If you're a true movie geek, you probably refuse to dress up at Halloween in anything but a movie-related costume. I guess I'm not a true movie geek, because two years ago I went as Family Guy's Quagmire, who as of yet is not in any movies. Last year, though, I was Harpo Marx. I haven't decided what to be this year yet, but it isn't definite that I'll be something with cinematic reference.
Of course, if I was a real, hardcore movie geek, I wouldn't just settle for the basic, predictable movie-themed outfit. I'd go for the gold, and be an uber-geek. How? I would doubly dress up as a movie character who is dressed up as somebody or something else. To do so, I would pick one of my favorite non-Halloween costumes and disguises depicted on film (it isn't as fun dressing as a character who is dressed up for Halloween). However, most of these would be difficult to achieve -- or at least too obscure to wear to a common party, where the crowd isn't as film familiar as you. If you attempt any of these, good luck! And please, please send me a photo.
1. Harpo Marx and Chico Marx as Groucho Marx in Duck Soup (1933, Leo McCarey)
See, now if I had really wanted to be geeky (or pretentious), I would have not just dressed as Harpo last Halloween; I would have dressed as Harpo dressed as Groucho. In one of the most famous sequences in any Marx Brothers film, Pinky (Harpo) and Chicolini (Chico) each disguises himself as Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) in order to steal some war plans. The real gem of the sequence, of course, is the "mirror scene" (watch it if you've never seen it before, please), where Pinky pretends to be the reflection of Rufus until Chicolini appears and ruins everything. Although historically it was only Harpo and Chico who were often mistaken for each other, or for twins, all three brothers look so alike here, that when they're all together, it is almost difficult to tell who is who. If you want to pull this double-costume off, it won't be hard -- Grouch faces are easy to do, and then you just need a sleeping cap and gown -- but I doubt you'll get much tolerance when you constantly correct everyone who thinks you're simply Groucho.
One of the most popular, and easy things for men to do at Halloween is dress in drag, whether they're dressing as a famous woman or just plain stuffing a bra and putting on a friend/relative's dress. But no man has done better at dressing as a female than Jaye Davidson. He was so convincing in The Crying Game that his true gender became one of the most guarded movie secrets of all time. Thanks to his curly hair and distinct outfits, a "Dil" costume might not be so impossible. But if you want to go completely obscure, choose the similarly shocking character "Angela" from Sleepaway Camp or the not-so-shocking character "Billy Kwan" from The Year of Living Dangerously. (I want to point out that while technically "Dil" is a transwoman, and this is therefore not a costume or disguise for the character, I felt that Davidson's Oscar-nominated performance qualifies it for this list).
Another difficult drag costume, "Mrs. Doubtfire" always made me angry when I was younger, because obviously it took Robin Williams hours and hours of Oscar-winning makeup work to get into character. Certainly his real character, "Daniel" couldn't have applied the same process each day before going to his "housekeeping job". Still, at least the movie pretended like it could be done by showing us the process that "Daniel" supposedly went through in order to get the look right. Similarly, the impossible disguises of the Mission: Impossible movies annoyed me, because obviously "Ethan Hunt" (Tom Cruise) can't look so much like the other person that the movie actually substitutes the actor playing that person. However, at least in M:i:III, there's a lengthy montage showing just how Hunt makes his Philip Seymour Hoffman mask. Now, if you can somehow go as "Ethan Hunt" as "Owen Davian" (Hoffman's character), then you are a master of disguise.
4. E.T. as an old lady in E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982, Steven Spielberg)
This is the last drag costume, I swear. It is also the one that would be easiest for your friends to recognize. Forget E.T. disguised as "Gertie" (Drew Barrymore) dressed as a ghost, the scene in which E.T. is shown with a makeover is the better costume moment. Aside from foreshadowing one of the Olsen twins by more than twenty years, and aside from just plain being awesome, I like E.T. as the old lady with boa and bowler because it's the worst attempt at looking human any alien has ever made. Worse than the bug alien disguised as Vincent D'Onofrio (aka "Earl Suit") in Men in Black. Worse than Lisa Marie as the gum-chewing finger-biter in Mars Attacks! Even worse than the shape-shifting bounty hunter "Lee" as the naked Playboy centerfold in Critters 2: The Main Course. But E.T. was the cutest, and he wasn't really trying to assimilate, so I guess it doesn't matter how much he would have not fit in on Earth.
5. The cow disguise in Top Secret! (1984, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker)
Or should I have said the cow wearing army boots disguise? I've always thought that dual-occupant animal costumes were the funniest, but I'd never want to wear one. Not because they seem claustrophobic, but because of what happens to a bad guy when he's disguised as the backside of a cow in Top Secret! (watch the scene on YouTube, please). Of course, bovine sex excluded, the disguise is funny enough on its own simply for the fact that a real cow is used as a substitute for the cow costume. A real cow wearing army boots, that is.
6. The Trekkie dentists in Trekkies (1997, Roger Nygard)
Some people dress as Star Trek characters for Halloween. Some people dress as Star Trek characters for conventions. Some may even wear their costumes in the privacy of their own home. And then there's Dr. Denis Bourguignon, a dentist who dresses up in his Star Trek outfit every day, to work, at his dental office, which is called Stargate Dental. But it doesn't even end there. No, he makes his dental assistants and other staff wear Trek garb, too. Including his wife, who works with him (or did). If you're planning on wearing your Spock shirt and ears once again this year, why not at least carry around a dental drill, too? See if anyone you know is familiar with the hilarious documentary Trekkies.
7. Scout as a ham in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962, Robert Mulligan)
Whether its Halloween or an elementary school pageant -- or both, as it were (I cheated*) -- there's nothing better than a big food costume. Unfortunately, they aren't too practical, because they're often hard to maneuver in and they're typically hard to see out of. But that's what makes the scene in To Kill a Mockingbird in which "Scout" (Mary Badham) is walking home wearing a big ham costume so scary. Imagine being a little girl in such a difficult costume trying to navigate through the dark woods, and then being knocked around by an angry, racist old farmer. If you are going to attempt this costume this Halloween, keep in mind that even though your hair won't be seen, it must be cut in the bobbish style of Scout in order to be accurate. Also, beware of people in angry, racist old farmer costumes. (* -- I completely forgot that it's a Halloween pageant and not just an agricultural pageant, so I chose to include it anyway).