All posts for the month September, 2014

Face Off Season 7 Episode 9: Creepy Clowns!

Published September 24, 2014 by vfdpixie

The artists got a rude awakening this week.  In the middle of the night, a creepy, cackling voice woke them up and told them to head to the lab, where they were engulfed in darkness.  As they stumbled around in the dark, a screen came to life, revealing McKenzie’s evil twin.  She gave them their next Spotlight Challenge.  They had all done a survey asking what their childhood fears were.  Using the icon of a fun-loving clown, and in the same vein as films like It, Poltergeist, and Saw, they were to use their childhood fears as inspiration to create a creepy clown character.  And to make it more interesting, their makeups were going on professional clowns who were going to do a performance in their looks!  They were left in the dark to create their designs.  This challenge had a lot of potential for great creepy makeups!

Cig’s childhood fear was dark water. He had dreams of being pulled down into murky water by creepy skeletal creatures, in fact, he realized that all his designs on the show came from his childhood nightmares!  His concept was a skeletal clown that had drippy, waterlogged makeup.  Mr. Westmore advised him to test out his drippy makeup effect before applying it to avoid any mishaps and he did with successful results.  On application day, Cig had to stuff the head so that his performer could move without the head bobbing.  He had one chance to perfect the runny makeup look, and he succeeded!  His clown was super creepy and had a great seltzer prop to boot.  The judges thought the shapes were amazing, and Lois loved the drippy effect.  Neville thought it was horrific (in a good way), and Glenn loved the painting on the back of the clown’s head.  He said he would love to see that come out of his shop.  Cig was in the top looks.

Damien had a fear of spiders.  He designed Webbles the Clown that ate spiders and because they laid eggs in him, was being eaten alive.  He was in the mold room first, and worried his clown was too simple.  He needed to create little spiders to place all over the makeup, and was frustrated because nothing was working.  He ended up using wires, duct tape and black spray paint to get his creepy spiders.  He also had trouble with the mouth appliance sticking on his performer, so there was a bit of panic there.  The end result was a creepy looking clown, but the judges thought it was too joker-like and fairly commonplace.  They did not like the glued on spiders and thought it looked like a Halloween costume.  Neville like the definition in the paint, but couldn’t get past the Joker look.  He was in bottom looks.

Dina was afraid of tornadoes.  Her first concept was a clown with a tornado incorporated into his hair and face.  After Mr. Westmore told her the idea was as stretch, she revamped her clown so that he got caught in a tornado during a birthday party and had party favours imbedded into his face and body.  She used Kryolan Artex, a silicone product, to create musculature in the clown’s head.  Her clown had a windblown look and was gruesome and fun at the same time.  The judges said it was beautifully executed and she did a great job juxtaposing fantasy and reality.  Because it was so well painted and sculpted, they were starting to see a new tier of her talent.  She was in top looks.

Drew was also afraid of spiders.  His idea involved a weird pointy spider nose and spider eyes across his forehead.  Mr. Westmore told him to be careful with his paint job.  His large spider butt head had to be modified because he was thinking of his performer and their ability to move in the makeup.  In the end, he felt he didn’t add all the spider details that he wanted.  His spider nose thingy looked weird.  The judges felt the eyes should have been placed higher on the head and the incomplete nose confused Glenn.  He was in the bottoms looks with his busy design.

Sasha was afraid of old dolls, because of her grandmother’s collection.  She wanted a creepy porcelain doll with cracks, and was worried that she wasn’t a clown, but went with her gut.  Mr. Westmore told her to make sure the doll looked aged and not too white for a creepy effect.  She used pictures of cracks from the sidewalk as a reference, and recreated the hair plug look on the doll’s head to mimic an old doll.  The end result was a really pretty but creepy doll.  The judges loved the hair plug look, and Lois adored the cracks and highlights on the nose and lips.  The silhouette was strong, and they thought the fact that she went a different path was admirable.  She was in the top looks.

George was afraid of worms.  As he sculpted, he realized his wormy clown looked like a pile of poop, so he had to rework his design.  He came up with a wormy serial killer clown, and while he wore denim short shorts ( to the dismay of other artists), worked out his clown.  He used thread to create a segmented worm-like arms, and silicone to make a mess-free sheen.  He had to re-work his paint however, when he noticed the arms and face were not the same colour.  The face which was supposed to look like it was teaming with worms looked like a brain.  The judges liked the arms and noticed a slight variation with the paint colours, but he was safe this time.

