Rick Baker

You may not know his name, but if you are a horror fan, you’ve seen his work. Bart Mixon is best known for creating the now iconic makeup for Tim Curry’s dancing clown Pennywise. Among the other movies to his credit are RoboCop, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Rings, and the Netflix film Bright. Bart, along with Heather A. Wixson, Steve Johnson, Michele Burke, Gabe Bartalos, Tom Woodruff, Jr., Jennifer Aspinall, John Goodwin, and Rick Lazzarini, will be doing a book signing at Dark Delicacies this Saturday, and I was granted an exclusive interview with Bart Mixon about his epic career.
House of Tortured Souls: I read in an interview that the hardest part of the job is just getting it. With your amazing resume, does the work ever just come to you now?
Bart Mixon: When I did that interview, I owned my own shop so I was trying to bid on shows, and I think that was more in reference to that. Lately (in the past twenty years), I have been doing mainly set with application work for other guys, such as Rick Baker on The Grinch, Planet of the Apes (2001), and Men In Black 2 and 3, so I’m not key in the show as much anymore. But yeah, I get work from a lot of my friends these days. Like I was just doing Bright a year ago, but it just came out, and I got that job from a friend Chris Nelson whom I’ve known for twenty years. When he got that show, he was like, “Hey, wanna help me apply it?” So it does seem like a lot of it these days is more either contacts I’ve made or I guess I have enough of a reputation that the work comes to me. It’s not to say if something cool is going on that I won’t make a few phone calls or make a few suggestions, but yeah, it doesn’t seem like I have to beat the doors down like in the 80s or 90s.
HoTS: How much interaction with the directors do you have? For example, you just did Guardians of the Galaxy II by former Troma alumni James Gunn. I could see him being a fan of your past work.
BM: Actually I didn’t have much contact with him. Depending on the show I’m working on, for example on Men in Black 3, I was doing the main villain Boris for Rick Baker, so I was with Rick and Barry Sonnenfeld and others. But a show like Guardians, I was on it for about 12 weeks or so but pretty much I was just doing midground and background characters, so I really didn’t have a chance to interact with Gunn that much. I mean, Legacy was in charge of the prosthetics for part two, and they put the teams together for who was doing the Nebula or Drax. By the time I got on set, I was just doing mid ground characters. But no, I didn’t have much contact with Gunn. However, in that same vein, when the new IT came out, Chris Nelson (who I did Bright with) was doing a virtual reality promotional film for the film (IT), and he (Nelson) asked me to apply the Pennywise makeup. Then, when the director heard that one of us had done the original Pennywise, he was very interested in talking with me. He was a fan of the original and was like, ‘Oh cool you worked on the first one’, so I showed him my notebook with all my Pennywise photos – that sort of thing. So in that instant, he was a fan and that was flattering.
HoTS: Your first big project was A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Where you did the Freddy coming out of Jesse’s body? Do you recall how long that sequence took to pull off?
BM: I think we had about 11 weeks from start to finish – when we did our first meetings and storyboards and what not to when we shot. Most of our effects were shot were on the last two days of filming the movie because it was all the Freddy bursting out of Jesse, and we had so much to build that we basically told him that it had to be the last stuff they shot because we needed every day that we could get. I recall staying up 40 hours straight getting everything ready for the first day of that two-day shoot.

HoTS: Did you work on anything else or just that scene?
BM: We also did the mechanical tongue that Jesse has when he’s making out with his girlfriend, so things like that we did earlier in the shoot, and there might have been one or two other little things that worked prior to that transformation, but 99% of what we built was that sequence.
HoTS: You’ve worked on bigger budget films and lower ones. Would you say having a bigger budget is easier or do you have more freedom in the small production?
BM: Defiantly on a small shows either time or money can certainly be more of an issue, but I guess you have to be a little more creative, like when I was doing stuff in Texas before I moved to LA, I might have known the right way to do something, but I maybe couldn’t either find the material or have the money to do it that way, so I would have to come up with an alternatives. I guess it forces you to be more inventive and resourceful, but sometimes too if they don’t have the time or money to do it, then it doesn’t get done at all and that can be frustrating. I think I’ve become a little spoiled working on the number of Rick Baker shows that I did because he always saw to getting things scheduled and having the time and budget to get do the project right. And, of course, after you get used to doing things the correct way and you get thrown into other situations where you don’t have that luxury, it can be frustrating. For example, the prosthetics that came out of Rick’s shop or other shops, like Vincent Van Dyke, they make beautiful prosthetics, and when you are on set applying their stuff, 99% of the time it’s going to be a nice piece, whereas, and I can’t name any names (laugh), but some other shows things might not be good such as the edges might not be what they should be or whatever and your kind of like, ‘Why is this made this way?’ And that can be frustrating – like being handed a pile of ‘whatever’ and trying to make it work. Like I said, I don’t want to name any names because a lot of these guys I’ve worked with are my friends and whatnot. But sometimes that’s due to budget and sometimes it’s just how things are designed, and you don’t always have input on how things go together. That was one of the nice things on Bright. You’ve seen Bright?

Bright (2017)

HoTS: Yeah. I really liked it.
BM: Oh good, I did too. Well, the initial test that they did on that, everybody wants to do everything in silicone these days. That’s just like the go-to material. But it would have been very impractical to do that movie with silicone, and when Chris did the first test, he made the prosthetics out of silicone and quickly realized that this was going to be more of a headache. Then whatever advantage you might have been getting from silicone, which I don’t know if there really was any. So after that first test, they decided that foam latex would be the better way to go, so thankfully the shop listened and that’s what we did. So when you get into a show early enough and where you can have input on the ways things should be executed, that’s always preferable. Again, some shows will afford you that luxury and other shows don’t, quite frankly. So, like on Bright, there was enough time to retool their thinking to go to foam latex and, again, when we did a couple of tests, for example, the way we were doing ears on Joel [Edgerton], we changed those after the second test just to make them more user friendly. They were very concerned about not getting the makeup applied in a certain amount of time, so we came up with suggests which would expedite it whereas the makeup might not have been originally designed that way. So some shows you know you have the schedule and budget to try things and rethink things and other shows you don’t.
But in general, yeah, it’s great to have a budget. Another example: I had the job of (the character) Vision on the new Avengers movie, and we had the time and the budget to rework the cowl that Paul Bettany wears because there were some comfort issues on Civil War that we were able to address in this new Avengers movie. But, then again, some of the most fun I’ve had, like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, were smaller budgets – especially compared to things I’ve worked since then (laughs). Or the Rob Zombie movies with Wayne Toth. I had a pretty good time because I was working with friends.
HoTS: Speaking of iconic 80s films, you worked on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. How did you get hired for that job?
BM: I was part of Tom Savini’s crew and I was living in Houston at the time. I had been corresponding with Savini since before Creepshow, so I was trying to get on the show but wasn’t having much luck. But my brother was living in California at the time and knew some of the people on Tom’s crew, and they’d already been in Austin for a week or two setting up, and I believe it was John Vulich who suggested that, “Tom isn’t going to hire you over the phone, but if you go to Austin and have a meeting with him, he’ll hire you”.
HoTS: What specifically did you do for that job?
BM: By the time I came on, which was a week or two into it, the main characters like Chop Top had already been doled out to various artists, so I was doing lab work. I ran a lot of foam latex, made some molds. In the film, somebody gets their hand cut off. We did a prosthetic on an amputee, and we sculpted the pieces for that. The guy had recently lost his hand, so when John Vulich applied the severed stump to him, the guy freaked out and literally ran away so we weren’t able to shoot him for the movie. I also helped Shawn McEnroe  apply makeup to Chop Top, and I also did a lot of set work. Probably the most visible thing I did in the movie was on Leatherface, doing work above his eyes and mouth before we put the mask on him. I was mainly watching set, so I would do the day to day makeup like the sores on his lips. That was like an out of the kit makeup, this material which is like a scar plastic you can build up wounds and stuff.

