FANGORIA and Special Guests Remember Our First Halloween Costumes
We here at FANGORIA are – like most ardent monster movie fanatics – permanently locked in time. Our passion for all things garish and ghoulish is hardwired into us from earliest days and so it goes to follow that Halloween was then and still is and always will be an important time for us.
Just for kicks, we polled ourselves and some ghoulish guests this morning to see if we could recall the first time we “became” the creatures we would come to love and then hit the streets in search of cavities and a naive bid for type 2 diabetes.
Here then, are select FANGORIA staffers and special guests speaking on their first Halloween costumes….
The formative years of my Halloween experience are a blur as from my first shreds of memory, I was always obsessed with monsters and KISS and the chronology of what year I was dressed as what is collected in a single, swirling, nostalgia soaked Trick or Treat session.
But I think I can cite two back-to-back sessions in my pre-grade school days when my love of my uncle’s Universal Monsters model kits spurred me on to want to be those storied, scary beasts. I’ll say that in my 4th year I begged to be Frankenstein’s monster. I say this because I know I had also visited The House of Frankenstein haunted attraction in Niagara Falls Canada earlier that summer and its effect on my psyche was so profound (those model kits come to life!) that it still reverberates today, my all time favorite spook house.
Anyway, my aunt was something of an artist and she volunteered to construct my costume; No off the rack, plastic smock stupidity for this kid. No, my aunt went the distance, getting a suit jacket with padded shoulders, built up Karloff forehead and scar, neck bolts, green greasepaint and block boots made out of spray painted Kleenex boxes. I remember feeling empowered. I was scared of the Frankenstein monster and suddenly becoming him, made me feel like I could control that fear. I was suddenly on the other side of the fence of the fright machine and man, I loved it. So did my friends and neighbors. I was a pint sized, “famous monster” rock star and it was awesome.
The following year, I wanted to up the ante, so I told my auntie I wanted to be The Mummy. She determined the best way to do this was to wrap me in strips of torn white sheets from head to toe, held together by safety pins and luck. The concept was good in theory; in practice, not so much. I couldn’t freaking walk! I could barely move. I took two steps and fell on my face, I remember my heart sinking and feeling crestfallen. But since the sun had sunk and the moon was up and the other brats were blathering all over the streets begging for treats, I had no time for a plan B get-up. My Aunt had to carry me from house to house like a living prop. I looked great. I felt not great. But it all worked out in the end as people felt so badly for this little boy in a body cast that they doubled their candy shell-out.
After that I was Gene Simmons, Dracula, Gene Simmons, a zombie, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Dracula….black and red bleeding together, undefined.
- FANGORIA Editor-in-Chief Chris Alexander
This is me (left) one Halloween morning on my way to school, thinking I was so cool with my vest and chaps made of real cowhide, a gift from my grandmother.
Who would’ve thought there were cowboys in Brooklyn?
- Tom DeFeo (President and Owner, FANGORIA)
I have a poor, or possibly terribly selective, childhood memory, so any source of my adolescent obsession with Robin Hood is a questionable one. I’m fairly certain it was a healthy mix of the Errol Flynn-starring THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, Kevin Costner being launched from a catapult and Bryan Adams bringing a denim jacket to Sherwood Forest. The year I donned a Robin Hood getup isn’t a particularly memorable one, but that costume was, as I kept it in my drawer for safekeeping for nearly a decade after.
- Samuel Zimmerman (Managing Editor, FANGORIA.com)
“For my first Halloween costume, my mother intended for me to be an angel. However, because I was such an evil brat, she changed her mind and made me into a Devil. Of course, I would never have wanted to be an angel in the first place, so even though this wasn’t a choice, I embraced the idea. I kept the horns for many years and incorporated them into other costumes and even a few of my early Super 8 films.”
- Vincenzo Natali (Director, CUBE, HAUNTER) Vincenzo Natali’s online horror anthology DARKNET premieres Halloween. You can enjoy the pilot, of which Natali wrote and directed here.
“One of the first Halloween costumes I remember wearing is a Nun’s habit. Nuns intrigued me as a kid; I thought they were mind-controlling and mean. They scared me more than Frankenstein’s monster, and so, for a few years in a row, I donned the habit. I would also wear tights over my head so my face was ‘missing.’ This faceless Nun idea came from ‘Quiet as a Nun,’ which was a multiple-episode segment of ITV’s anthology series ARMCHAIR THRILLERS. If I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that some nuns are better than others.”
