All posts for the month March, 2013

Face Off: Season 4 Finale!!! So Dreamy..

Published March 27, 2013 by vfdpixie

Wow!!  What a whirlwind of an episode!!  My head is still spinning from all that went on for the Face Off Season 4 finale “Living the Dream“!  The guys were all mentally and physically exhausted, so a sweet surprise was in order.  They all got to have a Skype chat with loved ones.  Tears and words of encouragement fueled the guys and gave them the motivation to get to the finish line.

Their final spotlight challenge was pretty amazing.  They had to create 2 characters for the Las Vegas show La Reve-The Dream at the Wynn Resort.  The stage for this one of a kind show was a 1 million gallon tank, where over 90 acrobats, artists and olympic athletes performed daring feats in and out of the water.  Artistic Director for the show, James Santos introduced the characters:  a dream thief who is an adrenaline junkie looking for danger and the quarry of their victim.  The thief and victim makeups had to be, of course, completely waterproof, and since they existed in the subconscious, the gang was presented with dream themes.  Anthony chose sinister, Wayne picked supernatural, and Kris took on ethereal.  They were also presented with assistants:  their former competitors!  Wayne’s team included Eric F. and Meagan; Kris worked with House and Alam, and Anthony picked Eric Z. and Autumn.  After the selection, they got to work with energy and team spirit.  Kris loved his team, but hated the challenge as he worried his idea might not be enough.  Anthony seemed to have a few hiccups as Autumn’s mold got locked, and his face appliance had to be re-sculpted due to bubbling.  Wayne was concerned with- you guessed it- time.  Michael Westmore came in for his last mentor visit.  It was really nice to see how much the gang was going to miss him.  They all appreciated beyond words his guidance and they basically wanted to take him with them when they left, especially Wayne, who was sorry that Westmore would not longer warn him about time management.  Love it!  I also loved how some team members became guinea pigs with paint and hair pieces.  They definitely got marks for team work.

And then they were in Las Vegas.  Ah, Vegas!  Where you can walk down the street with a giant bottle of beer at 10 a.m.  Where I celebrated a birthday that ended in a zero in maximum overdrive!  I miss you, Frankie’s Tiki Room!  Ahem, but I digress…so the guys checked in to the Wynn Resort and took in their lavish surroundings.  Popping some bubbly, the boys toasted to a good competition and geared up for the final day.

Last 4 hours and last looks were pretty hairy.  Everyone was worried about the staying power of the makeups in water, and diligently sealed their appliances.  And Wayne?  Seriously???  He was so short on time, again.  Once out in the theatre, the tension mounted.  McKenzie Westmore looked glamorous for the final show, and presented the makeups and the performance.  And what a performance it was!  Total disclosure here:  there are 2 things this pixie does not like:  heights and (cess) pools.  This show had both, but these performers were so talented, I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.  And the makeups looked incredible!  I especially liked Kris’s silver dream thief.  After, the contestants were proud and pumped, and the judges thought the makeups looked just as good in and out of the water.  Glenn thought it was the coolest thing he had ever seen.

Kris created his ethereal “water celestial” duo with beautiful colour, sculpting and originality.  The judges loved the paint on the male character because it worked with the lighting, and all the detail in the sculpting.  They did find the female a bit disconnected because of her bright colouring but the sculpting was very clean.  They were “delighted” that he went out of the box.

Anthony used sinister for his characters, and they definitely were.  His idea came from a thief who wanted the soul of a princess because his own had been ripped from him.  Neville loved the profile of the female character and thought it was perfect.  The male character had a gargoyle-like appearance and the paint job was admired as well.  Glenn thought the female was beautiful in an alien way, especially since she had no hair.  You could immediately tell there was harmony with the characters, as they looked similar, but it looked natural.  The judges loved that Anthony took their guidance as the competition went on.

Wayne got praised for his sculpting with the supernatural duo.  He had created a demon who wanted the new wings of an angel.  He had great detail and they felt it was a great team of characters.  The male had unique horns that blended back into the base of the skull, and the back sculpture on the angel was also unique.  They thought it was truly unique design and they were clearly from the same world.

The judges had a hard time choosing a winner.  Glenn mentioned how blown away he was because they all created something the judges had never seen before which is extremely difficult.  In the end, Anthony ruled supreme!  He was the proud winner of a Fiat 500, $100,000, and a spot as a guest lecturer for Makeup Forever in NYC and Paris.  I thought his characters were truly sinister, beautiful, and very clean-looking.  He definitely earned the prize as a fairly consistent artist with beautiful designs, and was humbly grateful.  He was also honoured to be among his peers.  Good job, Anthony!  The best man won!

