Poll: What’s Your Fave Spooky Historical Film Costume?

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It’s definitely that Halloween-y time of year, so spooky movies are on everyone’s radar! There have long been scary and suspenseful historical movies, and many of them feature iconic costumes that stick in your mind long after the film is over.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to have a poll to choose our favorite costumes from spooky historical movies! Of course, I had to pick the one costume that I thought was most iconic from each film, and it may not be the one you would pick, but we can duke that out in the comments. (And FYI, I tried to include earlier-than-the-80s films, especially all the Dracula/Frankenstein/classic horror films, but it’s REALLY hard to find good photos of the historical costumes from these — so I apologize in advance for those years being skimpy!).

Let’s look at the contenders, in chronological order:

1970-scars-of-dracula

This pink Regency gown (or is it a nightgown?) from Scars of Dracula (1970) (costume designer uncredited).

1970-taste-the-blood-of-dracula

This satin and velvet, ruched-sleeve number from Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) (costume designer uncredited). Side note, the actress looks so much like Frida from ABBA…

1971-countess-dracula

The quasi-Renaissance gown worn by Countess Dracula (1971) (designed by Raymond Hughes).

Twins of Evil (1971)

Maria or Freida’s (they’re twins!) pink 1790s(?) redingote from Twins of Evil (1971) (no costume designer credited).

Bram Stoker's Dracula

Lucy’s lizard-frill 1890s wedding dress from Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) (designed by Eiko Ishioka).

Claudia and Madeleine's blue and green evening gowns from Interview with the Vampire (1994) (designed by Sandy Powell).

Claudia and Madeleine’s blue and green 1870s evening gowns from Interview with the Vampire (1994) (designed by Sandy Powell).

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Elizabeth’s (Helena Bonham Carter) embroidered mid-18th c. ball gown from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) (designed by James Acheson).

Sleepy Hollow

Katrina’s black and white striped 1780s ensemble from the film Sleepy Hollow (1999) (designed by Colleen Atwood).

Brotherhood of the Wolf

Marianne’s red velvet 1750s riding habit from Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) (designed by Dominique Borg).

Van Helsing

Anna’s red embroidered 1880s ball gown from Van Helsing (2004) (designed by Gabriella Pescucci and Carlo Poggioli).

sweeney-todd2

Mrs. Lovett’s (Helena Bonham Carter) black and red beaded gothy Victorian number from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) (designed by Colleen Atwood).

2008-bathory

The late 16th/early 17th century Hungarian ensemble worn by Countess Erzsébet Bathory in Bathory (2008) (designed by Julia Patkos and Jaroslava Pecharova).

2009-the-countess

The Germanic Renaissance gown worn by Countess Erzsébet Bathory (again) in The Countess (2009) (designed by Pierre-Yves Gayraud).

Sleepy Hollow

Katrina‘s gothy corset ensemble from the TV series Sleepy Hollow (2013- ) (designed by Sanja Milkovic Hays or Kristin M. Burke).

Penny Dreadful

Vanessa’s black and ivory lace 1910s afternoon ensemble from Penny Dreadful (2014-16) (designed by Gabriella Pescucci).

salem

Mary Sibley’s black brocade 17th c. gown with hip-fringe and stomacher bows from Salem (2014- ) (designed by Joseph A. Porro).

2015-victor-frankenstein

Lorelei’s blue (or is it green?) early 1870s evening gown from Victor Frankenstein (2015) (designed by Jany Temime).

Crimson Peak

Lucile Sharp’s red pleated taffeta late 1870s evening gown from Crimson Peak (2015) (designed by Kate Hawley).

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles

Lizzie Borden’s black and grey stripey 1890s day dress from The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (2015) (designed by Joseph A. Porro).

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Elizabeth’s blue satin Regency evening dress from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) (designed by Julian Day).

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

15 Responses

  1. Pirate Queen

    Choices, choices! I have to say Katrina’s B&W striped gown from Sleepy Hollow, if only because I’ve actually seen it on display. Surprise surprise – those are all hand-drawn stripes. There’s a faint green stripe alongside each black stripe. You’d never guess this onscreen.

    Reply
    • Maral

      OMG really? I’ve wanted to replicate it for years but haven’t been able to find a nice black and white taffeta with stripes of the right width. So they were painted on? That’s wild, maybe I’ll do that…

      Reply
    • funnybunnyhelena

      wow! I remember I wanted to make one for myself but had problems with finding good fabric. Interesting, interesting!

      Reply
  2. red*razors

    Too many good ones. Dracula, Interview with the Vampire, Crimson Peak… and I haven’t seen that Lizzie Borden outfit before but it’s amazing!

    Reply
  3. mmcquown

    For old time’s sake, I’ll go for Ingrid Pitt’s dress in Countess Dracula. She was such a lot of fun to hang out with at Chiller conventions. Sadly, like so many other great ones, she’s gone, died about six years ago. She was a child Survivor of the camps.

    Reply
  4. Megan L.

    Crimson Peak, definitely, but my second pick would be the blue bustle dress Kirsten Dunst wore in Interview with a Vampire. I think it’s the combination of rich colors with dramatic silhouette that draws me to the late Victorian bustle era.

    Reply
  5. Liutgard

    I like the red gown from Crimson Peak, but- what about the red gown Mina wore in Coppola’s Dracula? For that matter, that navy blue thing that Vlad was wearing in the same scene…

    Reply
  6. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    I love the dress that HBC wore in Frankenstein. I have always wanted to replicate a mourning version of that gown.

    Reply
  7. Susan Pola

    Honourable mention is Frank Langella’s Dracula with Kate Nelligan directed by, I believe, John Boorman

    Reply
  8. lulubella

    Ooo, ooo, ooo I saw Lucille’s dress at the LACMA and had no idea exactly what I was looking at. It’s astounding, all of those pleast.

    Reply

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