67 Awesome Halloween Costume Ideas

Since way back in 2007, we've been rounding up our favorite Halloween costumes each year. If you're looking for a costume idea, here are some of the best!

1. Sputnik 2

In 2010, Flickr user vietnamted put together a costume that recreated Sputnik 2, the Soviet spaceship that took the dog Laika into space. As you can see, Laika is aboard and ready for liftoff. However, this Laika survived the mission. See the costume at a different angle at Flickr.

2. Yip Yips

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Sesame Street's popular aliens, the Yip Yips always appear in twos, so this is a costume that should be worn with a buddy. It take two people to properly fit one according to this Instructable, so you may as well help each other out and into a great costume!

3. Optimus Prime

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Instructables member dannyeurena turned cardboard, duct tape, and hot glue into a satisfyingly authentic Optimus Prime costume. According to the accompanying video, it was comfortable enough to dance in!

4. Death Becomes Her

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Evan Booth's costume for Halloween 2006 seemed to be a nondescript "dude in a wig" until you looked at the GAPING HOLE in his midsection! This was accomplished with a camera in the back of the shirt that recorded a background scene and fed it to a travel-size DVD player in the front that displayed the backdrop. In 2008, artist Nicole Magne used the idea for a costume recreating a scene from the movie Death Becomes Her where Goldie Hawn has a hole blown through her body. The creation process is detailed on her blog, and the Instructables version is available if you'd like to try this yourself.

5. Hovering Boba Fett

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Linkfilter member Reapre had considered a Rocketeer costume when he hit on the idea of Boba Fett Hovering on a Column of Flame. He used a purchased Boba Fett costume and converted it using a homemade jetpack. The column of flame below hid his legs. Reapre wore platform shoes made from roller blades to make himself several inches taller.

6. Helmet Cat

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Flickr user Alida Saxon's brother put this Helmet Cat costume together at the last minute. The helmet is a basketball painted green, and the fur was salvaged from a stuffed toy. Make your favorite internet meme into a Halloween costume and half the folks you encounter will laugh; the other half will scratch their heads and wonder.

7. The Wild Things

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A group of five friends dressed as the monsters plus Max from the Maurice Sendak's book Where The Wild Things Are for Halloween 2008. Craftster member sjeanette made papier mache heads of the monsters. The eyes glow in the dark! I can't really tell how one would see while wearing these, but I assume they made a great impression.

8. Mega Man

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Kevin made a Mega Man costume for his 3-year-old son a few Halloweens back. What made this so awesome is the Mega Buster with working lights and the authentic helmet fashioned from a bike helmet. See more pictures of the finished product.

9. Bender

Chris Miller made his own Bender costume back in 2005. The eyes moved by a servo controlled by his hands! He was a finalist in a costume contest, but I can't imagine what costume could beat this.

10. Emoticon

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The Mask of Emotion hides your face but displays emoticons instead. This helmet was created by the Digital Media Design Dept at Hongik University in Korea. What emoticon is shown is controlled by the wearer's body actions. If you want to make your own, the original website has design specifications and video. It will help if you can read Korean.

11. AT-AT

Katie Mello of LAIKA House in Portland made this AT-AT Costume for her dog Bones.
Bones has his own Facebook page, where you can see more pictures: in this costume, other clothing, and as nude as other dogs. In fact, there's a photoset that takes you through the process of building this costume.

12. Death Star

Darth Vader and the Death Star

Image by Flickr users Bob909 and Anditron.

Anditron always dresses up for Halloween, but when she was pregnant, she wanted to incorporate her bump without being too traditional. So she made a Death Star costume. Or rather, her round belly was the Death Star, with small x-wing fighters attached. The rest of her was dressed in black. The Darth Vader helmet was incidental, but worked well. Take a look at the Death Ray deployed:

The Death Star ready to destroy Alderaan

Image by Flickr user Bob909 and Anditron.

It appears to be some fiber optics and a few light sticks, but the effect is, um, not earth-shattering, but Alderaan-shattering!

13. Coppertone Girl

It's a logo everyone knows from as far back as we can remember. The little Coppertone girl's tan line is revealed when her puppy dog pulls on her swim pants. Anna at A. Party Style dressed her adorable daughter in a tan leotard and tights, then reconstructed the backside to reflect the logo, puppy dog and all!

14. Leg Lamp

You can buy a Leg Lamp Halloween costume referencing a prop from the movie A Christmas Story. But redditor mjr214 has a friend who has only one leg, which made her homemade costume so much more fitting -and awesome! You can see the comparison in this photo.

15. Walk the Dinosaur

Alison at Mod Mischief put together a dinosaur illusion costume a few years ago. She even wore stilts! The dino she is riding is an allosaurus made of papier-mâché. See some of the construction pictures in this post. Allison set the bar pretty high for herself after the kidnapped mermaid costume she posted at Instructables from the previous year.

See also: 12 Wordplay Halloween Costumes

16. Flying Genie

Allison also posted an Instructables guide to recreating this Genie on a Flying Carpet costume one of her friends pulled off. The secret to carrying this around all night is a walker on wheels that supports the carpet!

