Fun Tips for a Fantastic Halloween


After a Saturday of crushed dreams (Volunteers devouring the Gamecock Nation whole) and last night’s Washington Nationals World Series triumph, I should probably draw the drapes, take to bed, and place a camphor-soaked handkerchief on my forehead.

But no, despite being infused with a tragic vision that makes Cormac McCarthy’s world view seem like a Cialis commercial, I take mouse in hand and swerve my despair Lucretius-like into some positive tips for unusual-themed Halloween costume combinations, especially suited for undergraduate bio majors.


Cormac McCarthy, 1992 Cormac McCarthy, 1992
© Gilles Peress/Magnum Photos 

One thing that makes these costumes unique is that, not only are they frightfully hideous, but they also form a Darwinian food chain of predation, a theme that should frighten anyone who has seen Jaws or read Camus’s La Peste.


Chris Johnson’s Heat Plague

So Let’s start at the bottom down for our first costume, an alga known as Gephyrocapsa oceanica.


Making this costume would be a breeze.  Just buy three dozen tutus, scissor off the bodices, and dye the skirts scum green.  Staple the tutus in a circular combination as above, leaving the bottom hollow.  Traverse the tutu openings with strong pieces of Styrofoam wrapped in green crepe.  As Bob Dylan put it in “I Shall Be Free No. 10,”  “Wowee, pretty scary.”

Next up, how about a pelagic sea slug?


Glaucus atlanticus

This cool-looking devourer of algae actually only measures ~2.5 cm, but who’s counting?  For the costume, two possibilities come to mind.  You could go for the above picture in a two-person, two part, donkey-head/donkey tail configuration, but I’d advise for a costume that mimics the illustration below so you can walk upright.  All you need is a close-fitting white Garboesque dress, strips of blue fabric, and a 100 or so ostrich feathers dyed blue.


Sea slugs are one of the many delicacies upon which the star-nosed mole feeds.  This strange creature’s eyes disappear in utero and are replaced by a series of fan-like appendages.  You could go as an embryonic (but sort of too cuddly in an Olympics-mascot-sort-of-way) star-nosed mole (see below),


but I’d go ahead and opt for the scarier full adult version:


You could almost adapt a gorilla costume sans head and attach some red chili peppers (or rooster-comb red dyed sea sponges) to a white Lone Ranger mask, then attach spray-painted pez dispensers sans heads to gloves to create this truly hideous being that can smell underwater as it tunnels through east coast marshes.

The star-nosed, by the same token, offers owls a tasty if somewhat fishy-tasting  mammalian repast.*  Of course, whoever opts for the owl costume in your posse is going to be the least unusual creature, but still, given the multiplicity of owl species, you’re sure to find one your your liking.

*Think river otter but stringier.


One last suggestion, though it doesn’t fit in this particular food chain (it’s a denizen of the Pacific and is inedible ) is the Blobfish, a sort of hybrid of Rodney Dangerfield and the baby in Eraserhead.  Hell, unless you have some marine biology PhD candidate at the party, no one is going to know the difference.



So, boys and girls, have fun horrifying folks with the random mutant horrors of evolution as you blast Barry McQuire’s “Eve of Destruction” from your dorm windows!


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