Introduction: Death Becomes Her Halloween Costume

About: Artist living and working in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada.
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

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

plaster of paris
plastic board
Smooth On flex foam, sealer and realease agent
Acrylic paint
Acrylic gloss medium

"Vampire dress"
Fake fur remnant
long gloves

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.
DIY Halloween Contest

Participated in the
DIY Halloween Contest