17. Zombie Cat

Cyriak Harris and Sarah Brown made an animation featuring zombie cats called Meow. Dawn Weast and Suzy Gruber were inspired by the video and made a Zombie Cat costume for Weast's 5-year-old daughter Bell. The handmade costume is a dead ringer for one of the cartoon cats that gets turned into a zombie.

18. Shark Attack

Redditor notsohipster has a young cousin who has no legs. He and his little sister trick-or-treated in these clever costumes portraying a shark and her surfboarding victim.

19. Pregnant Zombie

Pregnant Zombie

Image (cc) by Flickr user ian aberle

Amanda Fite was the pregnant zombie that stood out from the crowd at the 2009 Texas Frightmare Zombie Walk. Be assured, it was totally fake. A series of photos give you some idea of the work that went into this costume. See more photos from the 2009 Texas Frightmare Weekend Zombie Walk in Flickr user Ian Aberle's photo set.

20. Port-a-Potty

Sam's brother had a homemade illusion costume that set him in a Port-a-Potty in 2010. Seven-year-old Ben could walk around and "sit" at the same time! The brand name in their area is Honey Bucket, so Ben's door was labeled the same.

21. Chomping Pacman

Matthew Varas built a Pacman costume a few years ago, and this decided to improve upon the idea by building a Pacman with a Chomping Mouth! The project took six weeks, but as you can see, the results are awesome. See the building process at Make.

22. Robot Couple

Instructables member onebrokenneck made a robot couple for a costume competition. These classic Hollywood-style robots are made of aluminum, but according to the build process at Instructables, you can probably use cardboard instead if you don't have a metal shop. The arms and legs are dryer ducts, and various LED gizmos were used to give them an electric personality.

23. Halo

Shawn Thorsson has made a bunch of fantastic costumes. He planned a Halo-themed build for Halloween 2008, but then was deployed to Afghanistan. The project was finally completed the next year. Thorsson fabricated armor from the video game world of Halo, painted them in different colors, and dressed his friends as the characters from the Red vs. Blue series. He posted lots of pictures to show you the process.

24. The Birds

A few years ago, redditor CampingIsInTents posted a picture of her Tippi Hedren costume and got a rousing response. The idea references a popular movie, but you won't see other people wearing it at the same party. She bought the birds, but had to alter the wings to make them just right. The idea has been used by creative costume-makers a couple of times before, even on TV.

25. Krang

Melissa Dunphy made her husband a Krang costume for Halloween 2010. Krang is a cartoon villain who vexes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The costume required a lot of foam rubber, repurposed electronics, and duct tape. See some still photos at Flickr.

See also: 12 Halloween Ideas From 1884's Hottest Costume Guide

26. Headless Marie Antoinette

Nicole Magne, who wore a gaping abdominal hole in the Death Becomes Her costume above, made this awesome Marie Antoinette getup a few years ago. Of course, it wouldn't be so awesome if she hadn't been decapitated! See the process of building this costume at Etsy.

27. 8-bit Gary

Kiel Johnson and Klai Brown created this 8-bit costume out of foam cubes glued onto a cardboard suit for a Toshiba ad in which the "real" Gary was pixelated into a low-res version of himself. The process is documented in photographs.

28. LEGO Minifig

Instructables member Kaged Konbat made himself into a LEGO Minifig. The head is made from a tube sold as a form for concrete -strong but still lightweight. The wearer sees through the facial features, which are covered with mesh speaker fabric. Your buddy could accompany you as a LEGO brick.

29. Darth Vader TIE Fighter

(Image by Flickr user Kevin Tostado)

I was blown away by this Darth Vader costume spotted at Downtown Disney in Anaheim for Halloween 2007. Someone took a lot of care in constructing a TIE fighter around a wheelchair. See more Halloween costume ideas for children in wheelchairs.

30. Steampunk Iron Man

Image by Judy Stephens)

Steampunk Iron Man won the Marvel costume contest at Comic Con in 2010.

31. Double Rainbow

This costume was inspired by the double rainbow meme from Paul Vasquez's awe at seeing a double rainbow at Yosemite.

32. Mad Max

Karol Bartoszynski has been many of the characters from the Mad Max movies. He became a fan as a teenager, and over the next twenty years turned his enthusiasm for Mad Max into a career as a costume designer, and now organizes Mad Max fan gatherings and re-enactments. Bartoszynski runs the fan site Mad Max Costumes, where you can draw plenty of inspiration.  Imagine showing up looking like this at your local Halloween party!

33. Reverse Trick-or-Treat

The greatest Halloween costume idea ever was one related in this story from Mefite np312. Apparently no pictures were posted from that Halloween long ago, but Doc Pop took the idea and illustrated it in a comic. You can see the whole thing at Flickr. I hope someone picks this up and runs with it this year.

34. Umbrella Bat

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Have you ever looked at a broken umbrella and thought about how it resembles a flailing bat? Lenore at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories made this Umbrella Bat costume out of one umbrella and a hoodie, and posted instructions so you can do the same.

