Updated: Nov 15
By Ian Taylor
We’re now well into October, and with the arrival of the tenth month of the year also comes the spooky season lead-up to objectively the greatest holiday ever celebrated (this is not up for debate because I say so). Though there’s plenty of fun and creative ways to honor the Gaelic holiday traditionally known as Samhain, no Halloween celebration is complete without a healthy serving of horror films binge-watched throughout the month.
These killer fright-fests are best known for featuring sexually active teenagers (gasp!), impossibly dumb characters and knife-wielding slashers who just can’t seem to die. However, an often overlooked aspect of these classics is the style sported by these characters whose screen time seems to rely solely on how little they disobey puritanical values. Having seen my fair share of these films that I’ll always love no matter how bad they get, I decided to take it upon myself to shed some light upon the unique fashion from select classic horror films. So, without further ado, here are my choices for the best-dressed characters from an assortment of iconic scary movies.
“Candyman” (1992)- Best Dressed: Candyman
The stance. The voice. The hook. Though unfairly overlooked in the general discussion of iconic slasher films (racially motivated?), “Candyman” brings to the table more than its fair share of frightening atmosphere, masterful acting and purposeful kills. Not only that, but it also gave us one of the most unique and original slasher villains ever. Though his iconic hook jutting out from his gruesome wrist stump is arguably the most essential part of his look, it wouldn’t be complete without his shin-length brown and tan fur overcoat. The historically-significant piece perfectly frames his already imposing figure, creating a threatening yet mesmerizing image. With such pure, unfiltered drip, no other character in this movie even comes close to looking as good as Candyman does. “Best Dressed” goes to the titular character without question.
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)- Best Dressed: Pam
While spending the summer in the hot and humid Southern United States, the less clothing, the better. Unfortunately, the more exposed skin most likely will lead to greater inspiration for Leatherface to slice and dice with his signature chainsaw. Nevertheless, there’s no shortage of groovy ‘70s outfits in this seminal splatterfest. Though the most iconic shot from the film shows off the exposed-back style of the shirt worn by Teri McMinn’s Pam, this analysis called for a screengrab displaying the full outfit. The abstract-shape pattern on the shirt goes nicely with the blood-red short shorts to create a pop of color against the neutral earth tones of the Texas backwoods.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)- Best Dressed: Glen
Repeat after me: Men can wear crop tops. Men can wear crop tops. Men can wear crop tops! Though Freddy Krueger’s choice of pairing a red- and dark green-striped sweater with a dark brown fedora helped solidify his character as a definitive slasher villain, it wouldn’t do too well fashion-wise in many other contexts. Glen’s (played by a baby Johnny Depp) comfy cropped baseball tee, however, could be paired with pretty much anything, and it would still work wonders. Another standout aspect of this particular statement is that it would still be revolutionary and boundary-pushing in 2021, 37 years after this look graced the silver screen.
“Halloween” (1978)- Best Dressed: Linda
Every era of distinct fashion brings with it both timeless looks as well as looks that were embarrassingly dated the moment they hit the streets, the former being sported by Linda (far right) and the latter by Laurie (far left). Dear reader, be thankful that all you can see of Laurie is her dark green turtleneck, tan cardigan and skirt seemingly made of a floral tablecloth. I’m afraid you may have closed this tab altogether had you had the misfortune of seeing her knee-high knit stockings and clunky black clogs. While Laurie doesn’t seem to show any semblance of fashion sense in this particular scene, she more than makes up for it by outlasting Michael Myers’ attacks and becoming the sole survivor of his rampage through Haddonfield, which can’t be said for Linda or Annie (RIP). Though she’s eventually picked off, Linda undoubtedly has the best fit between the three friends with her mint green bomber, matching green shirt, indigo bell-bottoms and chunky wedges. Annie comes in a close second with her mustard sweater vest over her banana-colored button-up. But unfortunately, she never does wear that varsity jacket she’s got draped over her arm.
“Scream” (1996)- Best Dressed: Randy
I’ve personally declared “Scream” to be Gen Z’s favorite slasher film. I have yet to meet someone around my age who doesn’t like this movie, and for many good reasons. Not only did it completely revitalize the long-dead slasher genre, but it also did so in a brilliantly self-aware and genuinely frightening manner. It delivered as many effective scares and creative kills as it did snarky quips and metacommentary about the tired tropes and predictability of horror films, all drenched in peak late ‘90s aesthetic. That aesthetic is clear in the outfits worn in this group shot following the gruesome murders of the opening scene. While I was tempted to hand the “Best Dressed” award to Tatum for sporting that bold yellow turtleneck, classy plaid shorts and rockin’ white boots pulled straight from the ‘60s, I simply can’t ignore the dapper color-matching that Randy’s got going on. Green is a tough color to pull off, especially the shade of his shoes, but I’d be lying if I said he doesn’t make it work. The dark blue bottom half of the polo is also a nice touch with the dark contrast against the brightness of the greens. Well done, Randy.
Despite the easily-mocked tropes, frequent predictability and plot elements that haven’t aged well, I’ll never cease to recommend watching these movies. Especially because Halloween is quickly approaching, now is as good a time as ever to kill the lights, curl up with a blanket and watch through your fingers as bloody mayhem unfolds on-screen. If you need further convincing, I’ll leave you with a quote from Sheriff Leigh Brackett of “Halloween”: “You know, it’s Halloween. Everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”
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