Rachael was afraid of cockroaches as a child.  She created roach antennae and mandibles for her clown.  She was afraid it wasn’t clown enough at last looks.  Her finished clown was ok, but the judges didn’t think it came together.  Lucky for her she was safe.

Stella was afraid of monsters under the bed.  She wanted to create a clown that consisted of things you find under the bed, using a ball for his chin and bed sheets for his large clown pants.  She needed to cast a set of arms, so she used a mold of George’s arms, who was happy to oblige.  The outcome was a creepy clown with hands emerging from his clown hair.  I thought it was really creative, and while the judges liked elements of the design, like his sculpted lashes, they thought that some things didn’t make sense with the makeup.  Stella was safe despite this critique.

The professional clowns did a great performance in the makeup, flipping, turning and balancing on a giant ball, and all the artists were glad that nothing fell off.  The winner of this challenge was Sasha!  They loved that she took a big risk that delivered an outstanding makeup.  Glenn said this reminded them of why they saved her.  The person going home was Damien.  They expected more from him at this point of the competition, and wanted a more out of the box approach.  They judges hoped he left feeling encouraged because they really did like his work.  I was sad to see him go because I think he has great potential, but people have to be eliminated so we can get to the finale!




Face Off Season 7 Episode 8: Snakey Soldiers!

Published September 18, 2014 by vfdpixie

This week, the artists met on the Battleship Iowa which served World War 2 and the Korean War before being retired in 1990.  It now serves as a museum in San Pedro, California and was a fitting backdrop for their next Spotlight Challenge which was to create a G.I. Joe super soldier in honour of the iconic toy’s 50th anniversary.  McKenzie had several crates that hid different species of snakes, and in the tradition of characters like Snake Eyes and Cobra Commander, the artists had to chose one type of snake to inspire their soldier.  There was an extra prize for this challenge:  A collection of special edition G.I. Joe toys!

George chose the Green Anaconda.  His concept was a soldier called Nick Strangle due to the anaconda’s muscular body, code name “Manaconda”.  George fabricated a muscle suit that looked great, and he was happy with it.  The end result was a blocky looking dark green snake man soldier.  It actually looked like an action figure.  The judges liked the asymmetrical head, and he ended up safe.

Rachael got the Green Tree Python.  Her soldier worked for Cobra Commander and since the snake had heat seeking organs, she incorporated those down the character’s face.  Mr. Westmore liked this feature and told her to continue them further down the side of the soldier.  She ended up losing time and rushed finishing the cowl which she didn’t like.  As a result, she focused on the paint job.  She hated her design, and on the reveal stage, she cringed.  The judges thought it lacked a sense of form and didn’t feel like a snake, with Neville calling the head baboon-like.  The scales they called random and the paint looked blocky and lacked transition.  They felt it was rushed.  she was in the bottom looks.

Cig created a female soldier called Lashes based on the Christmas Tree Eyelash Viper, but he was left with a male model cast, so he had to change his concept.  Mr. Westmore liked his sculpt and instructed him on how the eyes should appear.  Cig was on the fence with the outcome of the eyes, and debated whether to keep them, but the finished makeup was really great.  It was colourful and fun and really looked like a toy.  The judges like the symmetry, with Glenn wanting to buy 2 of the figures, one to play with and one to keep in the box!  Lois loved the snake head epaulettes, and Neville felt the forms around the face was beautiful.  He was in top looks.

Stella picked the Namibian Coral Cobra.  She designed a motorcycle chick with body armour.  She had a major issue when her model ended up getting very sick, so they had to replace her.  Stella had already created her face prosthetic for the sick model, so she had to carry on and hope for the best.  She had to modify the face so that it fit the smaller face of her substitute model, and scrapped the helmet she had molded, chosing to style the model’s hair instead.  Her makeup was really good and the judges liked the small shapes and scales.  She was safe.

Damien went for the Gabo0n Viper and decided on an assassin character that was a snake/human hybrid.  He was one of the few that created fangs for the soldier.  It was an interesting looking makeup and the judges liked the fangs and the neck area.  He was safe this time around.

Kaeghlan got the Albino Reticulated Python.  She came up with a femme fatale character but was nervous because she was not familiar with the G. I. Joe world.  Mr. Westmore advised her to bring more snake-like features to her design and perhaps change the eyes.  She was so worried that she hoped for some inspiration from her dreams.  She decided to use a wig instead of making a cowl, and added white to the weird reddish tinted wig.  She was concerned the makeup was missing something.  The end result looked like an old aged makeup instead of a snake.  The judges thought the colour was too matte and looked dead.  The snake forms were diluted and looked more feline, and the colours needed more contrast, and to Lois, looked “mimsy”.  She was in the bottom looks.