35. Trash Can

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This Trash Can costume is also a prank!

When I was a kid there was a guy in our neighborhood that used to jump out of the bushes in a gorilla suit and scare the bejeezus out of us. It was one of my fondest memories of halloween. One year I decided to be that guy.

Unfortunately, I don't have any bushes. An alternative would be to build a trash barrel disguise. I built the disguise below and then sat in it right on the front lawn. Not one single kid realized that It wasn't a trash can and I scared so many of them that I lost count.

See also: 15 Halloween Costumes From the 1970s

36. Caterpillar Power Loader J-5000

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You might not recognize the name Caterpillar Power Loader J-5000, but surely you remember the mechanical power suit Sigourney Weaver used to fight the alien queen in Aliens. Ben Hallert built this one for Halloween in 2006. Read his story with links to photos and a video. Hallert previously made an APU costume from The Matrix, and a Mech Warrior costume.

37. Rubik's Cube

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Flickr user mcredis built a Rubik's Cube costume and posted the process in photographs. He wore it to a costume parade in New York, and heard "Can I solve you?" all night long.

38. Flaming Carrot

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The Flaming Carrot is one of the more bizarre comic book characters you'll ever encounter, but it's the look that makes a great costume, rather than the backstory. RoG posted details on how he contructed this one.

39. Tron Guy

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Jay Maynard, the Tron Guy, shows you step-by-step how he made the costume that made him an internet legend.

40. Ghostbusters

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Honus at Instructables posted instructions for making your own, complete with goggles and weapons. The backpack really makes this; I hope it isn't as heavy as it looks!

41. Big Daddy

Graphic designer Harrison Krix made a costume of the character Big Daddy from the video game Bioshock. This is a work of a serious propmaster. It took seven weeks of sculpting with foam, cardboard, and fiberglass. The finished product, complete with a working drill arm, is a work of art. The post includes many more pictures and a couple of videos of the drill arm in action.

Every year, people amaze me not only with their ideas, but with their talent and dedication at bringing the best costumes to life for Halloween (and other occasions). I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

42. Plastic Army Man

Rebekah Tennis made this costume for her son in 2011. He wanted to be an Army guy, but with a little work and a lot of green paint, he's a soldier straight out of Toy Story! She then posted the process of creating this costume.

43. Cherry Darling

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Photograph by Flickr user Cameron Yee.

The character Cherry Darling from the movie Planet Terror startled folks when they saw that one of her legs was a machine gun. Then it inspired some women to recreate the scene. Now, if you are a beautiful amputee like Lacey Henderson, who gained note as a college cheerleader a few years ago, you can make hay by cosplaying the character at fan events. Henderson has a webpage with instructions for those who aren't amputees on how to recreate the Cherry Darling look, and an annual competition is held for the best machine-gun-leg costume.

44. Jack Skellington

DeviantART member Mnemousyne created this super-tall Jack Skellington costume by making a suit that fits over stilts. The head is built over a helmet, making it more stable, but still a bit hard to see from. Her sister is modeling the costume here; Mnemousyne is in the Sally costume.

45. Weeping Angel

The Weeping Angel is a scary character from the Doctor Who episode "Blink." Livejournal user penwiper337 made this costume of the Weeping Angel to wear at DragonCon. You can follow the process of building it at her blog.

See also: 10 Last-Minute Ideas for Brilliant Halloween Costumes

46. The Ginger Bread Man

The costume was created for a career day fair, but would work for Halloween for any redheads out there.

47. Dorian Gray and his Picture

Heather and David as Dorian Gray and his Picture

The party was literary-themed, so Heather and David came up with a couple's costume right out of the novel The Picture of Dorian Grey. Heather is Dorian, of course, and David is aged up and framed to be …his picture! Photograph by Flickr user Jason Adams.

48. Mousetrap

Jeff from Ohio told the story of how he made this mousetrap costume for his 3-year-old daughter. Being trapped is a very good excuse for not walking house to house, but a set of wheels got her there anyway! He cut the wood and mounted it to a wagon, welded on the metal hardware, and made the back half of the mouse to work as a cushion for the child's back. Adorable!

49 & 50. Bob Ross and the Orbit Gum Lady

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Jake Meek said his Bob Ross attire was purchased in the ladies department at a local thrift store, "which I can only assume is where all men's clothing from the '70s currently resides." He's posing with the Orbit Gum Lady.

51 & 52. The Hamburgler and the Sunmaid Raisins Lady

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Here's that same pair, this time as The Hamburgler and the woman on the Sunmaid Raisins box.

53. The DC Metro

Scott-Allen

Longtime mental_floss contributor Scott Allen won season tickets to the Washington Wizards for this!

54. The Firefox Logo

You can even dress up as a browser logo. Firefox is the preferred costume, as it has recognizable features. This Firefox costume was entered in Crunchgear's contest last year.

55. Rock & Roll Witch

Or you could go as me! (Going as a rock & roll witch.)

