Introduction: Death Becomes Her Halloween Costume

Create the illusion of seeing through a gaping wound in your body. This is my Halloween Costume for 2008, based on the 1992 movie Death Becomes Her. I am portraying Goldie Hawn's character, who was blasted with a shotgun by Meryl Streep's character in a fit of undead rage.
This movie used new and impressive compositing techniques of the time to create the special effect of a hole through Goldie's body.
What if you could build and wear a special effect like this for a costume? Here's how...


Step 1: Supplies

Gear:
2 x Secondary 7" monitors for a portable DVD unit
2 x Nikon coolpix digital camera with video out cable
2 x 12 volt battery

Sculpture:
clay
plaster of paris
plastic board
Smooth On flex foam, sealer and realease agent
elastic
Velcro
Acrylic paint
Acrylic gloss medium

Outfit:
"Vampire dress"
Fake fur remnant
long gloves
scissors


Step 2: Make the Wounds

Alright - I suffered a loss of one of my monitors at the last minute, so my costume wasn't exactly like I had planned. I really should have ordered an extra. So I'm going to explain how to make this costume work from the front and back, since that was the plan.

I started with these monitors I found on ebay. They are the secondary units to a portable DVD player for your car. I guess the DVD players were defective but these units still worked, so they were a great deal at $20 each.

I needed these to determine the general sizes of the foam wounds that would eventually house them.

I cut a piece of blue foam to the size of the monitor, and covered it with plastic. I also marked an "X" on the foam to indicate where the actual screen was located.

Using regular ceramics clay, I sculpted the rear entry and front exit wounds. I had to build the clay on top of the screen to round it out and build up depth. I used different utensils to create the bullet patterns of a shotgun spray.

Once sculpted, the clay is ready to be cast in Plaster of Paris. When dry, the plaster casts are picked clean with various ceramic & dental tools. Once cleaned they are sealed and then coated with a release agent.

I made a box out of plastic sheeting to the size of the monitors. I mixed and poured the [http://flex foam] into the molds. As it started to expand I placed my plastic box into the foam. This resisted the foam, and allowed me to keep the center of the wounds from filling up. At this point when the foam is curing, elastic straps can be set into the sides.

Step 3: Building the Video Effect

It seems simple; two cameras connected to monitors facing the opposite direction. The greatest feature of this is that people can interact with each other "through" your body.

I needed my monitors to be powered portably, so I used 12 volt battery with special cables that were fitted with the monitor's power connector. I used the AV out cable that comes with the camera and connected it to the monitor's component in with a male-to-male RCA adapter.

Originally I was planning on using spy cameras that run of 9volts to provide my live feed. However, the $10 ones I received from ebay were crappy (duh) and died right away. I had to improvise and use what I had, and I happened to have two Nikon Coolpix digitals available. I cut pockets in the foam for the cameras to sit, and a hole for the lenses to pop through.

I decided that having the monitors in the cases was creating to much rigid bulk, so I removed them. I put them in the soft, vinyl cases that came with the monitors for attaching to the headrest of your car. I sandwiched them in leather and foam. This is the point where I damaged the second monitor, rendering it useless.

I cut a slit on the side of the foam where the cables attached to the monitor. This was so I could turn the power on and off easily. I could also turn the camera on every 30min (the longest default time it would stay on for).

Step 4: What to Wear

It would be very easy to hide this whole mess in a baggy, loose fitting frock. However, I really wanted to challenge myself even further, and stay true to the form fitting clothes worn by Goldie's character in the movie. I altered a thrifted a Halloween "Vampire" dress to suit my needs, removing the sleeves and slitting the skirt. I needed all of the gear to fit to my my body and not look too bulky.

Basically the fit came from trying on the foam wounds, and then trimming down areas that were causing excessive bulk. The ruching of the dress was quite good for hiding imperfections and stretching over everything nicely. Holes were cut to expose the wounds and snipped to tatter the edges. I painted the dress ti give the fabric around the holes a burnt quality.