Tobe Hooper on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

HoTS: This was the first and, I believe, only time you worked with Tobe Hooper. Any special memories of working with him?
BM: I remember he said I looked like Stephen King. I thought that was cute (laugh), and at the time, just the length of his hair and goatee, I thought he looked like Rick Baker. So we were like, “Hey, you look like Stephen King” and “Oh, you look like Rick Baker”. I remember I was removing the Chop Top makeup once, and I was working a brush under the prosthetic to loosen it, and Tobe was there, I guess talking to [Bill] Moseley and watching what I was doing. And I remember poking the brush through the prosthetic and it looked like it punched through the skin, and Tobe was kind of grossed out by that. I was like, “Really? Out of all the stuff we are doing in this movie (laugh), this seems odd that this would affect you.” I also remember there was this one shot where we were doing a scene where the girl (Caroline Williams) was tied to a chair at the end of the table and her makeup artist was coming in and giving her water in between takes because she was screaming so much. She left a cup of water on the table for one of the takes, and Tobe was really pissed off, understandably, about that. I remember him telling the script supervisor, “Make a note to the editor that his preferred take was the one with the cup in it” just to emphasize how displeased he was with it left in. I try to remember anything else, nothing more specific. I remember Dennis Hopper had a birthday on the set, and the little cake and a mini chainsaw that he was cutting the cake with was spitting oil all over the place, and nobody wanted to eat the cake because it had oil all over it. I think Dennis Hopper might have been a little high once and awhile. I remember the makeup girl trying to do his makeup, and she comes at him with the sponge and he flinches like kind of recoils, and he said “What are you doing?” and she was like “I’m doing your makeup”. He was like, “Oh, okay” and settles down. And she goes to do it again, and he flinches and again said, “What are ya doing?” and again she says, “I’m doing your makeup” (laughs), and he’s like, “Ohh, okay”, and this must have gone on for 15 minutes. (Laughs) I was thinking, ‘Yeah Dennis might be smoking something before he came to the trailer’ that day. But yeah, Tobe was a cool guy and seemed to know what he wanted. I was impressed with him and how he handled the set and whatnot, so it was defiantly a good experience.
HoTS: Now the thing you probably get asked about the most is designing Pennywise for the 90s miniseries. I read you started designs before Curry was cast?
BM: Yeah as much as I could. I mean, once I read the script, I started just kind of doing some doodles and some rough conceptual stuff. I know there are some pictures that showed up online of some of my early sketches. But I quickly found that without having the actor’s face that you are working on, it was kind of pointless at least in terms of specifics. I think I might have gotten some board strokes before Tim was cast, but a lot of that, especially a makeup like that, much is dictated by the actor’s face. So you can sit there and draw for weeks, but once you get your actor, you’d be like, “Okay, this isn’t going to work on him”. Again, I did a few just board strokes, concept type things, but luckily they cast Tim fairly early on, and I was able to focus my attention on making it work which is the features.
HoTS: And Curry wasn’t the first choice if I am remembering that correctly?
BM: Tommy doesn’t remember this, but maybe he wasn’t yet on board, but originally this was going to be a three-part six-hour miniseries, and at that time, I remember going [to] Fantasy 2 and asking who was going to be Pennywise. I remember at the time saying it was either going to be Tim Curry, Malcolm McDowell, or Roddy McDowall being considered. Tommy has since said in interviews he doesn’t recall that, but again it might have happened before he got on board. But certainly, I never did any design work for anybody but Tim Curry.

Bart Mixon concept art for Pennywise in 1990 IT miniseries

HoTS: Curry was not a big fan of prosthetics from what I read?
BM: He previously did the character Darkness (for Legend) and wore more prosthetics. I guess, yeah, he probably wanted to keep it as simple and as little as possible. I know at one point he was saying that he wouldn’t mind just having a rubber bald cap instead of the foam latex cranium that I had for him. I guess his whole concept of Pennywise was a little different than mine. For example, he was okay with the edges showing on the bald cap, like he was a guy wearing a clown makeup. But for me it was never a guy wearing a makeup; it was an illusion this creature was projecting, so it didn’t make sense to me to include flaws like that. The makeup that we used in the movie had a headpiece and a nose, and then, in additional tests there were cheekbones also. We tested both of those, and I could tell that Tim wasn’t too thrilled about wearing the cheeks, and again in hindsight I think it was the right decision, but I thought he looked good with them in the test. At the time, I sculpted the battery acid, he was going to be wearing those, but once we tested, we decided not to use them. And we didn’t have time to re-sculpt the makeup, and, for a while, they weren’t going to use it anyways. So yeah, he wanted to wear as little as possible. We had to have the headpiece on him, and plus I wanted the light bulb head, and Tommy Wallace wanted that, too. So we needed to build up his head a little bit. Also, to his credit, the whole battery acid look… we almost didn’t shoot that. When we did principal photography, we didn’t have time to put it on him, so we shot the scene without it and used the regular Pennywise look, and then Tim expressed some disappointment and said, “Well, you did this beautiful prosthetic. It’s a shame we aren’t going to be able to use it”, so they scheduled a day of additional photography at Fantasy II and Tim said if we could get it all in one day, that he would wear the battery acid look so we could do the inserts for that sequence. So it wasn’t that he was totally flat against prosthetics, otherwise he wouldn’t have volunteered to wear that, and the only reason that’s in the movie is because he graciously offered to wear it for that day. And I am forever grateful to him for that and, of course, that is a very memorable piece in the movie. Its almost as iconic as Pennywise himself, and that came very close to not being in the movie. Tim was a great guy, and I cannot say enough nice things about him. I’m glad they choose him.