56. Cheshire Cat

scarystitcher at Etsy

Etsy member scarystitcher made an award-winning costume for her daughter last year and posted it at reddit. She gave us the short version of how it was made. 

The gray and blue fur are two separate materials from Joanns. The gray was much longer and I had to trim all of it down, but it really was the best match for Cheshire. I used a pattern to make the body then altered it to fit her measurements. The blue stripes were cut, placed, pinned and hand-stitched one by one. The mask has a paper mâché base with upholstery foam to widen his face. The eyes are lenses from a pair of sunglasses that I painted w/ just turquoise acrylic paint. The blacks of the eyes are what she sees through. Narrow, but it works well enough. The mouth and nose are thick card-stock also painted and attached with a glue gun and the whiskers are actually twigs I spray painted and glued in under the fur. Took about a month to make but probably would've been less if I didn't have FT work + FT school

She gives more information about the costume construction at the Etsy listing. Yes, last year’s costume is for sale. Here’s another picture.

57. Darla

jarrettbraun, imgur

Darla is the bratty dentist’s niece in the movie Finding Nemo. The bag is crucial for this costume, otherwise people would assume she’s just an orthodontically-challenged kid. But with the bag, it’s perfect! Redditor jarrettbraun posted a picture of redditor neuhani’s clever Halloween costume from last year. 

58. Hannibal Lecter

Andy Pixel, Imgur

Andy Pixel made himself into Hannibal Lecter last year. You might think this costume would be difficult with cars, stairs, or the restroom, but he thought about that ahead of time. The hand cart comes apart, so he can ditch it and the extra legs when needed, and still be left with a full costume. He’s not really in a straitjacket; crossed arms just give him the look.

59. The Very Hungry Caterpillar


Alanna George made this Very Hungry Caterpillar costume for just a couple of dollars, and it looks just like the caterpillar in the book! Her then-2-year-old son was delighted to be the character from his favorite story. It's just one of many literary costumes that put kids in their favorite books that you can see in this bigger list

60. The Governor and His Daughter

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Fans of the TV show The Walking Dead will recognize the Governor and his undead daughter. Redditor TriforceKing and his sister wore this last Halloween. It helped that he already resembled the actor David Morrissey somewhat. A few people pointed out that the Governor didn’t lose his eye until after his daughter was gone, but who cares? It’s Halloween!

61. Baby Can't Wait

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It’s not really a new picture, but this photo was posted just last week showing a baby who can’t wait until he’s born to go trick-or-treating. Redditor Ghost0_ told us how he and his wife used that idea for Halloween a couple of years ago, and what went into making it. You don’t really have to be pregnant to pull this off, but it’s funnier to people who know you if you are.  

62. Man Being Carried Illusion

QuaziLogical made a classic illusion costume a couple of years ago. It cost him about $30 and took about 30 hours of work. This version of the trick looks better than most because the “dummy” is covered by a surgical mask, obscuring its fakery, and QuaziLogical wore a mask, too, to make his face look artificial. See a closer image of the legs he made.

63. Snow Globe

jpotisch via Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Flickr user jpotisch made this snow globe costume by hand! The globe is fashioned from clear acetate, and the snow is made from bits of foam hanging by thread. He posted the building process in a Flickr album with some commentary along the way. He said it took about three days to build, but the finished product is a work of art! He also made the banana costume his son is wearing in the background—and it has a photo tutorial, too. 

64. Major Toht

Cameron Stewart, imgur

Few will ever forget the climactic scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Ark is opened up and Gestapo agent Arnold Toht's face is melted off. Comic book artist Cameron Stewart recreated that look for Halloween one year, at the last moment

I made the Major Toht costume in a single afternoon. I woke up that morning thinking I was going to skip Halloween (too much work in my day job as a comic artist) but all of my friends flipped out and pressured me into it. I managed to scrape all of the props together by chance. The melty face is a Captain America movie Red Skull mask with flesh-coloured paint dribbled over it.

Stewart is a master of movie costumes, as you can see in an imgur gallery featuring Toht, Jack Torrance, Patrick Bateman, and other characters.

65. Captain Hook

Rachael K, Instructables

Here’s one trick-or-treater that takes the classic pirate costume to the next level. This toddler is Captain Hook being eaten by the crocodile from Peter Pan! Instructables member Rachael K explains how she made the costume, which won the Judges Prize for Sewing in the Instructables Halloween Costume Contest last year.

66. Mad Max

bloody_ben via Instagram

Ben Carpenter is a cosplayer who uses a wheelchair. For this year’s Tampa Bay Comic Con, he and his group became the cast of Mad Max: Fury Road. Ben was Max in the scene where he was strapped to the front of a vehicle in order to supply blood to the driver. He used his wheelchair in the upright position for the vehicle, driven by a friend and accompanied by other characters from the movie. They won the award for Best Group Cosplay. Of course they did.

