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Zombies have long been a staple of pop culture and horror stories in books, TV and movies. But did you know they're also the subject of university-level research? There is an amazing amount of serious academic work on zombies! Anthropologists, biologists and philosophers have traced, speculated and debated zombies. Indigenous African tribal beliefs came to the Caribbean with slaves. Various medical conditions can cause zombie-like symptoms. But, it may not be possible for zombies to even exist. After all, they're conscious beings who aren't aware that they're conscious. And that's a contradiction in terms, because consciousness, by definition, includes awareness! One nursing journal published an article on what to do in a zombie outbreak. It gave detailed instructions on how nurses can identify and treat the unfortunate victims. Even the venerable U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has discussed zombies. It published a guide on how to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse. Of course, if you're ready for a zombie outbreak, you're ready for any disaster! 

How are zombies created? Are they cursed by a voodoo spell or potion? Are they poisoned with toxins? Or have they caught a virus or prion? If it's a toxin or a virus, how is it transmitted--by air, or by contact with blood or body fluids? There are more questions than answers. But everyone agrees that, once infected by whatever means, there's no way to prevent a person from becoming a zombie. 

What does a zombie look like? Basically it's a decayed version of whatever the human victim used to be. A famous singer. A U.S. president. A football player or cheerleader. A student. A pirate. Whatever. A zombie wears the same clothes it did before becoming undead. It can't change clothes--all it cares about is finding human flesh to consume! So the clothes are just torn, dirty, and maybe blood-stained. A zombie's face and any exposed skin is rotting, and inner organs may show through or protrude. 

Your zombification can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. The dirty, ragged clothes aren't hard. But to get that rotting-flesh look you need help. We have easy-to-use zombie makeup kits that will give you the "fresh" zombie look. But if you want to show advanced decomposition, try one of our many prosthetic wounds. They're easy to use and come with complete instructions. Or try one of our gruesome zombie masks. Then add fake intestines hanging out through a hole in your shirt. 

How do you identify a zombie? Not always by looks--some beings who look like zombies could be humans trying to pass as zombies to avoid becoming one. (See below, what to do in a worst-case scenario.) The main way to identify a zombie is by four behavioral symptoms, which must all be present:     

  1. an unsteady shuffling gait when walking 

  1. lack of human personality 

  1. insatiable desire to consume flesh or brains 

  1. incessant moaning and inability to speak clearly 

If someone near you shows these symptoms, RUN! The only way to keep from becoming a zombie yourself is to avoid contact with them. 

In a worst-case scenario, if you can't beat them, join them! Our zombie costumes come in sizes and styles for the whole family: men, women, kids. Even if there's not a real zombie apocalypse, you can have fun pretending that there is! 

HalloweenCostumes.com How To

Zombie Costumes

How to Be A Zombie

WARNING: in the event of a zombie apocalypse, you will be left with two options—you can either beat them or you can join them. If you try to beat them, there will be so. much. running. (According to the movie, Zombieland, the first rule of staying alive in an undead world is: Cardio... and lots of it!) You will also notice a significant uptick in your gunfire participation (Rule #2: Always employ the "double tap" killing method when dealing with supernatural forces). Rule #17: Don't be a hero. You can beat the zombies at their own game by simply blending in (after all, it worked for Bill Murray). This handy "how to" guide is ESSENTIAL for any zombie race "joiner." We've compiled all of the must-knows before you get your mingle on with the shamble squad—how to walk, how to talk, and even how to look the part.

How to Pose for Pictures

Mr. DeMille won't be asking for your close-up anytime soon, but if you fully commit to looking your most gruesome, it's likely other people will request to take photos of you. A word of advice: Proceed with caution! A big toothy grin and a peace sign are not zombie actions. Once you're tagged on Facebook, that image will live on your profile forever. Years of future embarrassment can be avoided if you get to know your role. In short: Zombies don't smile. Hey, we don't make the rules of the undead, but we'll help you stick to them.

Undead

Zombie Undead Pose

There's really nothing like that new, "fresh from the grave" smell. This, for the record, is your body decaying. Don't worry decaying is completely normal when you're a zombie. You'll do it all day, every day. After a while, you won't even notice. The Undead pose sets you up for shambling, which is the slow, mechanical walk of a zombie. That reminds us... you'll want to leave the house a little earlier whenever you have to be somewhere on time. Running down the street in a world filled with zombies is going to blow your cover. Remember: There's a reason the show is called, The WALKING Dead.

