Zombieland: The Invention of the Tallahassee Costume for Dragon*Con 2010

Zombieland: The Invention of the Tallahassee Costume for Dragon*Con 2010

October 2010.

Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year, always has been, since I was a kid. I love dressing up in costume. I was always the guy showing up at school or work with the costume for Halloween. Since I visited my first Sc-Fi convention back in the early 90’s I found out about these wonderful places to dress up in costume when it wasn’t Halloween. My first con was a Star Trek Convention put on by Creation Entertainment http://www.creationent.com/ in Pasadena, California back in the early 90’s when Star Trek The Next Generation was exploding with a new fan base that was joined by the “Trekie” fans from the original series. This is where I saw the first hard-core costumes from devoted fans. Then I went to the much larger San Diego Comic Con http://www.comic-con.org/ and saw way more than just Star Trek costumes. Costumes from all SciFi shows, movies, comics etc. I also saw fantasy; Disney, horror and classical themed costumes worn by fans that were so real and meticulously detailed that they could have been extras or a stand in that walked off the movie and TV show sets.

But it wasn’t until I visited Dragon*Con http://www.dragoncon.org/ in Atlanta GA 1999 for the first time I realized how fans took to the costume hobby lifestyle seriously. I’ve been to Dragon*Con for almost every year since then. I’ve been to four straight. I don’t dress up in costume every at year Dragon*Con, but when I do I try to go all out and get the best costume together that I can. You cant bring crappy costumes to Dragon*Con. Forget the plastic masks with rubber bands, at Dragon*Con you need to bring you’re “A game”. Although Dragon*Con 2010 was last month (Sep 3-6, 2010) I got most of my costume together a month after last years Dragon*Con so I would have one ready for this years event.

One cool zombie killing mofo!

After I saw last years movie Zombieland (2009) I knew what costume I would be putting together for Dragon*Con 2010. I saw Zombieland opening weekend, October 2, 2009. My goal was to put together a costume of the character Tallahassee played by Woody Harrelson. Woody Harrelson stars as Tallahassee who prides himself as proficient zombie killer and has fun doing it. He is one of the coolest movie characters in recent time. After seeing this movie I had my costume idea. Woody’s character had a great look and was a very funny bad ass. My goal was to premier my costume later that month for Halloween 2009, which was less than four weeks away so I was under the gun with time. This would be a good trail run for Dragon*Con 2010. So I thought I would share with you how I got my Zombieland Tallahassee costume together. Here is how I put this costume together.

In the movie Zombieland Tallahassee has four key items to his look: His jacket, his hat, his gun and his gun holster. However the main key item to his look is his jackets.

The Jackets:

Tallahassee wears two jackets in the movie. The first half of the movie he has a black leathery or nylon jacket with zippers.

The cool black jacket

I was lucky to find the black leather jacket for a reasonable price on ebay later (after Halloween) that would be a good stand in for the Tallahassee’s black jacket. The black jacket was an after thought. It wasn’t “The Jacket” I wanted first.

The jacket he wears in the second half of the movie is a snakeskin motorcycle leather zip up style jacket. This one stands out “cool” and is mentioned by name in the movie. I wanted this jacket bad. This is what I needed to sell this costume. This costume starts with the jacket.

the coolest slick snakeskin jacket!

I have to be honest. I got lucky when I finally found a good stand in version of this jacket. I searched the Internet and found ones online that weren’t as close as I wanted and too expensive anyways. Then I found one on ebay right away that someone was selling used. The jacket was too large, too long and a button up instead of a zipper up. But the color and overall look was perfect. I won the auction with no other bidders to compete with. Didn’t anyone else want to be Tallahassee for Halloween? I guess not. Score one for me.  When I got the snakeskin jacket in the mail I took it to get altered to fit me and I had the jacket shortened to fit the look. I was very pleased with the out come. This jacket is so cool. Its not real snakeskin, but I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get one in such a short period of time. I now own a snakeskin jacket bitches.