67. Taco Belle

AvantGeek, DeviantART

Olivia Mears is a cosplayer and costumer extraordinaire. Her Taco Belle dress decorations are made from card stock, tissue paper, felt, and Taco Bell wrappers. The inspiration came from a previous costume event, when she went for some fast food and contemplated the inadvertent pun.

See More:

11 Additional Pun-tastic Halloween Costumes

The Dark Side: An Oral History of The Star Wars Holiday Special

Larry Heider
Larry Heider

Summer 1978: Over a year after its debut, Star Wars wasn’t through smashing box office records. Ushered back into theaters for a return engagement that July, it made $10 million in just three days. George Lucas had welded mythological structure, pioneering special effects, and a spectacular production design to create a cinematic phenomenon that redefined how studios selected and marketed big-budget spectacles. Movies would never be the same again.

Neither would television. That same month, filming began on The Star Wars Holiday Special, a 97-minute musical-variety show that featured Bea Arthur serenading a giant rat and Chewbacca’s father, Itchy, being seduced by a virtual reality image of Diahann Carroll. Originally, the show was intended to keep the property viable and licensed merchandise moving off shelves until the inevitable sequel. But with Lucas’s focus on The Empire Strikes Back and producers shrinking his galaxy for a television budget, the Holiday Special suffered. So did viewers.

Mental Floss spoke with many of the principal production team members to find out exactly how Lucas’s original intentions—a sentimental look at Chewbacca’s family during a galactic holiday celebration—turned to the Dark Side.

I. A VERY WOOKIEE CHRISTMAS


Thomas Searle via YouTube

According to onetime Lucasfilm marketing director Charles Lippincott, CBS approached Star Wars distributor 20th Century Fox in 1978 to propose a television special. Fox had seen a boost in box office returns after several aliens from the Cantina scene appeared on Donny and Marie Osmond’s variety show; CBS figured the success of the film would translate into a ratings win; Lucasfilm and Lippincott though it would be a good vehicle to push toys.

With all parties motivated to move forward, two writers—Leonard “Lenny” Ripps and Pat Proft—were brought on to write a script based on an original story by Lucas.

Leonard Ripps (Co-Writer): Pat and I spent the entire day with Lucas. He took out a legal pad and asked how many minutes were in a TV special. He wrote down numbers from one to 90. He was very methodical about it. He had at least a dozen stories he had already written, so we were just helping to fill in a world he knew everything about. His idea was basically for a Wookiee Rosh Hashanah. A furry Earth Day.

Pat Proft (Co-Writer): Wookiees played a big part of it. Stormtroopers were harassing them. I don't have the script. It sure as [hell] wasn't what it ended up being.

Ripps: Pat and I had written for mimes Shields and Yarnell, which is why we were brought on. We had written lots of non-verbal stuff. The challenge was how to get things across. Wookiees aren’t articulate. Even in silent movies, you had subtitles. Whatever we wrote, it wasn’t tongue-in-cheek.


Thomas Searle via YouTube

Proft and Ripps delivered their script several weeks after the meeting. It focused on a galactic holiday celebrated by all species, with the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk selected to host the festivities that year. Chewbacca’s family—father Itchy, wife Malla, and son Lumpy—were introduced, with the writers leaving gaps for executive producers Dwight Hemion and Gary Smith to insert celebrity guest stars and musical acts. For the latter, Hemion and Smith turned to producers Ken and Mitzie Welch to arrange original songs and enlist talent.

Elle Puritz (Assistant to the Producer): I was working for the Welches at the time. I remember hearing, “OK, we’re going to do a Star Wars holiday special,” and everyone laughing about it. I thought it was a terrible idea.

Miki Herman (Lucasfilm Consultant): Lippincott requested I be involved with the special. I did a lot of ancillary projects. I knew all the props, all the actors. I hired Stan Winston to create the Wookiee family. [Sound effects artist] Ben Burtt and I were there to basically provide authenticity, to make sure everything was kept in context.

George Lucas (via Empire, 2009): Fox said, "You can promote the film by doing the TV special." So I kind of got talked into doing the special.

Ripps: Lucas told us Han Solo was married to a Wookiee but that we couldn’t mention that because it would be controversial.

Herman: I do remember Gary Smith saying they wanted to have Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ann-Margret involved, high-caliber people that were popular.

Puritz: Ken and Mitzie called Bea Arthur. They wrote a song with her in mind.


Thomas Searle via YouTube

Ripps: It never occurred to us to get Bea Arthur. We spent just that one day with Lucas, then got put in touch with [director] David Acomba. Our notion was Acomba was very much Lucas’s guy, so he spoke for Lucas.

Acomba was a Canadian filmmaker who had coincidentally gone to the University of Southern California around the same time as Lucas, though the two never crossed paths at the time. Lippincott knew him, however, and hired him to direct the special in keeping with Lucas’s spirit of finding talent outside the Hollywood system.

Larry Heider (Camera Operator): David came out of a rock 'n' roll world, a documentary world. Smith and Hemion had three different projects going on at the same time, so I think they felt they wouldn’t have time to direct just this one thing.

