Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Review: "MASTERS OF MAKE-UP EFFECTS" is a Century of Practical Magic in One Magical Book


AUTHORS: Howard Berger and Marshall Julius
DESIGN: Russell Knowles; Darren Jordan
EDITORS: Ross Hamilton and Roland Hall
ISBN: 978-0-80279-001-6; hardcover – 9” x 11” (September 20, 2022)
320pp, Color, $39.95 U.S., £30.00 U.K.

Forward by Guillermo Del Toro; Afterword by Seth MacFarlane

Masters of Make-Up Effects: A Century of Practical Magic is a film history and art book from authors Howard Berger and Marshall Julius.  Berger is a special make-up effects artist with over 800 feature film credits.  With Tami Lane, Berger won the “Best Make-up” Academy Award for their work on the 2005 film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeJulius is a London-based film critic, blogger, broadcaster and author, whose previous books include Vintage Geek (September Publishing, 2019) and Action! The Action Movie A-Z (Batsford Film Books, 1996).

Masters of Make-Up Effects: A Century of Practical Magic is an illustrated oral history of the art form of make-up effects, celebrating the make-up artists and acclaimed make-up effects masters from the world of both film and television  The authors take their readers into that fascinating world via untold stories from the sets of both popular and cult films and television.  Read the tales behind the make-up and effects on such films as An American Werewolf in London, Star Wars, Pan's Labyrinth, and The Thing, to name a few.  Visit the sets of such TV series as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Doctor Who,” “Star Trek,” and “The Walking Dead,” to name a few.

THE LOWDOWN:  In Masters of Make-Up Effects: A Century of Practical Magic, there are 293 stories over 15 chapters.  I counted.  That made Masters of Make-Up Effects one of my most difficult book reviews – if not the most difficult.  There is just so much good stuff for film fans and movie buffs that reading it can sometimes feels like sensory overload.

First, I'll mention something that absolutely delighted me.  Co-author Marshall Julius pens an introduction that recounts an interview he conducted with his then-future co-author, Howard Berger, in 2006.  It ended with Berger applying his make-up effects magic on Julius, and the result of that magic...  Well, you have to buy Masters of Make-Up Effects to find out what it is.  [If you are a movie fan, you really should already have this book.]

Masters of Make-Up Effects contains hundreds of photographs, a few of which I was familiar.  However, the vast majority were new to me – these photographs of actors, directors, and, of course, the make-up and effects artists who are the stars of this book.  Yes, I have seen make-up special effects legend, Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, Creepshow), in film and on television for decades.  However, the other photographs put faces on these make-up effects and make-up artists I only knew as names on screen, on the Internet, and in books.  This includes masters such as Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Greg Nicotero, Dick Smith, David White, Kevin Yagher, and Louis Zakarian, to name a few.

Seeing a photo of Stuart Freeborn and another of the members of his Star Wars “creature crew” was almost a religious experience.  Thank you, Howard and Marshall, for that.  Freeborn and company were the people behind Chewbacca and the creatures of the “Mos Eisley cantina sequence” in the first Star Wars.  In 1982, I saw Star Wars in a pre Return of the Jedi re-release.  That Saturday afternoon, I followed Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi into that “wretched hive of scum and villainy” and movies were never the same for me after that.  So finally seeing the artists behind it is a big deal.

While trying to find a way to talk about all these photos, it was then that I realized that Masters of Make-Up Effects: A Century of Practical Magic is not only a book of photographs, but it is also a book of stories.  If you like science fiction, fantasy, and horror films and television, this book of stories is for you and the fans in your life.  The storytellers include the great Robert Englund, Rick Baker, Doug Bradley, Bruce Campbell, Nick Dudman, Toni G, Doug Jones, John Landis, James McAvoy, Greg Nicotero, Sarah Rubano, and Tom Savini, to once again name a few.

One does not need to be a fantasy film fan to love this book.  After all, film and TV dramas also require make-up effects and make-up artists.  Chapter 13 is entitled “Reel Lives” and focuses on the make-up work behind films based on real-life figures.  Actors have to be made up to resemble historical figures like Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins in 2012's Hitchcock); Judy Garland (RenĂ©e Zellwegger in 2019's Judy); and Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady), to name a few.

I bought this book almost a few months ago, and I find myself repeatedly returning to it.  I can't get enough of the photographs or the stories.  Howard Berger and Marshall Julius have created an important book in Masters of Make-Up Effects: A Century of Practical Magic, both for what it is and for what it may mean in the future.

As more people discover this book, some because of a second printing, they will realize that it is a gem.  Over time, it will become an important resource for reference and scholarly research.  Movie and television fans, put those unused gift cards from Christmas and the holidays to use and buy Masters of Make-Up Effects: A Century of Practical Magic.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Readers who are fans of the magic that is movies will want a copy of Masters of Make-Up Effects: A Century of Practical Magic.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


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