One of my guiltiest pleasures is the high school horror movie. I can’t get enough of the cheesy teenaged angst, bad acting, and messy murders on school property. Masked maniacs, fleeing cheerleaders, shady teachers, and terrible secrets are all hallmarks of this horror subgenre that just won’t seem to die. It appears that, despite how boring we thought high school was, the high school horror movie strikes a chord over and over again.
The witch is one of the oldest villains in human civilization. Every culture has the concept of a human being, usually a woman, who has violated the laws of nature and society to gain immense power.
Her transgressions vary from culture to culture and religion to religion. In the western world, the witch has usually received her powers by signing over her soul to the Devil himself. Other times she has used some ancient, forbidden ritual to thwart God and order. Either way, the witch in a horror film is a dangerous woman. If you cross her, you will incur her horrific wrath. If you have something she wants, she will take it. Wither her cunning and mastery of black magic, the witch will gain dominion over your body and thoughts. They will force you to do unimaginable things.
That’s the legend, at least.
One of my all-time favorite movies is 90s horror classic The Craft. I’ve loved this film since the first time I saw it, close to 20 years ago. I think it’s something of a perfect movie in many ways— gloriously 90s, unapologetically goth, and brimming with witchy fun. Those god-awful clothes? That terrible wig Robin Tunney wears? The maroon lipstick and smudged black eyeliner? Love Spits Love’s awesome cover of The Smiths “How Soon Is Now”?
Neve Campbell, what are you wearing?!?!
I love watching horror movies with visual style, particularly when it comes to the costuming. There’s something magical about a horrible, scary film where the characters are immaculately dressed in Yves St. Laurent or impeccable Victorian fashions. Of course, smart costuming isn’t just for show, as it’s another way for the film to communicate the themes of the film and give depth to the narrative.
Fashion and horror influence each other–as fashion draws inspiration from stories and film and as horror uses fashion and style to deliver its message. Designers such as Alexander McQueen, Jason Wu, and the Blondes have all been inspired by the macabre and the horrific. Tom Ford and Lanvin designs recently showed up in wonderful horror-inspired fashion film Tokyo Lost & Found starring model Jun. The Mulleavy sisters, working under their label Rodarte, contributed to the costume design in the film Black Swan.
I’ve never studied costuming and would count myself as a fashion novice, but I love to pay attention to particularly stylish movies and try to unpack the costume choices. Below I’ve picked some of my favorite “fashionable horror” movies and explained what I have taken away from each. Enjoy!