Puritz: David wasn’t used to shooting television. Using five cameras, everything shooting at the same time. He was very indignant about his own lack of knowledge, and he did not get along with the Welches.

Ripps: I got the impression it was not what he wanted, and had turned into something he didn’t want to do. I don’t want to say he was overwhelmed, but it would’ve been overwhelming for anyone.

II. FORCING IT


Thomas Searle via YouTube

With a budget of roughly $1 million—the 1977 film cost $11 millionThe Star Wars Holiday Special began filming in Burbank, California in the summer of 1978 with a script that had been heavily revised by variety show veterans Bruce Vilanch, Rod Warren, and Mitzie Welch to reflect the Smith-Hemion style of bombastic musical numbers and kitsch. Chewbacca was now trying to race home in time for “Life Day,” with his family watching interstellar musical interludes and comedic sketches—like a four-armed Julia Child parody—on a video screen. 

Ripps: Lucas wanted a show about the holiday. Vilanch and everyone, they were wonderful writers, but they were Carol Burnett writers. In the litany of George’s work, there was never kitsch. Star Wars was always very sincere about Star Wars.

Herman: Personally, I was not a fan of Harvey Korman, Bea Arthur, or Art Carney. That wasn’t my generation. But they had relationships with Dwight Hemion and the Welches.

Heider: Bea Arthur was known for being a little cold and demanding. When she was asked to do something a second time, she wanted someone to explain what was wrong. When the script wasn’t making sense for her to say something, she had a hard time translating all of that. She was pretty much [her television character] Maude.

Bea Arthur [via The Portland Mercury, 2005]: I didn't know what that was about at all. I was asked to be in it by the composer of that song I sang—"Goodnight, But Not Goodbye." It was a wonderful time, but I had no idea it was even a part of the whole Star Wars thing … I just remember singing to a bunch of people with funny heads.

After shooting the Cantina scene, it became apparent that Acomba was an ill fit for the constraints of a television schedule.

Heider: David was used to a single camera—run and gun, keep it moving, a real rock 'n' roll pace. This show was anything but. There were huge sets, make-up, costumes. It was slow-paced, and it got to him.

Ripps: I didn’t go down for the filming, but Pat went down. He has a story.

Proft: Took my kid for the Cantina scene. All the characters from the bar were there. However, they forgot [to pump] oxygen into the masks. Characters were fainting left and right.

Heider: Characters would walk around onstage with just their shirts on to stay cool. We were shooting in a very warm part of the year in Los Angeles, and it was difficult, especially with the Wookiees. They took a lot more breaks than they had calculated.

Ripps: I knew how frustrated David was. It wasn’t his vision. He phoned me up and said, “I’m not going to be working on this anymore.”

Acomba left after only shooting a handful of scenes. A frantic Smith phoned Steve Binder, a director with extensive experience in television—he had overseen the famous Elvis ’68 Comeback Special—and told him he needed someone to report to the set the following Monday morning.

Steve Binder (Director): I was between projects and got a call from Gary basically saying they had completely shut down in Burbank and there was talk of shutting it down for good. The first thing I realized was, they had built this phenomenal Chewbacca home on a huge film stage, but it was a 360-degree set. There was no fourth wall to remove to bring multiple cameras into the home. I would think it would be impossible for a crew to even get into the set to shoot anything.

Puritz: I think David was part of that plan.

Heider: I remember when that happened. I don’t think it was David’s idea. It was the way it was conceived by producers on how to make this look really cool, but it didn’t work. You have no lighting control. Steve got it. He’s really a pro. There’s no ego.

Binder: They FedExed me the script. The first thing I looked at was, the first 10 minutes was done with basically no dialogue from the actors. It was strictly Chewbacca sounds. The sound effects people would use bear sounds for the voicing. It concerned me, but there was no time to start changing the script.

Ripps: We had concerns about that. But George said, "This is the story I want to tell."

Binder: The Chewbacca family could only be in the costumes for 45 minutes. Then they’d have the heads taken off, and be given oxygen. It slowed everything down. The suits were so physically cumbersome and heavy. The actress playing Lumpy [Patty Maloney], when she came in, I don’t think she was more than 80 or 90 pounds and she a lost tremendous amount of weight while filming.

In addition to guest stars Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, and Art Carney, Lucasfilm approached most of the principals from the feature for cameo appearances. Feeling indebted to Lucas, they agreed to participate—reluctantly.

Puritz: They had made this big movie, and now they’re doing a TV special. Carrie Fisher did not want to be there.

Herman: They didn’t love doing TV. At that time, movie actors didn’t do TV. There was a stigma against it.


Thomas Searle via YouTube

Heider: Harrison Ford was not happy to be there at all. Carrie Fisher, I think part of her deal was she got to sing a song, and that was her draw to it. Because Lucas was involved, and if another movie is coming out in two years, there’s pressure to keep going. So they showed up, on time. Mostly.

Binder: My recall with the whole cast was that there was a little mumbling going on with a few of the actors who felt they should’ve been compensated more for the movie. I think Lucas did do that after the special, giving them small percentages.

