I grew up on the pages of Famous Monsters Magazine and once nearly gave my mother a heart attack by appearing behind her in full vampire make-up and dress. I am the audience for Syfy’s new competition series Face-Off and you should be watching, too.
Each week, special effects and make-up artists compete in challenges designed to test their creativity, technique and artistic skills. They have a world-class studio full of tools but it’s imagination and time management that will make or break them.
In the first episode, which airs Wednesday, January 26 at 10:00, the contestants are thrown into their first challenge in the middle of their welcome reception. The task? Wow the judges with your best work that includes everyday items found in the room.
The judges are led by a man whose work, I’m particularly familiar with, Glenn Hetrick, owner of Optic Nerve Studios, Inc., the people behind the make-up on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and hundreds of other movies and TV shows.
Next is Academy-award winner Ve Neill known for transforming Johnny Depp into Edward Scissorhands, Robin Williams into a Scottish nanny for Mrs. Doubtfire, and Martin Landau into horror legend Bela Lugosi for Ed Wood.
The final judge is Patrick Tatopoulos, creator of creature effects on such films as I Am Legend, Underworld, Resident Evil: Extinction, and Independence Day, just to name a few.
As if that wasn’t enough to rattle the contestants, the host of the series is McKenzie Westmore. The Westmores have been synonymous with movie make-up since they 1917. Westmores made Dr. Jekyll turn into Mr. Hyde and they brought the Creature out of the Black Lagoon. McKenzie’s father, Michael, was the artist behind Star Trek’s many monsters. Unlike most of her family members before her, McKenzie chose to work in front of the cameras making her the perfect host for Face-Off.
After testing their skills in a wide open challenge, the contestants are given three days to create an animal-human hybrid based on either an elephant, beetle or ostrich. To make things more difficult, they’re tasked to work in teams which leads to creative conflicts and power struggles, several of which show up blatantly in the work.
In the end, the majority of the teams turn out something truly amazing. The winners took top honors with a piece that moved with the actor, allowing the performance to come through and add to the effect rather than fight against it. On the downside, a couple of laughable attempts that looked like store-bought Halloween costumes.
If you love monster movies or just have a flair for the artistic, tune in to Face-Off. The competition starts January 26 on Syfy
FACE OFF — “Welcome to the Jungle” Episode 101 — Pictured: Marcel Banks — Photo by: Isabella Vosmikova/Syfy © NBC Universal, Inc.