Impersonating a dead celebrity works well for a costume party, especially for Halloween with its emphasis on creepy people and things. Celebrities who met their premature demise are often made more famous -- and thus more recognizable -- because of it. Play up a famous deceased icon's look and personal attributes for maximum believability and recognition.
The most recognizable dead-celebrity costumes are those from times gone by. Think along the lines of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe -- celebrities with several iconic costumes with easy-to-find equivalent garments. For an Elvis costume, look for a replica of his now-famous white flared suit, or shape your hair into his signature coif, grab a pair of blue suede shoes and don a pair of bluejeans and a button-down to emulate his earlier rockabilly style. Marilyn's flared white, halter-neck dress was made famous in the 1955 movie "The Seven Year Itch." Look for a lookalike dress in department and thrift stores.
Pay not-so-subtle homage to the departed celebrity of your choice by dressing as a more recently deceased star. Choose a famous film role for actors who died before their time -- Brittany Murphy's role in "8 Mile" or Heath Ledger in "Brokeback Mountain" -- to make your costume easily recognizable. Other recently departed celebrities include Ryan Dunn, star of MTV's show Jackass; James Brown, the legendary soul and funk musical artist; Jack LaLanne, the "godfather of fitness;" British actress Lynn Redgrave; or Corey Haim, who made up one half of the pop culture dream team known as the "two Coreys" in the 1980s.
Dynamic Duos and Groups
Bonnie and Clyde were iconic thieves and killers in 1930s America who gave the Mafia a run for its money. Watch Arthur Penn's 1967 movie of the same name for style inspiration. Impersonate the Manson family by having one person dress up as famed cult figure and killer of Sharon Tate, Charles Manson -- who is technically still alive, but indubitably represents death in its most fearsome form -- and have friends dress as his many female admirers. Go in a musical direction with deceased Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison, or impersonate Marc Antony and Cleopatra, Marie and Pierre Curie, or JFK and Jackie Onassis.
Gory Special Effects
Make the dead celebrity appropriate for a spooky Halloween night by incorporating elements of the person or couple's untimely demise. An empty vial of prescription medication or a prop revolver work well to evoke self-inflicted deaths. Use face paint to add under-eye circles and gory gashes to your skin to lend the costume an overall sense of the undead.