The fur stole was a remnant of fake fur I cut and hemmed to have hidden pockets for the batteries. Since I only ended up with one battery, I made the pocket on the other side open to my hand so I could counter the weight of the battery. Two batteries would have balanced each other out.
The entire outfit cost $20!

Step 5: Paint the Town Red!

So technical problems aside, this was an absolute blast to wear! I just had to keep my power supplies in check, it helped I had an extra battery for the digital camera. I found the camera did decently well in various environments, the darker the place the less you could make out on the monitors.
I'm really pleased with the final costume, and the total cost was under $100.

Thank you to Temperance McDonald, Paul Hamel and Andrew Bart for your assistance.

Comments

author
snoopindaweb made it! (author)2013-10-06

I am Scared of You... ARrr.!

author
PeckLauros made it! (author)2012-11-09

So creative!

author
Nelyan made it! (author)2011-02-25

There's a link missing for flex foam in the last paragraph in step 2, btw. Great tutorial. If only I had enough money for two monitors...

author
iminthebathroom made it! (author)2009-10-23

Very cool, soooo jealous! I'll try a variation for next year!  Awesome

author
flixs made it! (author)2009-10-23

nice job, I was creating exactly same effect using 14" pc monitor and webcam , your setup and mine basicly same thing.. nice to see other people have twisted ideas like i do.. lol

author
esben2k made it! (author)2009-10-23

Very nice

author
Jayefuu made it! (author)2009-10-23

Awesome. 5*

author
natataka made it! (author)2009-10-22

bravo...very original and executed well.

author
orksecurity made it! (author)2009-10-22

The single thing that impresses me most is that you seem to have the focal length, and alignment,  of the camera set about right to match normal vision from a reasonable distance. I know, you worked at finding the right point from which to shoot the demo video... but still, it's a pretty darned good effect. Pity you couldn't have gotten it to match colors/brightness a bit more closely, but that Really Tough given different lighting conditions.

Works a heck of a lot better than I would have expected. Well Done.

author
Photographer London made it! (author)2009-10-15

 full respect that is a serious amount of work to put into a costume!

author
bowmaster made it! (author)2009-04-08

Totally awesome! It's like a invisibility cloak for only part of your body.

author
Armaggedon made it! (author)2008-12-20

Cool!

author
Angeleyes997 made it! (author)2008-11-15

That is the coolest costume I have ever seen!

author
sponges made it! (author)2008-11-08

This is pretty incredible. Well done. just, well done. Totally resourceful and ingenious. Anyway, What's the battery life on the electronics like?

author
nicemag made it! (author)nicemag2008-11-09

I wore it for about 5 hours until the camera battery died. The 12 volt was still going strong.

author
sponges made it! (author)sponges2008-11-09

impressive!

author
Re-design made it! (author)2008-11-07

Way cool!

author
Bartboy made it! (author)2008-11-06

Like the invisible car in james bond!

author
nicemag made it! (author)nicemag2008-11-07

ha! Yes I based this idea on an old article in Wired suggesting a technique for practical invisibility.

author
Bartboy made it! (author)Bartboy2008-11-07

well, it works! a bit pricey though....

author
ax89 made it! (author)2008-11-06

Really good and wearable too! Awesome!

author
Nabil made it! (author)2008-11-06

I was waiting for this one!! great work!!

author
fungus amungus made it! (author)2008-11-03

I love it! Another great costume from you. Fantastic.

author
mysterygirl154 made it! (author)2008-11-03

This is like the best costume ever! What did people think of it?

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jakebaldwin made it! (author)2008-11-03

wow... this is an awesome costume. nice job! Are you in the movie industry or something?

author
jessyratfink made it! (author)2008-11-03

This is one of the most original costumes I've seen so far this year. :D

About This Instructable

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Bio: Artist living and working in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada.
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