I enjoyed this season, and all the competitors were worthy of making it to the finale.  I’m glad we got to see some of the other artists come back, and I wish every one of them great success and satisfaction in the future!   I think Face Off is a brilliant show, and I’ve watched it from the start.  I love, love, love Ve Neill, Neville Page and Glenn Hetrick as judges.  They are truly forerunners of the industry.  I’m so glad there is a show like this on t.v to spotlight how a SFX makeup artist creates their vision.    Hats off to another successful season!

Book Review: The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper

Published March 26, 2013 by vfdpixie

The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper
Simon & Schuster, March 2013


When I was in university, I despised every minute of it.  I could count the professors with a touch of humanity on one hand.  Most of them walked around campus like pompous zombies; tenure wrapped around their jowls like a comforting scarf.  I remember studying John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and I was somewhat interested, but the drone of the zombie profs made me want to scratch my eyes out.  Thankfully, Mr. Pyper has renewed my interest in that centuries old poem with his new novel The Demonologist.  It gets new life as the core to this story, acting as a guide to a horrific journey for one man and his daughter.

David Ullman is a professor of English, with a specialty in mythology, religion and Milton’s Paradise Lost.  He is also an expert on demons, but is a self-proclaimed “atheist biblical scholar”.  He seems lost in life and lacks faith in most things.  His marriage is ending, he has a sympathetic best friend Elaine who worries about his mental state, and he is tethered only by his daughter, Tess.  She is the one person that understands his distant, blocked state, and their bond is unquestionable.  One afternoon, he is approached by a mysterious woman who offers him a consulting job.  No real details, just an all expenses paid trip to Venice, a large advance and an address where he is to observe a “phenomenon”.  Ullman decides at the last-minute to take the offer and heads off with Tess to the ancient city, attempting to distract the both of them from an almost certain divorce.  There, he is witness to a harrowing experience of demonic possession, and the unfortunate loss of his daughter to a bizarre, seemingly suicidal end.  He is haunted by the knowledge that he must find his daughter whom he believes to be still alive, and to do so must piece together a puzzle with the help of Milton’s epic poem and a wily, arrogant demon.   And so begins Ullman’s journey where he is forced to deal with personal, literal, and literate demons.

This was the first book in a long time that I read cover to cover in one sitting. It was also the first book I’ve read by this author.  For me, it combined all the elements of a good story:  a road trip (albeit it from Hell), soul-searching (literally), and chasing the devil. Pyper writes with a sophistication that is veiled in simplicity. He created images that were immediate, intense and eerie. I thought the use of Paradise Lost as a moral and literal road map was genius, and it also helped me understand the poem and make it relevant again.  The reviews of this book claimed that the story would scare you silly, but I found that melancholy resonated more for me than fear.  I got David’s displacement from the real world; how he buried family tragedy for decades and the only way he was able to deal with it was through a literal fight or flight deal.  I also loved the relationship between David and his best friend Elaine.  They were a constant comfort to each other, and they revealed a love that would go light years beyond the physical.  David’s character had a likeability and an endearing tenacity once he was backed into the proverbial corner that gave the age-old good versus evil an interesting spin.  It was more like flatline versus evil, and once the devil lit a fire under him, so to speak, we finally got a pulse.  Tough way to realize you’re alive, but hey, whatever it takes!

Andrew Pyper also gets a nod from me because he is a Canuck.  More accurately, he lives in my home town Toronto.  And there are reports that The Demonologist will be adapted for the big screen in the future.  I am curious how the movie will translate, but I don’t think it will be difficult, since I found the book to be quite vivid.  Pyper brings us a great, creepy story that infuses life into the horror novel genre, and hopefully the movie theatres soon.  Read it!

Face Off: Season 4 Episode 10: Alien Love Children

Published March 20, 2013 by vfdpixie

Well here we are.  The episode before the finale, and the pressure on!  Anthony thought he was going home last elimination, and Kris knows they all have to bring their A game.  Who knew the “A” would stand for alien?