Heider: We were doing a scene where Ford was sitting in the Millennium Falcon and he just wanted to get his lines done and he made that very clear. “Can we just do this? How long is this going to take?”

Harrison Ford (via press tour, 2011): It was in my contract. There was no known way to get out of it.

Heider: Mark Hamill was a good guy. He just had that normal-guy-trying-to-work vibe.

Mark Hamill (via Reddit, 2014): I thought it was a mistake from the beginning. It was just unlike anything else in the Star Wars universe. And I initially said that I didn't want to do it, but George said it would help keep Star Wars in the consciousness and I wanted to be a team player, so I did it. And I also said that I didn't think Luke should sing, so they cut that number.

Herman: I worked with the actors on a lot of the ancillary stuff. Honestly, they were just all so dopey.

III. BUILDING BOBA FETT


TheSWHolidaySpecial via YouTube

 

Before Acomba departed the production, he and Lucas reached out to a Canadian animation company, Nelvana, to prepare a nine-minute cartoon that would formally introduce one of the characters from The Empire Strikes Back: Boba Fett. The bounty hunter originated from a design for an unused Stormtrooper by production designers Joe Johnston and Ralph McQuarrie; he was intended to make public appearances in the interim between films, initially popping up at the San Anselmo County Fair parade in September of 1978.

Michael Hirsh (Nelvana Co-Founder): David knew me personally. Lucas watched a special of ours, A Cosmic Christmas, that was just coming on air at the time. He asked people on his crew, including David, who we were. David said, "Oh, I know these guys." We were not a well-known company at time.

Clive Smith (Nelvana Co-Founder, Animation Director): Lucas supplied a script that he wrote. I think I probably had about two weeks to storyboard, then start character designs.

Hirsh: Frankly, I think the cartoon was more along the lines of what Lucas wanted to do in the first place—if he did the special, there was a possibility Fox and CBS would fund Star Wars cartoons. The variety show itself wasn’t something he was particularly interested in.

Smith: We ended up shooting slides of each storyboard frame. There must’ve been 300 to 400 frames. I loaded them up, put myself on a plane, and went down to San Francisco and did a presentation with a slide projector. I was in this room of people who were absolutely silent. Things that were funny, not a whimper or murmur. But at the end, George clapped.

Hirsh: CBS wanted him to use one of the L.A. studios, like Hanna-Barbera, who did most of the Saturday morning cartoons. But Lucas, from the beginning of his career, had a thing for independent companies, people who weren’t in L.A. The style of animation was modeled after [French artist] Jean “Moebius” Geraud, at Lucas’s request.


TheSWHolidaySpecial via YouTube

Smith: A lot of the designs and characters were inspired by Moebius, who did a lot of work for Heavy Metal magazine. We thought it was a good direction to point ourselves in. At the time, there was no Star Wars animation to follow.

Hirsh: There was a big deal made about the introduction of Boba Fett.

Smith: We needed to design Boba Fett, and all we had was some black and white footage of a costumed actor who had been photographed in someone’s backyard moving around. We took what was there and turned it into a graphic idea.

Hirsh: I directed the voice sessions. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) had the most dialogue, and the other actors came in for short sessions. Harrison Ford and the other performers generally came in and nailed lines, whereas Mark Hamill was anxious to try different things. [Hamill would go on to a successful career in voiceover work.]

Herman: Michael got upset when I told him Princess Leia wore a belt. It was part of her costume, and they didn’t have it. Redoing it was going to cost them a lot of money.

Hirsh: That’s possible. Lucas was happy with how it turned out. After the special, we stayed in touch and we were developing a project with Lucasfilm and the Bee Gees. Nothing ever came of it.

IV. SPACING OUT


Thomas Searle via YouTube

Nelvana had a relatively smooth journey to the finish line compared to the live-action production team. By the time Binder was prepared to shoot the climactic “Life Day” celebration with the entire cast and a group of robed Wookiees, there was virtually no money in the budget left for a large-scale spectacle.

Binder: No one ever mentioned there was no set for the closing. I was told by the art director we had no money for it in the budget. So I said, "No problem, just go out and buy every candle you can find in the store." We filled an empty stage with candles. I had experimented with this on another special, maybe a Victor Borge ice skating show. Candles in a dark environment give off an incredibly creative effect.

Herman: The sad truth is, everyone was so overwhelmed. Ken and Mitzie knew that last scene was a disaster. They came to me saying, "Help us." But George was out of the picture. It was a runaway production.

Ripps: Acomba and Lucas had walked away from it. They weren’t there to fight for anything.

Lucas: It just kept getting reworked and reworked, moving away into this bizarre land. They were trying to make one kind of thing and I was trying to make another, and it ended up being a weird hybrid between the two.

Heider: They were spending a lot of money for stage rental, lighting, a TV truck, and everyone was putting in really long hours. It translated into a big below-line budget problem. 

Herman: Honestly, a set wasn’t going to save that scene. All the Wookiees were wearing [consumer licensee] Don Post masks.

