I did Nicole Magne's headless Marie Antoinette costume last year, so I was under pressure to better that this year at the company's Halloween do.
I love Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester in this iconic movie - and so the concept was born - an evolution
of the headless illusion to that of Frankenstein's monster carrying off The Bride ( against her will) in black and white / grayscale as a tribute to the James Whale classic horror movie era. Credit to ModMischief for her excellent Kidnapped Mermaid costume, which gave me the idea for the construction of the illusion.
It was a really funny costume, which brought a smile to the faces of almost everyone who saw it. Apologies to Elsa Lanchester for my beefy arms, though! I had a ten minute walk from the office to the party venue because he was too tall to get in the car, and I was stopped by random strangers wanting their photos taken. It was hilarious, especially as my work friends were dressed as Mario and Luigi and were acting as my helpers to make sure I got there in one piece! Hope you enjoy it!
What you'll need:
Polystyrene mannequin head
Paper mâché clay
2 cylindrical cupboard door knobs for the bolts in his neck
Duct tape - I used about 4 rolls, but you can never have too much duct tape!
2 Fro party wigs
2 strips of white hair
White long sleeve tee shirt
Grey over the knee socks
Thick florists wire
Black baggy tee shirt
Lengths of pvc pipe
5 Pvc T joints
1 end stop
2 Pool noodle connectors
Step 1: Making Boris Karloff's Head
There are plenty of Boris monster masks on the Internet, but unless you are in the U.S., the cost of shipping was as much as the mask itself ( and I didn't leave enough time for it to arrive anyways). I had no choice but to make a Boris sculpture myself.
Using the polystyrene head, I cut the skull mask and taped it to the form, adding some newspaper on top to give him the square shelf at the top of his head. I then made paper mâché clay but I used some store bought for smoothing it off. The commercial stuff was smoother than what I had made out of joint compound, cornflour, paper towels and pva glue. The skull form gave me the nice cheekbones and I am sure helped to create the likeness. I am sure you could do it without but this gave me more precision when it came to defining the likeness.
I decided to cut him away from the form when he was dry but later changed my mind to maintain some strength. That gave me a chance to cut away the mannequin's neck, which made it a) easier to insert the bolts into his neck, and b) meant the head could attach neatly on top of the body. Cutting through polystyrene is messy, with polystyrene statically sticking to everything, so I heated a bread knife in the flame from my cooker to make my own hot knife! It worked like a dream.
I then silicone glued him back together, painted him, using stills from the movie for reference, and stuck on the neck bolts, some false eyelashes and his hair from a cheap wig with a glue gun.
Step 2: Making the Bride's Wig
I had two fro party wigs, one of which I sewed on top of the other to get the fullness of The bride's hair. Then with my self-taught hair cutting skills, I was able to shape it into her wig, adding the two white side pieces by sewing then on.
Step 3: The Body and the Rigging
I made a duct tape body by taping up my husband - have fun with that, I threatened to leave him trussed up for a joke! That got paper mâchéd, and then strengthened with gesso, made by mixing pva glue, joint compound and a bit of water.
The blue pvc water pipes have endless uses and are cheap, so I created the rigging with that and T joints. I glued an end stop inside his head with lots of silicone so I could attach the pipe to the head easily. I also found that it helped to sew channels in the backpack slightly wider than the pipe, which held the pipe supports in place for better stability.
Using the pool noodle connectors, which you can easily get from Toys'r Us to pad out his shoulders, I manoeuvred the pipe to connect his body to the head. Whilst I glued the joints, I kept the body, head and uprights separate so he could be transported easily in three pieces, but would also be very easy to put together when needed. He got a black Tee shirt and a jacket with some fake arms, which I had painted white and grey. These were safety pinned into the jacket sleeves.
Step 4: The Bride's Body and Legs
I had already made the 'dress' which was the skirt from the Marie Antoinette costume. I had made this out of a length of sheeting, which I had cut to three lengths measuring from my neck to the floor. I sewed these to an old Tee shirt and cut the body part away, but leaving the neck on, which gave it some elasticity. With two lengths at the back, it was easy to use a seam ripper to create the space I needed to put the skirt/ dress over my head, and arm holes so I could stick my arms through to create the body illusion.
The legs were some over the knee socks stuffed up with an old polyester pillow filling. I measured a length of thick florist wire the length from my hip to knee, so the legs would be more realistic and bend from the knee. I sewed these to a cushion, added some ribbon which I could use to tie the leg piece to my waist under the dress.
Step 5: Putting It All Together
I couldn't find Kryolan aqua color in 32b, which other people had recommended to get the grayscale effect, so I mixed my own with white and black face paint. I covered my face, neck and hands in this stuff and finished the makeup, put on the dress, her legs, trousers from the suit and clumpy platform boots. Without the wig, it looked really weird but once the wig was on, it all came together nicely. Then I had Mario and Luigi help me put the backpack on with the monster already assembled, and that was it!
One person at the party said that it really looked like a person from behind but the monster had a nice bum! I hope you enjoyed reading this and hope some of you will try making your own versions, too. Happy Halloween!