We know a lot of Scenic friends are planning on participating in Hartford's First Annual Zombie Pub Crawl next week. And we know that our friends are an ambitious lot who aren't going to half-ass it. But maybe some of you aren't really sure how to zombie up convincingly? Luckily, Jackie and I attended CT native, Hollywood FX pro Matt Corrigan's lecture/workshop last week at the Silk City Flick Fest on how to make (and kill) a Zombie.
Matt has worked on a lot of high profile films (Shutter Island, 300, I Am Legend to name a few), so it was pretty rad to get such a casual and informative presentation out of the guy. Matt had a lot to say about being a good and responsible makeup artist, like: talk to your actors and explain your process - they're human beings; never use products you haven't already tested; make sure you have the particular removal product for anything you apply. If you're working at home on yourself, this might translate to: know your products and removers and try things out on an arm or a leg before you stick them on your face to make sure you don't have a painful or allergic response.
Matt performed model Katrina's zombie transformation using professional quality products, but some of the basic makeup effects could definitely be accomplished using "Halloween store quality" or regular cosmetic makeup, which is what I would probably choose. He was working from a "death wheel" but you could achieve a similar look by buying a variety of skin tones. As Matt explained, the foundation of a zombie job is simulating the look of death, namely by creating the illusion of depth - of sunken eyes and cheeks. Matt's first steps were browning around Katrina's eyes and cheeks, and then bringing out the cheekbones, forehead and other prominent points with whiter shades.
Creating wounds relies on the same principle - creating the illusion of depth. Matt used silicone to slightly build up Katrina's cheek, and then scratched out a wound in the silicone. He showed us a variety of bloods with different colors and viscosity. "Thick blood" was the winner for makeup effects - applied to the cheek wound the effect is of a horrible gash. Applied elsewhere with a stipple sponge, you get the look of a fresh, bloody abrasion. Loosening the silicone on the cheek and applying thick blood underneath made for a gross hanging flesh tab effect. Matt advised that latex can be used for many of the same effects as silicone, with the advantage of being cheaper, and the disadvantage of being a common allergen (hence the whole product patch test deal).
As a finale, Matt killed his zombie, using a relatively simple homemade device - tubing stuffed with blood and guts attached to a CO2 cartridge/trigger, fired away from the victim. This probably won't be necessary on the pub crawl, unless one of the zombies is a particularly bad drunk, but the splatter effect was cool, and the fact that the "blood and guts" were banana and stage blood was even cooler.
FYI: Matt Corrigan recommended East Coast pro makeup distributor - Alcone.