It's become routine for filmmakers to turn to computers to warp their actors' faces into the unnatural. But there will always be a place for the magic of traditional makeup, as demonstrated in Syfy's new Face-Off reality show, which debuts Jan. 26 at 10/9 C with an episode tackling the theme of animal/human hybrids.
Before diving into the series, check out some of the best the traditional masters have to offer.
Doug Jones seems to be director Guillermo del Toro's dude-to-cover-in-latex of choice, and he exudes a gentle grace here as Hellboy's aquatic aide-de-camp.
Probably a little more disgusting than you'd think a fly-human genetic mishmash would be, but this is a David Cronenberg flick. And that's one Canadian who likes the ooze.
Planet of the Apes
There's not a whole lot that was successful about Tim Burton's remake of the classic Charlton Heston parable—which did win an honorary Oscar for makeup achievement—but the new monkeys were pretty grand.
THE SISTERS OF PLENITUDE
A group of "catkind" nuns who harvested thousands of human clones in an effort to wipe out every human disease. Why they couldn't do it simply by licking their patients, I'll never know.
The Island of Doctor Moreau
Oh, this film is a glorious, indulgent, wonderful mess. But the Stan Winston-designed beast hybrids are rather well done.
American Werewolf in London
This film is a flashpoint in modern special effects: Rick Baker's werewolf transformation scene showed you a man turning into a beast in long, excruciating, exceptionally well-lit shots. The days of hiding effects in shadows, hoping to disguise their flaws, had come to an end.
Beauty and the Beast
This romantic underground hero would begin Ron Perlman's long and distinguished career of playing hulking monsters with tender souls.
This character is the product of an improbably sexy blend of a whole host of genetic samples—and the name Dren is "nerd" spelled backward—and, while CG was used for some of the more actiony scenes, there was a good amount of latex used in making Dren more than just a monster.
Even though the makeup went a long way toward giving Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. an alien demeanor, he also spoke much of his dialogue—Russian spoken in reverse—through a mouthful of saliva. Neat!
Again, a horrible movie with some pretty convincing makeup work. Now, why kangaroo and human DNA got mixed together is probably a question better left unanswered.
It's hard to do convincing transformations on a weekly TV schedule—and budget. And makeup technology wasn't all that advanced in 1983, but Stan Winston did a pretty decent job. Of course, the lead only ever changed into a hawk or a panther (and, once, a snake), and they simply reused the same transformation footage. But still.