For months I had been wondering what costume to wear on Halloween. Star Wars? Nah, been there, done that. And after The Force Awakens, the new Star Wars has less appeal to me anyway. Old geezers prefers to live in the past… Doctor Who? Too unknown (in Japan). Also this time I really wanted to avoid having to wear any kind of mask. October in Japan is simply too warm for that.
An Then Something Happened
In perfect timing Hulu Japan decided to air Ash vs Evil Dead, the new series directed by no one other than Sam Raimi and with Bruce Campbell in the leading role himself! I’ve been a fan of the franchise, but almost forgot about its existence (it was so long ago). The series turned out way better than I expected – it’s all the same one-liner parade, but with effects that are actually special, very little CGI, great cast, and a very fast paced storyline.
The franchise has somewhat cult status in Japan, too, albeit much less than in the US or Europe. Either way the recognition value would be high enough to use it as an ice breaker at Halloween parties around Tokyo.
Ash 30 years later seems closer to my age now (age differences shrink with the years), so another problem solved. However, I still needed a chainsaw, a 12 gauge, double-barrelled shotgun, a harness and lots of blood.
I went to the Internet Movie Firearms Database to get a good photo of the gun used. It also gives the exact size, so I printed out the photo in 1:1 scale, traced it on top of a piece of wood and cut the stock from that. For the barrel I got the cheapest plastic pipe for a few hundred yen. I also made it so that you can open the gun with a simple hinge.
The wood simply looked to brand new, so after a little bit of googling I learned the following amazing wood aging recipe: put some vinegar in a jam jar, drop steel wool in it and let it sit for at least 24h. Brew some black tea. Now you apply the black tea onto the wood as if it was paint. You will see nothing much (yet). Let it dry. If you now apply the vinegar/steel wool mix to the wood it’ll immediately change colour (it’s some chemical reaction between the tannin in the tea and the vinegar, I believe)
The main piece of the whole costume is of course the chainsaw, and after a little bit of searching I found a great set of instructions to build a very convincing looking chainsaw from mostly a plastic bottle and some wood.
The Severed Deadite Head
As a special accessory I thought it would be nice to have a severed head of a deadite. Just the costume wouldn’t provide the due level of goriness for this series. When looking for the right materials I remembered that in Japan they have haircut practising heads for barbers, so I got me one of those. Then I used the scar wax and liquid latex that was left over from last Halloween (the Terminator partial face mask and the arm with the wires popping out).
Putting it All Together
The harness was another challenge, because it was quite difficult to figure out how all the different belt straps were supposed to go together. I had photos from the front, and photos from the back, but how it all connected was something that took time to figure out. The shirt, and the fake blood were easy to get. Here’s the final look.
Too Real for Japan
The second Halloween event I went to was a pub crawl in Roppongi. At the pub crawl you’re moving from one pub to another, this of course means no cloak, no single place to put your bags. So, I decided not to change into costume at the venue, but go in full gear to the first pub. It was actually quite amusing to watch the bewildered faces on the train, most of which cleared up quickly after a short but intense phase of thinking, obviously noticing that this must be some Halloween related thing.
However on the way back, only three stations from where I would have gotten off the train anyway, the conductor suddenly tells me to get off the train. When I ask him why, he first only tells me “This look is really scary, you know!?”. To which I reply “Well, that’s the point – it’s a Halloween costume, so can I go home now?”. Then he tells me that someone actually called the cops on me and that would not be an option. So I have to wait for the cops, who come quickly and at the very first glance show a grin on their face seeing that is is obviously all fake gear and a Halloween costume. The overly eager conductor could have assessed the situation as harmless and let this all just slip through, letting me go home in the first place, but of course him being Japanese that would impose three impossible barriers:
- Making a decision on his own
- Taking responsibility for his decision
- Dealing with a gaijin (foreigner) all by himself
So the cops, little enthused about the fact that they now will have to write a full report on a non issue that could and should have been solved by the conductor alone, go on with taking pictures of me and my gear. The overly eager conductor acts really busy to give him a veil of fake importance, then after a far too long while of standing around doing nothing answering completely mundane and unnecessary questions he lets me go, to ride the final three stations home, but not without making sure to put me in the last car (“away from the other passengers”). This is of course complete bullshit, because the final few trains are usually pretty packed. I can only guess he wanted to “keep an eye on me” in case I’d start shooting and dismembering people after all – you just can’t trust these long noses, can you?