Cruella Style Costume
Hannibal Lector Mask
Baddies Book Character Costume Ideas
You want some book character ideas and, as always, Props & Frocks aims to deliver with, on this occasion, a range of baddie/villain suggestions. Please note that we are suggesting a list of character ideas to be conveyed by use of distinctive outfits and accessories – we cannot promise that either we (or indeed any other hire/sale outlet) necessarily has all these costumes ‘off-the-peg’.
Right – if you are short of time and do not want to read the whole article, here’s a sort of speed-read of ten quick ideas which need little explanation and which you (but unfortunately also anybody else) should be able to find at ours and any other outlet.
Captain Hook – Peter Pan – J M Barrie
Cruella de Vil – 101 Dalmatians – Dodie Smith
Dracula – Dracula – Bram Stoker
Frankenstein’s Monster – Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Fu Manchu – Fu Manchu series of Books by Sax Rohmer
Hannibal Lector – Red Dragon/Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
Medusa – From Greek Myths & Legends
Queen of Hearts – Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Sheriff of Nottingham – Robin Hood – From English folklore
Wicked Witch of the West – Wizard of Oz
Meanwhile, initially, let’s work with a few specific authors:-
Charles Dickens, the English Victorian author offers a wide range of characters in his books and with the help of a suitable Victorian outfit you could adopt the identity of many of them. Amongst those that stand out are;
Fagin - The ‘pickpocket gangmaster’ of Oliver Twist; Long black coat (with internal pockets), grey wig and black skull cap.
Scrooge - The meanie who comes good in A Christmas Carol; White Victorian nightshirt, night cap, half-moon glasses, grey wig
Miss Havisham – The embittered spinster of Great Expectations; All pale and cobweby! The outfit marketed as Ghostly Girl (or similar) can be useful here.
Wackford Squeers – The cruel schoolmaster of Dotherboys Hall in David Copperfield; Grab a cane and channel the style of the schoolmaster from Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’
William Shakespeare may not have written many novels, but he did manage a few plays – books of a different type. Often the character is revealed in the words rather than the look, but here are a few suggestions.
Lady Macbeth – Co-conspirator with her husband in the murder of King Duncan – hence the blood-stained hands.
Richard III - The alleged hunchback and killer (by proxy) of little princes. Medieval king costume (with a hunch).
Shylock – An unfortunate Jewish stereotype from The Merchant of Venice but the pound of flesh thing is not the most endearing idea. You could use the same outfit as Fagin (above) but carry a large fake knife and one of those luggage weight-scales!
Amongst modern authors, horror writer Stephen King has created many memorable villainous characters, and in this case, because many have been made into movies, there are some ready-made outfits available.
Pennywise the Clown - The evil horror entity from the book ‘IT’. Aside from the male version, we have seen a female variation on the market.
Carrie – The telekinetic teenager from the book of the same name. This book has actually been made as a movie twice but the result’s the same – it gets messy at the Prom.
Jack Torrance – Distracted caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in ‘The Shining’. Slight sideways thinking here as you find an axe, an Overlook Hotel T-shirt from movie-tee specialist suppliers and do your best Jack Nicholson ‘Here’s Johnny’ bit (That line was never in the book, Nicholson improvised it for the film!)
Annie Wilkes - The dedicated literary superfan from ‘Misery’. Again, you characterisation may be influenced by the Kathy Bates version seen in the film, but a Misery book and mallet may be useful props!
As we are talking a horror author here, there are a few King novels for which you could use generic horror outfits – Zombies (Pet Semetary), the Devil (Salem’s Lot & Needful Things) and ‘nosferatu-style’ vampires ‘The Night Flyer’.
There’s also everyone’s favourite cannibal, Hannibal Lector, from the books Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, etc. by Thomas Harris.
Whilst we are in horror mode, we might mention that the Devil/Satan turns up in many guises in other literature, notably Milton’s Paradise Lost (where Satan is the rebellious fallen angel) and Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, where, as Mephistopheles, he persuades the Doctor to sell his soul. If the full red Horned One outfit is a little OTT, try a more subtle approach with a smart suit (male or female), a red pointed tail hanging from the rear and some small head-horns!
Road Dahl is a popular author often portrayed at Book Days/Weeks. He tends to do ‘grotesque’ rather than horror, and amongst the villains in his works are Agatha Trunchbull (Matilda) and the Grand Witch (The Witches).
Lemony Snicket also does larger-than-life and offers us Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events.
From the devious, there are also villainous masters (and mistresses) of the Dark Arts : Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter), White Witch (Narnia) Saramun & Witch King of Angmar (Lord of the Rings).