On Halloween, you’re sure to see all sorts of monsters. Some monsters are living legends, such as Dracula. Others are monstrous animals, like werewolves. Still others are manufactured in dark, dank dungeons.
Making monsters might seem like simply the stuff of movies. In fact, it is, but it’s also so much more than that. Many people make an entire career out of making monsters. We call them makeup artists!
If you’ve ever seen a scary movie, you’ve probably seen the work of makeup artists. Of course, many modern movies rely heavily on computers to create their special effects. We call these effects computer-generated images or CGI.
Some moviemakers, though, prefer to use real people in their movies as much as possible. If you want an alien, for example, and you don’t want to use CGI, then you’ll need a very talented makeup artist.
Makeup artists have a long and storied history in Hollywood. Boris Karloff played the monster in the 1931 film version of Frankenstein. Long before computers, makeup artists turned Karloff into one of the most famous movie monsters of all time.
It wasn’t easy, though! Before shooting could begin each day, it took makeup artists almost four hours to turn Karloff into a monster. After shooting was done for the day, it took another three hours to remove all the makeup!
Making movie monsters by hand using makeup and other special devices can be time-consuming. Besides makeup, artists use all sorts of other items, including false teeth, fake blood and plastic appendages called “appliances.”
Many actors don’t mind spending hours getting made up, because they believe it helps them play their roles more convincingly. Actor James Hong played a character named Lo-Pan in the movie Big Trouble in Little China. His old-age makeup took a whopping eight hours to apply and consisted of a dozen overlapping layers of makeup and appliances!
Today, Hollywood’s top makeup artists are in high demand, just like the best actors and directors. Those who perfect their craft can have a long and successful career making monsters for your favorite movies.