Premiering November 17, 1978, The Star Wars Holiday Special was seen by 13 million viewers, a significant but not overly impressive audience for the three-network television landscape of the era. It came in second to The Love Boat on ABC for its first hour, with a marked drop-off following the conclusion of the cartoon at the halfway point. Gurgling, apron-clad Wookiees, low-budget Imperial threats—they do nothing more sinister than trash Lumpy’s room—and an appearance by Jefferson Starship proved too bizarre for viewers.

Binder: I felt you have to open with a bang, really grab the audience, make it worth their time to sit and watch. The opening scene going on as long as it did was a killer for the TV audience.

Ripps: I had no idea what had happened to it. When it was broadcast, I had a party at my house and ordered catering. After the first commercial, I turned it off and said, "Let’s eat."

Binder: The day I finished shooting, I was on to other projects. It’s the only show I never edited or supervised the editing of. The Welches had the whole weight of the unedited special in their hands, and I questioned how much experience they had at that given they were songwriters.

Heider: Somebody made choices in terms of how long each scene would be on TV, and it's really painful.

Herman: I remember I was moving to Marin County the next day. I was staying at a friend’s house, and their son was a Star Wars fan. I had given him all the toys. Watching him watch it, he was really bored.

Binder: What I realized was, the public was not told this wasn’t going to be Star Wars. It was not the second movie. It was going to be a TV show to sell toys to kids. That was the real purpose of the show. It had nowhere near the budget of a feature film. [Lucasfilm and Kenner produced prototype action figures of Chewbacca’s family; they were never released.]

Heider: I didn’t watch it when it was on, but I do have a copy I bought several years ago on eBay. It’s not a great copy, but it’s enough to show how it was cut together. I haven’t been able to sit through whole thing at one time.

Herman: George hated it, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it.


Thomas Searle via YouTube

Binder: I never met Lucas, never got a phone call, anything. Which was disappointing to me. It was his show, he developed it. To totally walk away from it and critique it negatively was, I felt, not cool.

Ripps: One of the reasons I took the job was I thought it would be an annuity. Every year, I’d get a check for Star Wars.

Hirsh: I did watch it. I was happy with our contribution. It was a phenomenal opportunity for our little company. We got to work on the Droids and Ewoks animated shows later on.

Ripps: I still go out to dinners on the stories. Once, at a dinner party, one of the waiters had Star Wars tattoos up and down both of his arms. When he found out I wrote the special, we got better service than anyone in the restaurant.

Lucas: I’m sort of amused by it, because it is so bizarre. It's definitely avant garde television. It's definitely bad enough to be a classic.

Herman: The interesting thing is, the day after the special aired was the day of the Jonestown Massacre. It was just a bad time for everyone.

Dwight Hemion (via NPR, 2002): It was the worst piece of crap I’ve ever done.

This article originally ran in 2015.

5 Holiday Foods That Are Dangerous to Pets

iStock/svetikd
iStock/svetikd

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the menu of indulgent food and drinks that comes along with it. But while you enjoy that cup of spiked hot cocoa, you’ve got to be careful your dog or cat doesn’t nab a lick. Here are five holiday treats that are dangerous for your pets, according to Vetstreet.

1. COFFEE

Any coffee lover will agree that there’s nothing quite like an after-dinner cup of joe on a cold night. But pups, kitties, and other pets will have to sit this tradition out. Caffeine can prompt seizures and abnormal heart rhythms in pets, and can sometimes be fatal. Other caffeinated drinks, such as soda or tea, should also be kept away from your four-legged family members.

2. BREAD DOUGH

We know the threat that bread dough poses to the appearance of our thighs, but it’s much more dangerous to our furry little friends. Holiday bakers have to be careful of unbaked bread dough as it can expand in animal stomachs if ingested. In some dogs, the stomach can twist and cut off the blood supply, in which case the pup would need emergency surgery.

3. CHOCOLATE

Cat and dog in Santa hats chowing down on plates of food
iStock/TatyanaGl

A little chocolate never hurt anybody, right? Wrong. The sweet treat can cause seizures and even be fatal to our pets. Darker chocolate, such as the baker’s chocolate we love to put in our holiday cookies, is more toxic to our pets than milk or white chocolate. The toxic ingredients include caffeine and theobromine, a chemical found in the cacao plant.

4. MACADAMIA NUTS

Macadamia nuts, which are a common ingredient in holiday cookies and often put out to munch on as an appetizer, can be toxic to dogs. While poisoning might not always be easy to detect in a pet, clinical warning signs include depression, weakness, vomiting, tremors, joint stiffness, and lack of coordination.

5. ALCOHOL

Think back to when you first started drinking and how much less alcohol it took to get you tipsy, because you likely weighed less than you do now. Well, your pet probably weighs a lot less than you did, even back then, meaning it takes much less alcohol to make them dangerously sick. Keep those wine glasses far out of reach of your pets in order to avoid any issues. Well, maybe not any issue: We can’t promise that this will stop you from getting embarrassingly drunk at a holiday party this year.

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