Hungry

Zombie Hungry Pose

It's time to face facts: you're undead. Which isn't the same as being dead-dead. That's WAY more permanent. In this reanimated state, you'll still be able to do everything you were able to do before... you'll just have a freaky hunger for brains while you're at it! Catching a matinee? Add a big bucket of brains! Hanging out at the mall with your friends? Don't forget to stop by the brain court! You're basically insatiable. Of course, you don't have to go all Night of the Living Dead on every human you see if you're just playing along. But for the real character actors out there, this is a zombie's sole motivation: Hunger for brains.

Awkward Angles

Zombie Awkward Angles Pose

Outside of the open, oozing wounds, an unhealthy obsession with human brain attainment and an overall sense of dread, zombies are just like us! Okay, not JUST like us, but they do possess a human form. That's why our internal creepy meters are cranked to eleven whenever we see them contort their bodies into unnatural positions. A wayward arm here, a broken, dragging leg there... Awkward Angles looks great in a snapshot, and really captures the zombie essence of fear. Next level bonus points are awarded to those creatures of the night that are double-jointed.

Arms Forward

Zombie Arms Forward Pose

This is the universal sign of attack, and when you're a zombie, it screams: "Watch out, I'm a brainiac maniac and you look pretty delicious!" From Frankenstein to the scary "Rage" victims in 28 Days Later (and all the famous zombies in between), the Arms Forward pose is a go-to at feeding time. We know, we know, you're not actually seeking a brain snack. That's okay, it's convincing to the horde AND it will be useful if you happen to find yourself playing the part of "zombie" in one of those fun runs (or chasing mischievous trick-or-treaters this Halloween, whichever).

Zombie Couples

Who says that romance is dead? If there's one thing the movie, Warm Bodies, taught us, it's that LOVE is what keeps a zombie alive. Maybe, as a member of the undead, you'll find that it's hard to make these types of connections—maintaining the position that relationships are human business. But there's also safety in numbers. A living, breathing human always has the upper hand against one zombie. Get two or more zombies together, and the tables turn. No matter your reasoning, choose an ally or be destined to shuffle around the battlegrounds of World War Z alone.

Zombies

Zombies Couple Costumes

Not everyone gets the life of a zombie. It's more than just brains (though that's a HUGE component) or slowly meandering through the ruins of formerly vibrant cities. Once infected with a zombie virus, there's only one thing you have to do: Decompose. Hair today, gone tomorrow. It's only a matter of time before you lose a limb or a part of your face. While not exactly glamorous, pairing up with another zombie could make you feel a little more comfortable in your own skin (what's left of it, anyway).

Zombie and Zombie Hunter

Zombie and Zombie Hunter Couples Costumes

Survival Rule #29: The buddy system. Opposites attract, there's no doubt about it. On the surface, partnering up with a zombie hunter may seem like a conflict of interest. However, since you aren't ACTUALLY a zombie, we think this match is a safe bet. If you recall, there were two choices at the start of the zombie apocalypse: Beat 'em or join 'em. When these two get together, it's the best of both worlds. You're strong suit is getting in on the ground floor of all the zombie action, and his is using found objects to annihilate the zombie population.

Talk Like A Zombie

In general, zombies aren't expert conversationalists. For the most part, communication isn't at all necessary. Brains. That's it. Just brains. But that's not to say you'll never have to convey deeper emotions. For example, what if you wanted to intimidate your victims a little bit before you went in for the attack? Alert fellow horde members to a group of oncoming humans? Relate frustration after one of those humans makes an escape? Grunts, moans and slow gestures go a long way, but when a bigger statement is necessary, you'll need to command the full scope of a zombie's vocabulary.

Zombie Quotes

Zombie Makeup Tutorial

Red-rimmed eyes, sunken cheeks and lifeless lips—these are the telltale signs of a reanimated corpse. Our in-house makeup artist captured all these traits and more in her woman's zombie makeup tutorial. Not only will Krissi help you achieve an authentic appearance, but she also makes it totally attainable by using products you likely already have in your makeup bag! Pro-tip: Pay particularly close attention to the way she creates zombie "blood tears" with stage blood. It may take you a minute to master the skill, but the effect is really worth it!

