Category Archives: FaceOff

Face Off Season 10: Hellhole Finale Part 2

Last week’s episode of Face Off was the first half of the finale, where we learned that the show, having figured out they can in fact do a finale challenge where the contestants design looks for a short film, are sticking with that format. The upshot of the camera test showed both Walter and Melissa in relatively decent shape, while Rob, who barely squeaked into the finale in the first place, having crashed and burned out on his last few challenges, has to redesign from the ground up.

This being the last hour of the season, we get the usual “contestants see their families and weep” segment–though for the first time the show has sprung to fly them in person instead of having weepy Skype commercials.  Another surprise–that there is no surprise twist. Last year, the finale introduced “script changes” halfway through the process, so the designers had to make a third look–essentially hosing the two contestants who were in bad shape already. This year, they seem to have thought better of this.


With no extra make up looks to develop, the contestants find themselves being thrown on set earlier than usual, leaving Melissa to wind up doing a polyfoam run of shame right there on set. On the other hand, not having a third look helps Rob enormously–if he had to design yet another look on top of redesigning his first two, I think his would have been a train wreck.

Instead, we’re already on set and doing our first takes before the commercial break for Melissa. Walter’s is definitely the most impressive when it arrives on set–partly because his actor is so tall, and then the prosthesis he added to make the damn thing even bigger.


Rob’s is probably the most interesting of the three recording sessions, since his make up underwent a total redesign. If the director is not happy with the new looks, he’s not going to let on in front of Glenn, Ve and Neville. (They, like last year, watch the filming takes from the comfort of their own tent. ) Rob’s pumping oil effect out of his demon works really well, which it didn’t last week.

It’s a fun process to watch, but it’s unfortunately obvious that the young directors who are making the movies have been told the make up is the star of the process instead of their filmmaking. That’s one thing Patrick did not do last season when he directed all three shorts. Make up was merely one element, and the movie itself was the star. But one improvement over last year–there’s actual dialogue–it’s not an overly simple silent film with only a few actions by the actors involved that tell the whole story.

Let’s see the final products and which designer earns the win.

Continue reading Face Off Season 10: Hellhole Finale Part 2


Face Off Season 10: Hellhole Finale Part 1

It took a long time. Face Off first premiered way back in 2011, and as its popularity took off, and it moved to two cycles a year, the show ate through many seasons. The challenges have been great. The contestants both fun to watch while not actually overemoting for the cameras or behaving like headless drama queens like some fashion based reality shows we could mention here. But for the first eight seasons, this was a show that could not figure out how to do a proper finale challenge.

From bad modern dance to jousting, the show has vainly searched for a proper finale for a show based on movie make up, foolishly assuming it couldn’t actually, you know, actually have the designers design make up for a movie.But last year, former judge Patrick Tatopoulos showed them how much the production had underestimated themselves. Not only that but how much of a disservice they had done their product all these years by not having a finale that actually made sense for the show’s subject.


This year, they have not brought Patrick back to direct short films for the designers to create make up for. Instead they’ve gotten a hold of Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, who is a famous name in the low-budget horror genre, and has done such films as Insidious, which Face Off promoted via a challenge a couple of seasons back. He’s brought along some “up and coming” (read: nobody) directors to do three shorts for an anthology film based on the short story “Hellhole” from The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares.  Like last year, the first episode will focus on the make up design and a camera test. Next week, they’ll shoot the films and declare a winner.

As always, the show brings back the eliminated contestants to assist the three finalists, and draw an extra paycheck. To wit!FaceOff_gallery_1013Recap_03


  • Melissa: Yvonne and Johnny (Director John Wynn)
  • Walter: Mel and Robert (Director Ryan Spindell)
  • Rob: Anna and Kaleb (Director Bryce McGuire)

Since all three are doing the same story, just under different concepts from directors, the characters are easy to keep track of. Everyone is making a demon and a possessed person, so the major variation is the demon, which then informs the possessed person.

We will get a Westmore Walkthrough this week for the final time. And he’s brought along a friend: Lois Burwell, whose withering British tinged put downs have been sorely missed this season.



  • Rob: Westmore likes the Voldemortian lack of nose on Rob’s Japanese enspired demon, but once Lois says it looks like a lion, I can’t unsee it.
  • Walter: The looks at his possessed person, and ooh and ahh over the vine concept. Westmore actually says “Ooh-ahh” at the earth bound demon.
  • Melissa: Lois and Westmore stay their possessed person is way too subtle and human looking. Their demon is a cyclops.

