‘Face Off’ recap: You can’t polish a turd


Miranda’s makeup (left) and Adolpho’s (right.)

On this week’s “Face Off,” the remaining makeup artists  jumped right into the main event, creating subterranean creatures inspired by different “sets” in tunnels. Before the hour was over, one of the veterans found himself in the bottom three due to a technical error, causing fans great dismay that one of their favorites might go home. And a controversial front-runner seemed to be emerging, although it prompted much debate among viewers. Which shouldn’t be so surprising with so many great makeups coming out of the workroom each week.

Concept artist and sculptor Jordu Schell (“Avatar,” “Hellboy”) guest judged this week, and this was the first individual challenge for the artists, so for better or worse, the newbies had to stand on their own. But it was a veteran who found himself in big trouble.

Roy had been taken to task many times when he was on the show before for trying to go too big for the time allowed and his elaborate fabrications.  The first three episodes in this season, he focused on makeup, turning in some great looks.

Well, he got a little itchy again this week, it seems. He decided he was going to do an octopus-like creature, and create a mold to anchor the tentacles… for the whole length of the torso. In one massive 500 pound mold.

As judge Ve Neill would say, “Oh, honey….”

Well, if you think that’s crazy, this is even crazier: His mold worked. And then he filled it with poly-foam. Or, as he discovered too late, rigid foam.

For the average armchair makeup artist, that doesn’t mean anything. But for professional special effects makeup artists and fans who have already seen the show, that’s a collective “Oh, shit!” you just heard. The rigid foam hardened almost immediately and couldn’t be removed, rendering the mold useless.

Roy still had a face piece, but scrambled to put something else together. Something besides “a head on a robe” as he put it. Although a head on a robe might have been better. It was downright painful to watch him go through judging, knowing how substandard his final look was. And while the judges understood what happened, as Glenn Hetrick pointed out, they had to judge him on what was put in front of them. His only hope for salvation was if someone messed things up worse.

Someone up above was looking out for Roy it seems, or someone down below must have been out to get poor Adolpho. The first thing I thought when I saw his orange head was “Halloween mask,” which is exactly what the judges called it. When us amateurs can even see it, things aren’t going well for you.

Likewise, when elements of your makeup are likened to Fruity Pebbles cereal… you’re not having a good day. Scott’s makeup earned him the third bottom spot of the night.

Roy seemed to get the harshest criticisms, perhaps because he was the only veteran  in the bottom, and the judges have such high expectations from him, possibly even more than some other veterans. Having said that, it goes a long way with judges when you know how bad it is, and taking yourself to task certainly doesn’t hurt. When Glenn told Roy he was not pleased with his work this week despite the understandable explanation with the mold disaster, Roy didn’t just accept the criticism, but joined in.

It’s hard to polish a turd. It really is.

“You said it,” said judge Neville Page, as Ve giggled. But watching Roy’s suffering was anything but funny, even on a second watch, knowing the outcome. It’s hard to watch someone have to present work they know isn’t remotely up to their standards, when you know how much pride they take in doing good work and how damn talented they are.

But the judges saved him for another day, and Adolpho went home.


Tate’s makeup (left) and Frank’s (right) for this week. Do you think one of these should have won instead?

For the top looks, Miranda scored her third challenge win out of four weeks for her mole creature. The makeup was great with a nice subtle paint job, but many fans felt Frank’s toothy monster was better, sparking some cries of favoritism on the Facebook site. Still others wanted to know why Tate had been overlooked again with his amazing and complex sea kelp, crustacean monster (one of the sets had an underwater theme.)

Call me crazy, but the fact that Tate didn’t even make top looks and seems to be getting overlooked smells a bit like the show trying to make him an underdog to keep some suspense going, when he is clearly one of — if not the — frontrunner as far as consistently knocking it out of the park. He always comes up with great designs and never bites off more than he can chew. And he makes it look effortless every week, or at least the editing does.

If you don’t think they practice some deception like this, just note how they always try to fool is in the cuts to commercials by making it look like the people who end up in the bottom are being complimented and vice versa. When I saw the episode promo where it looked like they were praising Eric, I knew he was going home that week, and he did. I am so on to you, Syfy.

So, anyway, if you are considering a betting pool at this point, I would hands down put Tate in the final three, with two of the following rounding it out: Miranda, Laura or Roy. Frank possibly if he starts doing work like this every week, but consistency is key also. And not putting rigid foam in your molds.



