, and also, allegedly, lays waste to entire realities in the name of enjoying their candy. I enjoy this explanation, and that Colin named two alternate-reality candies: "bingo bites" and "finger fingers." I feel like there's a lot more lore here that could use further expansion.
An excellent giant rat-person with an impressively fashioned mask, and while there wasn't a shot showing off more of it, a cloak interwoven with piece of trash!
Bewilder by Violet Kerrigan:
This is a snazzy monster even without the blacklight effect! It has such a lovely indie horror gaming feel to it, like that perfect Yume Nikki vibe. It didn't even need mushrooms sprouting from it to be interesting, but it has them, and they definitely make it more interesting.
Gresysend by Web Flotsam:
The greysend is an entity that naturally sees spirits and "channels them without control!" The long, crude mask is spotted with facial features cut from photographs, which is such a uniquely dream-like character design. The gloves really add something to it as well, and I'm not even sure what
they add, but they feel right.
Funnyman by Jacob McDonnell:
This might be one of the creepiest costumes I've seen in years, all the more for just how subtle it is. I've already praised some of these for an authentic "spooky vintage costume" feel, but I think the Funnyman captures it as good as someone possibly can, and the effect of the cartoonishly wide, black mouth looks great on that floppy mask!
This is one of my personal top favorites, but by now, I think you can plainly see a serious problem I ran into where almost every costume here deserves to win something. We didn't get a massive volume of entries, but we got a massive volume of precisely the kinds of things I hoped to see!
Haunted House by Jenne Kaivo:
In distance shots, this costume gave me a "horror manga" vibe, and I'm not even sure how, but it may be because I thought for a split second that the face was, in fact, a drawing. When you do look at those real vintage costumes, they often have kind of abstract or symbolic ideas behind them rather than an obvious concept for a specific "monster" or "character," and that's the same impression I get out of this one!
Bugbear by Jenne Kaivo:
This one, meanwhile, is
a less ambiguous and specific being. It also manages to be fairly disquieting with nothing but a drawn-on paper mask. Nobody really takes advantage of that with costumes, despite how well it can work.
Thing in the Corner by Jenne Kaivo:
Jenne's third entry is the most abstract; a creepy face occupying a decrepit, dusty corner and much larger than should be possible, because the entire room is a model and part of the mask!
Ur-Despot by John Lander:
From the same creator as the Skin Product Salesman, this is an amazingly
well crafted ghoul! It really looks like shriveled, rotten flesh, its skull structure hovers just between human and indistinct animal, and overall rivals the quality of vintage Hollywood monsters. Plus, that pumpkin is fantastically carved to boot. It technically rivals the Salesman in overall quality, but I felt like the Salesman was weird and memorably enough to slightly edge out this one for the "winning spot!"
This is a technically very simple one, but effectively weird, and was sent as a satisfyingly grody photo that enhances the whole effect. I like the intense light where a mouth would be, even though the face is "upside down" anyway.
This costume cobbles together a bunch of miscellaneous material into a mass just ambiguous enough that you don't know what you're looking at, but just structured and symmetrical enough that it still looks like something.
I especially love the shot of this one-eyed weirdo skulking across the street.
This is a beautiful costume! It was even sent as a grainy grey photo closer to that "vintage" mood than almost any other. The mask is made up of cardboard carefully cut and sewn together, a method I haven't really seen much before, and the "creature design" here is stellar because I simultaneusly see octopus, owl, and some kind of butterfly or moth ging on, which is a fascinating combination of things for the face of a figure otherwise so ominously shrouded in plain robes. This is just good character design!
There must be some confusion here...this is a costume
contest, but this is just a perfectly normal photo of somebody's reel face!!!
A stringy, tatty burlap bag and one bright LED is such a simple combination, yet this looks so good! This is exactly what I'm talking about! Anything you put together can be a weird monster!
A fake television, spray foam and paint come together to craft an interesting figure with a meat-filled monitor for a head. I also enjoy the choice of shooting it in front of this painted prehistoric backdrop...where in the world is this?!
It's fuzzy to make out the photos of this one, but this costume has a metal structure on top from which a pair of skeletal hands dangle on two long chains, and that's a pretty wild vision! More of that weird mural, too. Is this a swimming pool at a hotel??
Gargoyle By Camiel:
This is our last one that feels straight out of those antique photographs, the kind of Halloween costume that evokes a lovably vague sort of goblin or gremlin, or in this case a green gargoyle!
This costume began construction before our contest was announced, so it wasn't made with this in mind, but it's extremely
impressive with a wide range of different faces and animations it can display! You can check out one video of it here
and here's another
, while the entire process of creating it is detailed in an extensive how-to thread HERE!
This is actually one of my favorite costumes that I've ever seen, and I mean, in general. "But it's just some cardboard boxes with weird eyeballs on them?" you say. I think if I actually saw this walking around it would knock my socks off as soon as it turned to face me, because boy is this person compact:
Anyway, barring any entries that might have been lost and will have to be re-added later, this about wraps up the contest! Might we possibly get a great deal more now that people have seen some inspiration, and if I now say almost a year ahead of time that I definitely want to do this again in 2021?? GET STARTED!!!
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