7/31/2014

In Loving Tribute to Dick Smith, The Godfather of Makeup FX

 
I woke up this morning to some very heartbreaking news: the man known as the godfather of makeup FX, Dick Smith, had passed away. He was 92.

Smith was born Larchmont, NY in 1948. He began his makeup work on TV, and would go to pioneer the world of FX work with the use of small latex pieces on the actor's face, as opposed to one large mask. It gave the actor the ability to show more emotional range in their roles, under the makeup. His work would go on to be be influential. He became a hero to any and all interested in the world of makeup. While, he worked on many films, I'm gonna mention just some of my favorite work of his.

The movie he is most connected to, due to his exemplary work on it, is the film classic, The Exorcist. The fact that his work on this masterpiece still holds up all these years later, is proof that this man was a true master of his craft. The mechanical and makeup work are just extraordinary. This films is one of the reasons why I savagely worshiped what he did.

Having cut his teeth on both Godfather films for Francis Ford Coppola, Smith would work with another master of the crime film, Martin Scorsese in his finest masterpiece the dark and shocking, Taxi Driver. He did the bald cap, as well as the film's ultra-violent climax. His work was so graphic and realistic, that Scorsese had to darken the look of the film to avoid the X-rating.



The Sentinel is an underrated  Satanic horror movie, where Smith got to return to the devil subgenre (he also worked on Exorcist II: The Heretic, by the way), with some impressive gore and old age makeup (a true specialty of his!). I really wish more people would take a look at this creepy and well made film with the beautiful Cristina Raines. The following clip from Bravos' 100 Scariest Movie Moments is truly one of those!


David Cronenberg's Scanners has some of his most jaw dropping work. I actually just picked up the Criterion blu-ray of this sci-fi/ horror classic. The classic exploding head scene and KILLER climax rank among the greatest splatter FX work, ever!!


The final movie, I wanna mention is Ghost Story based on the bestseller by horror author Peter Straub. This one isn't very good despite the solid cast. It is mostly a stupid bore, but two things stand out: the truly beautiful Alice Krige and, of course, Smith's excellent work. He manages to turn this flawless beauty into a truly hideous ghost.


In 2012, he received an Honorary Academy Award for his amazing body of work.


Dick Smith, you were a maekup god and a hero to many, myself included. The world has lost a great artist and amazing talent. God bless, and may he RIP.



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