I was really excited about this episode, “Alien Apocalypse“, and challenge for slightly selfish reasons.  The guys had to choose 2 mutant species and create a hybrid offspring. The aliens they chose from were Liberata, Volge, Sensoth, BioMan, Mutant and 99er. These species come from the new show and game Defiance, filmed right here in my hometown, Toronto!!!  The show takes place 35 years in the future, after years of war between aliens and humans. Seven races of aliens must live side by side with humans in the frontier town of Defiance.  Kevin Murphy, the executive producer and co-creator of the show, came to reveal a surprise to them.  After they made their choices, the guys were sent to Toronto to visit the set of the show!  All except Eric F. came to my fair city, as he had to deal with a family issue.  They got to meet one of the characters from the show, watch as Alan Cooke, the key prosthetics artist apply a makeup, and be on set as a scene was being shot.  I love my city, and I really hope the guys enjoyed their visit here.  Toronto is home to many talented make-up artists (some of them my friends) and many film and t.v. productions.  I’m sure the finalists will find themselves back in Toronto in the future!

Anthony picked a Liberata and Mutant to create a grotesque creature with mainly a Liberata structure.  Kris combined a BioMan and Mutant to design something with the eyes and teeth of mutant to show how the hybrid spoiled the BioMan’s gene.  Wayne went for a Liberata and a BioMan to give us a creature with a BioMan base and the nose of a Liberata.  Finally, Eric F. ended up with a 99er and a Sensoth.  It was not his first pick, and even though he was confounded and bummed out about his two species, he managed to come up with as he called it, “Harry and the Hendersons meets Robocop”.  Priceless! By the time day 1 ended, Eric started to like his design as it came together. The theme of their work ethic was pretty much the same:  go for broke with their designs as the goal was clear:  they could all use the prize money!

All the guys were plagued with time constraints, clay stuck in their molds, and all but Anthony were reluctant guests to what Eric called “the polyfoam party”.  None of the contestants wanted to go that route as this material restricted movement and they just didn’t like how it worked.  Unfortunately due to lack of time, polyfoam was their only choice.  Kris’s appliance also ripped terribly, so he had to scramble to repair it as best he could. And Wayne, Wayne, Wayne!!! Once again, he was stuck doing an entire paint job during last looks, in fact, he expected to go home, with a defeated “Oh well…” when their time was up in last looks.

At the elimination, the guest judge was Michael Nankin, supervising producer of Defiance, as well as C.S.I., Caprica and Battlestar Galactica.  Wayne got nailed for his paint job (again) with Glenn commenting that it looked like it was applied with a baseball bat.  They thought the paint made the design look mediocre, but Glenn thought the lips, nose, skull and shoulders were good, and Ve liked the back and found it cohesive.  Michael Nankin liked the bulge on the head.  Anthony’s Liberata/Mutant hybrid got high marks for best morphing of characters, best paint job and was the most complete look.  Michael also said it would work for the show.  Kris got props for the cool vibe and scary, off-putting  look  from Neville and Michael, Ve thought it was a bitchin’ character but wanted more attention to the paint job.  Glenn thought it was anatomically atrocious, and Michael thought the design should have been elevated above a generic mutant.  Eric F.’s creation was to Michael disturbing in the right way, but felt the hybrid of species was not blended enough.  Glenn liked that the character told a story and said Eric made big strives as an artist.  Neville thought it was great and there were elements of sophistication in his work.

Anthony was the winner!  The judges thought he did a great job of creating a hybrid and the makeup had character in the face.  There was a bonus prize too!  Anthony gets a chance to shadow the makeup fx team on the set of Defiance!  How cool is that?!   The next finalist was Kris.  Although they were conflicted about his last makeup, the judges felt the essence of the character came through and he had been a strong competitor all season.  Lastly, Wayne made it to the finale.  They felt his sculpting was the best part of his work, and so it gained him a spot.

I am so sad to see Eric F. go!!  The judges said they saw him evolve on the show and look forward to seeing his work in the future.  I think he is a talented, funny, charismatic dude who will definitely go far.  I also hope he knows that he didn’t let his family down at all and I am positive they are proud of him.  I am proud of him, for the love of Pete!  He showed so much enthusiasm and you could see how much he loves what he does.  And Eric, don’t worry about not winning, because the exposure on the show is money dude!

I will turn off all my phones, close the doors, and shutter the windows to prepare for the finale of Face Off.  I think it’s going to be a nail biter for sure!!

Something to Watch…

Published March 17, 2013 by vfdpixie

In Their Skin (2012, 1hr 40 mins.)                                  