Sasha worked on a Hognosed Snake soldier.  She created a ninja that attacked from the holes he burrowed.  She also had trouble with her design, especially with the nose.  Mr. Westmore gave her some guidance, but she struggled, getting input from the other artists.  Her scales looked a lot like her owl makeup, and her cowl didn’t line up with her face.  It was o.k.  The judges liked the colours, but could see the owl makeup as Sasha feared.  They also thought the shape of the head was too simple and round.  She was in the bottom looks, and was terrified that the judges wasted the immunity on her.

Drew chose the Tiger Rat Snake.  His idea went against the grain as he created a body modified human instead of a human hybrid.  His prosthetics were more subtle, and Mr. Westmore told him to focus on the paint  because of his smaller sculpts.  He made really cool claws that looked like steel, and used a paint spatter technique as well as tattoos for his character.  His was different from everyone else’s.  The judges noticed and loved the risks he took.  They thought the colour was spectacular, and felt the idea was brilliant and would look great as a toy and on film.  He was in top looks.

Diana picked the Brazilian Rainbow Boa.  She designed a super sexy soldier and used a cut popsicle stick to create scales.  She did well with time and seemed confident with her design.  She used an iridescent sheen overtop her paint job and it looked really great.  It was a really pretty makeup with a great profile.  The judges liked the precision of the scales, and thought it was “incredible”.  She made “perfect choices” and had phenomenal equilibrium and balanced forms.  They thought this character had great balance between a toy and something for on-screen as well.  She was also in top looks.

The winner was Dina!  The judges loved the nuanced forms and incredible details.  She also got the special edition toy collection for her boyfriend.  The person that went home was Kaeghlan.  They thought her colours were awful and the concept looked too feline and not snake-like.  They told her to use this experience as a platform to improve.  Very glad Dina won!  Not only because I know she can make cakes and I like cake.  Can’t wait to see what she creates next!

Longing and Only Lovers Left Alive

Published September 14, 2014 by vfdpixie

only lovers

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013, 2 hrs 3 mins)

As a Torontonian to the end, I will go on the record when I state that I have a love-hate relationship with TIFF, aka The Toronto International Film Festival.  I loved it when it was a smaller affair, attracting eccentric movie buffs that had interesting opinions on interesting films. While I think the attention my fair city gets these days is great, I do take issue with all the star chasing, gala hopping hoopla that is now covered by Instyle and Vanity Fair, but it seems it is here to stay.  As a result, I rarely go to any movies at the festival.  I can’t take the posturing from rabid fans and wannabe industry hangers-on, the line-ups or the general nonsense that is part and parcel with TIFF, rather waiting to watch most of the buzz-worthy titles in the comfort of my own home.  The one film I wanted to venture out to see during last year’s festival was Only Lovers Left Alive, but I never actually made it to the theatre, so here is my review, one year later, ironically on the last day of the 2014 season of TIFF.

Jim Jarmusch is an interesting man.  I don’t claim to be an expert on him by any means, but  films like Stranger Than Paradise and The Limits of Control left me loving the feel and scope of his vision, getting an almost artistic buzz after watching them.  My favourite Jarmusch film hands down is Ghost Dog:  The Way of the Samurai.  This quiet film brings a sense of beauty and zen to the assassin, and he does the same for the vampire in Only Lovers Left Alive.

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is an innovative musician who is also a reclusive vampire.  He lives in a secluded, tear-down of a house in the tear-down city of Detroit, and with the help of a human Ian (Anton Yelchin) for music supplies, and a jumpy hospital lab tech (Jeffery Wright) for his blood supply, he is able to exist with little disturbance.  Melancholy seems to rule his life of late, making him contemplate his existence and his disdain for humans, or “zombies” that are destroying the world.  Eve (Tilda Swinton) is his wife and at the moment, she lives in Tangiers.  She is a sensual being, soaking up books and atmosphere, and seems to be content with getting “the good stuff”, or choice blood, from non other than the 16th century poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe himself (John Hurt), who has survived the ages as a vampire.  They are all satisfied with sipping their blood from tiny sherry glasses because they are far too civilized to hunt their human meals.  After a disturbing video chat with Adam, Eve comes to Detroit to check in on him. Adam and Eve appear to the outsider as the coolest junkie couple you will ever meet, wearing shades at night to shroud themselves from the everyman.  They are the ones that if you engage, you just may be in a heap of trouble, but their seduction is irresistible.   They proceed to chill out in true vamp style and live an introvert’s dream; reading, debating philosophy, playing music, getting their blood fix and sleeping in a heap like sophisticated feral junkie children, until Eve’s bratty sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) shows up, throwing a wrench in their well oiled machine of solitude.

