Go behind the scenes as Universal Studios Hollywood prepares for Halloween Horror Nights
Written by Robert Niles
Universal Studios Hollywood this morning invited local reporters backstage for a look at preparations for Halloween Horror Nights 2011. I talked with Creative Director John Murdy, who shared his thoughts about the enduring appeal of horror as a genre, and offered a comparison between the event in Los Angeles and its sibling at the Universal Orlando Resort.Tweet
While I spoke with John, my wife wandered the room, taking photos and speaking with some of the make-up artists whose work will help bring Halloween Horror Nights to life. Murdy reminded us that while movie make-up artists might take hours to prepare a single actor for scene, Universal Studios Hollywood has to apply make-up to hundreds of scareactors each night, forcing the creative team to find ways to streamline the design and application process for each scareactor, while retaining a movie-quality look.
Most people use makeup to detract from their bloodshot eyes, but here, the bloodier the better. Stacy Smith applies water-based red stage paint on Justin Delk's face to make him into "Scalped Jerry." His scalped head is sculpted silicone, which was made in a shop, well before the make-up process began. It takes 10 to 30 minutes to properly apply the "blood" to both his face and his silicone "hat."
You know those pictures the dentist uses to scare you into brushing your teeth? That aesthetic -- call it "decorative dental decay" -- is the goal for Jenn Rose, Mask and Fabrication Supervisor, who paints blood and gore into the teeth. The actors don't have to wear the teeth in their mouths, instead, the teeth are secured into the masks. Halloween Horror nights requires about 150 masks, and they started making them at the end of June.
Veronica Rodart paints a prosthetic mask, using alcohol-based paint. These masks are different from others, in that actors affix them straight onto their faces. Though they take much time and effort to make, these masks go in the trash after one use, as the edges can't survive being put on and taken off. This means a new mask every night, for every actor, for 20 nights! Rodart said they have to start in June in order to finish the some 1,800 prosthetics required for Halloween Horror Nights.
Kris Kobzina transforms Minerva Mendez into La Llorona, the "Weeping Woman" from the Latin American legend about a mother who, abandoned by her lover, kills her own children by drowning them. Legend has it that she still wanders the earth as a ghost, bewailing their loss. "La Llorona" will roam Universal Studios Hollywood, as she did last year, during Halloween Horror Nights 2011.
The craziest wig that Anissa Salazar said she has made so far for Halloween Horror Nights was the "mud wig," which required mixing up cotton balls, acrylic paint and dirt into it to create a seriously messed-up mop.
Wig Mistress Salazar started in mid-spring on the 100 wigs for Halloween Horror Nights 2011. Her creations are based on artwork drawn for each character, and based on that she cuts, colors, curls, and adds to wigs to create the right look. The hair department also does all the beards and mustaches and creates back-up wigs.
For more: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights 2011 runs select nights between September 23 and October 31. Tickets are on sale from $37-$62 at Universal's website, including a Front of Line ticket option (priced between $69-$99, and includes event admission). Prices vary by night selected.
Laurie Niles contributed to this report.
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