Alien Costume Ideas

Famous Alien Costume Ideas From Movies And TV

There are endless possibilities for an alien costume, these range from simple alien antenna style head boppers to complex nine foot tall fiberglass constructions that require stilts and hydraulics. In this article we will take a look at the most famous movie and TV alien costumes that have been made over the decades to help give you some ideas for your own DIY homemade alien costume projects.

1950's Alien Costumes

After World War 2 sci-fi started to become more popular with many movies made that featured aggressive aliens out destroy or enslave mankind, that narrative matched the feelings of the time where an invading army was still fresh in the public’s memory. The iconic alien movies of the fifties included The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Invaders from Mars (1953), The War of the Worlds (1953), Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957) and The Blob (1958). The costumes from this era are not popular for modern DIY projects since they are less well known than the more recent sci-fi aliens. However, some of aliens from the fifties did have the enlarged brains with which we are all now familiar, particularly for Martian costumes. Whether the alien had a large brain and superior intelligence or was an instinct driven amorphous blob the extraterrestrials of the fifties were basically all out to get us! 

1950's Alien Costumes

1960's Alien Costumes

The sixties were relatively quiet with regards to movies featuring aliens, with the notable exceptions of the TV series Star Trek (1966–1969) and of the appearance of the first Daleks in the British TV series Doctor Who. Many of the alien costumes in Star Trek are based on humanoid body shapes making them relatively simple to construct and the ongoing popularity of the Star Trek franchise means that many of these costumes are still popular to this day. The Vulcan, Romulan and Kilngon costumes are three of the most well known, although in the original Star Trek TV series the Klingon costume was much more basic than in the later series, using relatively little makeup or body armor. The most popular Vulcan costume is that depicting Mr. Spock and only consists of a Star Fleet uniform with pointy ears. Star trek also featured the appearance of several sexy alien costumes including the still popular green Orion slave girl style costume with green body paint and a harem style outfit. The low budget for the original Star Trek series meant that most of the costumes were relatively simple, while the more complex ones ended up being quite funny looking, including an alien that is clearly just a small dog wrapped in fur with a horn on its head.

1960's Alien Costumes

1970's Alien Costumes

The seventies brought us three of the most famous science fiction movies of all time - Star Wars (1977), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Alien (1979). Star Wars is still one of the most well known science fiction franchises and has produced some of the most popular costume characters including Chewbacca, the Jawa and the Tuscan raiders from the planet Tatooine, Yoda and the various Jedi, plus the wide range of aliens from the Cantina bar scene.

The movie "Alien" with Sigourney Weaver features one of the most feared sci-fi aliens of all time. This alien costume is one of the most difficult to make due it its complex giant head and tail, but it is also one of the most impressive. Alien also featured the memorable scene where a baby alien burst out of John Hurts' stomach, this scene is often turned into a simple and funny costume with a small plastic alien stuck onto a bloodied T-shirt. Close Encounters of the Third Kind made famous the Roswell type little grey men aliens who are one of the few types of alien that are not hell bent on destroying the Earth. For the Close Encounter "probing" style alien a simple green or grey body suit can be worn together with a mask that has a bald head and large eyes.

1970's Alien Costumes

1980's Alien Costumes

The eighties brought us several movies and TV series where the aliens were living among us on Earth. In shows like Alien nation and the TV series "V" the aliens pretended to be friendly, however they were actually up to no good. The aliens in “V” are basically lizard like creatures that wear human disguises, so for their costume you simply need to have small piece of fake face skin that looks like it is peeled away to reveal lizard skin beneath it.

There were also several friendly alien species that were created during this period, including the iconic E. T. the Extra Terrestrial and A.L.F. the "Alien Life Form". Another notable friendly alien from the 1980's are the ghostly white species from the movie Coccoon, however they do not make good costumes since their main feature is their luminescence - so you would have to wear glow in the dark paint to create the right effect!

The Star War saga continued, and in the Return of the Jedi we have several famous characters that are now popular as costumes. These include Jabba the hut, Ewoks and the ultimate sexy costume for women - Princess Leia as a slave girl. We include Princess Leia and the classic Jedi robe costumes in the alien category because although they are fully humanoid they are of course aliens - being from a galaxy far, far away.