Sound boring?  Perhaps a tad Anne Rice-y and formulaic?  Well it’s not.  Jarmusch is known for making films of a slower, more contemplative pace and what he creates here is a sweeping and moody anti-horror movie.  With a beautiful colour palette and the comfort of cluttered sets, he wraps you in a cocoon of an introverted, isolated world that only the characters and the viewers understand. But make no mistake.  There are plenty of intellectual inside jokes and lots of dry humour that still makes this a classic Jarmusch film.

His “casting” of Detroit as a backdrop was genius for this particular story.  It mirrors the life the vampire couple used to have, a life of innovation and progress that becomes antiquated as the world forgets and moves on.  Adam has fans that seem to personify the hipster fueled gentrification, a tainted blood that tries to pump life into an ancient body.  It’s a world where the “zombies” defile artifacts of a glorious past.  Pay attention to the scoring too, but not only because Jarmusch wants you to.  The director and musician creates Adam’s spacey compositions with his band SQURL, and the action is accented by the beautifully enchanting and dreamy sounds of the lute from composer Jozef van Wissem, who won best score for the film at Cannes in 2013.

And I must talk about Tilda Swinton.  I think you all know how much I love her.  She is like a gorgeous alien who can morph into any character.  From her style to her attitude, she is truly mesmerizing.  Her waifishly sleek Eve was calm and calculating; glowing on the screen like an alabaster phantom.  Tom Hiddleston was lazily lethal and brooded with a Jim Morrison-esque intensity, and I loved the reference to Christopher Marlowe, whom John Hurt played so well.  Honourable mention goes to Anton Yelchin as Ian, who exuded a sweet naivety and obedience that amplified Wasikowska’s predatory and petulant Ava.  The costuming and sets were beautifully done, from the rock star vampire tousled hair to the retro-modern wardrobe; from Eve’s walk-up in Tangiers to Adam’s old school recording studio complete with beautiful vintage guitars and a faded red velvet divan fit for any aging rock star, and all of this captured by D.O.P. Yorick Le Saux who meticulously frames each scene to give us precise shots that are pleasing to the eye.  This is a thinker’s vampire film, with nary a CGI effect, save for some fangs and fast hands.  If you want to step outside of the horror box, I’d suggest Ganja and HessKiss of the Damned, and Only Lovers Left Alive for an interesting triple feature to experience indie vampirism at it’s best.

As a pixie who has often been called a vampire because I don’t look my age (yet…) and as someone who has had to examine her own mortality more than once due to very unfortunate circumstances, Only Lovers Left Alive was very poignant for me.  Their desire to stay under the radar and not bring any attention to themselves as life marches on is betrayed by an ultimate longing, bringing them together to steel against an impending doom.  When faced with the question “Is this all there is?”, Adam and Eve give us solace in knowing that yes, maybe “this” is it, but enjoying the moment before it becomes a memory is our mortal goal.

Face Off Season 7 Episode 7: Horror Movie Posters Come To Life!

Published September 11, 2014 by vfdpixie

After a rousing pillow fight, the nine remaining artists headed to a foggy and shadowy lab.  For their Foundation Challenge that would grant one of them immunity, they would have to create an urban legend icon:  Bloody Mary.  Apparently if you say her name 3 times in a mirror in the dark, you will die, so of course, the gang said her name 3 times and after, the shrouded figures of their models floated out of the fog and freaked everyone out.  Their judge was Emmy award-winning artist Brigette Myre-Ellis who won an Emmy for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and worked on True Blood.  She just wanted them to scare her.

The artists used a lot of blood and had great ideas.  Bridget’s favourites were Rachael’s face stealing Bloody Mary that was scary and beautiful, and Drew’s creation that cried blood.  She was impressed with his blood gag.  Rachael won immunity because Brigette thought it was beautiful and creepy at the same time.

Their next Spotlight Challenge took them back to Universal Studios Backlot where they met in front of a movie marquee with “Halloween Horror Nights” up in lights.  Their task was to create a horror movie character inspired by several original movie posters provided.  Their advisors were John Murdy and Mike Aiello who were the creative directors of the Halloween Horror Nights in both the Orlando and Los Angeles Universal locations.  Their advice to the artists was to look at every detail in the posters because the smallest ones could tell the best stories.  The winning look would be included in the 2014 Horror Nights park tours, like previous seasons.

