Face Off Dabbles In Mad Science
The designers are called 'crazy' for trying some of these makeup ideas. And that is correct.
Getting The Challenge
The laboratory has been decorated to look like a laboratory!
Okay, that could have been clearer. What I mean is that the studio where they ordinarily shoot the show has had a small area taken over by beakers of colorful liquid and Tesla coils and so forth. Because the challenge this week is for each team to do a mad scientist in the process of turning into a monster, and then a second creation that's the final stage of transformation. Emily is very excited by the display, which she describes as looking a lot like her own home decor aesthetic. It does look pretty cool, but we don't spend a lot of time on it.
George appears to take the lead on his and Cig's "Medical" experiment, and he suggests that their scientist has put a giant arm on himself, which then gets rejected by the body, goes too far, and takes over completely. Cig's into this, and quickly proposes that the scientist start out as an amputee. That doesn't really come up later, but I like that they're putting some thought into their character's motivations.
Emily and Tyler have "Electrical," which is nearly as vague an idea as Cig and George got. She wants to do a Silent Hill idea, which I don't understand. But the final version -- a "rusted-out, giant superhuman" -- does sound pretty cool.
Logan and Adam say up front that they want to do something hokey with a grindhouse feel. This is a risky move, but I'll say right now that they get pretty lucky with the guest judge. Some judges prefer realism, while others are more open to a certain strain of goofiness.
Sculpting Day 1
Everyone seems pretty excited to be back working on creature makeup, since the last two weeks were spent on cute dolls and regal queens. I appreciated the lack of complaining in the beauty makeup weeks, but I understand why they'd be psyched to get back to the big sculpts. I think that's what leads to ideas like Gage and Rachael trying to combine a person with a Venus Flytrap and sticking teeth and spikes all over the thing.
Rachael doesn't like Gage's sculpt that much. She thinks it's the dropped jaw, or maybe the nose. He thinks it looks okay, but allows her to poke at it a bit while he walks away. When he returns, it looks about the same to me, but she seems to feel slightly better about it. I like the system of having both designers work on an important element, because that way it ends up reflecting both of them. Although Rachael's still not 100% on this one.
Michael Westmore comes in for another whirlwind tour of excellent advice. I've been marking these "Skip" this season, but maybe it's worth checking in, just to see an expert at work. This segment still isn't getting much time, so it's a very quick-hit experience of him saying that these gouges will look good when they're airbrushed, while these injection points need to be highlighted a little more, this look should be pushed, that look should be pulled back, and so on. He does tell Rachael and Gage to pull back about ten steps, which I think is what Rachael wanted.
You know what I would like? There was a special episode one season where the judges did the work and got judged by old contestants. That was a lot of fun. I'd like to see another of those, but with Mr. Westmore also involved. I think he's probably mostly retired at this point, but he could come in and show the kids how it's really done, right?
Back To Work (And Day 2)
Adam is fabricating a giant, bubo-filled arm for the final transformation version. It's going to end up pretty cool, but I like how it looks when it's just a bucket and some foam.
I mean, I've seen giant monster arms before. Seeing it in the process of being made is still a fairly novel experience. George asks whether Adam thinks it's big enough, but I think he's secretly jealous that he's not working on the biggest, silliest thing in the room.
Meanwhile, Melissa is concerned that she and Keaghlan have something that might read as an alien, rather than an insect. She decides that antennae will help, but I'm pretty sure some aliens have those too. Like the Andorians from Star Trek. But Keaghlan is making a "bug suit" out of L-200 foam, and that will definitely help convey the insect concept. Bugs are already made out of flat plates, so it goes pretty well. It's also important to note that Keaghlan sings a little TMNT parody that goes "Bugs in a half shell. Cockroach power!" that I enjoy a lot. Okay, maybe "important" was the wrong word there.
Ben is delighted to be sculpting again. He's doing saggy skin that's supposed to indicate that the muscles underneath have atrophied. I like that there's a plan there, because sometimes people will just sculpt something because it looks cool, not because they know what it's supposed to convey.
There is, of course some Mold Drama. It falls on Cig and George this time, because they have a big sculpted torso, and the back half won't come out until they hit it with a hammer and chisel part of it out. Cig describes it as a "plaster disaster," which is a great phrase, but I think I'm already committed to the less interesting "Mold Drama."
I also feel obliged to mention that Evan and Logan are painting their thing with a "pus-y" color, meaning a color that is like pus. That's a tricky word to spell without setting up the wrong associations.
Cig and George are farthest behind, since everyone else is mostly done with painting as they got to Last Looks. They're worried that they went too big, but they're not actually the biggest look, so I don't think that's the problem. Everything else is pretty normal, although I notice they're using a lot more models' names than normal. So if you're keeping track, Hoyt and Jeffrey are Cig and George's mid-level and final versions, respectively. (I also would not mind a special episode that just introduced all the models, although I guess that's more likely to be a web thing.)