The actual make up concepts seem to be going ok–at least, as far as the designs on paper being brought to life. If the directors will agree with them is definitely questionable–especially once Rob decides he’s resculpting the entire demon to resemble a rhino. (It does not look like a rhino.) What seems to be tripping everyone up is the need to create a “demonic symbol” to go with them, and where to put the symbol.


Nobody seems happy with the cheesy ideas they come up with. Party because no one seems to embrace the concept of having a demonic symbol as cheesy. EMBRACE THE CHEESE.

Let us see if the directors are good for some cheese, or if it’s whine all the way down.

Continue reading Face Off Season 10: Hellhole Finale Part 1

Face Off Season 10: Konged

The last time I remember the contestants being dragged deep into a jungle like area, they wound up body painting their  nude models in one of the worst challenges in Face Off history. So while the contestants may just be relieved they didn’t die on the way here, I’m glad to see McKenzie accompanied by a dude from Universal Creative, here to promote their resort theme park. Sadly, the terrain means it’s not a challenge promoting the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. (Sorry, Wizards&Whatnot, I would have loved the tie in.)

Instead it’s a challenge promoting the new attraction back east at Universal Orlando, King Kong’s Skull Island. The designers must take creatures found on Skull Island and “evolve” them to the next level. And though one might think that this being the last challenge before the finale would be enough pressure, there’s a bonus prize for the winner as well, other than just being first through to the finale. An all-expenses paid trip to go to said attraction! (And probably the rest of the theme park as well.)


Most laymen might remember creatures found on Skull Island as “dinosaurs” or “large spiders”, whose excavation sites are laid out around the jungle, for the designers to pick from to use as inspiration. To wit:

Like last week, I feel those who know a lot about King Kong are at a major advantage over those who don’t know much about the Kongoverse. (Is that a word? It should be.) Melissa, for instance, is all about her character (which is also known as an Arachno-Claw.) Rob knows less (much like last week.) But he’s been on a “I Wanna Make a Dinosaur” kick prior to this, so handing him a character called a V-rex is really up his ally.

Let’s see what Westmore has to say on his final pass through the workshop before the finale.


  • Rob: He’s been worried that his dinosaur face is too smiley. Westmore is worried about the amount of work he’s trying to do.
  • Melissa: Westmore encourages her face piece to include the neck, in case her costume doesn’t reach.
  • Walter: He’s thinking to work in the human element. Westmore advises him against that.
  • Mel: He frets her face will look like a mask rather than a face.


Mel is not on solid ground again, but for once she seems to have gotten her mojo all by herself. No one is petting her or bucking her up. She’s taking risks without fear, which is a really great thing to see. I don’t know if she thinks the save automatically puts her through to the finale, or if she figures at this point, if she goes home, she’ll have made it as far as she was ever going to anyway. Either way, I approve of New Mel.

Application day sees Melissa and Walter flying through this challenge in a manner that suggests they are going to be shoo ins for next week. I’m rather crushed to see Rob crashing and burning though. By last looks, it’s clear he’s going to be sending out an unfinished piece. (That’s twice in two weeks!) Let’s see if the judges let him muddle through again on the strength of his earlier work, or if Mel really will wind up in the finale instead.

Continue reading Face Off Season 10: Konged

Face Off Season 10: World of MakeupCraft

Two weeks in a row of the Final Five. if I didn’t know better, I’d say this was so SyFy could maximize the BSG references. (But I do know better, because otherwise they would have found a way to work them in to CNN’s unfortunate use of the same phrase earlier this week.) No, SyFy is not trying to promote itself and the glory years. Instead it’s going to promote World of Warcraft.

Yes, this week’s set dressings for the warehouse workspace are supposed to recall Azeroth. (Spoiler alert, it looks more like a movie ad than anything to do with the original game.) McKenzie has the Senior Art Director from the movie, Chris Robinson, on hand to introduce the challenge: pick a Warcraft race (any Warcraft race, just as long as it’s not one that will be in the movie!) and transform it into an on-screen Azerothian. To wit!


