Costume design is typically something you consider when watching a period drama or a Merchant Ivory film. Clothing isn’t the first thing you think of when thinking of Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead. Rather, most of it seems to be there just to soak up the blood, brains, and gore that gets dumped all over the characters. But, it’s a very important detail in setting time, character age, and place in the movie.
Good costuming also serves as a way to hide the rigs that give us all those cool practical effects while adding to the overall beaten-up look of the characters. Finally, if you’ve seen the film, you may have noted that the some of the costuming was used as a clever nod to Raimi’s original.
Costume designer Sarah Voon talks to Fancy Dress Costumes (yes, with a name like that it could only be a UK site) about the planning that went into the dress for the film.
How much of your job revolved around making the cast look as unglamorous /beaten up as possible?
I’d say 80%. All the costumes were aged and taken back a notch or two, so nothing was ‘box fresh’ to start with. When the action starts, all the costumes go through increasingly distressed stages and we did a lot of research, testing various items for a totally realistic representation of what would happen to each fabric with each new situation.
Did director Fede Alvarez (above) have specific ideas for the costumes?
Fede knows what he likes when he sees it, and I had strong ideas about the characters’ clothing as soon as I read the script. When I presented my ideas, he tweaked a few things but we pretty much went with the original designs.
One thing he was keen on was for the film to feel as timeless as possible without being bland, and also to never compensate for the various rigs and prosthetics required by obviously disguising them with costume. That was an awesome challenge.
How closely did you work with the special effects/make-up effects departments?
Incredibly closely, in fact all of my initial creative meetings were with those departments as we conceptualised the practical requirements of each rig within each character’s costume. There were tiny concessions made, but these were generally in the special construction of some garments, and not in the look of the costumes.
Was it difficult to get the blood-soaked costumes off at the end of the day?
Sometimes! Fake blood is very sticky and some garments can dry with a consistency like cardboard. Luckily I had a very dedicated and experienced on-set team who managed the changes and actor comfort expertly.
Should we expect to see any nods back to the Bruce Campbell costumes of the original Evil Dead films?
I guess there are a couple, but you’ll have to watch and see if you can pick them!