There's a guest judge this week. And it's John Landis! He's a great guest judge, because he's got impeccable credentials as the director of An American Werewolf In London and the video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller." He immediately jokes about seeing Ve Neill as a young kid running around Rick Baker's workshop, which is great. He's also a lot of fun, which is appropriate for the director of Animal House and ¡Three Amigos!. And he's also a huge fan of monster makeup in general, and I get the impression that he'd be happy just to hang out and not do any judging at all. If Mr. Westmore is ever busy, I'm sure John Landis would be willing to be a mentor for an episode. I'm full of ideas today!
Ben and Evan did a lot of work, but I kind of can't see it in their looks.
The prosthetics on the first just make his face kind of lumpy. And I can see the seams pretty clearly. I think I'd prefer not to have the prosthetics and just have better makeup there.
The final version is even lumpier. So the two looks do cohere, but not in a way that's...good?
Logan and Adam went straight for low-budget goofy monster makeup, huh?
That final monster reminds me of the Monster From Party Beach, which is a legendarily silly monster.
Neville looks baffled, but they did say that's what they were trying to do.
Keaghlan and Melissa have a mid-transition look that I like a lot more than the final version.
There are interesting things going on in the first one. The final version is okay, I guess, but it doesn't thrill me.
The antennae don't read at all from the front, which seems like a problem.
Emily and Tyler have two distinct looks that I think are farther apart than most of the other teams went with. But that means they have two characters to present instead of one with different makeup, so I think it works for them.
The transition model is twitching a lot, as you would expect from someone who's been experimenting with electricity.
I'm not 100% sure how his cool standing-up hair translates to the bald final guy, but I do like the skin on the final look.
Cig and George ended up with a very lumpy pair of looks.
I'm not crazy about their color scheme, because both of their looks feel unpainted to me. The pink doesn't quite look like skin to me. On the other hand, they definitely tell the story of the progressing monster-ism, so that's something.
Rachael and Gage did my least favorite job.
OI don't like those seams at all.
Or the teeth. Or the paint job. None of it, really. Sorry, guys.
Okay, I know I heaped praise on John Landis earlier. And I stand by it, because he's great. But he does have a flaw as a judge, because he loves this stuff too much. This isn't like with some guest judges where it feels like they just edit around any negative comments to make them look good. John heaps praise on everything. This is where Logan and Adam got lucky, because John Landis is the perfect person to recognize an homage to goofy B-movie makeup. He immediately calls it out as looking like an Irwin Allen Lost In Space monster, but done better. And since that's exactly what they were aiming at, good job.
Even when Landis doesn't like something, he's delighted by how inappropriately shiny it is or whatever. If there's one thing John Landis likes more than good monster makeup, it's bad monster makeup. When the other judges say something is "Halloween-y," they mean it as a negative, but there's a gleefulness in Landis's voice.
Emily/Tyler, Keaghlan/Melissa, Ben/Evan, and Logan/Adam are the top and bottom. So by the rules of reality show editing, we probably spent too much time on Cig and George, but they're too much fun to ignore.
Glenn does not like the insect look from Keaghlan and Melissa, because the color scheme is a huge problem for him. Apparently any time there's red, white, and blue close to each other he can only think of the US flag, and he doesn't care if there's an actual beetle with that coloration. Ve's problem is that the transitional look stands out a lot more than the final form.
Everybody loves Emily and Tyler's look without reservations, The looks have unity but also individuality. John likes how they can be shot in both close-up and wide shots, and the way he says it makes me suspect that he's had to deal with makeup that only worked one way or the other. In the private judging, John says, "That first guy never broke character, and he was doing a real Dwight Frye." That's who played Renfield in the Bela Lugosi Dracula and Dr. Frankenstein's hunchbacked assistant (named Fritz, not Igor) in the Boris Karloff Frankenstein, so he's basically the epitome of the cringing monster-movie minion. He's also the gunsel in The Maltese Falcon!
Evan and Ben's looks are worse every time I see them. That saggy skin I liked in principle is on the chest of their transitional model (the long-haired guy whose name turns out to be Aaron), but he's already got a great chest, so why bother? Glenn delivers the most Glenn critique in history: "The uninspired nebulous forms don't convey whatever it is you were trying to say."
By the process of elimination, Logan and Adam must also be in the top looks. John really likes it, but he really likes everything. And even for him, the giant monster claw might be a little too big. Neville likes how specific they were about hitting their tongue-in-cheek genre, and I think they might be in the top just as a reward for daring to be silly.
It comes as no surprise that Emily and Tyler are the winners, so they'll have immunity next week. There's no official loser, but Evan and Ben know it's them. Tighten up, guys.
The makeup isn't top-notch this week. I think everyone got used to having two days to do one look, so the extra look resulted in some corner-cutting. But John Landis is a great deal of fun, which counts for a lot.