Tim Curry as Pennywise in IT 1990 miniseries

HoTS: Had Curry not minded a lot of prosthetics, would you have gone another direction in the look?
BM: I did three designs, or what we call clay sketches, once we had Tim cast. Then we did a head cast of him, and I did three different designs. One was very heavy and almost covered his whole face. It was almost like one of those tramp or hobo clowns with the sculpted frown, and it had a lot more character in the face. The second was the one that we went with, and the third was somewhere in between, and just in conversations with the director, we choose the one we went with. Of the three looks, that’s the one that was picked, but it was originally supposed to have cheekbones to the chin. It was like a stylized Lon Chaney from The Phantom of the Opera, which is what I was going for. So had Tim been more open, we would have gone with the cheek and the chin, but we already eliminated the heavier makeup in the design process.

 

HoTS: King, I heard, wasn’t on set.
BM: I don’t know why he wasn’t on set. I’m not sure if nobody invited him or he didn’t want to go. And I know he was around The Stand and some of these other miniseries of some of his books, so I’m not really sure why he didn’t show up on ours. Maybe he was busy at that time. I don’t know.
HoTS: Did you meet him prior to IT?
BM: I never met him.
HoTS: So, I am dying to know what you thought of the new IT and the design of Pennywise.
BM: It was cool. I’m certainly fond of mine, but I thought they did a nice job. I did get to apply that one day for the promotional thing, and there were certainly some similarities to my makeup which probably couldn’t be avoided [with] it being a clown, but I thought it was different enough. I don’t envy [Bill] Skarsgård just having to follow Tim Curry. That must be a pretty daunting task for him, but yeah, I thought it was interesting as a makeup. I’m glad they did their own take on it, that they didn’t just copy mine even though I have friends that thought they copied it a little too much. I guess it has the bulbous head like mine, but that’s where the similarities end. Just as a movie, I thought they did a pretty good job. Mine was a TV movie from 1990; theirs is an R-rated feature in 2017, so obviously they can do stuff we weren’t allowed to do. For what I did, I think it was about three hours and five minutes long. By the time they do part two, it will probably come into about four and a half hours to cover the same territory, so I am kind of envious that they got another hour and a half to tell the same story and they are not restricted by the 1990 TV censorship as I was. But I’m really looking forward to part two. I got a lot of crap on mine for the spider at the end of ours, so I’m kind of curious to see what they do or if they are even going to do a spider, or if they are gonna chicken out and not do it at all. (Laughs) I have a feeling with all the references to the turtle in the first one, we are going to see the spider and turtle fight. That was in the book. So I wish them luck with that, but yeah, I’m looking forward to the second one. Actually, after the director met Chris and I, he said, “Oh maybe we should get you to do part two”, and I was like, “Hey you know where to find us”. So [we] will see, but I thought they did a good job. Some of the visuals in there I thought were really cool, like the scene with Georgie in the flooded basement and he’s standing in like ankle deep water and Pennywise comes up out of the water, which I thought made a nice supernatural element since obviously the water wasn’t deep enough for him to be completely submerged and yet he was. Or like when he was working Georgie like a hand puppet or when he ripped Georgie’s arm off – which is a scene we could only hint at. In our version, he is missing an arm but you can’t really tell.
HoTS: You’re doing a book signing at Dark Delicacies on Jan 13, 2018. The book is entitled Monster Squad about the art of monster makeup. Is this going to be a reunion for you with the other guests?
BM: Well, it depends. I’d have to look at the list to see who’s on there. Like I think Tom and Alex from ADI are going to be there, and I just saw them recently at Creature Features for a promotional thing. But most of these guys I’m certainly casual friends with but, unfortunately, with everybody’s schedule, we probably don’t see each other as much as we would like to. Certainly, there are some people that I’ve seen more recently than others.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

You can meet Mr. Bart Mixon at the Dark Delicacies book signing Jan 13, 2018.
INTERVIEW: Original Pennywise Designer Bart Mixon

INTERVIEW: Original Pennywise Designer Bart Mixon

You may not know his name, but if you are a horror fan, you’ve seen his work. Bart Mixon is best known for creating the now iconic makeup for Tim Curry’s dancing clown Pennywise. Among the other movies to his credit are RoboCop, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Rings, and the Netflix film Bright. Bart, along with Heather A. Wixson, Steve Johnson, Michele Burke, Gabe Bartalos, Tom Woodruff, Jr., Jennifer Aspinall, John Goodwin, and Rick Lazzarini, will be doing a book signing at Dark Delicacies this Saturday, and I was granted an exclusive interview with Bart Mixon about his epic career.
House of Tortured Souls: I read in an interview that the hardest part of the job is just getting it. With your amazing resume, does the work ever just come to you now?
Bart Mixon: When I did that interview, I owned my own shop so I was trying to bid on shows, and I think that was more in reference to that. Lately (in the past twenty years), I have been doing mainly set with application work for other guys, such as Rick Baker on The Grinch, Planet of the Apes (2001), and Men In Black 2 and 3, so I’m not key in the show as much anymore. But yeah, I get work from a lot of my friends these days. Like I was just doing Bright a year ago, but it just came out, and I got that job from a friend Chris Nelson whom I’ve known for twenty years. When he got that show, he was like, “Hey, wanna help me apply it?” So it does seem like a lot of it these days is more either contacts I’ve made or I guess I have enough of a reputation that the work comes to me. It’s not to say if something cool is going on that I won’t make a few phone calls or make a few suggestions, but yeah, it doesn’t seem like I have to beat the doors down like in the 80s or 90s.
HoTS: How much interaction with the directors do you have? For example, you just did Guardians of the Galaxy II by former Troma alumni James Gunn. I could see him being a fan of your past work.
BM: Actually I didn’t have much contact with him. Depending on the show I’m working on, for example on Men in Black 3, I was doing the main villain Boris for Rick Baker, so I was with Rick and Barry Sonnenfeld and others. But a show like Guardians, I was on it for about 12 weeks or so but pretty much I was just doing midground and background characters, so I really didn’t have a chance to interact with Gunn that much. I mean, Legacy was in charge of the prosthetics for part two, and they put the teams together for who was doing the Nebula or Drax. By the time I got on set, I was just doing mid ground characters. But no, I didn’t have much contact with Gunn. However, in that same vein, when the new IT came out, Chris Nelson (who I did Bright with) was doing a virtual reality promotional film for the film (IT), and he (Nelson) asked me to apply the Pennywise makeup. Then, when the director heard that one of us had done the original Pennywise, he was very interested in talking with me. He was a fan of the original and was like, ‘Oh cool you worked on the first one’, so I showed him my notebook with all my Pennywise photos – that sort of thing. So in that instant, he was a fan and that was flattering.
HoTS: Your first big project was A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Where you did the Freddy coming out of Jesse’s body? Do you recall how long that sequence took to pull off?
BM: I think we had about 11 weeks from start to finish – when we did our first meetings and storyboards and what not to when we shot. Most of our effects were shot were on the last two days of filming the movie because it was all the Freddy bursting out of Jesse, and we had so much to build that we basically told him that it had to be the last stuff they shot because we needed every day that we could get. I recall staying up 40 hours straight getting everything ready for the first day of that two-day shoot.

