Monstrous Question: BEST HORROR MOVIE MAKE-UP (Part 4 of 4)

Question by Michael Arruda
Featuring Michael Arruda,Dan Keohane, Mark Onspaugh and L.L. Soares
Part 4 of 4

Today’s MONSTROUS QUESTION:  What are your picks for the most memorable make-up jobs in a horror/monster movie?


L.L. SOARES responds:

It’s funny what kind of things leave their imprint on you when you’re growing up. It’s not that you can’t tell the difference between quality work and dreck when you’re young, but you are much more accepting of the bad stuff, because you can at least see the imagination that went behind it.

Growing up, Jack Pierce was one of my heroes. As an avid fan of old horror movies, especially the Universal classics, it was hard not to appreciate the fine work of the master. This was the man who single-handedly stamped the image of the FRANKENSTEIN Monster on our brains (in Mary Shelley’s book, he is quite different, but the 1931 film is where we get our visual for him). Pierce also did the make-up for DRACULA (1931), turning Bela Lugosi into the ultimate creature of the night,  THE MUMMY  – both Boris Karloff’s Imhotep (1932) and Kharis, played by Tom Tyler in THE MUMMY’S HAND (1940) and the great Lon Chaney, Jr. in the rest of the Kharis film series from 1942 – 1944.

Jack Pierce's FRANKENSTEIN Monster is the gold standard for horror movie makeup.

Pierce was also a pioneer in the makeup of classic werewolves, having given us Henry Hull’s memorable beast in the WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935), as well as the iconic Larry Talbot’s alter ego in THE WOLF MAN (1941). He worked right up until his final years in the1960s.

The Westmore name was even more synonymous with make-up in Hollywood’s golden days, especially brothers  Bud and Wally Westmore. Usually, if there was some golden-age horror make-up that wasn’t by Pierce, chances are it was by one of the Westmores. But they didn’t just do horror movies. In fact, the Westmore name can be found in the credits of literally hundreds of movies of the 30s, 40s and 50s. Bud did the monster makeup for ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948), while Wally Westmore cut his teeth doing the makeup for movies like the Frederic March version of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1931) and the  breath-taking classic,  ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932).

The strange creatures from THE MOLE PEOPLE, created by Bud Westmore.

There are lots of iconic images throughout the history of horror that are not as well known, but which are just as fresh in my mind after so many years of movie watching. Fascinating make-up creations like THE MOLE PEOPLE (1956) with makeup by Bud Westmore; the Morlocks in George Pal’s THE TIME MACHINE  from 1960 (makeup by William Tuttle ), the creatures from the Hammer films, especially THE REPTILE (1966), whose image (created by the great Roy Ashton) still stands out for me. In the science fiction cult classic THIS ISLAND EARTH, we were introduced to the Metaluna Mutant (created again by Bud Westmore), a throwaway character who was a sight to behold – I was always disappointed that he was never used again in other movies.

The creepy Morlocks from the original version of THE TIME MACHINE (1960).

Hammer great Roy Ashton's still scary makeup for THE REPTILE.

You might have seen the Metaluna Mutant on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 when they laughed at the movie THIS ISLAND EARTH. But he's still cool as hell.

In the 60s and 70s, I (along with Michael Arruda and Mark Onspaugh) was captivated by the PLANET OF THE APES movies and their (at the time) cutting edge make-up effects, the work of the great John Chambers.

Their heirs have names like Dick Smith, Rick Baker and Tom Savini. All masters of their craft, who have impressed us with their creations over the years.

As for bad makeup, there is no shortage of that in the movies. Standouts include the wonderfully awful movie ZAAT from 1971 (also known as THE BLOOD WATERS OF DR. Z) – creature by Lee James O’Donnell; ZONTAR THE THING FROM VENUS by the legendarily horrible director Larry Buchanan; and just about anything Roger Corman did in 1950s, especially the laughably terrible monster from CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA (1961), designed by Beach Dickerson.

Run for your life! It's the monster known as ZAAT!

If this doesn't terrify you, nothing will. The monster from CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA!

© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares
“Monstrous Question” created by Michael Arruda

—END Part 4—

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