Special Effects for Halloween Costumes

Create "special effects" -- like fake blood and flesh -- for your children's Halloween costumes.

Special Effects for Halloween Costumes

Kids, especially older boys, seem to love being gross. Let Halloween be the time of year they get to indulge this natural impulse. Together you can whip up some inexpensive concoctions that make the difference between an O.K. costume and one that really rocks.

Here are some recipes for fake blood and other disgusting makeup. You, too, can turn your kitchen into a Hollywood special effects laboratory!

Fake Blood

  • One pint of clear corn syrup
  • 1 ounce red food coloring
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of yellow food coloring

Mix the corn syrup and red food coloring. Add the yellow a little at a time until you get the color you want. Dilute with a little water to get the right consistency. This recipe makes a large quantity of fake blood.

Blood Bombs

Fill small balloons with a few tablespoons of fake blood (not too full, though). Wipe the outside clean. Pin the balloons to a shirt worn underneath outside clothing, but make sure the opening of the balloon is not completely closed (you could try taping as an alternative). Make sure the neck of the balloon is pointing up. Hit your chest as if you've been hit by a monster (or whatever), slapping where the balloon is attached. Fake blood will be forced out and the wearer can act out an appropriately melodramatic death in front of his audience. (Make sure whatever clothes you use aren't good ones. Food coloring can stain.)

Rotting Flesh

Mix 1 1/2 cups of dry oatmeal with 1/4 cup of water and stir into a thick paste. Spread onto skin with a rubber spatula. Or put a small amount in a circular or oval pattern. Add a few drops of red food coloring or fake blood to the middle of the "wound." This is good for a while, but when the mixture dries out it'll flake off and have to be reapplied.

Face Makeup

  • Cold cream
  • Food coloring

Use cold cream by itself for white makeup. Add one or two drops of the desired color to about two teaspoons of cold cream. A paper cup and popsicle stick works well for mixing each color. Keep this stuff away from eyes.

Face Paint

  • 2 tablespoons white shortening
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3 or 4 drops of glycerin (available in drug stores)
  • A few drops of food coloring in desired color

Blend the first three ingredients to make a smooth paste. Add enough glycerin to make a creamy consistency. Divide into paper cups and add color to each as needed. Cocoa can be used for dark brown to make mustaches and other facial hair. Remove with soap and water. Avoid eyes.

Scars and Wounds

  • 1 teaspoon or one packet of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 small plastic container (a 35 mm film canister works well)
  • A plastic knife or popsicle stick

Mix gelatin and water in a container until it's about the consistency of honey. Spread it on skin to form scars or burns. You can apply makeup color with theatrical makeup or cheap lipstick. Dab on baby powder with a cotton ball to set the colors.

Some things you might want to buy from the theatrical supply store that add even more to your repertoire are spirit gum, nose wax (also called putty), and liquid latex. You can apply spirit gum to any spot you want to put a scar, lump, wart, or whatever. Let it dry enough to get sticky. Shape the wax to fit your purpose and press it into the spirit gum. Make an incision in the wax to simulate a cut. Brush latex over the whole thing and allow it to dry. Cover with base makeup that matches skin color and blend. Apply fake blood using a Q-tip or blue/purple/black color to get a bruise. Old eye makeup and lipstick works great for making bruises, scrapes, and cuts.

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