HoTS: Did you work on anything else or just that scene?
BM: We also did the mechanical tongue that Jesse has when he’s making out with his girlfriend, so things like that we did earlier in the shoot, and there might have been one or two other little things that worked prior to that transformation, but 99% of what we built was that sequence.
HoTS: You’ve worked on bigger budget films and lower ones. Would you say having a bigger budget is easier or do you have more freedom in the small production?
BM: Defiantly on a small shows either time or money can certainly be more of an issue, but I guess you have to be a little more creative, like when I was doing stuff in Texas before I moved to LA, I might have known the right way to do something, but I maybe couldn’t either find the material or have the money to do it that way, so I would have to come up with an alternatives. I guess it forces you to be more inventive and resourceful, but sometimes too if they don’t have the time or money to do it, then it doesn’t get done at all and that can be frustrating. I think I’ve become a little spoiled working on the number of Rick Baker shows that I did because he always saw to getting things scheduled and having the time and budget to get do the project right. And, of course, after you get used to doing things the correct way and you get thrown into other situations where you don’t have that luxury, it can be frustrating. For example, the prosthetics that came out of Rick’s shop or other shops, like Vincent Van Dyke, they make beautiful prosthetics, and when you are on set applying their stuff, 99% of the time it’s going to be a nice piece, whereas, and I can’t name any names (laugh), but some other shows things might not be good such as the edges might not be what they should be or whatever and your kind of like, ‘Why is this made this way?’ And that can be frustrating – like being handed a pile of ‘whatever’ and trying to make it work. Like I said, I don’t want to name any names because a lot of these guys I’ve worked with are my friends and whatnot. But sometimes that’s due to budget and sometimes it’s just how things are designed, and you don’t always have input on how things go together. That was one of the nice things on Bright. You’ve seen Bright?

Bright (2017)

HoTS: Yeah. I really liked it.
BM: Oh good, I did too. Well, the initial test that they did on that, everybody wants to do everything in silicone these days. That’s just like the go-to material. But it would have been very impractical to do that movie with silicone, and when Chris did the first test, he made the prosthetics out of silicone and quickly realized that this was going to be more of a headache. Then whatever advantage you might have been getting from silicone, which I don’t know if there really was any. So after that first test, they decided that foam latex would be the better way to go, so thankfully the shop listened and that’s what we did. So when you get into a show early enough and where you can have input on the ways things should be executed, that’s always preferable. Again, some shows will afford you that luxury and other shows don’t, quite frankly. So, like on Bright, there was enough time to retool their thinking to go to foam latex and, again, when we did a couple of tests, for example, the way we were doing ears on Joel [Edgerton], we changed those after the second test just to make them more user friendly. They were very concerned about not getting the makeup applied in a certain amount of time, so we came up with suggests which would expedite it whereas the makeup might not have been originally designed that way. So some shows you know you have the schedule and budget to try things and rethink things and other shows you don’t.
But in general, yeah, it’s great to have a budget. Another example: I had the job of (the character) Vision on the new Avengers movie, and we had the time and the budget to rework the cowl that Paul Bettany wears because there were some comfort issues on Civil War that we were able to address in this new Avengers movie. But, then again, some of the most fun I’ve had, like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, were smaller budgets – especially compared to things I’ve worked since then (laughs). Or the Rob Zombie movies with Wayne Toth. I had a pretty good time because I was working with friends.
HoTS: Speaking of iconic 80s films, you worked on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. How did you get hired for that job?
BM: I was part of Tom Savini’s crew and I was living in Houston at the time. I had been corresponding with Savini since before Creepshow, so I was trying to get on the show but wasn’t having much luck. But my brother was living in California at the time and knew some of the people on Tom’s crew, and they’d already been in Austin for a week or two setting up, and I believe it was John Vulich who suggested that, “Tom isn’t going to hire you over the phone, but if you go to Austin and have a meeting with him, he’ll hire you”.
HoTS: What specifically did you do for that job?
BM: By the time I came on, which was a week or two into it, the main characters like Chop Top had already been doled out to various artists, so I was doing lab work. I ran a lot of foam latex, made some molds. In the film, somebody gets their hand cut off. We did a prosthetic on an amputee, and we sculpted the pieces for that. The guy had recently lost his hand, so when John Vulich applied the severed stump to him, the guy freaked out and literally ran away so we weren’t able to shoot him for the movie. I also helped Shawn McEnroe  apply makeup to Chop Top, and I also did a lot of set work. Probably the most visible thing I did in the movie was on Leatherface, doing work above his eyes and mouth before we put the mask on him. I was mainly watching set, so I would do the day to day makeup like the sores on his lips. That was like an out of the kit makeup, this material which is like a scar plastic you can build up wounds and stuff.

