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My top ten favorite film makeups

My Top Ten Favorite Film Makeups


This top ten was definitely coming to my blog as this is where it all started for me.  The whole reason I moved to Florida and went to makeup school was my dream of becoming a SPFX makeup artist.  All these films and the makeup artists that produced their work in them was complete inspiration for me to set goals for myself to lead me to today.

I may not be in the industry now, but the lessons I’ve learned and the skills I’ve acquired were a direct result of the passion for the craft.  I’ve tried to recreate some of the makeups here and plan to do a few more to satisfy the “itch” or craving to make it happen and help answer the inquiry…”How in the world did they do that?”

There’s definitely a re-occurring theme with the makeups I chose as they tend to be more on the gory or horror side, so I’ll fair warn you if you can’t stomach these kinds of images.  Vampires are also shown as a few examples as I love the mystery behind their myth.  So without any further delay, here we go with my top ten movie makeups:

#10 Sloth From Goonies

Chunk and Sloth from the 1985 classic Goonies

“Hey you guys!” This movie just missed the cut as a top ten film of mine, but here it is making it in the makeup’s list as number 10.  Sloth has my heart as a character and has my appreciation for his grotesque yet cool deformity.  This masterpiece from 1985 is from the work of special effects wizard Craig Reardon.  Foam latex ruled the 80’s in SPFX makeup and this was no exception.  Several piece latex head appliance with blinking droopy eye and wiggling ears that were radio controlled (servo motors).

#9 Skinless Julia From Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Skinless Julia from Hellbound: Hellraiser II

They say the most complex and most beautiful form is the human body (inside and out) and I definitely agree.  I loved this makeup and look so much I tried to do my own version for my final project in the makeup school I attended in Florida.  The shock value is quickly masked by the incredible attention to detail and the believability of how it looks to see the flesh without skin.  There are plenty of references in anatomy books how it looks, but with lifeless, colorless cadaver photos.  To see it alive and vibrant is stunning to say the least.  There was a large makeup crew for this film, but the credit is under the guise of Bob Keen and Image Animation who is also responsible for just about any film by Clive Barker.

#8 Legend (1985)

Legend favorite makeups: Darkness, Meg and Princess Lili Black wedding dress

I may have been able to make this top ten list longer since I couldn’t quite settle on just one makeup from this film…so I lumped three into one.  I absolutely love this movie because the visuals are better than anything I can imagine, which still holds up to todays standards of computer enhancement.  No computer help here, just raw foam latex, paint and powder.  Rob Bottin and his crew are credited for all the incredible makeup effects.  I knew there was something about this film that proved to me it’s worthiness as an elite choice and that is that it is a Ridley Scott film as I’ve already credited him twice in my top ten favorite films (Blade Runner, and The Gladiator).

#7 Interview With The Vampire

Vampire makeup from Interview With The Vampire

Okay, so I did it again…a collage of makeups from the same movie.  It just makes sense when the makeup artist (Stan Winston) shows a noteworthy design performance throughout.  The subtle undead pale, veiny vampire look is wonderful here.  Costume design also played a role with the success of the look, but this will be addressed in another top ten on favorite costumes.

 #6 Se7en 1995 (Sloth)

Sloth from 1995’s Seven

Rob Bottin strikes again for me on this list of favorite makeups.  The intense studying and imagination to bring this makeup to life is incredible.  I saw this film on the big screen and when the cadaver comes to life all the sudden and takes a last gasp and struggle to stay alive seared that moment in my psyche to this day.  This could pass as a perfect zombie makeup as well.  Once again I choose what a human form could be like at any given stage of life.  Just the most perfect engineered machine in all the universe (in my opinion).  This makeup was created just as silicone appliances were  making it’s way into the effects scene, leaving foam latex to be used less in the higher budget tier of film making.  Silicone has an amazing translucent quality that allows for flesh painting to look more believable as skin tones aren’t opaque in real life.

#5 American Werewolf in London (Transformation Scene) 1981

American actor David Naughton on the set of An American Werewolf in London, written and directed by John Landis. (Photo by Universal Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

Innovation can always play a roll in catapulting a film or idea to the forefront and the transformation scene from man to werewolf done by Rick Baker put him and the film in the spotlight as something like this has never been done before.  It still is considered an incredible effect and is studied by film makers and aspiring makeup f/x artists today.  Such a fun movie with humor, a love story and tragedy that sells the makeup or is it the makeup that sells the film.

#4 Dracula’s Brides From Francis Ford Coppola’s Film Bram Stoker’s Dracula 1992

Brides of Dracula from Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula 1992

I made another attempt during makeup school to try and recreate an image that I loved inspired by this look.  Beauty and hypnotizing seduction comes across wonderfully in these makeups with another costume enhancing factor to bring these characters to life (or undead).  This film won an Oscar for best makeup in 1992 and receiving the award was Greg Cannom, Michèle Burke, and Matthew W. Mungle.

#3 Return of the Living Dead III, Julie Walker as a Zombie

The character Julie Walker as a zombie in Return of the Living Dead III

A tragic love story and cool concept as Julie is brought back to life by her boyfriend as she becomes a zombie and struggles to not eat him.  The way she attempts to curb her hunger is to constantly cut, stab, poke and maim herself to make the cravings go away through pain.  An incredible study with wound type makeup; and again this is a makeup I tried to recreate.  I actually found a girl who looked like her that agreed to be my subject…Thanks Jen!  Steve Johnson is the makeup guru for this film.

#2 The Bride from Bride of Re-Animator (1989)

1989 Bride of Re-Animator

This makeup has some of everything that I listed above to make it a favorite from lifelike anatomy, undead beauty makeup, costuming and prop enhancement and a story or idea that makes it a terrific concept.  Splicing body parts and organs together to make a complete whole person is not a new concept as in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, but a cool idea that makes for great cinematic entertainment.  The masters of KNB Effects were responsible for this epic makeup job.

#1 Borg Queen from Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Borg Queen from Star Trek: First Contact 1996

Surprise!  Nothing like from above as a favorite, but just an all out absolutely gorgeous makeup.  Imagination runs wild as you’re invited as a spectator and fan of the Trek series to try and understand how the Borg Queen is the way she is and not like the other Borgs that assimilate their subjects.  When her upper quarter of her body with spine comes down and attaches to the torso, I was hooked.  I’ve been staring at this makeup for years and just marveling at the paint job and clamp placement and effects.  Michael and Monty Westmore known for the Star Trek Franchise and James MacKinnon and a host of others were the Makeup artists associated with this film.

My Makeup Tests From Favorite Film Makeups

Thanks for checking out another one of my “top ten” favorite lists.  I definitely showed my age as the films I’ve chosen my favorite makeups are probably considered classics now, HA!  Let me know what you think and comment below on some of your favorites.

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