Well kids, Halloween is right around the corner, and the pressure is on, year after year, to find the absolute greatest costume of all time. I think we can blame much of this pressure on teevee and movies, which dramatize million-dollar Halloween parties with elaborate, ornate costumes — designed, of course, by well-paid professionals with sky’s-the-limit budgets. But even pop culture characters occasionally wear a dud costume; here are a few of the least imaginative, with the hope that they’ll adjust your self-imposed expectations just a bit.
Donnie’s Hoodied Skeleton, Donnie Darko
Look, I know the kid’s got a lot on his mind and all, but talk about half-assing a Halloween costume. A skeleton skirt, a hoodie, and his standard scowl? You’re hosting a goddamn Halloween party — how’s about trying a little, Donnie? You’ve got a giant imaginary rabbit to compete with, for God’s sake.
“My Sister” and “A Teacher,” Curb Your Enthusiasm
His views and fights aren’t always sympathetic, but I’m with Larry — these two terrible teenage girls have got no business trick-or-treating at their age, much less without a costume. I’d probably react the same way, and I’d probably be just as surprised by their retribution.
Harvey Pekar, American Splendor
In the wonderful opening sequence of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s outstanding adaptation of Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner’s comics, little Harvey presents himself at a neighbor’s door, along with his superhero-inspired friends, and announces his costume thus: “I’m Harvey Pekar.” Which would be an excellent costume now — but little Harvey was just a tad ahead of his time.
Ross’s “Spudnik,” Friends
Nothing’s worse on Halloween than someone with a costume too clever for their own good; they end up spending the entire evening explaining it, over and over again, rather than drinking and/or hooking up and/or having a good time. Take, for example, the eighth-season Friends episode “The One With the Halloween Party,” in which poor egg-headed Ross decides to fuse the Russian space satellite Sputnik with a potato to create “Spudnik.” Aside from the aforementioned trouble of time spent explaining the costume, there was Joey’s (accurate) description of its appearance: “Ross came as doody!”
The Cobra Kai Skeletons, The Karate Kid
Granted, there’s a bit more to it than Donnie Darko’s get-up, but seriously: if you’re going to do a group costume, even if you’re a group of fascist high school bullies, use a little wit and imagination, instead of doing something as dull as having the whole group dress in exactly the same costume. No mercy in karate, and in clever Halloween costume construction.
Jeff’s David Beckham, Community
In what amounts to the male equivalent of a Sexy Teacher or Sexy Librarian costume, Jeff lets his stubble grow a bit longer, puts on a $6000 designer suit, carries a soccer ball, and announces that he’s going to the Greendale Halloween party as “David Beckham.” Nice try, Winger.
Michael Myers’s Ghost, Halloween
Nobody ever accused Michael Myers of being a party animal. But his total lack of personality is a real drawback for this sheet/ghost costume, worn in the original 1978 Halloween — especially since the donning of Bob’s glasses seems to indicate a sense of humor, or at least an interest in jazzing up the most boring of Halloween costumes. But no luck; Mike just stands there like a slab of wood. And then he kills Lynda, so a bad holiday guest overall.
Donna’s Mermaid, Beverly Hills 90210
There’s no question that Donna Martin’s mermaid costume, worn in this second-season episode of 90210, is gorgeous and impressively detailed. A little too detailed, in fact — her convincing fins ultimately render her unable to dance, walk, or even go to the bathroom. And all of those activities are fairly essential for a memorable Halloween night.
Bill’s Bionic Woman, Freaks and Geeks
Likewise, Bill Haverchuck gets the details right when dressing up as Lindsay Wagner’s title character from the three-season action series. But there’s a certain age for dressing in drag, and the high school years ain’t it — particularly when you’re a frustrated outcast. (And nothing against the great Martin Starr, but he does not make a pretty lady.)
Cady’s Zombie Bride, Mean Girls
Once again, a fine costume, poorly timed — at least in terms of assisting Cady’s rise to the top of the Plastics, who know that “In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.” Her killer creep-out costume would be a giant hit at a party when she was either a decade older or a decade younger, but as high school boy bait, it’s a buzzkill.