Tobe Hooper on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

HoTS: This was the first and, I believe, only time you worked with Tobe Hooper. Any special memories of working with him?
BM: I remember he said I looked like Stephen King. I thought that was cute (laugh), and at the time, just the length of his hair and goatee, I thought he looked like Rick Baker. So we were like, “Hey, you look like Stephen King” and “Oh, you look like Rick Baker”. I remember I was removing the Chop Top makeup once, and I was working a brush under the prosthetic to loosen it, and Tobe was there, I guess talking to [Bill] Moseley and watching what I was doing. And I remember poking the brush through the prosthetic and it looked like it punched through the skin, and Tobe was kind of grossed out by that. I was like, “Really? Out of all the stuff we are doing in this movie (laugh), this seems odd that this would affect you.” I also remember there was this one shot where we were doing a scene where the girl (Caroline Williams) was tied to a chair at the end of the table and her makeup artist was coming in and giving her water in between takes because she was screaming so much. She left a cup of water on the table for one of the takes, and Tobe was really pissed off, understandably, about that. I remember him telling the script supervisor, “Make a note to the editor that his preferred take was the one with the cup in it” just to emphasize how displeased he was with it left in. I try to remember anything else, nothing more specific. I remember Dennis Hopper had a birthday on the set, and the little cake and a mini chainsaw that he was cutting the cake with was spitting oil all over the place, and nobody wanted to eat the cake because it had oil all over it. I think Dennis Hopper might have been a little high once and awhile. I remember the makeup girl trying to do his makeup, and she comes at him with the sponge and he flinches like kind of recoils, and he said “What are you doing?” and she was like “I’m doing your makeup”. He was like, “Oh, okay” and settles down. And she goes to do it again, and he flinches and again said, “What are ya doing?” and again she says, “I’m doing your makeup” (laughs), and he’s like, “Ohh, okay”, and this must have gone on for 15 minutes. (Laughs) I was thinking, ‘Yeah Dennis might be smoking something before he came to the trailer’ that day. But yeah, Tobe was a cool guy and seemed to know what he wanted. I was impressed with him and how he handled the set and whatnot, so it was defiantly a good experience.
HoTS: Now the thing you probably get asked about the most is designing Pennywise for the 90s miniseries. I read you started designs before Curry was cast?
BM: Yeah as much as I could. I mean, once I read the script, I started just kind of doing some doodles and some rough conceptual stuff. I know there are some pictures that showed up online of some of my early sketches. But I quickly found that without having the actor’s face that you are working on, it was kind of pointless at least in terms of specifics. I think I might have gotten some board strokes before Tim was cast, but a lot of that, especially a makeup like that, much is dictated by the actor’s face. So you can sit there and draw for weeks, but once you get your actor, you’d be like, “Okay, this isn’t going to work on him”. Again, I did a few just board strokes, concept type things, but luckily they cast Tim fairly early on, and I was able to focus my attention on making it work which is the features.
HoTS: And Curry wasn’t the first choice if I am remembering that correctly?
BM: Tommy doesn’t remember this, but maybe he wasn’t yet on board, but originally this was going to be a three-part six-hour miniseries, and at that time, I remember going [to] Fantasy 2 and asking who was going to be Pennywise. I remember at the time saying it was either going to be Tim Curry, Malcolm McDowell, or Roddy McDowall being considered. Tommy has since said in interviews he doesn’t recall that, but again it might have happened before he got on board. But certainly, I never did any design work for anybody but Tim Curry.

Bart Mixon concept art for Pennywise in 1990 IT miniseries

HoTS: Curry was not a big fan of prosthetics from what I read?
BM: He previously did the character Darkness (for Legend) and wore more prosthetics. I guess, yeah, he probably wanted to keep it as simple and as little as possible. I know at one point he was saying that he wouldn’t mind just having a rubber bald cap instead of the foam latex cranium that I had for him. I guess his whole concept of Pennywise was a little different than mine. For example, he was okay with the edges showing on the bald cap, like he was a guy wearing a clown makeup. But for me it was never a guy wearing a makeup; it was an illusion this creature was projecting, so it didn’t make sense to me to include flaws like that. The makeup that we used in the movie had a headpiece and a nose, and then, in additional tests there were cheekbones also. We tested both of those, and I could tell that Tim wasn’t too thrilled about wearing the cheeks, and again in hindsight I think it was the right decision, but I thought he looked good with them in the test. At the time, I sculpted the battery acid, he was going to be wearing those, but once we tested, we decided not to use them. And we didn’t have time to re-sculpt the makeup, and, for a while, they weren’t going to use it anyways. So yeah, he wanted to wear as little as possible. We had to have the headpiece on him, and plus I wanted the light bulb head, and Tommy Wallace wanted that, too. So we needed to build up his head a little bit. Also, to his credit, the whole battery acid look… we almost didn’t shoot that. When we did principal photography, we didn’t have time to put it on him, so we shot the scene without it and used the regular Pennywise look, and then Tim expressed some disappointment and said, “Well, you did this beautiful prosthetic. It’s a shame we aren’t going to be able to use it”, so they scheduled a day of additional photography at Fantasy II and Tim said if we could get it all in one day, that he would wear the battery acid look so we could do the inserts for that sequence. So it wasn’t that he was totally flat against prosthetics, otherwise he wouldn’t have volunteered to wear that, and the only reason that’s in the movie is because he graciously offered to wear it for that day. And I am forever grateful to him for that and, of course, that is a very memorable piece in the movie. Its almost as iconic as Pennywise himself, and that came very close to not being in the movie. Tim was a great guy, and I cannot say enough nice things about him. I’m glad they choose him.

Tim Curry as Pennywise in IT 1990 miniseries

HoTS: Had Curry not minded a lot of prosthetics, would you have gone another direction in the look?
BM: I did three designs, or what we call clay sketches, once we had Tim cast. Then we did a head cast of him, and I did three different designs. One was very heavy and almost covered his whole face. It was almost like one of those tramp or hobo clowns with the sculpted frown, and it had a lot more character in the face. The second was the one that we went with, and the third was somewhere in between, and just in conversations with the director, we choose the one we went with. Of the three looks, that’s the one that was picked, but it was originally supposed to have cheekbones to the chin. It was like a stylized Lon Chaney from The Phantom of the Opera, which is what I was going for. So had Tim been more open, we would have gone with the cheek and the chin, but we already eliminated the heavier makeup in the design process.

