My original mask is now for sale HERE

After a couple years in a row of making some of my favorite costumes, this year for Halloween my friend & I went as the aliens from John Carpenter’s They Live.  We constructed the faces from masks we bought at a craft store, and my husband dressed up as the hero, played by Rowdy Roddy Piper

“I’ve come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

 Want to see how to create one step-by-step?  Check out my detailed instructions HERE.

just call me Formaldehyde Face

stills from the movie



mask making (click for larger image)

add a wig, &  PRESTO!


  1. October 30, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

    [...] They Live costumes by Kiersten Essenpreis. See how the masks were made at the [...]

  2. Comment by danno!
    October 30, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

    That’s so awesome. What did you use to build up the masks, sculpey?

  3. Comment by kiersten
    October 30, 2011 @ 10:26 pm

    Thanks! We used paper mâché for the first layer (the pulpy muscle texture), and then once that dried, we used paper clay to sculpt the bone structure. The finished mask is actually two cheap masks hot-glued to one another, to extend and elongate the jawline. Then we just painted them, added the eyes, and sprayed a coat of gloss finish to seal everything up. The total cost for each was under $15!

  4. Comment by Simon
    October 30, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

    These are amazing! Any chance you’d like to sell a pair?!

  5. October 30, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

    [...] Obey – They Live Masks [...]

  6. October 30, 2011 @ 11:55 pm

    [...] Obey – They Live Masks [...]

  7. October 31, 2011 @ 12:13 am

    [...] Obey – They Live Masks [...]

  8. October 31, 2011 @ 9:03 am

    [...] Blog you fail. [...]

  9. Comment by Alex
    October 31, 2011 @ 10:59 am

    Hi there,

    Your masks are absolutely brilliant! I would love to be able to make these myself or at the very least buy them. Would you be able to post a full list of instructions on how to make these masks? Or would you consider making and selling two? I would be happy to pay $30 a peice for the masks.

    Please let me know.

    Many thanks

  10. October 31, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

    [...] dachte sich auch Kiersten Essenpreis und kreierte für sich und ihren Mann diese tollen They Live-Masken komplettiert durch entsprechende Perücken, Klamotten und natürlich die Magazine mit der Botschaft [...]

  11. October 31, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

    [...] dachte sich auch Kiersten Essenpreis und kreierte für sich und ihren Mann diese tollen They Live-Masken komplettiert durch entsprechende Perücken, Klamotten und natürlich die Magazine mit der Botschaft [...]

  12. October 31, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

    [...] excellent They Live Halloween costumes can be found at artist Kiersten Essenpries’ blog, You Fail. Rowdy Roddy wouldn’t approve, but I [...]

  13. Comment by Ocelotty1
    October 31, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

    Great Masks.
    They Live, from a time when John Carpenter was a directing God

  14. November 1, 2011 @ 1:11 am

    Love the masks. Really neat!

  15. Comment by Trubot
    November 2, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    Where are you guys from? Where did you where the costumes and did you win any prizes?

  16. Comment by kiersten
    November 3, 2011 @ 12:25 am

    We live in Chicago.. We didn’t enter any costume contests, but we did go on a Halloween ‘Road Rally/Scavenger Hunt’.. and scared a few kids in the process! :)

  17. November 3, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

    [...] courtesy of Kiersten Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in [...]

  18. November 4, 2011 @ 9:02 am

    [...] (You Fail via Super Punch) [...]

  19. Comment by Axel
    November 5, 2011 @ 11:43 am

    I wish i had one of these masks for Halloween, seems that i have discovered this posting too late. Thanks for adding the time lapse on how these masks were created. I’ll have a try on creating a mask.

  20. November 7, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

    [...] Kiersten has created a step-by-step on how to make your own “They Live” alien mask. check it out HERE! [...]

  21. [...] Live aliens, cosplayed by You Fail (bonus: mask tutorial [...]

  22. January 18, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    [...] Kiersten Essenpreis hat für ihren Mann und sich selbst They Live-Kostüme für Halloween gebastelt. Super! Richtig abgefahren wäre das ja gekommen, wenn sie noch dazu die Technik vom Desaturated Santa angewandt hätte… aber das ist auch so toll. (via Superpunch) [...]

  23. Comment by robbert
    April 8, 2012 @ 4:04 am

    What font did you use for the obey magazines?

  24. [...] homemade THEY LIVE masks trackback [...]

  25. Comment by neil
    October 10, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

    Who can build this for me? i will pay

  26. Comment by Ant Lefty
    October 24, 2012 @ 10:59 am

    That is a link to my mask. I will update this Saturday when I put it together with the wig and suit.

  27. October 28, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

    [...] year, but luckily my friend Marc & I decided on Evil Dead 2 last Halloween while creating our They Live costumes.   I’ve been wanting to try and recreate a version of these hats from a painting I [...]

  28. Comment by Barry
    October 30, 2012 @ 4:51 am

    I decided to take a stab at this, following your guidelines. I think it came out pretty good!

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