My Tallahassee snakeskin jacket

The black leather I got for Tallahassee's other cool jacket

This reminded me of other iconic characters with snakeskin jackets like Nicolas Cage’s character Sailor Ripley in Wild at Heart (1990). To quote Nicolas Cage’s character from the movie: “This is a snakeskin jacket! And for me it’s a symbol of my individuality, and my belief… in personal freedom”

Nick Cage as Sailor Ripley in his snakeskin jacket

The Hat:

When I was searching online to find the jacket I found a link to this site: http://realdealbrazil.com/ This is the company that made the hat Tallahassee wears in the movie. You can read more about that at this link: http://realdealbrazil.blogspot.com/2010/06/real-deal-brazils-in-zombieland-new.html

The “The Real Deal” is a tarp hat made in Brazil and crafted from recycled tarps of Brazilian cargo trucks in an attempt to cut down on the wasting of resources. Most likely the fabric in The Real Deal hat traveled from the Amazon to Sao Paulo and back again. As they say “So don’t take care of this hat, it will take care of you”. Again, I got lucky with the hat. The hat is cool too. I’ve worn it outside doing some recreation fun and mowing the lawn in the yard. I haven’t decided if I can get away with wearing it outside of the Tallahassee costume. Probably not, but I don’t give a fuck.

The Guns:

Tallahassee uses many guns in the movie. However his main gun that he holsters on his left leg is a shortened Winchester type lever action style rifle from the late 1800’s. The barrel and the butt of the rifle are sawed off or custom shortened. I found a “toy” like version of the rifle at a local costume store. It was made out of metal and wood, which is close to the look I wanted. I then sawed both the butt and the barrel of the toy gun to match the length and the overall look of the gun.

The cheezy less scary version

After this I did more searching online and found a perfect working full size replica of the gun on ebay. This one is the best looking one I could find. It’s called “Mare’s Leg” simular to the one used by Steve McQueen’s iconic character Josh Randall in the Wanted: Dead or Alive TV series 1958-1961,

Tallahassee Mare's Leg gun

Tallahassee's Hero? Steve Mcqueen as Josh Randall

The Holster:

When it came to the holster I knew that it had to be custom made. I’m sure Tallahassee had his custom made. I have had some experience with leather fabrication in my past. Lets just say I was introduced to this in the late 80’s during my hair metal days:-) I went to Tandy Leather here in the Atlanta area. http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/

I bought some scrap leather, a snap kit and a rivet kit. After consulting a rifle scabbard design kit at Tandy Leather I made a mock up of the holster that I cut out of a large thin piece of poster board paper. After the mock up was done I laid it out over the leather I bought and cut the leather to fit with a razor knife. I used a drill to make the holes. Then I used the rivet kit and a hammer to fold and fasten the leather through the holes I drilled into the final holster design itself. Then I used the snap kit and a hammer to make the leg strap to anchors the holster to my thigh. The last thing I did was use olive oil to darken the leather. I rubbed the olive oil in several time and left it in the sun for a few hours to give it a “worn” look.

My hand crafted leather holster and ebay bought gun replica

Other Costume Items:

The other items that round out the Tallahassee look are his boots, shirts, pants, necklace, more guns, sunglasses and a Hostess Twinkie (if you’ve seen the movie, you know why:-). You can use any brown leather worn in cowboy style boots. I found a used pair of brown leather cowboy boots at a local vintage costume shop. His pants are regular blue colored tight fitting pair of jeans. I used my 501 Levis that are a worn dark blue color that worked fine. He uses two shirts under his jackets, a navy blue or purple colored v-neck t-shirt and a gray long sleeve Henley style shirt.

Tallahassee has two necklaces, one having some leather and blue turquoise look to it. I found one that was similar at another local vintage clothing costume shop. The other necklace has some type of square locket or pendent attached to it with a tree engraved on it. Believe it or not this was the most challenging item of the costume to find. I still haven’t found and exact match for it, but I did find a square sterling silver pendent at a local mall that will suffice until I find a better match. I handcrafted and attached my own leather necklace to the pendent. The sunglasses that Tallahassee has are worn in the beginning of the movie in one scene. I didn’t find and exact match but I found some cheap $10 gold framed sunglasses that match the hat and jacket I have.