 

HoTS: King, I heard, wasn’t on set.
BM: I don’t know why he wasn’t on set. I’m not sure if nobody invited him or he didn’t want to go. And I know he was around The Stand and some of these other miniseries of some of his books, so I’m not really sure why he didn’t show up on ours. Maybe he was busy at that time. I don’t know.
HoTS: Did you meet him prior to IT?
BM: I never met him.
HoTS: So, I am dying to know what you thought of the new IT and the design of Pennywise.
BM: It was cool. I’m certainly fond of mine, but I thought they did a nice job. I did get to apply that one day for the promotional thing, and there were certainly some similarities to my makeup which probably couldn’t be avoided [with] it being a clown, but I thought it was different enough. I don’t envy [Bill] Skarsgård just having to follow Tim Curry. That must be a pretty daunting task for him, but yeah, I thought it was interesting as a makeup. I’m glad they did their own take on it, that they didn’t just copy mine even though I have friends that thought they copied it a little too much. I guess it has the bulbous head like mine, but that’s where the similarities end. Just as a movie, I thought they did a pretty good job. Mine was a TV movie from 1990; theirs is an R-rated feature in 2017, so obviously they can do stuff we weren’t allowed to do. For what I did, I think it was about three hours and five minutes long. By the time they do part two, it will probably come into about four and a half hours to cover the same territory, so I am kind of envious that they got another hour and a half to tell the same story and they are not restricted by the 1990 TV censorship as I was. But I’m really looking forward to part two. I got a lot of crap on mine for the spider at the end of ours, so I’m kind of curious to see what they do or if they are even going to do a spider, or if they are gonna chicken out and not do it at all. (Laughs) I have a feeling with all the references to the turtle in the first one, we are going to see the spider and turtle fight. That was in the book. So I wish them luck with that, but yeah, I’m looking forward to the second one. Actually, after the director met Chris and I, he said, “Oh maybe we should get you to do part two”, and I was like, “Hey you know where to find us”. So [we] will see, but I thought they did a good job. Some of the visuals in there I thought were really cool, like the scene with Georgie in the flooded basement and he’s standing in like ankle deep water and Pennywise comes up out of the water, which I thought made a nice supernatural element since obviously the water wasn’t deep enough for him to be completely submerged and yet he was. Or like when he was working Georgie like a hand puppet or when he ripped Georgie’s arm off – which is a scene we could only hint at. In our version, he is missing an arm but you can’t really tell.
HoTS: You’re doing a book signing at Dark Delicacies on Jan 13, 2018. The book is entitled Monster Squad about the art of monster makeup. Is this going to be a reunion for you with the other guests?
BM: Well, it depends. I’d have to look at the list to see who’s on there. Like I think Tom and Alex from ADI are going to be there, and I just saw them recently at Creature Features for a promotional thing. But most of these guys I’m certainly casual friends with but, unfortunately, with everybody’s schedule, we probably don’t see each other as much as we would like to. Certainly, there are some people that I’ve seen more recently than others.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

You can meet Mr. Bart Mixon at the Dark Delicacies book signing Jan 13, 2018.



Posted by Mike Vaughn in INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, 0 comments
VORTEXX SCHEDULE FOR JANUARY 22 – 29, 2017