Choose Your Weapon

The CDC issued a tongue-in-cheek "zombie apocalypse" preparedness pack a few years ago. Of course, it's all fun and games until someone gets bitten—that's how epidemics start. Basically, if a zombie sinks its teeth into you, you're as good as gone. To avoid becoming a chew toy, you have a couple of options: First, you can try avoiding zombies at all costs. Move to the mountains (zombies struggle with steep climbs), or maybe even a bomb shelter, and wait things out. Second, you can choose to eradicate the problem. Select your weapon and don't forget to aim for the head... because to fully kill a zombie, you must attack the brain. Everything else will merely slow them down.

Ninja Weapons

Ninja Weapon Kit

Despite what some kung fu movies may suggest you don't actually have to be a trained ninja to slay zombies. This ninja weapons kit, however, sets you up to be ready for any situation that may arise. Throwing stars immediately stop zombies in their tracks, while a sword works well for slicing, dicing and chopping brains up into tiny, little pieces—which is effective, but totally not necessary.

Fake Dynamite

Fake Dynamite Accessory

For one zombie, this method results in total overkill (and you're not crazy, just on a mission). But let's say you find yourself in a room filled with zombies—a few sticks of dynamite will buy you some time to escape! Light the fuse, toss the explosives their way and run. The zombies won’t know what hit them and you will have already reached safety.

Pirate Pistol

Pirate Pistol

A bullet to the head is 100% effective in killing a zombie. Damaging the motor cortex halts all control of their movement, while severing the synapse to their hypothalamus gland completely diminishes the desire to devour human flesh. Packing heat also allows some distance between you and the walking dead, making it easier to execute quick moves or avoid danger all together. Plus, a pirate pistol just makes you look cool.

Freddy Krueger Glove

Replica Freddy Krueger Glove

Here's a piece of obscure horror movie trivia: In Nightmare on Elm Street, character Nancy falls asleep while watching Evil Dead. Sam Raimi later repaid the sign of respect to fellow director, Wes Craven, with a subtle shot of Freddy's glove in Evil Dead II. Of course, in the season finale of Raimi's successful television series, Ash vs. Evil Dead (2015), perceptive fans once again saw Freddy's glove hanging in the door way. Carving up zombies is going to look wicked with this thing.

Axe

Tin Woodsman Axe

A gun is quick and effective, but zombie hunters who have been in the game awhile know that an axe is the greatest of all the weapons in your zombie survival pack. Everyone from "Tallahassee" (Woody Harrelson's character in Zombieland) to the crew in Shaun of the Dead has put an axe to good use. Blades don't require reloading, and they're noise-free (unlike a shot) so you don't draw attention to yourself.

Chainsaw

Deluxe Animated Chainsaw with Sound

Rick Grimes is undoubtedly a solid zombie hunter, but he primarily sticks to using a rifle. Ash Williams (played by Bruce Campbell) killed the medieval zombie horde in Army of Darkness with style. Even the movie poster art is aspirational! For what it's worth, Ash also straps a gun to his back, but choosing the rotating teeth of a chainsaw is frightening, deafening and leaves no one questioning your intentions. (And, you guessed it, the thing just looks cool).

Love Your Look as a Deadite

Okay, so we're not sure if a Deadite from the Evil Dead franchise is actually a true zombie, but we're going to say it's close enough! Demonic possession aside, they still look like every other zombie we've ever seen. They still have that whole hive mind thing going on, they can talk a bit more than your usual undead, and boy are they menacing. So, if you're looking to have a more unique take on a zombie, you can't go wrong with a Deadite.

Freaky Deadite

Freaky Deadite

Whether you're looking for Ash or you're just out on a bloody stroll through the tulips, you'll look like one freaky Deadite when you follow this look. Don't forget to pose in a twisted way, with limbs sort of crooked and unnatural looking. Add lots of blood to your shirt (white works well) and if you can afford to put some tears and holes in your clothing, then that will make you look all the more zombified!

Bloody Deadite

Bloody Deadite

Need more makeup ideas? One word... blood. Lots of it! Be sure to have lots of both bright red (fresh) and dark red (old) blood. It adds depth to your look, and is extra creepy. If extra creepy is something you want even more of, you should get some contact lenses that fog up your pupils which makes your gaze even more unsettling.

Scary Deadite

Scary Deadite

Alright, time for the perfect photo, and it's all about the best pose to show off your transformation. Put those claws up, the more twisted your body is, the better, and if you can make big scary eyes with big scary teeth showing, you might just scare away the photographer. If you can find some red lighting to make you look even more hellish, go for it. Now that you have some fantastic ideas for your look, you won't have any trouble convincing people you're truly possessed by a demon, as well as a creative costume sense.