The work of newcomers Laney (left) and Lyma (right.)

Some newcomers to watch though include Laney. It’s been apparent in the first group challenges she has the eye for interesting design and a great aesthetic, but with veterans backing her up previously, her technical abilities were still questionable. Her creepy look this week was pretty strong and it looks like she can execute. So far, anyway. And another interesting newcomer makeup was Lyma, who has taken her harsh airbrushing lesson to heart and toned it down to much better effect. Well done.

Check out some behind-the-scenes stills from this week in the gallery below. “Face Off” airs Tuesday nights on Syfy.

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‘Face Off’ recap: Be my Frankenstein


The winning Bride and Frankenstein on Tuesday night’s “Face Off.”

On Tuesday’s episode of “Face Off,” teams of three had to create a modern take on Frankenstein and his bride, with some super cool results. And a few misses, of course. But this time they mixed up the veterans and the newbies to even things out a bit, although one power team stood out above the rest.

This week the challenge tied into a promotion of the upcoming film, “I, Frankenstein.” The great thing this week, though, was the writer and producer of the movie  — who also wrote and created the “Underworld” series — was the guest judge. Better yet, I discovered Kevin Grevioux was also the actor who played the very big, intimidating werewolf in the first film. And best of all, that’s really how his voice sounds.

Who knew? (Well, probably everyone but me, but it was news to me.)

Not surprisingly, the team that seemed to work best together was Team Estrogen, with Laura, Alana, and rookie Laney collaborating. They all seem to have a similar theme in their aesthetics… that sort of glamorous horror. And it served them well here with a “beautiful” bride — by horror standards, anyway — despite dealing with a mold crack.

“Keep calm and fill up that crack” should be the motto of every makeup artist.

Another team that had molding issues was Miranda, Samantha and Eddie. Miranda wasn’t quite so calm when there were problems with the nose getting stuck in one mold, and was less than thrilled about working with two rookies on her team, but kept her cool with her teammates. But they did get called to task for the obvious “Borg” references by Grevioux, and I thought the bride was sort of reminiscent of an old Bob Fosse number. But not in a good way.

Tate, Lyma and RJ didn’t get angry with each other despite artistic differences, but definitely didn’t work together well. Naturally newbies want to project confidence and stand up for their work, but when you’re working with someone as insanely talented as Tate, you need to be listening to his advice. When he tells you aren’t painting correctly, you ain’t painting correctly, sister.

But Lyma insisted on doing her very unrealistic airbrush painting. To his credit, Tate was as calm and direct as he could be, especially when she started painting on his Frankenstein cowl.

“Let’s stop that, please. I mean, I love you girl, but I think we got different philosophies about paint.” And when she returned to her own bride cowl, he chimed in a bit later to let her know she was painting too dark, which she immediately brushed off. “My eyes work, it’s dark… it’s black.”

And then he dropped it and let her hear it from the judges later, namely Ve Neill. Sometimes you just have to let people hang themselves and focus on yourself, even in a team effort. Wise decision.

Rookies Scott and Adolfo butted heads, but veteran Roy held the team together, with another strong look, although Glenn Hetrick was pretty tough on them, criticizing Roy’s Frankenstein for being “top heavy,” although it looked pretty good to everyone else. He’s tough, that one.

For top looks tonight, the judges decided only one team qualified: Laura, Alana and Laney. And since Alana sculpted the bride face they loved so much, she was the overall winner.

Face Off - Season 5

Alana, Laura and Laney with their winning duo on “Face Off.”

Samantha made the bottom three for the “bulbous” design of her team’s bride head cowl that “didn’t make any sense, according to Hetrick. Also for not painting the hands correctly or finishing the tubing going into them.

Veteran Eric found himself in the bottom because of the eye sculpting that made him look “bewildered” per Hetrick, and not finishing his part of applying rivets to the forehead.

And Lyma made the bottom for not listening to Tate and doing that off-strip, Vegas-show airbrush job. “Are you primarily a body painter?” asked Neill. “It s very evident in this makeup. It doesn’t look organic, it looks blown on.”


In the end, Samantha had too many mistakes and had to pack up her makeup kit. So far the veterans are still there, but how long will they last? And who do you think will be the first to fall?

“Face Off” airs Tuesday nights on Syfy.



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