- Glenn McQuaid (Director, I SELL THE DEAD, V/H/S) Glenn McQuaid is the co-creator of horror radio drama series TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE. For a proper fright, listen here.
“My first voluntary Halloween costume was a little after my first birthday. After I started speaking, I was obsessed with clocks. Every time I saw one I’d run around shouting ‘CLOCK CLOCK CLOCK CLOCK CLOCK’… except, I apparently couldn’t pronounce the letter ‘L.’ My mom made this homemade costume (pictured, right) out of two paper plates, one on the front, and one on the back.”
- Graham Reznick (Director, I CAN SEE YOU and this wonderful Halloween short THE TRICK IS THE TREAT)
“My first costume was as a girl. My sister dressed me up in make-up, and also had me put my mother’s clothes on. I was about six, and was an incredibly skinny kid. Scary right?”
-Andrew van den Houten (Producer, JUG FACE, THE WOMAN)
Elliot Ness/Al Capone. THE UNTOUCHABLES was the second R rated movie I saw as a kid (ALIENS was the first) and I was obsessed with, and torn between, Elliot Ness and Al Capone. So I got a fedora from somewhere, my dad had an old suit that was way too big for me and somehow I managed to talk my parents into letting me get a shoulder holster for my crappy little cap gun. For three years in a row I wore that exact same costume and would decide if I was dressed up as Elliot Ness or Al Capone depending on my mood.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (of Radio Silence, Directors of V/H/S, DEVIL’S DUE)
You can tell a lot about a person from their first Halloween costume. Of course, we’re not talking about the embarrassing act of being dressed up as an infant, but rather, the first time we consciously choose who we want to be for Halloween. It’s quite possibly the first mature decision any of us make, considering that when we’re young, we’ll watch anything that’s bright and loud and listen to anything that makes us dance, which is often everything. But if you look back at what costume you first chose for Halloween, and look at where your tastes line up, there’s always a bizarre line that can be traced between the two.
For instance, I’ve always been a fan of the underdog. When the other kids would be dressing up as Batman, I’d be dressing up as The Riddler. I thought there was always something slightly cooler about being something off-kilter, or perhaps obscure in a sense, which has been a trait that’s gotten worse by the year. The reason I mention this lifelong obsession with the underdog, is because my first Halloween costume of choice was none other than one of the most famous underdogs of all time: I was a Ghostbuster.
If you were a boy and never were a Ghostbuster for Halloween, or at the very least wanted to be a Ghostbuster for Halloween, then I have a feeling that you may have missed out on something quintessential. The sense of mischief, humor and ultimate badassery that emitted from those characters when the cards were on the table is unrivaled, and they were much more colorful in their attire than the standard cop or fireman uniform. At the time, there weren’t many protagonists that were funny and fearless, at least from a consumable standpoint of what entertains children. Add on a little obsession thanks to the GHOSTBUSTERS ride at Universal Studios Orlando, and I remember wanting nothing more for my first Halloween costume.
The pride I had when I wore that jumpsuit was immeasurable, as even as a child, I knew I was against the grain just enough to feel cool and still instantly recognizable. I even had a little plastic proton pack, which I used to tie onto my pillow-sack / candy receptacle. I even remember buying a CD of terrible Halloween music just to play the theme song as I left the house. To this day, there’s few adult costumes that would give me the same satisfaction as another go as a Ghostbuster. Seven year-old Ken wasn’t afraid of no ghosts, and 24-year-old Ken sure ain’t afraid of ‘em either.
- Ken Hanley (Contributor, FANGORIA)
“The first Halloween costume that I consciously chose… I was in the first grade and decided to be The Wolf Man. The costume was very simple: I slicked my hair back, got a bunch of cotton balls (painted grey) and stuck them on my face with Karo Syrup, added black makeup on the nose and eyes, and also those one-piece plastic Dracula fangs. The only thing I really remember beyond that is that I smelled like pancakes and was very sticky. It was fall, so thank God there wasn’t any flies around. I wasn’t keen on baths as a kid so I’m pretty sure I had Karo Syrup on my face the next day at school… And that’s one to grow on. The more you know. “
- Dave Sheridan (Actor, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, SCARY MOVIE)