Make-up by Roy Ashton
To start off the list, I decided to choose a make-up that I’m sure many people are not familiar with. It is a make-up that scared the living day lights out of me when I was a kid. I can remember many times being too afraid to go into a darkened room because I thought that Grimsdyke would be there. Grimsdyke is from the original “Tales From the Crypt” film and he is portrayed by horror legend, Peter Cushing. Cushing did a remarkable job playing a kindly old man who commits suicide thanks to some nasty neighbors. To seek revenge on his tormentors, Grimsdyke comes back from the grave a year after his death. Now, Grimsdyke was actually a very kind old man that loved children and animals. You may ask why I am so scared of this character. The answer is plain and simple. It is all due to the most striking zombie make-up I have ever seen. Roy Ashton created the make-ups for many of the classic monsters of Hammer horror, but his make-up for Peter Cushing in “Tales From the Crypt” is by far his best. Cushing truly looks like a walking, rotting corpse.
Make-up by Rick Baker
This was the first time an audience has seen a werewolf transformation at this magnitude. The realistic pain of the transformation is really impressive. Rick Baker did the make-up for this picture. The werewolf make-up is only the beginning of the great make-ups in the film. The decomposing corpse of David’s best friend is equally as impressive. But that transformation sequence of David turning into a werewolf is something that really must be seen. The most amazing thing about it is that the scene was shot in harsh light. A filmmaker can hide things in shadows, but Baker and director John Landis did not go that route. The Academy was so impressed with Baker’s make-up in “An American Werewolf in London” that they decided to create the best make-up Oscar category, which Baker won. It is an incredible honor to a true master of make-up: Rick Baker.
Make-up by Wally Westmore
The Westmores were a family full of make-up artists. Bud Westmore took over as the head of the make-up department at Universal after Jack Pierce was let go. Even though Bud came up with some great creatures, his brother Wally created one of the most phenomenal make-ups in film history. That is the make-up worn by Fredric March in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. March was amazing in the role of Jekyll and Hyde, which earned him an Oscar. Some of his success is due to the wonderful make-up of Westmore. A great thing to watch for while viewing “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, are the changes in the make-up. Each time Jekyll turns into Hyde, the make-up is more hideous. The first stage of make-up does not change his face very much, except for the fact that he has more hair. By the final stage, Hyde’s entire face changes form. It is a superb make-up which many artists base their work on today.
Make-up by John Chambers
Perhaps the largest use of elaborate make-ups was for “Planet of the Apes”. John Chambers had to create make-ups for not only the main cast, but for the background extras as well. Make-ups were applied to actors resembling gorillas, orangutans, and chimps. Chambers worked on his art extensively before filming began. He studied primate anatomy and spent many hours at the zoo watching the way apes moved their faces. Many changes were made until the final day of production. Test footage was shot with actors using a totally different type of make-up. In this test footage, Edward G. Robinson played the role of Dr. Zaius and James Brolin played the role of Cornelius. The make-up did not look very convincing at this point. It looked more like the actors were regular men with subtle ape features. Fortunately, Chambers went back to the drawing board after these tests and the results were remarkable. “Planet of the Apes” brought in a new era of special effects make-up. Make-up created on that scale and at that magnitude had never been done before. For his amazing achievements, John Chambers was awarded a special Oscar that year.
Make-up by David Marti and Arjen Tuiten
When I thought about what I was going to put on this list, the Pale Man from “Pan’s Labyrinth” was an obvious choice. After thinking about it, I really came to appreciate the make-up of Pan as well. It is equally as good, if not better. Doug Jones plays both characters and his performances are Oscar worthy in my opinion. The way his body moves is just fascinating to watch. His abilities are on par with Lon Chaney and other great stars of silent cinema. The make-up for the Pale Man took Jones six hours to get into. It was a pain staking process I’m sure, but it was well worth it. It is one of the most original and elaborate creature make-ups I have ever seen. The make-up for Pan took Jones only a half hour to get into, but it is equally as elaborate and original as the Pale Man. The make-up includes mechanics that make the eyes blink and the ears twitch. Jones had a tough time walking in this suit, since he had to be on stilts, but he made it seem natural. The make-up and costume was only part of the struggle for Jones in the making of “Pan’s Labyrinth”. The entire movie was filmed in Spanish and Jones does not speak a word. So what did Jones do? He learned each line phonetically and it worked like magic.