This pixie is quite frankly, getting annoyed.  I don’t know if I have super high standards or super weird standards as my previous posts will reveal, but the last few horror flicks I’ve watched were good, but I wasn’t blown away.  A few days ago, I checked out In Their Skin, a home invasion, identity theft thriller that got touted as a horror and was part of last year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival.   Selma Blair and Joshua Close play Mary and Mark, a tension wrought couple taking their son Brendon (Quinn Lord) on a trip to their large, luxury cottage.  They have recently suffered the loss of their daughter, and are haunted by that and their crumbling marriage.  Early one morning, Mark hears someone in his yard and discovers Bobby and Jane Sakowski, and their son Jared, bringing them some firewood, and inviting themselves over for lunch.  They seem strange, and Mark is not quite sure about them, but he falls for their desperate to please act, and welcomes them into his home.  The lunch gets weirder and weirder, and Mark finally has to kick them out, which brings out incredible malice, brutality, and the real reason the “Sakowskis” have come to um, play.  I have to say, I was annoyed from very early on.  First of all, I am suspicious of people lurking around my place early in the morning.  They were clearly casing the joint, and perhaps a call to the authorities was in order.  Secondly, and I’m generalizing here, but the first thing that came to my mind was “Rich people can be really dumb”.  Maybe Mark felt bad for being wealthy and wanted to do good for someone, but these people were clearly not right.  Just not right.  Working with the public for over 25 years has given this pixie pretty good Spidey senses, in fact I can smell a wild card a mile away.  Anyway, having said that, all the performances were really great, especially James D’Arcy’s portrayal of the maniacal and creepy Bobby.  A nod goes to Alex Ferris who played Bobby’s rather large 9-year-old “son”.  The vacant look in his eye coupled with a slack-jawed smile really gives you chills.  The dining room scene was also pretty amazingly shot with its precise mirror image placement of the characters.

Citadel (2012, 1 hr 24 mins.)

I also caught Citadel, a bleak Irish horror ( and another T.A.D.F.F entry from last year) about an almost abandoned housing project, or council estate, that is being terrorized by hooded youth ghoulies.  When I first saw this trailer a few months ago, I thought it might be a rip off of Heartless (T.A.D.F.F 2010), an original psycho-thriller/horror starring Jim Sturgess where he is attacked and haunted by hooded demons and must deal with his fears and mental state.  Heartless is one of my favourite films, so I was glad to find that I was wrong.  Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) and Joanne (Amy Shiels) are moving out of their condemned apartment building to a nearby townhouse.  Expecting their first child, they are young and hopeful (or about as hopeful as you can be living in one of these neighbourhoods).  Unfortunately, Joanne gets attacked by three hooded youths and by the time Tommy can get to her, she is badly beaten with a syringe stuck in her pregnant belly.  She is rushed to the hospital where the baby is saved, but Joanne stays in a coma for 9 months.  As a result of the trauma, Tommy has become agoraphobic, and has trouble dealing with the outside world.  He must conquer his anxiety to take care of and protect his daughter, deal with his wife’s fate, and stand up to the attackers who turn out to be some weird human/demonic thingys.  A near mad priest (James Cosmo) is his reluctant guide to the underworld of the council estate, and a large piece to a terrible puzzle.  Aneurin Barnard gave a pretty great performance as the trembling, shattered Tommy, with saucer-like eyes and slight shaky build.  I had, however, a huge problem with the hooded ghoulies.  It looked like they were a uniformed, zombie-like soccer team.  So they all had  hoodies?  Someone kept the supply of hoodies going for the new recruits?  Really?  Yes, I know they were supposed to make a social commentary of the lost youth in the council estates, but I feel like they would have been more convincing in torn, tattered clothes instead of those hoodies.  I’m sure they were working with a tight budget, and I give them credit for that and the film they produced, but it didn’t quite work for me.

They were something to watch as I wait for some more goodies to come from so I can get jazzed about a movie again.   Stay tuned for something ridiculous to come your way soon…

Most Memorable Line:  In Their Skin:  Jane, with her cracking, weirdo grin says to Mary, “Bobby and I just want to know what it is you all do to be like this…we want this.”  AAAAAAAH!!  RUN!!  RUN!!

Most Memorable Line:  Citadel:  The Priest sets Tommy straight when he sees Tommy make the sign of the cross before their battle with the ghoulies and says, “Only got yourself to believe in Tommy…that way we got a fuckin’ hope”.  This.  From a priest.  Not your best representative for the church.  Just sayin’…

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