Growing up I was always quite fond of monsters. More so, I loved the Universal Monsters. I was enthralled with everything about them. The castles, the costumes, the atmosphere and most of all, the makeup. I think I loved the idea of making a monster the most. Starting off with nothing and creating a hulking terrifying creature that will know no bounds is something terrifyingly astounding.
It wasn’t actually until my freshmen year of high school that I started to read about the craft of special effects make-up. I remember that summer watching a ton of classic flicks and waiting till the credits rolled and looked for who did the make-up in these creepy films. I was hooked. These men actually created my favorite monsters that haunted me when I was younger. Needless to say, from then on I wanted to be a monster maker like Jack Pierce, Dick Smith and Lon Chaney, but sadly I never got around to pursuing it.
One make-up artist that will always stand out in my eyes is Jack Pierce. Fans of the Universal Monster films will always hold his name in reverence. He is the one man who gave us such great monsters: The Mummy, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and last but not least The Invisible Man. What really stands out to me is that back in the 30’s and 40’s is when he made these truly terrifying monsters with tools that we would look back now as primitive. They didn’t have molds of the actors face, so each and every day they had to sit down to apply and then take off the make-up all while trying their best to make it look just like the day before, brutal!
It makes me feel great that artists like Greg Nicotero and KNB FX are stepping up a filling these giant shoes that these artists once walked in. These artists are giving kids and adults alike new nightmares and monsters to sit through with every film that they make. Through them, the spirit of these artists live on today, not only through the great masterpieces that they have created, but also through new artists they have inspired through countless films and theater work they have done. Well done Jack Pierce, your work still makes me feel great to be a monster kid.