Being Twisty the clown from American Horror Story.
To many, clowns, even the joyful happy ones, are downright creepy, but Twisty from American Horror Story takes eerie to a whole new level. He's not your typical evil clown. Unlike standard circus clowns, he doesn't't express happiness nor does he giggle or laugh. While he has tried his hand at a few tricks, pulling out bouquets of flowers and such, no one would call him a party favor, or invite him for that matter because overall he is quiet, ruthless and vicious with no remorse. Any fan of the show will tell you that.
Besides all that, he can be one heck of a scary Halloween costume. Now let's be blunt, Halloween isn't about princesses and Mutant Ninja Turtles, no, no, no. It's about witches and ghoulies and all those things that go bump in the night, and Twisty fits right in. After all, it's the one night of the year when it's good to be scared.
Sure, anyone can do a Twisty costume, simply run down to the neighborhood Halloween store and pick one up. It will come with a "smiley" type mouth mask and everything, but that's not the true Twisty, because underneath that mouth mask he's quite deformed, with a torn mouth and sparse teeth. Coincidentally, and I'm speaking from experience, going into a store and having them tell you no masks were allowed, (boy! There is's a contradictory statement considering recent events), and you pull off the mouth mask only to be showing an extreme deformity can be quite fun and a bit of a laugh.
One last thing, if you chose to go this route, be sure to carry a photo ID...it might just come in handy. With that said, let's get started.
Undertaking a serious look takes both time and organization, so prepare well. Have an area large enough to maneuver and you will be thankful later. As basically mentioned earlier, if you intend to just buy something and throw it on, there's no need to read further. However, if you are aiming to take that first place win, you will need to plan accordingly.
Here's a standard list that most will need, not only for Twisty, but for many other "serious" costumes, and I might add that all SFX artists have every one of these too.
Liquid Latex and spirit gum for adhesive, alcohol for removing. Things won't stick without it. Also, Liquid Latex is very versital for making wounds and peeling skin and is limited only to imagination. By the way, Popsicle sticks work great for holding pieces in place until firm.
Brushes of different sizes, some good keepers and some disposable cheapos that will be gunked with latex and make-up when all is said and done. Q-tips, cotton balls, and triangle make-up sponges are always useful.
Make-up (both powder and liquid) of various colors. Red, yellow and blue are primaries and orange, green and violet are secondaries. Any color can be made with these, but don't be surprised if you have a tough time recalling color mixing from grade school. Also, depending on the project, theatrical quality and colors may be desired instead. These are specialty items not found at the normal big box stores and are either found at the Halloween store in season, or ordered from a specialty house. Eyeliner pencils are a good thing too.
Fake blood, a pair of good scissors and a mirror large enough to show the whole face rounds out the basics. Of course, there is much more, but for the typical Halloween er, this is a good starter set.
In season, FX prosthetics of all sorts can be had at the local Halloween store, and it was a sliced throat one that was used as Twisty's mouth. A little trimming here and there, fitting piece by piece and attaching with latex was all it took. This also allowed the mouth to open and close naturally.
Fake fingernails, trimmed to look like teeth, were glued in place to finish the design. Note: When attaching anything, I prefer to paint latex first, stick tissue paper sheets, and then latex again to attach the prosthetic.
Anywhere there are no attachments, paint with latex. Not only is this sturdy, it also gives the appearance of wrinkles (one of Hollywood's secrets). Of course, Twisty had a rough face to begin with and that was a motivation too.
Using the latex and tissue paper technique, the edges were concealed. Latex was also used around the edges to hold the skull cap in place. Note: when attaching thick rubber, apply latex to the piece AND to where it is going to be stuck. Give the latex a few minutes to get tacky first and attaching will be easy.
After painting the mouth, white make-up was put on. Liquid blood around the edge of the skull cap and allowing a couple droplets to drool down gave the best effect. Darkening around the eyes was done with a brush, as was Twisty's clownface details.
With the face finished, it was time to add the suit (purchased at the local Halloween store), and incorporate a large knife (no cheesy fake plastic for this guy). Note: I DO NOT CONDONE using sharp objects, but am guilty as charged because I want the effect real. However, when using actual utensils, keep a couple rules in mind. One, be sure to always remain aware of the point location and two, if going anywhere public to be judged, disclose the fact that you have a sharp object to the proprietor, they will appreciate the honesty and usually allow you to keep it. But, sometimes the shoe is on the other foot and they will request keeping it somewhere safe until needed. Thus was the case with an old scythe for my Grim Reaper costume. Anyways, I prefer to keep it tucked away and hidden in a carrying bag and only bring it out for judging or pictures.
Stay Scared, The Prof.
The Monsters that started it all. These Universal characters and films hold a fond place in my bloody heart. Note: All images © Copyright Universal Pictures and used for nostalgic purposes only.
About Staying Scared
Spurned by a fandom of both cheesy horror & Chilly Billy from Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater, Professor Willie Shivers (aka Thomas Scopel) and his cohorts Lillian, a plant that thinks she's beautiful and prefers to be called Lily, along with Barnabas, a wisecracking skeleton who finds his corny jokes hilarious, are your guides of B-Movie horror.