VORTEXX SCHEDULE FOR JANUARY 22 – 29, 2017

Welcome to The Vortexx where it's been ALL HOSTS ALL THE TIME FOR SIX YEARS!
THE VORTEXX! SIX YEARS STRONG!!!!!
Welcome to THE VORTEXX where it's ALL HOSTS ALL THE TIME! We've got a terrific line-up of hosts, shows, and movies this week, including three new movies making their Vortexx debut, along with several returning favorites and a trip to The Peninsula of Horror on Saturday. Our hosts this week are Misty Brew, Bobby Gammonster & Boris the Buzzard, Freakshow & the Bordello gang, Edgar von Ghoul, Deadwood, Uncle Pete, Dave Binkley & Holly Schilthelm, Arachna & Deadly, and (at the Peninsula of Horror) Professor Gillman and Master Vyle. Enjoy our shows and thanks for hanging out!
MISTY BREW'S CREATURE FEATURE presents The Vortexx premiere of ANTS! (1977)
Sunday (01/22). 9:00 P.M. (ET) MISTY BREW'S CREATURE FEATURE presents The Vortexx premiere of ANTS! (1977) aka It Happened at Lakewood Manor. Robert Foxworth, Suzanne Somers, Lynda Day George, Bernie Casey, Myrna Loy, and Brian Dennehy are among the stars in this TV movie about an army of poisonous ants that attack the residents of an old-fashioned lakeside hotel targeted for purchase by an unsavory gambling casino promoter. This was one of several movies made during the late 1970s to capitalize on the popularity of Jaws. Tonight's show will be followed at approximately 10:45 by an encore presentation of last Wednesday's episode of SCREAMING SOUP (DEADGIRL).
MONSTER MOVIE NIGHT presents Larry Buchanan's IN THE YEAR 2889 (1967)
Monday (01/23). 9:00 P.M. (ET) MONSTER MOVIE NIGHT with Bobby Gammonster and Boris the Buzzard presents Larry Buchanan's IN THE YEAR 2889 (1967). Although the movie's title is taken from a Jules Verne novel of the same name, it's actually a remake of Roger Corman's Day the World Ended (1955), and the story is set in the year 1977. A nuclear war has wiped out most of the human race, and a group of survivors in a Dallas mansion find themselves beset by rising radiation levels, a ruthless tough guy, and cannibalistic mutants. You heard right, folks -- cannibalistic mutants. It don't get any better than that! Former child actor Paul Petersen (The Donna Reed Show) stars as the lead survivor.
BORDELLO OF HORROR presents TRACK OF THE MOON BEAST (1976)
Tuesday (01/24). 9:00 P.M. (ET) BORDELLO OF HORROR with Freakshow, Sgt. Drizzlepuss, Ali Katt, and Beelzabroad presents TRACK OF THE MOON BEAST (1976). After a beefy young mineralogist (Chase Cordell) gets boinked in the head by a meteor fragment, he is transformed into a hideous lizard-like monster whenever the moon comes out. Badly paced and badly shot, with a badly constructed story and a mostly talentless cast playing cardboard characters, its one saving feature is that soon-to-be-famous Rick Baker designed the beast. Along with the movie, Freaky will be presenting footage from the March 2015 Horrorhound Weekend including the Horror Host Hall of Fame awards, interviews with producer Paul Travers from Old 37 and Fred Vogel from Toe Tag Productions, and music by The Renfields.
DEAD END DRIVE-IN presents The Vortexx premiere of KEEP MY GRAVE OPEN (1974)
Wednesday (01/25). 9:00 P.M. (ET) DEAD END DRIVE-IN with Edgar von Ghoul returns to the Vortexx for its second appearance! Tonight Edgar will be hosting The Vortexx premiere of KEEP MY GRAVE OPEN (1974) aka The House Where Hell Froze Over. This slow-moving but creepy thriller from S. F. Brownrigg, the director of Don't Look in the Basement, re-unites Basement cast members Camilla Carr and Gene Ross. Carr, who would later go on to become a successful novelist, stars as Lesley Fontaine, a troubled young woman who lives in an isolated farm estate miles from the nearest town. Murders are being committed in the vicinity, and Someone is responsible. Is it Lesley? Or perhaps her brother Kevin (Chelcie Ross), who may be real or may be a product of Lesley's overworked imagination. Gene Ross (Judge Oliver W. Cameron in Basement) plays Lesley's compassionate doctor. Larry Buchanan favorite Bill Thurman plays a hitchhiker looking for food, who becomes one of the victims.
SCREAMING SOUP reviews THE GREEN SLIME (1968)
Wednesday (01/25). 10:45 P.M. (ET) [Time approximate.] We welcome SCREAMING SOUP back to The Vortexx for its second appearance! Now entering its fourth season, this animated horror host show specializes in raunchy movie reviews. In tonight's episode our host Deadwest reviews THE GREEN SLIME (1968) while his friends try to defuse his rage over the film's lameness. The film itself might be lame and the monsters laughably ridiculous, but it's got one of the catchiest title songs in movie history. In addition to Deadwood, tonight's cast includes Billy, Eb'nstein, Deadbeat, Doc Rex, and Aleena.
UNCLE PETE'S DARK VAULT OF PUBLIC DOMAIN presents The Vortexx premiere of ABBY (1974)
Thursday (01/26). 9:00 P.M. (ET) Join us tonight as we welcome THE DARK VAULT OF PUBLIC DOMAIN with Uncle Pete back to The Vortexx. Now in its 9th year of Cult Movie Madness, this great show is broadcast on local cable on various stations in New York State, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire and is now spreading like The Blob throughout the Northeast. Tonight Uncle Pete will be hosting The Vortexx premiere of ABBY (1974). Think Blackula meets The Exorcist, and you have some idea of what this movie is all about. William (Blackula) Marshall stars as a bishop/archaeologist who unknowingly brings back a demon from Africa that takes over the body of his daughter-in-law. Released one year after The Exorcist, Warner Brothers wasn't too happy about this blatant rip-off, and their subsequent lawsuit kept the movie out of circulation for years.
THE WEIRDNESS REALLY BAD MOVIE presents NO HANDS ON THE CLOCK (1941)
Friday (01/27). 9:00 P.M. (ET) THE WEIRDNESS REALLY BAD MOVIE with Dave Binkley and Holly Schilthelm presents NO HANDS ON THE CLOCK (1941). Chester Morris, best known for playing jewel thief-turned-detective Boston Blackie in fourteen films during the 1940s, plays another detective in tonight's comedy-mystery released the same year as the first two Boston Blackie movies. In this one he is wise-cracking private detective Humphrey Campbell who impresses his boss no end by not only finding a missing girl (Jean Parker) but also marrying her in the process. But just as their honeymoon in Reno, Nevada, gets underway, Campbell is dragged into another missing person case, invoking the suspicions of his jealous bride as he investigates an assortment of blondes, brunettes, and redheads. In keeping with the theme of the movie title, tonight's episode was shot at Time Zone, a clock repair shop in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
THE PENINSULA OF HORROR presents DOUBLE DANGEROUS CHAT NIGHT
Saturday (01/28). 8:00 P.M. (ET) Join us tonight as THE PENINSULA OF HORROR -- the showcase for Florida's finest horror hosts -- presents DOUBLE DANGEROUS CHAT NIGHT! First up at 8 (ET) HOUSE OF MASTER VYLE PRESENTS will be hosting DELIGHTFULLY DANGEROUS (1945) starring fifteen-year-old Jane Powell as a young music school student who discovers that her big sister (Constance Moore) is a burlesque queen and not a celebrated Broadway star. Then stick around at 10:30 (ET) for the ultimate stoner movie REEFER MADNESS (1936). We guarantee the joint will be jumping tonight, so come on by for a smoking good time! As always, Professor Gillman will be broadcasting live from Lagoon House throughout the evening. A preshow for the Early Boids featuring Master Vyle's new MiniSode HAPPY NATIONAL TATER TOT DAY will air at 7 (ET).
PLEASE NOTE: Tonight's feature will be aired on The Peninsula of Horror's Livestream channel -- livestream.com/tpoh. Viewers who show up on The Vortexx channel Saturday night will be re-directed there, so you can save yourself a couple of steps by going directly to The Peninsula of Horror. We will be doing the chat through Chattango -- https://thepeninsulaofhorror.chatango.com/.... To see both the show and the chat, you need to have two windows open, one with the Peninsula and one with the chat.
BEWARE THEATER presents Herk Harvey's CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962)
Sunday (01/29). 9:00 P.M. (ET) BEWARE THEATER with Arachna of the Spider People and her friend Deadly returns to The Vortexx with a brand-new episode and yet another monochromatic marvel from the Golden Age of Black & White. Tonight our hosts will be presenting Herk Harvey's CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962). Shot on a budget of $33,000 and largely ignored at the time of its release, this film has since become a cult classic. Reminiscent in many ways of an elongated Twilight Zone episode, it relies more on atmosphere than on special effects to create a mood of unease and foreboding. Candace Hilligoss stars as Mary Henry, a young lady who survives a car accident and becomes drawn to a mysterious abandoned carnival. Director Harvey appears uncredited as the pale man who is stalking Mary. Tonight's show will be followed at approximately 10:45 by an encore presentation of last Wednesday's episode of SCREAMING SOUP (THE GREEN SLIME).
SLUGGO!!! OUR DEAR LEADER AND FREELY RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE VORTEXX!!!
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in HOSTED HORROR, 0 comments
THIS JUST IN: An American Werewolf in London Remake

THIS JUST IN: An American Werewolf in London Remake

By Woofer McWooferson
In a year that's been full of bad news, perhaps this will turn out otherwise: Max Landis, son of legendary director John Landis, is remaking his father's iconic classic An American Werewolf in London. I'm trying to remain optimistic, particularly since John is serving as executive producer, but only time will tell.
This shouldn't be a surprise since Max Landis pretty much confirmed this was happening when he tweeted the following in August:
The confirmation comes as the original marks its 35th anniversary.
Written and directed by Landis (the elder), the original film starred David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, and Jenny Agutter and netted makeup artist Rick Baker an Oscar for his effects makeup. Though reactions were mixed at release, An American Werewolf in London quickly became a cult classic and earned its place of honor among horror films - cult and otherwise.
So what can Max Landis bring to the mix that warrants a remake? That's what we don't know. Max did write the Masters of Horror episode "Deer Woman" (which I love and which was directed by his father) and the screenplay for 2015's Victor Frankenstein (starring Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy) and is a writer/producer/creator of BBC's Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency, based on the Douglas Adams novels. I confess that this news heartens me a bit, but I remain unconvinced that the world needs a remake of the movie with the definitive werewolf transformation.
According to Deadline:
The news comes after the elder Landis and filmmaker Anthony Waller (An American Werewolf in Paris) sealed a deal with the studio on the rights. The younger Landis’ deal is being negotiated. Skybound has a first-look production deal with Universal.
Also producing will be Todd Garner, and John Landis will executive produce along with Circle of Confusion’s Matt Smith, Broken Road’s Sean Robins and producer Andy Trapani, who told Deadline that he’s been working on putting this together for nearly 10 years.
The ten year comment echoes the ten years John Landis tried to get the script he wrote to be taken seriously, years during which Rick Baker had to contemplate and perfect the effects he would use. No word on whether Baker will return to create the effects for the remake. As for Max Landis, he seems well aware of the resistance as indicated in this recent tweet:
We'll stay hopeful and keep you appraised as we know more. In the meantime, let House of Tortured Souls know what you think of this remake.
-Woofer
Posted by Woofer McWooferson in HORROR NEWS, 1 comment
DOC REVIEW: Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror

