Introduction: Regan From the Exorcist... or Is That ExorTWIST?
UPDATED MAKEUP PICS!!!! This isn't just a make-up tutorial since my daughter wanted to do something special with her costume this year. If you've seen the movie, then you know that Linda Blair's Regan MacNeil character has the ability to twist her head completely around and face backward. So, we wanted to do this with this costume. But how do you make it appear that her head turned around and still make a costume comfortable and safe? Here's what we did:
Step 1: Shoulders
So the first step is to make a structure that creates the illusion of shoulders being backward. If you watch people's posture, you will notice that the back is shaped differently from the front. You can not simply put a dress on backwards and expect to look like your head is reversed. So, we took tin foil and wrapped the shoulders on a mannequin. We then covered the tin foil with layers of duct tape. This is a great way to build a pliable structure the will hold its shape. I taped in a few Zip ties to add a bit of support. The plastic will hold the tape and foil in place.
We then cut the structure from the mannequin and taped up the inside. When you are finished, you will have a shoulder piece that is completely encased in duct tape. Following this step, put the shoulders back onto the mannequin. It's time to make some arms.
Step 2: A Farewell to Arms... or Is This "Hello"?
Get an old water noodle and measure the arms of the costume wearer. Understand that the hands will come later so only measure from the shoulder to the wrist. Cut the water noodle based on these measurements. You will need 2 arms.
Now grab your duct tape and start wrapping. Wrap from the wrist to the elbow on the noodle. With a carpet knife or scissors, cut a small triangle on the inside of the elbow. This will allow the arm to bend. Bend the arm and tape at the desired angle. Finish up the tape wrapping so the entire arm is covered. You should have 2 complete arms when you finished.
Step 3: The Arm Bones Are Connected to the Shoulder Bones...
It's time to attach the arms to the shoulders. We will do this with... you guessed it, duct tape! Take the nightgown you are planning to wear and glue it down around the neck. We found ours at Goodwill for $8.00. You may have to do some trimming to prevent to the silver tape from showing. Be sure to patch any cut areas with duct tape before proceeding so that nothing falls apart. Duct tape is cheap. More is usually better. LOL.
Step 4: Take a Chance on Me!
Now it's time to try it on. Invariably, you will not be 100% thrilled with the fit. I know I wasn't! But that's okay., revisions are the name of the game. We tried it on forward and backward to get a sense of it. Because we made the form on an adult mannequin, we discovered that our shoulders were a bit too wide. Jessica looked like a linebacker. So, we took the scissors and snugged it up in a few places. Just cut and tape until you find a look that you like. Reinforce any alterations/cuts with tape.
We also did not like the ridge that was being created by the bottom of the shoulder piece. So, we got some foam sheeting and created a loose "skirt so the edge of the upper piece would not be so apparent. It was also clear that this nightgown was too thin and perhaps a bit too modern for this costume. We needed something heavier and vintage and decided to look for a replacement on eBay. I found a PERFECT one almost immediately - period correct and thicker. While we wait for delivery, we will use the Goodwill one for testing.
Step 5: Give That Girl a Hand!
So, we need some kid-sized hands for the costume. Fake adult hands will ruin the illusion so we decided to make our own. Here's a warning and it is IMPORTANT! DO NOT DO WHAT WE DID. LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKE! If you are going to make replica body parts of any sort, make sure you use alginate or comparable impression material. In our haste, we figured it would be fine to make our mold from Plaster of Paris since it would just be her hands.. DO NOT DO THIS. Plaster warms up and can actually burn your skin if you use it improperly. Additionally, if it creates an undercut, you could become locked in the mold. Some of the plaster got underneath my daughter's hands which were supposed to be flat on the table. I had to chip her out with a wooden spoon. Luckily she was okay and the mold was still usable but she was not happy... Needless to say, I will not cut corners like this is the future.
It was time to pour in some latex and let it sit for a few hours. I followed up with a layer of latex soaked paper towels for added strength. Once dried, we pulled them from the mold.
Step 6: No Pain(t), No Gain.
Now all of the plaster drama was behind us and my daughter was speaking to me, we needed to paint the hands. We didn't want them to look completely healthy so we used a pale base with a little green and some purples and blues to shadow. This was done with a brush and some stippling.
I then duct taped the hands at the wrist to the arms and glued them together. Remember, the front of this costume is actually the back so these hands will be behind her.
The shoulders still need some shaping but we will wait for the eBay nightgown to see what adjustments are actually needed.
Step 7: All You Kneed Is Love...
So, what else could we do to make this costume REALLY stand on its own two feet? Well, when you walk in a nightgown, your knees hit the inside of the fabric in the direction you are walking. This is a given. If your knees are bending in a certain direction, that must mean that it is the FRONT of your body. Knees only bend one way... or do they?
We took a pool noodle and like the arm structures, fabricated some knees with duct tape that attach at her waist and ankles but rather than putting them on the front of her legs, they go on the BACK. These new knees bend the OPPOSITE direction when she walks backward! This gives the illusion of her knees hitting the inside of the fabric on the BACK of the costume. We used an old belt and some velcro straps to attach them appropriately. She then put on a pair of old shorts to keep everything in place. It also helped to make a "front butt." I know, laugh all you want. Get it out. But if you are going to have knees in the back, you will need a butt in the front... Simple twisted anatomy, really. We experimented to get the right look. Now her head really looks twisted around!
Step 8: Kiss and Makeup!
For the face, we started by scouring the internet for production stills from Dick Smith's terrifying Linda Blair makeup from the film. In the film, Regan has bangs. My daughter does not. Luckily, they make clip on bangs. They aren't cheap but really complete the look, IMHO.
In addition to the hair, we noticed there were scratches on Regan's face where she had been clawing herself and had been scarred Holy water. These could be created with latex or silicone but I had seen a product that I had wanted to try. They are 3D prosthetics that are applied with water and are called Tinsley Transfers. They can be bought online or in Halloween Stores. Since there is no "Exorcist" kit made by them, I looked for the one with the most cuts. The "Smiley" kit comes with 6. Two large cuts and 4 small slices and no one says you have to put them where they suggest. Perfect! We followed the directions and applied the cuts based on our reference pics from the movie. Be careful as they are sticky and can be easily damaged if the appliance touches anything prematurely. Be sure to follow all instruction and watch their online video.
Next, we soaped out here eyebrows. Take a look at pics of The Exorcist online. You probably never noticed it, but she has no eyebrows. Subtle and effective! How do we do it without a razor and an upset 12-year-old? The process is simple and SAFE. You simply soak a bar of soap in water and take the soft "soap scum" off with your finger and coat the eyebrows. You can layer it until the hairs are stuck down and smooth. It shouldn't take too much. You then apply the makeup over the brows. Simple, safe and effective!
Now it's time to paint her face. We used a pale green base and highlighted with purples and yellows.
Time style her hair. To get that just-possessed look, you take the soap you used for the brows and rub it in her hair and the fake bangs. It will make the hair look stringy and ratty. Perfect! The best part is that it looks great AND washes right out.
Finally, we mixed some oatmeal with some acrylic paint and make fake puke for her chin and the dress. We topped it all off with some teeth paint and color contacts (BE SAFE WITH THESE)!
We had a party on Friday night so I've added a few pics of the makeup. You will see some slight differences but the overall look is the same. Having a second or third stab at a makeup like this is great. You learn a lot each time you do it.
Step 9: Scare the YELL Out of the Neighbors!
Only one thing left to do!