  • Rob: Tauren
  • Walter: Draenei
  • Mel: Troll
  • Yvonne: Goblin
  • Melissa: Worgen

No one picked the Pandaren, sorry drunken nerds. Not everyone is familiar with the interactive submissive game which is as notorious for becoming shorthand for everything bad about living a life online in the early aughts as it is for the lexicon it provided to the internet today. Rob and Mel are both at a complete loss. Walter, on the other hand, is a superfan, as is Melissa. The two of them are both helpful to their fellow artists, but not as helpful as Robinson, who does a pre-walkthrough before the Westmore critique in order to head off any embarrassing trainwrecks.


That may be good, because when Westmore comes along, he clearly doesn’t know much about WoW–just fantasy.

  • Yvonne: Her goblin suffers from the conflicting advice she gets from Westmore. Robinson told her to go cute. Her image is a cute little goblin girl. And yet, she’s gotten it into her head that goblins can’t be cute, and Westmore, who knows goblins like Harry Potter goblins, encourages this bad direction.
  • Melissa: I don’t understand why she’s going “mid-transformation” and neither does Westmore.
  • Rob: He’s already struggling with his choice, though it’s more that he’s bit off too much work than it is bad design ideas. Westmore is judging design ideas and tells him to carry on.
  • Walter: His tentacles are really cool. Westmore approves.
  • Mel: She took everything Robinson gave her an absorbed it, so even though Westmore’s advice is mediocre, she’s heading in a  good direction.

Another boon for Mel is that having no good idea what she’s aiming for other than what she’s told means she can’t freak out that her ideas aren’t good enough. One big problem though, for both her and Melissa, is they both landed the three- and four-fingered creatures, which means they have the added onerous of hand prosthesis. They bands together to work out the logistics, but neither seem very successful in their attempts.


Rob lands the mold drama edit this week, but, for the second time in the show’s history, the mold drama edit is warranted, and his horn mold really and truly fails. This isn’t like the time Roy’s mold failed because it was too big either. This is the “inability for the mold to pop” issue, where we’ve seen fellow contestants come over and help with the man power. In this case there’s nothing for it. The mold won’t pop for anything, leaving Rob not only hornless, but with no time to make his original hunchback piece he was going to do when he was done with the horns.

Application Day finds Rob in understandable despair. Melissa, meanwhile is also having issues since her design idea wasn’t the best to begin with, and though she’s attempting to salvage the with paint, the results for once seem to be getting worse, not better. Her only hope is that Yvonne, who has been mushying along for the entire season really failed to understand what Robinson meant when he told her to make her Goblin “cute.”

Let’s see if the judges know what they are looking at, and what they make of it.

Continue reading Face Off Season 10: World of MakeupCraft

Face Off Season 10: An Eye On The Prize

We’re down to our Final Five on Face Off this week, though there are no bad covers of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” and no one discovers they are a Cylon. Instead, as McKenzie arrives to announce that this week we’re having a Focus Challenge, it occurs to me that this week is the last possible moment for the judges to use their “special one time immunity,” and that means whatever happens today is probably bupkis because everyone will be safe. That really frustrates me. It would have made more sense if they’d used it earlier in the season–say if Mel or Rob had gotten stuck in a particularly disastrous team challenge, or someone on the production thought it would be a good idea to do a “body paint” week again.

Today it’s not about bodies, but eyes. The faux steampunk set, which I think Glenn might have borrowed from Steampunk’d after his guest hosting stint, contains several eyeballs floating in a  gooey morass for the contestant to pick from. Why do the eyes have it? Because this focus challenge is all about keeping an eye on the face. One eye, in the center of the face. Welcome to the Cyclops Challenge. If only Leela were here to guest judge.



To wit:

  • Rob: Triangle pupil in a  dyed blue eyeball
  • Yvonne: Red Iris, no pupil
  • Walter: Purple and white with cat’s eye pupil
  • Melissa: Green with cat’s eye pupil
  • Mel: Large Plain blue human eyeball

Considering that Mel got the plainest of the five eyes, it seems strange that she is the most determined to make an animal hybrid creature. Rob is even worst–he has the leave human eyeball, so his idea is to…put it in the lower half of the face? I get the idea is to move away from humanoid stereotypical structure, but this doesn’t read right. Let’s see what Westmore has to say.FaceOff_gallery_1010Recap_03

  • Melissa: Westmore worries about her color pallette muddying up er design. (I think he really doesn’t like she turned it into a dragon challenge.
  • Rob: He gets told to make the eye wider, though his choice to maybe put the eye where it belongs instead of at the mouth is an improvement.
  • Walter: He  also gets told to make the eye wider
  • Yvonne: Ditto (She looks dubious, and is the only one who doesn’t actually do so.)
  • Mel: Westmore hates the dog. Hates it. He all but tells her to start over and when she resists tells her at least not to make the dog nose “dark,” which is weird because dog noses are black. It’s like a hallmark of dogdom.

