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Burb's Eye View: Monster mavens meet at the Marriott

April 01, 2014|By Bryan Mahoney
  • Larry Bones puts the finishing touches on a makeup demonstration at his company's booth at Monsterpalooza.
Larry Bones puts the finishing touches on a makeup demonstration… (Courtesy of Bryan…)

Judging by his oozing head wound, the gray, plastic Hazmat suit Ken Mclaughlin was wearing didn’t help stave off the zombie attack.

I met him in a small conference room at the Burbank Marriott Saturday. Just outside the door, demons walked freely, but here in the side room, Mclaughlin shuffled off the suit for a quick breather.

“I’m just swimming in this,” he said. More “blood” and “tissue” washed away with his sweat.

It looked infected and revolting, which, of course, is the point at Monsterpalooza. Since 2008, the horror and makeup-effects convention has offered a who’s who of classic movie villains and the masters behind the monsters.

Everything you’d need to make your own monster creation is for sale at Monsterpalooza: prosthetics, molds and masks fill the booths. There’s also plenty of room for the do-it-yourself crowd like Mclaughlin — the viscera coating Mclaughlin’s head was a mixture of tapioca, coconut oil and gelatin.


“I’m an eco-friendly zombie,” he said.

The makeup-effects industry is alive and thriving at Monsterpalooza. Industry veterans say there’s plenty of work to be had despite the rise and evolution of computer technology.

“It’s like a marriage — CGI and practical effects get their best value by being used together,” said Erick Rodriguez, owner of Imaginerick, a design and effects studio.

There would be more work, one industry veteran said, if studios could lock down creative details early in the production process. Bruce D. Mitchell, a designer on films including “Pacific Rim” and “John Carter,” has seen designs change or be scrapped and fixed digitally later, usually because of money.

“The biggest special effects in Hollywood are the financiers,” Mitchell said. “It’s not the creative people making movies. It’s the bean counters and lawyers.”

Not all of the effects-industry work gets put in front of the cameras, however. Larry Bones (yes, that’s his name) and his company, Boneyard Effects, have created the creatures that inhabit Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios since 2006.

Though the company also sells prosthetics and does some film work, it’s the five-month stretch leading to Halloween that keeps Bones’ skeleton crew busy.

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