Stella picked The Trophy Room-It’s Hunting Season!  Her character was an inbred hunter that collected human heads as trophies.  She busied herself creating a head for her creepy character to carry.  Her finished look was pretty creepy looking and could have totally worked for any horror movie dealing with inbreds.  I loved the head and it had a really brutal looking face.  The judges loved the forms of the misshapen head, and Glenn thought it was a successful hillbilly mutant.  She was safe.

Dina created a demonic reindeer for the movie The Cloven-It was Too Hot in Hell!  Her reindeer was an outcast that tortured elves.  She had trouble sculpting the face and this was the first time she struggled with her design.  It ended up looking like a cat.  She wasn’t happy at all with the final look.  I thought it looked hilarious, but it really wasn’t good.  The judges thought that without the horns, it looked more like a pig, and the face lacked detail.  Neville also thought the hooves looked like crab claws or vegetables, and overall, she lacked anatomical knowledge.  They also felt there was nothing scary about the character.  She was in the bottom.

Rachael picked Bone Appetite-Dinner is Served! and created a cannibal baroness that threw parties where she served her guests people.  She went for an old aged makeup and a mouth in the character’s stomach.  Since she had immunity, she took her time sculpting, and created a great makeup that she loved.  the judges loved the inspired mechanism in the chest that made the mouth open, and thought she had a compelling concept and great animation.  She was in the top looks.

Cig got The Second Chumming-Swim at Your Own Risk!  He decided to make a sea-captain that was killed by his crew and fused with chum, becoming a monster.  His sculpt was huge and was probably the most appliances he had ever had to apply.  He used a bright pink paint base and built up the colour to look like bloody chum, then piled on blood over the paint job.  It was really gross and he used the model’s chin as the tongue which made the character’s face look enormous.  Glenn was really impressed with that since he had never seen it on the show, and they all admired the “purposeful texture” and huge amount of work he put in.  He was in the top looks.

Damien got Buzzcut-Just a Little Off the Top!  He came up with a hair transplant surgeon who scalped his patients.  He created a vaccuform scalp, and a gory, gory character.  On the reveal stage, the surgeon could lift his own scalp, revealing a gooey, bloody mess of a skull.  Neville really enjoyed that gag and called it juicy.  He was safe.

Drew created a creepy, online creeper that was also a cannibal for We Met Online-There Is No Escape Key!  His character’s face was really unappealing and filled with boils.  It actually kind of reminded me of some creepy library customers I’ve encountered at my old library job!  The judges liked the face, but thought that was the only interesting aspect of the makeup.  Lucky for him he was safe.

Keaghlan got Homecoming Scream-Save the Last Dance! and created a 1950’s B-movie homecoming queen that was the victim of a prank and got pushed off the bleachers, becoming horrible twisted corpse.  She wanted to do a grayscale makeup to give her character a more retro, old school horror look.  There were a few issues with her sculpt even though she paid attention to anatomy.  Her sash was on backwards, and the judges thought the sculpting on the face needed more detail, as well as the back-to-front details.  They thought her concept didn’t communicate the intention, and there was too much work and not enough time.  She was in the bottom looks.

Sasha picked Bonnie and Cyanide-Love is Toxic!  Her character was poisoned and in turn poisoned people with her syringe fingers and neon poisonous blood.  She had trouble creating veins and was really disappointed with her finished look.  The judges thought her veins were a disaster, and that it was a poorly executed look.  It didn’t look like the concept, they didn’t understand the character, and due to the lack of anatomical knowledge, it put her in the bottom.

George got Axe Girlfriend-Breakups can be Hell!  He came up with a rich man’s mistress that was shot in the head.  She came back and collected wedding ring fingers as trophies.  He used silicone for the face appliance which ended up being a good decision.  The judges liked how the colour looked on the silicone, and thought his concept had just enough gore.  They liked that he showed restraint with the gore, and that it was a realistic makeup that told a story.  Because the thought the character was well suited to the movie poster, he was in the top looks.

The winner was George!  For his first win, the judges really liked that he used restraint and the realism of the makeup.  The loser was Sasha.  They thought her paint decisions were bizarre and her sculpting was poor.  They knew she was capable of doing much better work, so in a surprise decision, they used the special immunity on her.  Sasha was SAFE!!!  Holy smokes is that girl lucky!


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