Mr Ben’s costume shop attracts hundreds of people before Halloween. Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News

Halloween is so close we can almost taste the pumpkin and smell the melting witches and we’re all but tearing our hair out trying to figure out what in the otherworld are we going to wear?

The stakes are high, with parties around Dubai offering hefty prizes for best-dressed of the night. Fancy your chances? You might be able to grab Dh2,500 from Atlantis the Palm’s Monster Halloween party or double that amount from Wafi’s Spin Dubai. So ditch your Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke costume combo that you’d planned to rock with your best friend — trust us, a quick gander through social media guarantees that the idea has been done to death — and get your creepiest caps on, because the competition is out to crush.

Meet Farhad “The Distortionist” Qazi. By day, Qazi is the head of digital at Dubai Chamber of Commerce, but come nightfall on October 31, he’s a mutilated piece of art that’s not for the weak of heart. For the past three years, his gruesome and ultra-realistic special FX costumes — informed by his 18 years experience as a professional make-up artist — have won him the Irish Village top prize for best costume.

This year, he’s gunning for the Atlantis top prize with one of two costumes he’s created: Leatherface, from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a creation which cost him Dh3,000 to put together, and Lucifer, which cost him an incredible Dh11,000 to bring to life.

“It typically takes me about two or three months to put together a costume,” Qazi told us of the stomach-churning masterpieces. “I put together lots of accessories and combine them to make something for myself because I don’t like what’s out there in the shops.”

But don’t despair: mere mortals still have a chance to impress. We popped by costume shop Mr Ben’s to check out what’s popular this year. What we found was a goldmine of mix-and-match materials: morph suits, body suits, masks, capes, wigs, fake blood, liquid latex (for fake scars), funky-coloured contact lenses and the slimiest of slimes.

Assistant manager Mary-Ann Duyao filled us in on what’s been selling like hotcakes: Bane, Batman, and Darth Vader for the boys, Black Swan, Cat Woman, and Pumpkin Princess for the ladies. But stock is going fast, and people are getting desperate.

“We get about a hundred people every day looking for costumes,” she said. “On the last few days before Halloween, it’s so full in the store there’s no space to walk around.”

On average, you can find a decent costume in there for about Dh75, but if you’re looking to rent something truly epic — let’s say, a heavy-duty Stormtrooper costume — you might have to part ways with Dh400 and cough up a whopping Dh2,000 in deposit.

Walking around the store with folded up garment bags, Sabine Boghos, 21, and Abdul Majeed Al Mojalid, 23, tell me they’re going for quirkier looks as they prepare to hit up a college party. They shelled out Dh175 — and Dh1,000 in deposit — for each of their rented costumes: a customized Neytiri get-up from the film Avatar for the lady, and a snazzy Mad Hatter suit from Alice in Wonderland for her friend.

Are they planning to score the best-dressed jackpot?

“I could use that money,” says Al Mojalid, looking at Boghos with dirham signs in his eyes. “But judging by how good people are at cosplay, they’ll probably win.”

Boghos shrugs. “We might go for fun!”

Now that’s the Halloween spirit we know and love.