It seems no matter where you look these days, you can't avoid the word "zombie." The fourth season of AMC's "The Walking Dead" is set to premiere, and the summer hit "World War Z" is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. This year's Universal Studios Horror Nights is also awash in a sea of the undead with two "The Walking Dead" attractions.
With Halloween season in full swing, the "Z word" is also inspiring more than a few folks to take on the task of becoming a zombie for upcoming parties and on the ghoulish night itself. But how does one create the ultimate zombie look? Yes, you can paint your face gray and slap a bit of fake blood in the corner of your mouth, but what if you really want to do it up right with bloody wounds? After all, a zombie bite is usually the reason one becomes a zombie! Do you have to be a professional Hollywood makeup effects artist with an unlimited budget to pull it off?
According to one such professional effects artist, Jill Hansen, who spoke to Riverside Horror on Mon., Oct. 7, the answer is a resounding no. Anyone can get a professional look, and it can happen on a budget. It just takes the right tools, a little time and you can be staggering and moaning into your upcoming Halloween parties looking like you just walked off a Hollywood movie set.
Jill spoke to Riverside Horror about how she creates incredible looks on a budget, how much fun she has doing it and shares with readers how they can achieve the same results, complete with an expert instructional video.
"I love spreading the word on zombie makeup and all types of special effects," Hansen beams. "Whenever I am contracted for makeup, I'm usually given little to no prep time or warning as to what it is exactly they would like me to do. There have been instances where I walk on set and haven’t even had my morning coffee yet, and all of I sudden I hear 'I NEED AN EXPLODING HEAD!', which ended up being a crafty combination of a Cool Whip container, cat food, food coloring, a wig, and some Cool Ranch Doritos."
"Situations like that," laughs Hansen, "are the reason why some people refer to me as 'the Makeup Macguyver.'"
Hansen says there are two key elements to the best zombie look:
1. Keep working on it until it’s so gross, you can’t stand to look at it anymore.
2. When in doubt - more blood.
Jill knows of which she speaks, having not only created zombies for independent films but doing the effects on herself. " I started out doing makeup on just myself. For years, everyone I knew was always so excited to see what I would come up with for Halloween every year. Eventually I began attending the Asbury Park Zombie Walk. My first year attending, I arrived as a gruesomely mangled zombie in a pair of old pajamas. After a group of my friends saw what I had managed to do to myself, they started asking me to do their makeup for them. Needless to say, after about five hours of doing makeup for a group of 10, that was when I decided, 'I need to start charging for this.'"
With that realization, JILLFX was born, and Hansen began working on a number of horror films, the first being "Demon Hunters," where Hansen admits, being a basically untrained effects artist, she was forced to think on her feet and all on a budget.
"My proudest moment was when they asked if I could make an actor’s hands look like they belonged to a demon. I immediately began pacing back and forth, scratching my head trying to figure out how to accomplish turning normal hands into those of a devilish creature from hell. I came up with a brilliant idea and rushed to Target for nail files, press on nails, and makeup triangles. I had some craft paint from and my usual go-to supplies of liquid latex and toilet paper. I used the nail file to splint together the pinky and ring finger, giving the actor full mobility of his thumbs, index and middle fingers. I cut the press on nails into spikes and took some scissors to the makeup triangles to make them look like sharp spikes. I glued everything on to the actors hands using basic spirit gum, wrapped the splints and the knuckles with toilet paper and liquid latex to give it some build. Once it dried, I was able to break out the craft paint, and I just began the final transformation."
The final results of her incredible four-fingered demon man hands can be seen in the article slideshow above.
Needless to say, that kind of budget-conscious, think-on-your-feet attitude has garnered her much work in the industry, but it also shows that with the same can-do attitude, less than $30.00 and some toilet paper - yes, toilet paper - you can also achieve fantastic zombie wounds.
When it comes to latex, makeup and blood with the best results on a budget, Jill turns to WholesaleHalloweenCostumes.com. In the attached video demonstration, Jill uses the following products which can be purchased to create your own incredible zombie wounds:
We followed the step-by-step instructions here in the Riverside Horror offices with sample products provided by WholesaleHalloweenCostumes.com, and we achieved the same fantastic results seen in the video, truly with minimal effort. We decided to go a little more gray for a more "undead" appearance, and the results were phenomenal.
Hansen laughs, "all in all, it’s been a rollercoaster of blood and toilet paper. That pretty much sums up the last five years of my life." Many thanks to her for sharing part of the rollercoaster ride to help others create a great result this Halloween.
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