Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Mamacita from Feud (Photo: Kurt Iswarienko/FX), a member of Baby Driver’s Michael Myers gang (Screenshot: Baby Driver), and Phillip Jeffries from Twin Peaks: The Return (Screenshot: Twin Peaks: The Return). Graphic: Allison Corr.

Halloween draws nigh, and with it the annual parade of ghosts and goblins, trolls and Trumps, pumpkins and David S. Pumpkins, and other, equally obvious guises drawn from the well of contemporary pop culture. But you read The A.V. Club (or, at least, you scroll past it on the way to the comments). Your refined tastes for and deep knowledge of film, music, television, etc., goes well beyond the average person’s. How can you rub this in the face of everyone else at your costume party? Here are 15 suggestions.

1. Gene The Cinnabon Manager, Better Call Saul

Photo: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television

Forget the yellow hazmat suits and porkpie hats. Breaking Bad’s Walter White is a now a played-out, Freddy Krueger-level Halloween staple—once a costume has cycled its way down to babies and dogs, it’s time to give it a rest. Instead, why not opt for the subtler, slightly more tragicomic charms of Better Call Saul’s Gene The Cinnabon Manager? All you’ll need is a brown visor and apron, a polo shirt, and a “Gene” nametag, plus a drooping, incognito mustache, some cheap, amber-tinted glasses, and a palpable air of quiet desperation. (Used paperback, sad sack lunch, and official corporate sponsorship optional.) As a bonus, “Gene” is actually a disguise for “Saul Goodman,” who is in turn a disguise for Jimmy McGill—so really, you’re wearing three costumes in one! [Sean O’Neal]

2. Cannibal sisters, Raw 

Photo: Focus World

Prom dresses soaked in blood are so 1976. This year’s sanguine puberty metaphor of choice is going as French veterinary students/cannibal sisters Justine and Alexia, whose poorly repressed cravings for human flesh drive this year’s arthouse horror hit Raw. Together, they form the perfect group costume for mismatched siblings or unlikely best friends: The more rebellious of the two can easily step into older sister Alexia’s gothic punk look, while the fresh-faced innocent should have no problem portraying overachieving Justine. Just grab a couple of lab coats, cover one in fake blood and the other in graffiti, fill the pockets of Justine’s coat with edible severed fingers (available on Amazon) and bandage Alexia’s hand, and voila—instant indie horror cred. [Katie Rife]

3. Dylan Maxwell, American Vandal

Tyler Alvarez as Peter Maldonado and Jimmy Tatro as Dylan Maxwell (Photo: Tyler Golden / Netflix)

The Netflix mockumentary American Vandal perfectly nails the tone of serialized true-crime series like Making A Murderer and Serial, though with a much sillier crime: High-school senior Dylan Maxwell has been accused of spray-painting dicks on each of the 27 cars in the faculty parking lot. To dress as Dylan, you’ll just need a T-shirt, a hoodie, a baseball hat, and a small whiteboard with dry-erase marker, so that you can demonstrate Dylan’s dick-drawing style. (He’s clearly not guilty—the dicks that he draws always have ball hair, whereas the ones on the faculty cars did not. Also, there’s a matter of the shape.) And if you can find a skinny, nerdy friend to follow you around with a camera while dressed as documentarian Peter Maldonado, all the better. [Josh Modell]

4. Michael Myers gang, Baby Driver

Screencap: Baby Driver

It’s bad form to blow the funniest joke from one of the year’s best movies—but then again, Baby Driver came out months ago, it was easily the biggest hit of Edgar Wright’s directorial career, and the gag appeared in trailers. So screw it: Get yourself two friends, some coveralls, and a few Austin Powers masks and go as the mixed-up “Michael Myers gang.” Unfortunately, you may have to pull off a heist of your own to get your hands on the “right” mask: Online retailers appear to be out of stock, although some other Michael Myers is in abundant supply. [Erik Adams]

