They Live is an epically cheesy 80s John Carpenter movie that I love! Here's what you need to make this simple but attention grabbing costume:
- blank costume mask
- skeleton or demon mask
- hot glue gun and glue
- acrylic paint
- Crayola model magic
- paint brushes
- goofy eyeball party glasses
- gloss/ varnish spray paint
- white t-shirt
- iron on transfer inkjet printer paper
Step 1: Step One: the Basics
The great thing about going as the They Live aliens is that since they're posing as normal people, you can wear your regular clothes! There are a few things to do though to make your costume more distinctive
While technically you can wear whatever you'd like, tying in the subliminal imagery/ messages from the movie into your outfit really adds to your costume. Get a plain white t-shirt and some iron on transfer paper. Then simply pick some of the subliminal words from the movie to put on your shirt. Here are some of the options (but you can create your own): Reproduce, Consume, Obey, Conform. A shopping bag with the word BUY on it will also add to the feel of the costume.
Because of the way the masks will sit on your face, chances are you'll need wigs as well (unless you have bangs) and don't forget to paint your exposed skin blue with red patch accents to match your mask.
Now for the fun part: the mask!
Step 2: The Mask: Step 1
Take your blank costume mask and begin to cover it in some Crayola Model Magic as shown in the image below. Model magic is a lightweight air clay that keeps it's foamy feel once dried. Using it instead of plaster (my original choice) allows for more flexibilty in the mask and a more natural look. Once you have the first layer of model magic on your blank mask, use a toothpick to score the model magic with lines. It will look silly to begin with but once the mask is done, it will look more like tissue or sinew.
Let the mask dry. (I recommend an overnight dry to ensure the model magic stays on the mask).
Step 3: The Mask: Step 2
Now that your mask has dried, it's time to add those impressive teeth. Take your demon/ skeleton mask and cut the mouth off of it. Using a hot glue gun, attach the mouth to your main mask (the one with model magic on it). The mouth will not attach perfectly to your main mask so don't worry.
Once the glue has dried, take some more model magic and blend the mouth part into the mask. Then you can begin adding some depth to the mask to make it look more skeletal. Create deep eye sockets that blend into the brow and parts of the cheeks. Leave gaps in this layer so the previous model magic layer you made will poke through. It will look like flesh tissue poking through a skull.
Allow to air dry
Step 4: The Mask: Step 3
Now for the fun part: painting! Begin by painting the lower layers (eye sockets and tissue parts) first and then follow up by painting the skull part and finally the jaw. Here's the color scheme to use:
Eye sockets: black
Tissue: deep red highlighted with deep pink (this brings out the tissue look more)
Skull: turquoise blue (to add more depth to the skull, highlight with an even lighter blue)
Mouth: main part of the jaw should be a yellow off-white color while the teeth can be white. Detail teeth by painting on red gums and accenting each tooth by outlining it in black.
While this is drying, you can work on your eyeballs. (sorry my pictures of this step were accidentally deleted)
First remove the eyeball part from the spring. Then cut thin strips in each eyeball to create a star looking shape. Then paint the eyeballs silver and let dry.
Once dry, attach the eyeballs to the mask with hot glue and then coat entire mask with a spray gloss or varnish. This will not only make the mask look really pro but will help the mask hold together.
NOTE unless you like getting a cheap high from inhaling varnish fumes, let the mask sit for at least a day so the varnish fumes can dissipate.
Step 5: And You're Done!
You now have an awesome, easy to make AND cost effective costume that will definitely grab some attention when you wear it out. Any classic sci-fi or horror fans will instantly know what your costume is and those who don't will be mesmerized by your awesome mask. How do I know this mask will impress? I wore this costume to my local comic con and a movie effects makeup artist saw my work and personally complimented me on my amazing work. Be sure to try this costume; it's a lot of fun to make and to wear!