The Tallahassee bling

As for the guns he also uses a few shotguns, pistols and a type of submachine gun. Here is a link to all of the Zombieland weapons that were used:


At the end of the movie Tallahassee uses a military tactical style vest with a special scabbard attached on his back that holds two shotguns. I might add these items to my costume at a later time, but I don’t want to spend too much more money.

The costume that I put together for Dragon*Con last month was a successes if you ask me. I only met one other person dressed as Tallahassee at the con. He didn’t have a jacket for his costume and didn’t realize that Tallahassee (Woody) is left-handed.

Tallahassee: Who wore it better? I'm the one on the right.

My Tallahassee w/ black jacket DragonCon 2010

My Tallahassee w/ snakeskin jacket DragonCon 2010

I think I make this look good!

Zombie kill of the week comin' on... right...now!

Well there you have it. That’s what it takes to put together a Zombieland Tallahassee costume. I have to admit, most of the fun is finding and assembling the pieces. My costume is not done. I’m still trying to find the “little things” to round out the costume completely. To quote a couple of the Zombieland survival rules: “You have to enjoy the little things” and my favorite, “Get a kick ass partner!”


More movie nerdness to come from yours truly! Stay tuned!

– Spartan Phoenix


14 Responses to “Zombieland: The Invention of the Tallahassee Costume for Dragon*Con 2010”

  1. October 17, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Greatly appreciate the mention!

    One point of clarification: Our hats are not *like* those that Tallahassee/Harrelson wears in “Zombieland”; our hats are, in fact, the very same hat! “Zombieland” costuming folks approached us about use of our hat for Harrelson’s character at the very outset of filming. For more on this, feel free to visit http://realdealbrazil.blogspot.com/2010/06/real-deal-brazils-in-zombieland-new.html.

    Thanks again!


    Frank Rabey
    PR Guy, Real Deal Brazil

    • October 17, 2010 at 4:17 pm

      Thanks for the clarification Frank. That’s very cool! I really dig the hat I bought from you guys. I customized mine too. I added some grommets for a removable adjustable leather strap. I also added a snap to each side of the brim to attach it to the top of the hat. It’s a great hat!

  2. 3 Will
    October 27, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    The shirt he wears is a Navy Blue deep-v neck acid wash from American Apparel. You may or may not be able to find it in your size – they seem to be running out.

  3. December 4, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Hey incredibly good weblog!! Man .. Wonderful .. Remarkable .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds

  4. December 5, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    The most difficult thing is to find a blog with unique and fresh content but i think you offer something different. Keep it like this.

  5. January 13, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I am interested in getting regular updates of your post. I am looking for rss feed.

  6. 7 Ally
    April 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Let me know if you consider wearing this again. Thinking of putting together a Wichita costume for Dragon Con this year but I don’t think it will look very distinct solo. Trying to convince my boyfriend to dress up as Tallahassee so people will get it. Also might be interested in buying or borrowing your costume if you are going to wear something different :D

  7. 8 Chris Sager
    August 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    If you dont mind me asking where did you find that jacket? I’ve been looking for one for some time now and havent been able to find one that would even come close to fitting me

  8. 10 Chris Sager
    August 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    thanks man. yeah I havent seen a snake skin that would fit me for anywhere near that. Most of them are a couple grand or more. Ive been checking e-bay pretty frequently so I guess I’ll stick to that

  9. August 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I should mention the snakeskin jacket i did get on ebay was too long, so i had to get it tailored (shortened) to get the right length. Fine by me, it worked out fine.

  10. 12 Shawn Hassig
    June 18, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Nice, great job even down to the Winchester Randall special. I got a real deal hat as well, little trick I found for pulling of Tallahassee’s look was crushing the front face with my thumb and middle finger putting it on, gives it hat nice crease you see in the movie

  11. 13 Gwenifaery Immortal
    January 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    I maybe a little late to the party but i just happened across this … FANTASTIC costume! my favorite movie!

  12. July 22, 2013 at 7:10 am

    From this viewer’s standpoint, it turned out merely a matter of time before Fox took advantage of another television series resurrection, based on the resounding resurgence from the massively popular “Family Guy”. They have since managed to move on to defend myself against trending topics. I haven’t watched Family Guy, but I hear a great deal of people like this cartoon almost as
    much as the Simpsons, South Park, and King in the Hill.

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