14 wonderfully weird examples of alien makeup

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Marc Bernardin
Dec 14, 2012

Filmmakers have been relying on computers an awful lot lately to warp actors into aliens. But there'ill always be a place for the magic of traditional makeup, as demonstrated in Syfy's new Face-Off reality show, the next episode of which tackles the theme of extraterrestrial transformations.

Before tuning in to the series to see what the contestants come up with, check out some of the best that's come before.


Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi

Oh, sure, we could've gone with the Twi'lek dancers that also hung about Jabba's pleasure barge, but Bib's head stem thing is far more impressive.


Men in Black

Tony Shalhoub doesn't look super-alien in Barry Sonnefeld's sci-fi comedy, but Rick Baker's work makes him look just a little to the left of normal. Which is perfect for an alien trying to pass as human ... badly.


Star Trek: First Contact

Longtime Trek makeup supervisor Michael Westmore oversaw this attempt at combining the sultry and the skeevy. It's your call whether he succeeded.


Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine

Next to Spock, Michael Dorn's Klingon warrior is probably the most famous alien to come out of Star Trek: the gold standard of ridge-headed aliens.



As Ahnuld said, "You're one ugly motherf---er." Which was kind of this film's point: to pit the most robust symbols of mankind's strength—huge men and big guns—against something alien, terrible and frightening. And that's a pretty frightening visage.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

It's good for the Trek equivalent to post-holocaust Germans to have excellent bone structure.



When SETI downloads instructions for mating human and alien DNA, the result is Sil (Natasha Henstridge)—a super-hot, super-deadly creature who only wants to snog and kill. And the H.R. Giger-esque design armored her for both.


The Last Starfighter

On the other hand, the alien who eases young Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) into his role as the last starfighter, the lone pilot to defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada, needed to be somewhat cuddly. Even if he's scaly.


Alien Nation

Yes, this makeup consists of a bald cap with spots painted on it. But it's not the amount of makeup that counts, it's how effective that makeup is. And it made characters like Sam Francisco (Mandy Patinkin) feel both alien and not so different.


Enemy Mine

Louis Gossett Jr. worked himself to the bone playing Jeriba Shigan, the Drac who would befriend a human (Dennis Quaid). It can't have been easy on the Oscar winner, trying to emote through such an enveloping makeup design.


Babylon 5

The almost reptilian makeup might've helped make this Narn ambassador look the part of the villain, but it was actor Andreas Katsulas who gave him the heart of a being who would find his own path to redemption.



This imposing, hair-triggered, sorta cuddly Luxan warrior called for similarly imposing, sorta cuddly makeup.



How serious was this makeup? So serious that the actor, Brent Stait, was forced to resign his role as a series regular because he was allergic to the prosthetics.


Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi

It is, in point of fact, a trap.

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