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Who will you be? Pop culture rules for Halloween costumes

| Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Alina Cross, 22, of Weirton, WV, an employee at Costume World in the Strip wears one of the popular costumes this year, 'Harley Quinn,' on Thursday, October 3, 2013.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
A costume on display at Costume World in the Strip on Thursday, October 3, 2013.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Sarah Dargo, 20, of Lawrenceville, an employee at Costume World in the Strip wears one of the popular costumes this year, slave Princess Leia on Thursday, October 3, 2013.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Tom Higgs, 31, of the North Side, an employee at Costume World in the Strip wears one of the popular costumes this year, 'Captain America,' on Thursday, October 3, 2013.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Sara Elder, an employee with Costumes, Etc. in Middlesex, models a wig, beard, and bandana, in the likeness of the Duck Dynasty guys Wednesday, October 2, 2013. Wig and beard are $32.95. Bandana was separate.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Some of the costumes and accessories available at Costumes, Etc. in Middlesex Wednesday, Ocotber 2, 2013.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
A ghostly costume decorates a front window of Costumes, Etc. in Middlesex WEdnesday, October 2, 2013.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Sara Elder, an employee with Costumes, Etc. in Middlesex, models a 'Walking Dead' zombie costume ($57.95) Wednesday, October 2, 2013.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Sara Elder, an employee with Costumes, Etc. in Middlesex, models a parrot costume, for rent $75.00, Wednesday, October 2, 2013.
Target
Designer Chris March has teamed up with Target for an exclusive collection of eight wacky “Big Fun” foam wigs.
Target
Designer Chris March has teamed up with Target for an exclusive collection of eight wacky “Big Fun” foam wigs
wig

Although the Pittsburgh area perennially is a zombie-friendly territory, Yinzers might see even more undead people this Halloween season, local costume stores report.

The hit AMC show “The Walking Dead,” which begins airing its fourth season Oct. 13, seems to have intensified people's affection for the undead, and many more customers, male and female, are asking about and buying zombie costumes, says Sara Elder, an employee at Costumes Etc. in Valencia.

It's a predictable pattern, she says. As goes pop culture, so go Halloween costume trends.

“You could almost go by what the popular movies and show are out there,” Elder says.

Likewise, Elder says, many people are seeking to imitate characters on “Duck Dynasty,” the popular A&E reality show about a family that makes products for duck hunters, notably the Duck Commander duck call. Customers want fake beards, so they can mimic the show's stars.

Elizabeth DeLyser, marketing manager at Costume World in the Strip District, has seen the same demand at her store, along with an enthusiasm for costumes of yellow Minions from the “Despicable Me” franchise.

“Movies and TV shows are everything,” she says.

Case in point: Few people wanted a Katniss costume before “The Hunger Games” became a movie, but after the book morphed onto the screen, the costume was in high demand, DeLyser says. Incidentally, Katniss costumes don't seem nearly as popular this year, since the first movie came out in March 2012 and the second isn't due out until late November, she says.

Vampires seem to have lost their appeal as creepy Halloween costumes because the “Twilight” series has made them too romantic and glamorized to be scary, DeLyser says.

At the Valencia store, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — which have been re-booted as a Nickelodeon animated series — are making a comeback with costume-seekers, Elder says. Many people are buying Costume Etc.'s hamster costume, too, modeled after the Kia commercials.

Costume World in the Strip District is selling a lot of costumes of comic book characters to mostly women — namely, the red-and-black Harley Quinn character, a villainess in the DC Comics' Batman series. Who knows why that is popular this year, though: Costume World also has a wall full of girl-superhero costumes, with feminine twists on characters: Spider-Girl and Thor Girl, for instance.

The store also is getting many requests for Dr. Who costumes, presumably because the show recently became available on Netflix.

Many people don't follow costume trends, and opt instead for Halloween classics. Perennial favorites that never go out of style include characters from “The Wizard of Oz,” flappers and gangsters, and horror-movie serial killers like Jason Voorhees of “Friday the 13th,” Freddy Krueger of “Nightmare on Elm Street” and Michael Myers of “Halloween.”

At Costume World, Michael Myers white masks are top sellers, and the store sells out of those every year.

For children, the evergreen favorites for trick-or-treaters remain year after year, DeLyser and Elder say. Boys love to dress up as superheroes, such as Batman, Spider-Man and the Power Rangers. Girls love to be princesses and fairies, like Tinkerbell, Cinderella and other Disney characters.

“They never go away,” DeLyser says about the everlasting costume favorites.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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