DOC REVIEW: Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror

Boogeyman 2: Masters of Horror

By Woofer McWooferson

Boogeymen 2-1

 

Director: Mike Mendez, Dave Parker; Writers: Curtis Bowden, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Gary Shenk; Stars: Dario Argento, Bruce Campbell, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Guillermo del Toro, Tobe Hooper, John Landis, George A. Romero; Rating: U; Run Time: 90 min; Genre: Documentary; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2002

“Their movies gave you nightmares. Now the most diabolical minds in horror are coming together in the ultimate Halloween horror special – Masters of Horror.”

The 2002 documentary Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror is hosted by Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.) and features some of the greatest names in horror movies, from Dario Argento to Guillermo del Toro. Divided into three parts, it asks the great questions all horror fans have:

Part 1: Why Do We Like to be Scared?
Part 2: What Scares Us?
Part 3: (Where Do They Get Their Ideas?)

Parts one and two are rather brief and hop from director to director as each answers why we like to be scared and what scares us. As to why we like to be scared, answers range from “why do some people like to ride roller coasters” to “preparation for our own deaths” and all are equally valid since why we like to be scared is as unique as each of us. When it comes to what scares us, however, most of our fears are the same, from death (of self or loved ones) to the dark (or what lies in it), and this is the bread and butter of these directors.

Wes Craven

Wes Craven

Part three, however, is much longer and divided into six sections with each section focusing on one director. These sections and the featured directors are:

The Reality of Horror (Wes Craven)
The Horror of Innocence (Guillermo del Toro)
The Rebel of Horror (John Carpenter)
The Horror of Society (George A. Romero)
Transforming Horror (John Landis & Rick Baker)
The Beauty of Horror (Dario Argento)
Living the Horror (Tobe Hooper)

Highlights of the documentary include:

• Craven discussing the making of The Serpent and the Rainbow and how The Last House on the Left managed an R rating.

• del Toro recounting his introduction to the supernatural while still in his crib, the influence of Universal monster movies on him, and how he established a special effects company in order to create Cronos.

• Carpenter talking about the change in audience sensibilities and the effect it had on the horror industry in the 70s and 80s.

• Romero revealing his fear of being typecast and his eventual return to the dead films.

• Landis and Rick Baker explaining how they created Schlock and why An American Werewolf in London is a watershed film in special effects work.

• Argento discussing his films as works of art where each shot is framed for both beauty and horror.

• Hooper recounting the horrors behind the scenes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, including the effects that the gruelling shot had on the cast and crew.

Tobe Hooper

Tobe Hooper

Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror also includes commentary from Gunnar Hanson, Tom Savini, and KNB Effects and is full of clips from the movies being discussed as well as movies that exemplify the topics being described.

Is this for everyone? No, but it is damn good fun and a must for horror lovers.

7/10 claws

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in DOCUMENTARY REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
HALLOWEEN HORRORS: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

By John Roisland

The Slaughtered Lamb1981 brought to us a film classic, a movie that to this day still tops the charts of being one horror's most loved. I am referring to John Landis' An American Werewolf in London. Landis, who brought us Animal House and The Blues Brothers (two of my favorites), decided to give the horror industry a shot but adding his trademark flavor of humor. Combining these two elements, along with master special effects by genius Rick Baker (Men in Black, Star Wars (1977), Planet of the Apes (2001)) and a great storyline, took him straight to the top of the box office.

David Naughton (Hot Dog the Movie) plays David Kessler who is on a college trip backpacking across Europe with his long time friend Jack Goodman, played by Griffin Dunne (After Hours, My Girl). After being warned to “stick to the road” and “beware the moon” by country folk in the English farm lands, the two find themselves being attacked by a werewolf in the middle of an open field and under the light of the full moon.

 

David wakes some weeks later in a hospital in London, only to find out that Jack died in the attack but that he himself had survived only with scratches. During his brief hospital stay, Jack visits David to inform him that he was killed by the same werewolf that merely scratched David. Jack tells him that he will become a werewolf, too. David dismisses the visit and is released from the hospital to stay with Nurse Alex Price, played by Jenny Agutter (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Logan's Run), who caught his eye at the hospital. While staying with her, David goes through changes, both physically and mentally. He thinks he's going mad and is sure that he is becoming like the monster that attacked him. The full moon is making him crazy, and he wakes naked in strange parts of the city with while David has no recollection of the night before. Later he learns of people who had been slaughtered and torn to pieces during the night on that night's evening news.

David is sure he's gone mad as he is again visited by his deceased friend Jack, now accompanied by the people that David has killed. They all warn him of the full moon and that he must take his life before hand or many others will be murdered by his hands.

On the night of the full moon, David as he transforms into the wild beast and sets out to hunt. His new-found love and flat mate is worried sick about him as she now believes in his obsession with and fear of becoming a monster and hurting people. Desperate, she notifies the police who are now on the look out for him.

David

The ending of the movie is filmed in busy Piccadilly Square and it is INCREDIBLE! From car crashes to cops getting their heads bitten off by the large werewolf... well, it's pretty fucking awesome! Since the movie has been out for 34 years, yeah, I'm going to drop a spoiler!

Spoiler Alert

Music cues, and credits roll!

If, by chance, you have never seen this work of art, you need to... after I kick you in the throat! This film was — and, in my opinion, is STILL — ahead of its time! The work that Rick Baker alone did on this film has been tried by many others, and have all failed! The transformation scene is second to NONE!!

This is not my favorite horror film, but it is close. It is, however, one of my top choices even though it’s neither scary nor spooky, to watch during the 31 Days of Horror.

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments