10 Best Underrated Fashion Icons From Cult Horror Movies

Cult horror is a treasure trove of incredible fashion and costume design — here are 10 fashion icons that you've been sleeping on.

It’s nearly Spookmas, that wonderful time of the year when we come together to remember the sacrifice of a man who through his blood granted us eternal life (by which I mean Dracula, obviously). As All Hallows’ Eve approaches, you might be looking for inspiration on how to push your style to terrifying extremes. Sure, you could look at those mainstream horror icons, the tired slashers in bloody coveralls and black robes, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, we’ve gathered together the best of cult horror’s forgotten stylish villains and victims, so you can truly nail that occult-chic look.

Tarsem Singh, “The Cell”, 2000, New Line Cinema

Carl Rudolp Stargher — “The Cell”

They say that true style is all in your head, and that’s certainly true of serial killer Carl Stargher in “The Cell”. Though he may be a pudgy schlub in the real world, in the fantastical dreamscape of his own subconscious, he’s the epitome of avant-garde fashion. Of course, it’s hard not to be stylish when you star in a Tarsem Singh film, and all of your outfits are made by the legendary costume designer Eiko Ishioka.

Robert Fuest, “The Abominable Dr. Phibes”, 1971, Anglo-EMI Film Distributors

Dr. Phibes — “The Abominable Doctor Phibes”

It’s hard to single out just one Vincent Price character as a stand-out fashion icon, but for me, the winner has got to be the garish and grand Dr. Phibes. Decades before the Jigsaw killer stole his schtick with a pathetic puppet gimmick, Dr. Phibes was using lethal headgear with a hell of a lot more flair. Phibes was fashionable in every aspect, from interior decoration to murder-weapon design — even Phibes’ assistants had outfits to die for!

Anna Biller, “The Love Witch”, 2016, Oscilloscope Laboratories

Elaine — “The Love Witch”

The titular antiheroine of this sixties cult throwback is as sophisticated as she is sexy. There’s not a moment of screen time when Elaine isn’t decked out in garments any thrift-shopping fashionista would kill to get their hands on.

Mario Bava, “Black Sunday”, 1960, Unidis

Asa Vajda — “Black Sunday”

When it comes to witchy fashion, even Elaine can’t outshine the classics. Cult horror virtuoso Mario Bava was a master when it came to sumptuous costumes and set dressings, and the villainous Asa Vajda is perhaps his most stylish character of all. Thanks in no small part to the sheer charisma of actress Barbara Steele, the resurrected sorceress steals every scene she’s in. Who else could pull off a spiked iron mask with such grace?

Kevin Yagher, Joe Chappelle, “Hellraiser: Bloodline”, 1996, Miramax Films

Angelique — “Hellraiser: Bloodline”

There’s only one decent reason for anyone who isn’t an obsessive Hellraiser fan to watch the fourth film in the series, and that’s Angelique. The diabolical daughter of Leviathan manages to make her own flayed skin look like the height of cutting edge headgear. With that latex dress and her BDSM chain accessories, she’d be waved to the front of the line at any self-respecting fetish club.

Lambert Hillyer, “Dracula’s Daughter”, 1936, Universal Studios

Countess Marya Zaleska — “Dracula’s Daughter”

Arguably the first queer horror film ever made, “Dracula’s Daughter” is a tale of blood, vampirism and lesbian lust. Even more so than her famous father, the stunning Gloria Holden slays in her hard femme all-black ensembles. Not only is her style irresistible to all women, but her choice of jewellery is so beguiling it’s literally hypnotic.

Emilio Miraglia, “The Night Evelyn Came Out Of Her Grave”, 1971, Gryphon Entertainment

Lord Alan Cunningham — “The Night Evelyn Came Out Of Her Grave”

What do you get when you cross nineteenth-century aristocratic outfits with bold seventies cuts and colours? You get Lord Alan Cunningham, perhaps the best-dressed psychopath in Italian cinema. This disturbed widower has a penchant for double-breasted smoking jackets, cravates and murdering redheads — and at least when it comes to the first two, he pulls them off admirably.

Dan O’Bannon, “The Return of the Living Dead”, 1985, Orion Pictures

Trash — “Return of the Living Dead”

It’s been all high fashion and baroque elegance so far, but sometimes you need to take your inspiration from the gutter. Enter Trash, face-tatted freaky punk with a penchant for inappropriate graveyard stripteases. Whether dressed to impress in leopard print or undressed and undead in nothing but a pair of legwarmers, Trash always looks amazing.

Robert Wiene, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”, 1920, Decla-Bioscop

Cesare — “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”

Sure, he may not be as flashy as Sylvia or as bold as Dr. Phibes, but Cesare holds the top spot for one simple reason: he’s the granddaddy of goth fashion. Before Siouxsie and the Banshees wailed out their first tune or Robert Smith dabbed on eyeliner, Cesare was killing it in all-black.

Ken Russell, “Lair of the White Worm”, 1988, Vestron Pictures

Sylvia — “Lair of the White Worm”

Why is it that immortal villains are always the best dressers? Is it just because they’ve had centuries to refine their look? Is evil a prerequisite for truly avant-garde style? Whatever the reason, Sylvia Marsh isn’t just keeping the secrets of an ancient worm cult — she’s also keeping the secrets of her truly otherworldly makeup game.

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