A Classic Last-Minute Halloween Costume: Janet Leigh In 'Psycho'

All you need is some water, a shower curtain, and some waterproof mascara. OK, fake blood helps, too.

I love Alfred Hitchcock. The first movie of his that I ever saw was The Birds (which would also make a great Halloween costume by the way--just stick fake birds and blood all over yourself). My mother let me watch it with her at a very young age, and it stuck with me for a long time. Then I saw Rear Window for a college class, and realized that I needed to watch every. single. Hitchcock. film. IMMEDIATELY.

Um… I still haven’t gotten around to that, sadly. I have yet to find out if Grace Kelly kicks the bucket at the end of Dial M For Murder because every time I’ve tried watching it on Netflix instant, the subtitles go wonky. Vertigo, North By Northwest, To Catch a Thief and others are still on my to-watch list.

The good news is that I did finally get around to watching one of the most iconic Hitchcock movies a few years ago: Psycho.


I probably would have gotten around to it eventually (along with the rest of his filmography), but I credit my pop-culture-obsessed boyfriend with actually making it happen. He realized just how urgent the situation was one day when I casually mentioned the end of Psycho in a conversation. You know, how she gets stabbed in the shower and dies at the very end of the movie?

“Wait, what?” Josh said. “Have you ever even seen Psycho?”

Obviously not. I had outed myself, he was horrified, and I was immediately marched to the Blu-Ray player to be educated.

The shower stabbing scene in Psycho is easily one of the most iconic moments in film, so I guess I can be forgiven for thinking it was the climax of the movie.

It also makes for a fantastic last-minute Halloween costume that everyone will immediately recognize, even if they ask, “Wait, is that from that movie where she gets stabbed in the shower at the end?”

All you need for this costume, really, is a shower curtain and some water. For bonus points, it really helps to have short blonde hair, and if you can manage to find some fake blood, then your costume will be perfect.


Only a little bit of makeup is required for this costume, and you’ll probably want to make sure it’s all waterproof if possible. You can’t see any mascara or eyeliner streaming down Janet Leigh’s face while she’s getting stabbed in the shower.

Since I did want to emphasize my eyes (her lashes were amazing in that final closeup on the bathroom floor), I made sure to use waterproof mascara. I love my CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara--it does not budge no matter what, nor does it clump. I still like it more than higher-end mascara that I've tried, which is good because it’s less than half the price.

Fake eyelashes are also an acceptable alternative--just make sure they don’t fall off and go down the drain during step two. I thought about it but ended up sticking with mascara only.

You can also draw a very thin line of waterproof eyeliner on your upper lid. Just don’t go overboard. (I didn't bother with any eyeliner, personally.)

Even more important than the eyes are the brows. I think Leigh’s bold, perfectly shaped brows are really what make this look. Although I keep mine thick with minimal plucking, they sadly don't have Leigh's natural arch.

I used a combination of a pencil and eyeshadow to fill in and enhance my brows. I like to use a light brown shadow to fill in any gaps. Then I used a pencil in brown to lengthen my brows (extending them outwards) and to create a slight arch because my brows are so stick-straight.

Be sure to use a light hand and small, soft strokes when using the pencil so it's not too obvious.

As for concealer and foundation and the like, I’ll leave that up to you. Obviously you’ll want to try to recreate Leigh’s flawless skin, but everyone has their own individual need for coverage--and more importantly, you don’t want the water melting your face off.

If you have a good waterproof concealer or foundation, then go for it. I don’t, but I dabbed on some Hard Candy Glamoflauge Heavy Duty Concealer to hide any red spots. That stuff has really, really good staying power. Like, I spilled some on my pants once and despite repeated washings, you can still see the spot to this day. Yikes! I mean... Yay!


Now for the fun part. If you own a strapless swimsuit, I suggest wearing that.

For those of you with longer hair, you’ll want to tie it back. A low, tight bun would probably be best. The messier it is in the front, the better. Pull a few tendrils out around your face. If you have bangs, tousle them. Perfect!

Now hop into the shower and turn on the water. Get your hair wet and do your thing. This is the perfect time to finally shave your legs, deep condition your hair, or take artsy black and white photos of yourself screaming in your shower. You can upload them to Facebook later, garnering a lot of concerned, perplexed comments from your aunts and grandmother and causing all of you to wonder why you’re Facebook friends in the first place.


Once you’ve gotten appropriately soaked, it’s time to break out the fake blood. I was lucky to find some leftover fake blood capsules from last year’s Halloween sitting around in a drawer. I suppose you could also use red food coloring or maybe even ketchup if you really hate your current shower curtain.

Strategically place red handprints and bloody streaks all over your shower curtain. A few dabs of blood on yourself as well wouldn’t hurt. Reach deep into your inner artistic/murderer side.


That’s it! It’s hardly the end of the movie, but that’s the end of this tutorial. Just wrap yourself up in your shower curtain and make sure to keep your hair dripping slightly throughout the evening. If you won’t be near a sink, you could always stash a spray bottle filled with (slightly reddened) water inside your voluminous shower curtain outfit.

You’ll probably also want to have some clothes on under there, but if you decide to really go method with this and be naked, I salute you.

Oh, and good luck getting your boyfriend to follow you around all night dressed like an old lady while wielding a rubber knife. Mine refused before I even got the question out all the way. It’s like, what’s the point of forcing me to watch the classics if you’re not going to help me exploit them for an awesome Halloween costume? (I’m still bitter about his refusal to do Margot and Richie with me--and yes, I do consider The Royal Tenenbaums to be a classic.)

If anyone has pictures of themselves as Janet Leigh in Psycho, please post in the comments! I’m dying to see it--wink wink. (OK, I deserve to be stabbed in the shower now.)