With Halloween just around the corner, it's time to dig through your closet or visit your nearest costume shop to get your outfit together. Need some inspiration? Before you reach for the same Lara Croft costume from last year, take a look at these options. Literary Halloween costumes come in all shapes and sizes, so if you're looking for something truly scare-inducing this year, it might be time to open a book. Whether you want to find a creepy new twist or go with a tried-and-tested character, there's a costume for you.
And they're not just for bookworms. Although you may not think intellectual costumes are for everyone, you'd be surprised how many recognizable costumes derive from literature. Your favorites werewolves and vampires, witches and monsters, often come straight off the page. Novels, short stories, fairytales, and mythology are all filled with the monstrous and demonic, so there's plenty to choose from.
They make perfect costumes for English majors, who will want to get every detail right (from the book, not the movie, obviously) or anyone who wants to show off their literary prowess. You might not get the most candy on Halloween, but you will hopefully get the most screams.
One of the most popular Halloween monsters has to be Frankenstein's creation - and it's a literary reference everyone is soon to get immediately. But forget the green face paint: in the book, Shelly actually describes him with "yellow skin scarcely cover[ing] the work of muscles and arteries beneath;" with black, flowing hair; very white teeth; and watery eyes. Completely disgusting, but easily achieved with a wig and some careful body art.
Oh, and don't forget the "straight black lips" achieved with some trendy black lipstick and a total lack of happiness. But remember, the monster is so ugly it's "a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived" so if you're looking for a sexy Halloween costume, this is not for you.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Granted, It is a shape-shifter in Stephen King's horrifying book of the same name, able to take the form of whatever children fear. But its form as Pennywise is the most well-known - and the most terrifying. Described as having a "white" face, with "funny tufts of red hair on either side of his bald head" and "a big clown-smile painted over his mouth," it's an easy costume to do. Plus, clowns are just really scary in their own right. Try adding a bunch of balloons, which appears in the book. And if you can shape-shift into spiders and all things horrific, that's a plus.
The Sand Man
The titular character from the 1816 German short story is an easy costume with a high creepy factor. Coppelius, or the Sand Man, throws sand into children's eyes until they bleed and fall out, before taking them home and feeding them to his own children. Although he's described as generally "hideous and repulsive" what is most distinctive about him are "his coarse brown hairy fists."
But what's most important is his fascination with all things ocular. Muttering "pretty eyes, pretty eyes" and carrying a pouch of fake eyeballs should do the trick.
The world's most famous vampire gets a lot of admirers on Halloween, but not all of them do the literary Dracula justice. Although film portrayals of Dracula get some things right, they often miss out on the "long white moustache." He does, however, come "clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere".
You probably can't do anything to get the "thin nose" and arched nostrils, but the eyebrows, described as "massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion," can be drawn on fairly easy. And the distinctive sharp, white teeth are available at every costume shop.