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Reptiles Revisited

June 04, 1993|BETTY GOODWIN

The Movie: "Super Mario Brothers"

The Setup: Two Brooklyn plumbers, Mario Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi Mario (John Leguizamo, pictured, center) dive into a subterranean world populated by dinosaurs to save a damsel in distress. Said damsel is Princess Daisy (Samantha Mathis, pictured), who is threatened by venal King Koopa (Dennis Hopper, pictured). The movie was inspired by the Nintendo video game of the same name.

The Costume Designer: Joseph Porro, a former design assistant to Halston and Geoffrey Beene, who designed costumes for "Universal Soldier," "Meet the Applegates," "Near Dark" and other films.

The Look: With a prehistoric theme, costumes are pretty, menacing and amusing in all the right places. Unfortunately, they must compete for attention with busy and darkly lit sets. For example, a necktie Hopper wears is articulated like a dinosaur's spinal column. But it gets swallowed up in the darkness.

A reptilian motif--scaly, spiky and slippery--is evident in the bad guys' clothes, including Hopper's reptile print-embossed patent leather suit and reptile-print silk shirts, as well as his sidekick Lena's (Fiona Shaw) molded-on breastplates and bustiers. Don't look for fashion tips to work in with your Tyrannosaurus Rex T-shirts. These clothes are slimy; some have spikes shooting out of them.

The huge, Russian military top coats adorning the small-headed lizard soldiers are most amusing. Their epaulets sprout large, dinosaur-like rubber spikes, a recurring image.

As for the Marios, their primary-colored jumpsuits, the only costumes directly taken from the video characters, are a cheery sight.

Triumph: Princess Daisy's purple ombre-dyed gown with real amethyst rock crystal neckline is an absolute princess classic, fit for the Disney hall of fame. Porro has even given her a pair of "Cinderella" glass slippers.

Bad Hair Day: Hopper's headful of ridges, created by parting his hair and rippling it all over, works. But one will never know for sure if his hair was meant to look blond, striped or ombre. Or perhaps he's just growing out an old red dye job. Next to him in hairdo hell are Iggy (Fisher Stevens) and Spike (Richard Edson), both shaved, ponytailed and braided in no particular order.

Quoted: "The research came from bondage clothing catalogues from London--they actually have those in the world. And books on dinosaurs," says Porro.

Sources: Molded plastic forms, including Lena's breastplate and Hopper's necktie, were made at Makeup Effects Lab in North Hollywood. The rest of the costumes were made in Los Angeles and Wilmington, N.C.

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