5. The Martino brothers, The Deuce

Photo: Paul Shiraldi/HBO

Looking for a couples’ costume that embodies the freewheeling sexual mores of Times Square in the 1970s, while also marking you as the kind of person who uses the word “Dickensian” in casual conversation? Look no further than Brooklyn-accented, Mafia-affiliated identical twins Vincent and Frankie Martino (both played by James Franco), the brothers at the center of HBO’s new David Simon series, The Deuce. The outfits are simple: Matching mustaches and slicked-back hair up top, bootcut polyester slacks on the bottom. Vincent, the more responsible twin, should be clad in a conservative white button-up suitable for his bartending shift, while degenerate gambler Frankie can go wild with a leather trench coat and gigantic lapels. Just be ready for it to get weird when you’re bumping mustaches at the end of the night. [Katie Rife]

6. Creepy Flute Painting, It

America’s streets were already filled with scary clowns well before It, but they’ll be positively crawling with red-nosed creeps this year. Still, why limit yourself? It’s evil entity can take on any number of fearsome forms, so skip the obvious and go as the warped painting of a female flautist that menaces poor Stanley. Like Pennywise, the painting—“Judith,” according to the credits—is mostly a greasepaint-and-wig number, although for real verisimilitude, try mounting a mannequin head on a neck-like tube over your real head. To plant yourself square in the uncanny valley, study the work of Amedeo Modigliani, whose unearthly portraits so scarred director Andy Muschietti, he’s now based two movie monsters on them. Don’t forget Judith’s instrument of choice: You’ll flute, too. [Erik Adams]


7. St. Vincent

Photo: Shorefire Media

The word “mercurial” is often appended to St. Vincent, a.k.a. Annie Clark, an artist whose talents for conjuring slippery, otherworldly textures out of her guitar is matched by her seemingly ever-shifting persona. If you’re also the kind of person who enjoys subverting expectations and constantly running off to the bathroom to change, you too can be St. Vincent—all dozen different versions of her. You just need a collection of vintage dresses, a white Polyphonic Spree robe, a lace bodysuit, a motorcycle jacket, a designer gown, a black tank top, a head scarf, loose billowing pants, tight vinyl leggings, a hair curler, a hair crimper, a hair straightener, and some black, silver, lavender, blonde, and more black hair dye. But really, whatever you look like, you can say that you’re St. Vincent; people need to stop trying to put you in boxes. [Sean O’Neal]

8. Connie and Nick, Good Time

The movies have given us a lot of “creepy bank robbers” in recent years, from the clowns of The Dark Knight to the nuns of The Town, but few of them boast the chemistry of Connie and Nick, the criminal brothers played by Robert Pattinson and Benny Safdie in The Safdie Brothers’ terse, naturalist Good Time. Here they’re decked out in thick-cotton hoodies, road-worker safety vests, eerie old man masks, and glasses (you can see their disguises in the first few shots of the trailer above), making for a sort of uncannily human look—believable from afar but wrong up close, like so many of the film’s human details. Anyone who’s seen it won’t be able to shake those emotionless faces; bonus points if, when you take the mask off, you have a separate Robert Pattinson mask on underneath. [Clayton Purdom]


9. Phillip Jeffries, Twin Peaks: The Return

Screencap: Twin Peaks: The Return

Twin Peaks and Halloween have gone together like coffee and cherry pie since 1990, but the show’s 2017 continuation guarantees that more Agent Coopers and Laura Palmers will be coming out of the woodwork this year. But you don’t have to pull from the usual suspects: There’s not one, but two Kyle MacLachlan doppelgängers to choose from—Dougie for slapstick whimsy; Mr. C for Devil’s Night mischief—and you’re sure to be any host’s favorite guest in the guise of Roadhouse Employee Who Just Sweeps The Floor While Listening To “Green Onions.” Or dig way, way back into the Black Lodge’s closet to go as the long-lost Phillip Jeffries, who traded his Tommy Bahama duds for a steampunk cocoon. Once you’ve encased yourself inside your own slippery tin machine—just don’t call it a tea kettle—go the extra mile by rigging Phillip’s “arm” to puff out secret coordinates in the steam. You could even repurpose it for future Halloweens and go as a Dalek from Doctor Who. [Erik Adams]

10. Trevor, The Good Place

Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Before Adam Scott showed up as Trevor, demonic emissary of The Good Place’s hellish equivalent, it had been years since the Parks And Recreation and Party Down star had a chance to go full-on Step Brothers dirtbag. Tap into your own inner heel by copying Trevor’s douche-casual fashion: Dark suit, white sneakers, and the coup de grace, the “Dress Bitch” T-shirt. Accessorize with toenail clipper and unrelenting solicitations for women’s smiles. On second thought, don’t do any of that; Trevor is the forking worst. [Erik Adams]

