Have you ever looked at a parasite through a microscope and thought, “Wow. I’m glad that thing isn’t any bigger!”? Even the smallest creatures can wreak some pretty nasty havoc with your health, but imagine how bad it could be if a parasite grew to much larger proportions, like in Alien. It’s one of the most horrific sci-fi/horror movie themes where the makeup and special effects can either make or break you, and it makes for a perfect challenge this week on Face Off.
Our contestants pair up once again and choose their organism through a microscope, up close and personal. These things are creepy, and should provide plenty of horrific inspiration for their creation: a parasite erupting from its human host. This week’s guest star was Lance Henriksen, who played Bishop, the android in Aliens. Lance acts as this week’s mentor, offering his advice on creating tension and horror by leveraging personal experience and anticipation. He also judges an impromptu contest on who can make the best slime, which will be graded on texture, color and if it produces the desired effect. Whomever wins the slime focus challenge will be granted immunity for their team this week.
Wearing Hazmat suits, the stage crew wheels in chemistry racks full of ingredients. They have only two hours to accomplish the perfect goo, and they go to work mixing various ingredients and colorings to produce the perfect parasite excretion.
Kaleb: “I started with applesauce, then I put cornstarch in it to make it thicker, and it turns into this nasty, snotty, gross, chunky…stuff. And I’m like: Perfect!”
Creating slime looks fun, but this is still a serious competition, with immunity at stake. At one point, Johnny discovers that the addition of flocking gives their mixture that “perfect chunk,” and quickly returns the flocking back to the shelf in the storeroom so that the idea will remain unique. I can’t blame him for protecting his intellectual property.
Each team throws, pours, and spreads their drippy concoction on their models, and Mel & Melissa’s blue stretchy slime was the winner, giving them both immunity for this challenge. Add that to Rob’s immunity for winning the previous challenge and the stakes are even higher, since this effectively narrows the competition down to seven contestants instead of ten.
This week’s creations involve lots of prosthetics, slime recipes, paint techniques and even a drill motor used to create blood spatter from a chest eruption. Who could ask for anything more? As with every plan, there are always hiccups, and during the application phase, troubleshooting can make or break the look.
Mel and Melissa make a gutsy decision to cut away part of the face sculpt and apply it as a separate piece, which turned out to be a good call. On the other hand, Robert tries to think of ways that his teammate, Katie, can cover the harsh crease across their model’s forehead. He suggests placing a bandage over it, which Katie outright rejects, opting instead to try and blend the edge. It may have been a good choice if the headpiece fit better, but unfortunately, the prosthetic was so heavy that it continued to push forward on the model’s forehead, emphasizing the crease even more. I’m surprised that they didn’t discuss a scar or sutures to camouflage the seam.
The teams finish their “last looks” with some frantic painting, gluing, and sliming, and we finally get to see the creations on stage.
Mel & Melissa’s nematode was cleverly designed. It emerged from its human host through a split head, which pooled around the neck and shoulders, discarded like the “Edgar suit” from Men In Black. Their nematode had an articulating mouth, complete with human teeth, and some great colors for contrast.
Ve: “I like the blue slime—it’s kinda pretty, actually”
Johnny & Walter used a bright orange color with red, bloody slime for the gore effect on their version of a tardigrade. They spent a lot of time on the mechanical bursting chest piece, and not much time on the overall cohesive effect of the parasite. As judge Neville Page pointed out, the chest piece was an eruption from within, but the head piece showed that the organism was growing out of him. The makeup looked better up close; however, the effect, as Neville put it, didn’t feel specific enough.
Neville: “There’s some really cool things going on with this, I just don’t know that the payoff is what you had hoped for.”
Anna & Yvonne’s Lepidonotopodium Piscesae was painted to match the skin color of the model. The paint job was matched perfectly, but without any contrast, it lacked the impact that they needed for a convincing character. They did make a great slime, re-formulating to replace the pink goo they presented at the focus challenge. The result was a translucent wet-looking and very viscous brown liquid that looked much more like bodily fluids than their first attempt. Anna and Yvonne loved their character, but the judges weren’t too impressed.
Neville: “I just wish it wasn’t bifurcated almost perfectly.”
Glen: “Never split a makeup down the middle”
Ve: “To me, it doesn’t look like it’s coming out of him, he looks like he’s transforming.”
Katie and Robert’s idea was good, with a Taenia Taeniaeformis featured as a brain worm… named Hans. (What can I say, Robert was having some fun with it, coming up with a back story on the worm and even a song about it.)
Robert (singing): “Hans, the brain worm…first he eats your brain, then you go insane…. I just came up with that.”
Unfortunately, the weight of Katie’s headpiece emphasized the edge across the forehead on their hospital patient, and Katie decided not to disguise it. Robert knew that they would be in bottom looks as they put on the finishing touches, and he was right. The lumpy ill-fitting cowl and mis-matched makeup sent Katie home.
The clear winner this week was Kaleb & Rob’s Neris Sandersi, a deep ocean worm that looks a lot like “Pepe the Prawn” of the Muppets. Instead of focusing on the head of the organism, they created several worm-like projections swarming from the model’s skin at the back of his head, neck, shoulder, and down his arm. Although it was hard to tell just what the parasite was at first glance, the judges loved it for the contrast between victim and parasite, and the life-like eruption sites on the victim’s body. Rob’s grasp of Lance’s advice was what won this for them.
Neville: “The back is more interesting that the front, but in this case, that’s alluring.”
Rob: “Lance Henriksen said that the fear is in the anticipation, so we decided to put the monster bursting at the back, and the reveal is what brings the fear.”
This was Rob’s second victory in a row.
Next week, the show takes a page out of Beetlejuice’s underworld waiting room as the contestants get clues from fake obituaries that they’ll use to build characters with injuries depicting their demise.
FaceOff airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on Syfy.