'I've had lots of requests for creepy nuns' - The top Halloween costumes this year
From nuns and dinosaurs to video games and princesses, Deirdre Reynolds looks at the most popular costumes this Halloween
Be afraid - be very afraid. Glitter pumpkin bums are the latest trend taking over Instagram. But there doesn't have to be a full moon to look spooktacular this Halloween. Nightmarish nuns, Fortnite characters, deadly dinosaurs and killer clowns are just some of the characters tipped to turn up on doorsteps across the country this October 31.
Think proper scary for this year's trick-or-treating, says Ronan O'Brien of TheCostumeShop.ie. And that even goes for the grown-ups.
"The Costume Shop's 11 years old now," he adds. "When we started off, everybody just wanted to be sexy something. But now if you put 'Snow White' into our website, there's going to be 20 different options, ranging from very short to ankle length. When it comes to trends, it's all scary this year."
And for the kids, following the return of Jurassic Park to the big screen earlier this year, a quarter of a century after the original, Dippy the Diplodocus - currently on tour at the Ulster Museum - could have some fierce competition from kids and big kids alike ahead of All Hallows Day. 'Dinosaur' and 'unicorn' tricera-top are the most googled costume ideas in 2018, stats show.
"Inflatable costumes are huge this year," reveals Ronan. "We're seeing a whole range of everything from unicorns right up to dinosaurs. Basically, they've got a small AA battery-operated pocket fan in them that pumps them up, so it either looks like you're getting a piggyback from a dinosaur or a unicorn, or else you're a giant dinosaur. Both adults and kids are going mad for them.
"One of the top horror films out this year is The Nun and, as a result, nun costumes are very successful this year as well. We're seeing a huge amount of people buying a nun costume and then a lot of prosthetics [to] turn them into zombie nuns." The average customer is spending between €35 and €50 on a costume, he adds.
"It's not just the movies in cinemas anymore - if a movie gets released on Netflix in the next two weeks, suddenly that will be the next big thing. So the fact that all the Jurassic Park movies are now on Netflix really pushed dinosaurs back into the mainstream."
With cult horrors Beetlejuice, Child's Play and The Lost Boys all celebrating 30th anniversaries this year, don't be surprised to answer the door to a besuited ghost or possessed doll or two either.
And there's bad news for coulrophobics as creepy clowns - a trend sparked by Pennywise the clown from last year's It - are going nowhere this Halloween.
"People are always freaked out by clowns," says Karl O'Connor of The Nightmare Realm, a scare attraction which takes place at the RDS in Dublin until November 3.
"Our main clown, Charlie Chop, is something of an icon now. This year's theme is 'Witches' Children', so there are lots of terrifying demonic creatures.
"It takes some of the actors over an hour to get ready each night. To be honest, The Nightmare Realm tends to veer away from zombies or clichéd acts. The other main character this year is Molly Mayhem, who is the demonic child of a witch."
"Clowns were huge last year, but it's still a trend, especially among young boys," adds Ronan of The Costume Shop.
"Both boys and girls are mad about zombies. Zombie school-girl and zombie school-boy still seem to be a really popular one - it always amuses me because the kids are in school anyway! Boys tend to sit down and all decide to be the same thing. Girls are quite similar, so there was a year where every girl was Queen Elsa from Frozen. There's also a strong trend [towards] just beautiful unicorns and princesses this year."
With not one, but two real-life royal weddings over the past six months, wannabe princesses won't have to look too far for some #halloweeninspo, at least. But the 80s staple of a black bin bag and plastic mask isn't going to cut it anymore, jokes special effects make-up artist Tammy Meehan.
"This is my first Halloween working as a make-up artist and I'm flat out already," says the Limerick-based artist, found at Special FX by Tammy on Facebook. "I even have to go to a child's house at 7am because he wants to go to school [in fancy dress], and he wants latex and wax - he doesn't want face paint. They all want to go to the next level now. Annabelle (the doll from Possessed) is coming up a lot with the girls and Marvel character Venom has been mentioned a few times by the boys. They just want me to go as wild and as crazy as I can go with the wax and the latex.
"With women, I've had a load of requests for creepy nuns because of the film, The Nun," adds Tammy, whose prices start from €5 for a child and €20 for an adult.
"Others want to use their old wedding dress to dress up as a walking dead bride. The nun takes about an hour because there wouldn't really be any latex involved, it's more face-painting and make-up. With latex, it can range from an hour to four hours, depending what you want done and how big you want the piece.
"Slit throats are very popular with the men. They tend to stay away from the face-painting and go straight for the cut throats and stuff that looks a bit more terrifying."
For parents though, the real nightmare this Halloween could be trying to find a Fortnite outfit in the next fortnight. Featuring a cast of Heroes, Soldiers, Ninjas and Outlanders, it doesn't take Google trends to predict that the online game is set to be the most sought-after costume of 2018 among tween trick-or-treaters. But official ones have not yet landed in stores here, and are unlikely to do so before October 31, according to Ronan, who warned against potentially-lethal counterfeit costumes.
"Costumes have to be EN71 compliant because the kids are going to be at bonfires and they're going to have sparklers," he insists. "In Ireland last year, six container-loads of counterfeit costumes were seized at Dublin Port and this year, there seems to be a lot more back on the market. There's a lot of here-today-gone-tomorrow businesses selling counterfeit products and sticking labels on them saying, 'Keep away from flames'.
Parents need to check that these items don't say 'flammable' - otherwise your kid's going to end up in A&E."