11. Mamacita, Feud

Photo: Kurt Iswarienko/FX

Her employer Joan Crawford may have gotten all the accolades, but Mamacita—Crawford’s longtime maid and companion, as portrayed by Jackie Hoffman in FX’s Feud— has an undeniable sartorial appeal. You could go for the classic baby blue-and-white maid’s uniform, or pay tribute to the Mamacita who trailed Crawford to her social engagements with a stylish sack dress and pillbox hat. Either way, thick black glasses frames, red lipstick, and a severe chignon are key. In a world where everyone’s trying to be either a Bette or a Joan, dressing up as Mamacita proclaims that you’re loyal, you’re no nonsense, and you couldn’t give less of a shit about dressing “sexy.” And no, you will not smile on command. [Katie Rife]

12. Soundcloud Rap Star

Lil Peep (Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

These days, the most exciting voices in underground hip-hop can be found on Soundcloud—a phrase that you can repeat, with varying levels of condescension, to anyone who doesn’t “get” it. You’ll want some kind of look that sets you apart from the mainstream: Floppy, multicolored hair, in or out of tiny dreadlocks, is always a good start, along with some oversized clothes in crazy colored patterns and as many tattoos as you can cram onto your exposed skin. (Don’t forget the face!) Then just pick a name—some variation of “Lil” is the classic option, as seen in Lil Yachty, Lil Peep, Lil Uzi Vert—as well as some kind of viral-friendly gimmick, like mumbling about LaCroix over the Rocko’s Modern Life theme. By the end of the night, The A.V. Club’s own Clayton Purdom will have written an article about why you’re the future of rap. [Sean O’Neal]

13. 2017 Steven Seagal


Faded action star Steven Seagal reentered the collective consciousness this year when he appeared on Piers Morgan’s Good Morning Britain to rail against “outrageous” and “disgusting” NFL players who kneel during the national anthem—all while praising Vlad-ah-meer Poo-tin in front of the Moscow skyline he now calls home. But it wasn’t what Seagal said, or even how he said it, that made him a viral hit. It was the fact that, as numerous people pointed out, Steven Seagal 2017 now resembles a Grand Theft Auto IV villain you borrow money from, a look so cartoonishly simple that it could be replicated by a 4-year-old with a black crayon. If you, too, want to look like you’ve spent the past decade wandering Eastern Europe stroking your facial hair, all you’ll need is a mandarin coat, some way-too-small glasses, and an oval bush of dyed-black hair for your goatee. Don’t forget the unsolicited political opinions. [Kevin Pang]

14. Topless Mario, Super Mario Odyssey


Sexy Mario” has been a staple of knockoff-costume companies for years, but in 2017, Nintendo finally got in on all the hot plumber action in an official way. The internet seized on the recent trailer for the upcoming Super Mario Odyssey, largely because it gave the world an eyeful of Mario in what is apparently his beach attire—nothing but his red hat and a polka-dotted bathing suit, leaving his chest and never-before-seen nipples glistening in the sun. With the game hitting stores a mere four days before Halloween, there’s never been a more relevant time to sex up a video game icon, and now you can do it practically and authentically. Mario’s various crimson accoutrements are easy enough to come by; really, the hardest part to pull off is his improbably hairless body. Or you could always skip the waxing and go with the more realistic approach. [Matt Gerardi]

15. The Ghost, A Ghost Story

Photo: A24

Sure, to the unsophisticated eye, you may be wearing a classically lazy “ghost” costume—just a bed sheet with some eyeholes cut out of it, a staple of Charlie Brown and forgetful college kids alike. But as you will explain, over and over again, this is actually the ghost from David Lowery’s arthouse sleeper A Ghost Story, and it is thus a more thoughtful, symbolic ghost—one who represents ineffable loss, and is intended to inspire a meditative reflection on grief, time, and the gossamer connections between us among everyone else at your costume party. Also, it’s Casey Affleck under there, and that’s a little scary in its own right. [Sean O’Neal]

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