Make-up by Dick Smith
“The Exorcist” was a new type of horror movie. It was scary as hell, graphic, disturbing, and shocking. Much of that credit goes to the eerie make-up by Dick Smith. Not since “The Phantom of the Opera” has such a make-up had an effect on audiences. People ran out of the theater because this film was just too scary for them. I know people to this day that are incredibly afraid of it. They even freak out if they see a still image of a possessed Regan. Dick Smith’s make-up is incredible and realistic. The use of cuts, sores, and chapped lips really intensify the possession of this little girl. It is really interesting to see how the make-up changes throughout the film. The further the film plays, the more gruesome the make-up gets. A possessed Regan is truly a frightening image that no one will ever forget.
Make-up by Jack Pierce
Jack Pierce was the head of the make-up department at Universal Studios during their classic monster run. In 1932, he made Boris Karloff up as the Mummy. Pierce spent hours upon hours creating this make-up. He wrapped Karloff in bandages, much in the same way that ancient Egyptians did. To give an aged look to the make-up, Pierce used fuller’s earth, which is an earthy like clay. Fuller’s earth added so much detail to an already impressive make-up. To make the aged wrinkles in Karloff’s face, Pierce used a technique where he would apply a very tight, thin layer of make-up and use a blow dryer to dry it out. When he would do this, the make-up would wrinkle up and settle into the crevices in Karloff’s face. This was a very uncomfortable make-up for Karloff to wear. He was wrapped up for a full day’s shoot and Pierce made one crucial mistake. He forgot to add a fly.
Make-up by Jack Pierce
In 1935, Universal put out a film called “Werewolf of London”. Jack Pierce was the make-up man for that film. His initial concept for the Werewolf was too intense for movie bosses, so he pulled back and we ended up with Henry Hull looking more like a teenager with sideburns than a werewolf. Universal then decided to make “The Wolf Man” which starred Lon Chaney, Jr. Again, Jack Pierce did the make-up, but he created a make-up that was much in the way he intended the “Werewolf of London” to be. To turn Chaney into the Wolf Man, Pierce used a foam rubber appliance for his snout, a sharpened set of lower false teeth, and yak hair. He burned and singed the yak hair to get it to look the way he desired. In the “Wolf Man” sequels, the make-up got more sophisticated, but the Wolf Man’s on screen time was limited. This was mostly due to the fact that Universal received its last shipment of yak hair before World War II and they could not receive another one until the war was over. A really interesting thing about “The Wolf Man” films is that in the transformation scenes, you sort of get an idea of how Pierce applied the make up. The dissolves show Pierce’s meticulous process. Pierce’s incredible make-up for “The Wolf Man” quickly became the quintessential look for a film werewolf and make-up men today are still influenced by it.
Make-up by Lon Chaney
Lon Chaney proves why he was the king of horror. He literally transforms his face into that of a grinning skull. When the film was initially released, the unmasking scene was so hideous that people screamed and ran out of the theater. To accomplish make-up this extreme, Lon Chaney endured much pain. To give the illusion of his skull-like face, he inserted fishhooks inside his nose. He then attached fishing line to the hooks to pull up the nose. This makes it seem like his nose has deteriorated off of his face. The make-up for the Phantom was actually too realistic for many people at that time. World War I ended only a few years before and veterans had returned to their loved ones with faces reminiscent of Chaney’s Phantom. Even though people feared Chaney’s face in this picture, the Phantom was a tortured soul that audiences could relate to.
Make-up by Jack Pierce
Close your eyes. Imagine it is Halloween and your doorbell rings. A child is at the door dressed as the Frankenstein Monster. What does he look like? Even if you have not seen the film, you would say: “He has a flat head, bolts in his neck, and giant shoes”. That look is thanks to the wonderful make-up from that wizard of the macabre, Jack Pierce. Now why would Pierce decide to give a creature put together from other human bodies a flat head? According to Pierce, he thought of the head like the lid of a trashcan. Dr. Frankenstein would saw off the top of the skull, place the brain in, and close the top. Even though this is an interesting story, it still does not make sense. If you cut the top of the head and sew it back on, it will still be round. Perhaps Dr. Frankenstein cut the top of the head off and just pulled the skin over, like a drum, after inserting the brain. Whatever the explanation is, it was a brilliant decision by Pierce. That flat head makes the Monster instantly recognizable, even in profile. Pierce’s make-up for the Monster in the original “Frankenstein,” is the best and most famous make-up in motion picture history.