Name your choices for the best and worst dressed characters in Horror.
Not sure about best, but worst is easy, “Jason X”. I never did understand why people in the future wore mesh shirts, bad spandex, and fuzzy purple sweaters. Oh well, I guess that was the least outlandish thing in that film.
Henry David Thoreau once said “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes,” to which I would add “unless your old clothes suck and you are fighting evil.” History has shown us time and again that dressing poorly is a recipe for disaster. Consider the sundry partygoers in Curse of the Crimson Altar, Dracula AD 1972 and Scream Blacula Scream - they look ridiculous in their (respectively) blazers and ascots, bell bottoms and headbands and dashikis and Kente caps. Fighting evil requires a classic approach that defies fashion trends. Consider the priests in The Exorcist, the three-piece suits favored by Dr. Van Helsing, and the SWAT uniforms of the Dawn of the Dead heroes. While I wouldn’t advocate a horror dress code, per se, I will suggest that you can’t go wrong with Georgian or Victorian dress. Everyone looks good in breeches and waistcoats. These fashions favor the ample and the starved equally well and those lines are just classic. How wicked stupid would you look carrying a Gladstone bag full of wooden stakes while wearing Sansabelt slacks?
As for who looks good… anybody whose name includes the title Count or Baron. Dracula, Blacula, Frankenstein, Yorga, Latos, Chocula… they all look fab-u-lous in their cutaways and capes. Vincent Price always favored conservative, JFK style dark suits with thin lapels, complemented by a narrow tie. Forty years later, he looks just as cool, which can’t be said for, say, Roger Perry in his TJ Maxx clearance rack castoffs in Count Yorga, Vampire, William Ellis in his poncey Carnaby Street togs in Dracula AD 1972 or the entire hippy dippy cast of Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (and look what happened to them!) And fuck The Lost Boys… you cannot confront ultimate evil in a mullet.
Who am I, Mr. Blackwell? Ah, well. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly.
For an example of a well-dressed serial killer, look no further than Frederick Charles Krueger. The workboots and khakis are timelessly neutral– and practical– and draw attention to the standout features of the outfit. Mr. Krueger’s sartorial trademark, of course, is his iconic sweater. Not everyone looks good in wide horizontal stripes, but on Krueger the design emphasizes his powerful build and broad shoulders. The sweater’s worn and fraying edges, instead of appearing sloppy, instead serve as an outward symbol of Krueger’s determination: This is a man who will come back from the dead to keep on murdering, and he certainly won’t replace his favorite sweater just to satisfy others. The outfit is accessorized with a broad-brimmed fedora, helping to balance out the width of Krueger’s shoulders. Finally, he dons his self-designed glove, a classic of brutal design in metal and leather, which draws the eye without appearing ostentatious.
A revamp of Krueger’s wardrobe appeared in 1994. Here we see the boots and trousers changed from brown to black, and the entire look is modified with the addition of a long black coat. The sweater, however, has not changed, and maintains its rightful place as the focal point of the outfit. And look closely– the sweater’s stripes are repeated in the lining of the coat itself for a subtle but delicious embracing of personal style. Krueger’s new right hand, though, trades the personal touch of the glove for a sleeker, more biological look, and I fear it doesn’t carry the same weight. Despite this, the outfit as a whole is a respectable and menacing upgrade.
Jason Voorhees, sadly, has not fared as well as Mr. Krueger. Don’t get me wrong; his outfits have been very practical throughout most of his career, and though they may err on the side of caution (read: dullness), they allow more attention to fall on Mr. Voorhees’s hockey mask.
The hockey mask itself, of course, was a wise trade-up from his previous burlap sack.
Now suitably masked, he ditches the overalls in favor of a two-piece. Still simple, still practical, the bland coloring lets the white mask stand out.
Voorhees is not as healthy as he used to be, but he sticks with the outfit that works, and accessorizes with a toolbelt.
He’s even more decomposed now, but the outfit still looks good as a contrast to the mask. So far, so good… but a little while later, Voorhees makes a mistake. A fundamental blunder, if you will, also committed by the Leprechaun and even by Pinhead himself, who should have known better. I refer, of course, to taking a trip to space.
Oy. The cyborg look does not work. Let this be a lesson to all you other icons of horror film. Don’t go to space.
Best Dressed: Dracula in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The Count has always been among horror’s best-dressed gents in almost every incarnation over the years, but nobody did it up like Gary Oldman. As illustrated in the accompanying pic, Oldman’s Dracula is looking sharp as a vampire’s fang–worthy of the Victorian equivalent of G.Q.
Worst Dressed: Tarman. Sure, he’d been stewing in his own undead funk for 17 years by the time Frank accidentally freed him from that trioxin cannister, but that’s really no excuse for such a slovenly ensemble.
1. The worst of all-time is the Trickster from BRAINSCAN. It’s like a studio-head went to a David Bowie/Glass Spider Tour concert, then read an early 90s Vertigo comic and then played Ecco the Dolphin, went to a screenwriter and said “Hey, these kids today love that new wave, spiky-haired, nose-ring fad, so let’s make a movie about a killer who looks like that…ohh, and can we somehow tie this into the new Atari Lynx? Or maybe the Neo-Geo? Make it a horror film! It’s our new franchise!”
2. The best looking? That would be Thor from ROCK AND ROLL NIGHTMARE. A heavy metal angel sent by God to destroy demons, clad only in a metal codpiece? Now that’s a costume!
3. I’m gonna add another category, if I may–hottest costume ever. That would go to Salma Hayek in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. As Satanico Pandemonium, it’s seriously the only time I ever seriously contemplated masturbating in a movie theater.
Best-Dressed: Gary Oldman in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” Sure, he may have had funny Leia-buns on the top of his head in that one scene, but aside from that, tell me that he didn’t look exceptionally dapper? I only wish I could pull off the silver suit and top hat look.
Worst-Dressed: Pretty much anyone in any horror film made between 1967 and 1979. It’s like there was a gap in the collective sense of what was attractive, which is the only way that I can explain how abominably ugly the 1970s were. See Alan Ormsby in “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things.”
Best dressed: Pinhead from Hellraiser.
Worst dressed: This douchebag from Terror Train.
My vote goes to Peter Cushing’s Doctor Frankenstein and Van Helsing characters in the various Hammer films. Cushing was undoubtedly one of the best dressed men in horror films and he always looked flawless in period costumes.
As for the worst, I’m going to have to say Frankenstein’s monster in most of it’s guises. I love the original old Universal Frankenstein films but they set the standard for the monster’s look and those sloppy ill-fighting suits are just ugly. If the Doctor can dress himself so well, why he can’t afford to hire a tailor and get a nice suit made for his monster? I think this is one reason Frankenstein’s monster was pissed all the time. He wanted a better suit!
Best: Vulnavia Wrick in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Although I had to swipe this shot from online because I ran out of time, and it’s not the best outfit to represent her fantastic wardrobe in the film, you get the point. Outlandishly cool.
Worst: Thor in Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare. Although I love Thor, this isn’t his shining moment — although maybe his shiniest… On second thought, this is exactly why I love Thor. And this really is the best codpiece for fighting puppet-demons.
After years on the sidelines, it looks like cock and balls may finally be making their long-anticipated comeback to the runway. Thanks to the followers of horror couture found above for their insight, and please, if you have your own ideas of who has it and who hasn’t this season, share in the comments below. Ciao!