15 Scary Halloween Costumes That Will Give You Nightmares
Scare the living daylights out of anyone and everyone you encounter with one of these terrifying Halloween costumes…if you dare.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.
The weeping, wailing woman
Nothing sends chills down your spine like a folktale that seems to have some truth to it—especially one that features a terrifying apparition like this. This La Llorona costume is based on a Mexican old wives’ tale about a cursed mother who desperately cries for her lost children in the middle of the night. The only thing is, this “weeping woman” apparently murdered those children in a fit of rage after her husband was unfaithful. This is one of the scary Halloween costumes to wear if you want to give people the shivers whenever they think about it. For more scares, check out the spookiest ghost stories from every state.
The hideous, unidentifiable creature
There’s something particularly terrifying about a horrible creature that you can’t quite describe. Is it a monster? A bat? A mutant reptile? Why are its claws so big? And why is its mouth open so wide? Will it eat anyone who gets too close? All good questions that we may never be able to answer. What we can tell you is that this is one of the scary Halloween costumes sure to give people nightmares for weeks to come. If your scary Halloween costumes are eating up most of your budget this year, these cheap DIY Halloween decorations will make your house festive in a flash.
The cursed doll
Creepy dolls have been scaring the living daylights out of people for centuries, but the Annabelle movie franchise really took it up a notch. This Annabelle costume for adults will have fellow revelers switching sidewalks to avoid you. Just pair the telltale dress and wig with some simple Halloween makeup to look just like her. Here are 20 other easy Halloween makeup ideas almost anyone can master.
A horror movie in real life
Scary Halloween costumes come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, but the addition of fake blood always seems to make them even scarier. Turn Halloween into prom night (gone very, very wrong) by dressing as Stephen King’s unforgettable protagonist in Carrie. All you need is this white sheath dress doused in fake blood and corsage. Telekinesis optional.
The clown of your nightmares
When it comes to scaring someone silly, clowns never fail to produce the desired effect. The killer-clown mask is the key element of this scary Halloween costume, of course, but it’s helped along by a disturbingly cheery outfit with slash marks and a weapon of your choice. Bloody cleavers, flailing spiked balls—the options are endless and endlessly disturbing. To get into the spirit before the big day, check out these 20 Halloween movies that will scare you senseless.
A haunted pirate
Just because you want to frighten the bejeezus out of everyone this Halloween it doesn’t mean that you can’t look your best while doing it. This pirate-wench ensemble is the best of both worlds: sexy and scary. The set includes fingerless gloves, a shredded, corseted dress, and a pirate’s hat. And you can add to the look with ghastly makeup, an eye patch, a sword, ripped fishnets, and killer boots.
If scary movies have taught us anything, it’s that once a zombie sets its sights on you, there aren’t many places you can hide. Take your friends’ zombie fears to the next level with this terrifying costume—which comes with a mask and a shirt that will make you look like you’re decomposing. The barbed-wire baseball bat, which you can buy separately, is a clever nod to The Walking Dead. Learn the history behind zombies and more of Halloween’s scariest creatures.
Mummy on a mission
Get wrapped up in the Halloween spirit with this ghoulish mummy costume. Leave the toilet-papered mummy for the kids—you’re going all-out this Halloween with these well-worn, tattered bandages that are actually very sturdy (and attached to a jumpsuit). For a true fright fest, enlist friends or family members to join your motley, mummified crew. If your gang wants to coordinate this year, here are some more clever ideas for group Halloween costumes.
So simple…so completely, mind-numbingly terrifying. This iconic mask from the Halloween franchise creates one of the most classic scary Halloween costumes out there. Just don this incredibly accurate latex mask (which has hair attached), wear some basic dark clothes, and you’re instantly transformed into serial killer Michael Myers. Adopt a hulking, silent stance, grab a (fake) kitchen knife, and you’re ready to go! While this nightmarish vision isn’t based on a true story, these 17 creepy real events actually happened on Halloween.
A sinister specter from beyond
This freaky, faceless reaper in the ghastly white robe and pointy black gloves will have trick-or-treaters running in the other direction. Add clanking chains to announce your arrival from the afterlife—or a set of lighter but realistic-looking plastic chain links—and add a light-up skull lantern for a truly spooky effect.
If The Shining taught us anything, it’s that things are not as they appear, not even cute twins wearing matching dresses—actually, especially cute twins wearing matching dresses. Grab your bestie, get two of these old-fashioned dresses with white bibs, perfect a vacant stare—for a pair of scary Halloween costumes that’ll scare the heck out of anyone and everyone. Did you know that The Shining is one of the horror movies that were based on truth?
A joker is one thing, but a joker with a skeleton face is truly another! Creep out your friends and family with this unsettling Halloween set. It includes a demonic-looking mask, a jester’s headpiece and tunic, matching pants, gloves with terrifyingly long fingers, and two oversized playing cards to get you on your way to pulling the best costume card.
Real-life doctors take an oath to protect patients above all. Halloween flips that notion on its head with this creepy, zombie doc. Believe it or not, this scary Halloween costume is for kids, so parents, it’s time to brace yourselves for some serious scares at home (and for this fun new stage of parenthood). To get your kids into the holiday spirit while also teaching them something, regale them with the chilling history of 15 Halloween traditions.
Another option for the younger set, this is one of the more subtly scary and clever scary Halloween costumes, and people will do a double-take when they see it. How does it work, exactly? The costume has a harness attached to the robe, which goes around your child and extends upward to create the rest of the “body.” Your child’s head, on the other hand, stays firmly where it should be—but pokes out from the middle of the robe. It’s the perfect freak-out and fake-out.
The shadow demon
Many scary Halloween costumes have one thing in common: You can’t see the wearer’s face. With this head-to-toe, all-black costume, you can’t see any other identifying details either—and you can blend into the darkness, making it even more frightening. Add a pair of gloves with way-too-pointy fingers, demonically glowing eyes, and some stealthy moves, and you have a recipe for pure terror as you creep up on unsuspecting friends and give them the scare of their lives. So, why do we engage in these scary shenanigans on Halloween, anyway? Here’s a history of Halloween and how it’s celebrated.
For more fun facts, costume ideas, traditions, candy inspiration, spooky entertainment, and updates on how October 31 will look different this year, check out our Halloween Guide.