That brings us to one of the most popular alien costume characters of all time - Predator from the 1987 movie of the same name. This very complex costume includes an array of weapons, plus full body armor and a mask that covers a terrifying face complete with an expandable jaw and dreadlock-like appendages on the head. This costume really does have it all, right down to a necklace made from the bones and skulls of their prey. Since the Predator is humanoid in shape it is one of the more suitable aliens to turn into a costume, albeit a very complex one to try to make at home.

1980's Alien Costumes

1990's Alien Costumes

The Star Trek movies of the 80's were followed by the very successful Star Trek The Next Generation TV series in the 1990's - cementing the Klingons as one of the most popular costume character types to this day. They are so popular that they have their own language which is spoken by their devoted fans who regularly dress up in Klingon costumes for various events. Other popular characters from the Star Trek universe are the Ferengi with their distinctively large ears, the Cardassians with their distinctive boney facial features and the Borg. The Borg are cybernetic organisms that assimilate other alien species into their collective by adding various pieces of technology to enhance their bodies. The wide range of technological appendages makes The Borg a popular costume for sci-fi fans and they have become the most famous of the cyborg style aliens. Another very popular science fiction series from the 1990's was Stargate SG-1, which featured several alien races including “little grey men” knows as the Asgard.

1990's Alien Costumes

Campy aliens like those from the fifties returned in the 1996 movie Mars Attacks! and a whole range of hilariously funny alien visitors to Earth were shown in the 1997 movie Men in Black with Will Smith. Other notable aliens from this decade are the insect like killing machines from Starship Troopers and the seductive shapeshifting alien from the movie Species.

2000 - Present Alien Costumes

From 2000 onwards the aliens in movies and on TV were mostly animated via CGI, this allowed them to be larger and more varied in shape compared to the older costume or puppet based aliens. Notable examples of large 8-10 feet tall aliens include the giant muscular "Engineer" from Prometheus (2012), The beautiful blue Na'vi from Avatar (2009) and the "Prawns" from Disctrict 9 (2009).

21st Century Alien Costumes

The sheer number of animated cartoon aliens are far too large to cover here, but some of the most famous examples are the large green aliens Kang and Kodos who make regular appearances on the Simpsons cartoon series, the crazy Invader Zim and the numerous types of (usually green) aliens that Pixar studios feature in their animated movies.

Video Game Aliens

The introduction of CGI technology and the growing popularly of video games has also brought us a wide range of new alien characters in gaming such as those found in the Halo series of first person shooters. In keeping with the nature of those types of shoot 'em up video game the aliens are usually large, aggressive killing machines similar to the exomorphs from the Aliens and Stormship Trooper movies.

Humanoid Aliens

Aside from the aforementioned Star Wars aliens such as the Jedi and Princess Leia we should also note the many aliens from movies and TV series that are indistinguishable in looks from the average human. Famous examples include The Solomon family in 3rd Rock from the Sun, Robin Williams as Mork in Mork and Mindy and of course many of the superheroes, including the most famous of all – Superman, from the planet Krypton.

Homemade Alien Costume Ideas

When choosing an alien costume there are four main types to consider, each with varying degrees of difficult for you to make as a DIY homemade costume.

Insectoid Style Costumes

The most complex costumes are the exomoph style aliens which resemble giant insects with their armored external skeletons. These require complicated construction methods using a range of materials and are usually only made for show since they are too difficult to move around in for a normal costume party.

Little Green Men Style Costumes

The second obvious choice is the “little green (or grey) men” style alien which requires only a skin tight body suit and a mask or some face paint.  This category of alien can also include those with large heads to hold their enlarged brains, typical of the Martian type aliens who intend to take over the world.

Humanoid Alien Costumes

This category includes the many characters who closely resemble humans but have some facial features to make them look slightly alien. For the rest of the costume normal clothes or a suitable uniform can be worn. Examples include many of the Star Trek aliens who wear a Star Fleet style blue, red or gold uniform. Costume makeup or face paint can then be used to complete the look by adding various bumps, ridges or coloration to your face.

Monster Style Alien Costumes

The fourth category of alien costume is the humanoid monster style aliens that include such characters as Predator, Avatar and the furry Star Wars Wookies or Ewoks. These types of costumes require full body paint, armor or fur but are still based on the two arms and two legs bipedal body shape. They require a little more work to put together than the basic humanoid or little green men costumes but are great for Halloween parties.

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