One of the things about the one day Focus Challenges, they go by really fast. Even with Mel fretting and self-doubt. That means starting over, like Rob does is dangerous, since there’s just not the same sort of time to sculpt and mold the prosthesis. Of course, this means he also gets the “Mold Drama” edit. Will it be fine? For a moment it looks like the answer is no when the pressure washer fails. (Seriously? In this case the production would be at fault not the artist.) But before it can come to that, the rest of the designers all drop what they are doing and team work his mold clean.


That’s the Face Off that I know and love. The one where the competitors know the make up is the most important thing of all. Even if Rob is probably everyone’s biggest competition right now, having won more challenges than anyone this season, and consistently landing in the top. They’re not going to let him fail because of failed water pressure.

Let’s see who is under pressure on the Reveal Stage, and if the judges wind up having their “one time special immunity” become “Tim Gunn Save Contrived,” or if the show will just let the chips fall where they may.

Continue reading Face Off Season 10: An Eye On The Prize

Face Off Season 10: It’s A Genie In A Bottle Baby

We’ve only got six contestants left. How did that happen? I know I missed a couple of weeks, but it’s still a bit of a shock to see such a small group arrive at the lab. That’s followed by another shock: a Foundation Challenge! Those have been few and far between this season with their precious immunities. That’s partly because the show wants to push the judges to use their own “one time special immunity” (a thing that hasn’t happened yet. I think it’s also because The Gauntlet is basically three Foundation challenges smooshed into a single episode, filling the season’s quota.

Anyway, the challenge for the Immunity prize is Valkyries, judged by long time make up artist Douglas Noe, who is here technically to plug his work on the Marvel franchise. (I suppose the Valkyrie theme sort of ties back–Norse gods were man’s first superheroes or something.) The results aren’t bad either–having gone through The Gauntlet at this point means that these guys have gotten pretty good at them. Yvonne’s is probably the most straight forward and plainest. Walter’s mouth bothers me, though I see where the inspiration comes from. Robert’s is downright obnoxious, which should surprise no one. Mel and Melissa are merely ok for me. If I’d had my druthers I’d have given the win and immunity to Rob. But the expert disagrees, and Melissa is safe sailing for the rest of the hour.



On to the main challenge, which is back in the lab after the set dressers and lighting folk have gotten done with it to turn it into….a bordello? No, a faux Middle Eastern palace, filled with lamps. Genie lamps! Everyone gets to pick a lamp for the rubbing, and create a make up design inspired by the spirit’s cramped, oil-laden home.

With only five designers for the eliminating, let’s see what Westmore thinks of their designs.


  • Mel: She got the biggest lamp of the bunch, which is covered with animals, and is thinking to sculpt an antelope. Westmore says this is the worst idea ever.
  • Walter: His lamp has dragons on it. Somehow it’s perfectly fine for him to make a dragon based design, but not for Mel to make an antelope.
  • Robert: His lamp has a red center, which he decided is a cat’s eye” despite it having nothing to do with cats. And yet somehow it is perfectly fine for him to make a cat, but not for Mel to make an antelope.
  • Rob: He has this green patina’d lamp with big square handles. His design is basically to make a genie that looks like that. Westmore approves, though he frets about the nose.

And that’s all we have time for! Sorry Yvonne and Melissa! Mel winds up starting over, and spiraling down into our now-familiar semi meltdown of self-doubt. The difference is, this time she’s not got a partner to walk her through her issues or give her a critical eye to pull her out of it. The result is that she never does, making hers the hardest of the threads to watch this week.


Meanwhile, in those who thought they were fine and then nosedive we have Walter. In the opposite corner is those who had no idea what they were doing and then discover things are great, we have Rob. I’d rather be in Rob’s corner, since Walter’s freak out leads to the dreaded mold drama edit. But, like most Mold Drama, when all is said and done we have our usual “then a miracle occurs” and everything turns out just fine.

Let’s see how the judges find this looks.

Continue reading Face Off Season 10: It’s A Genie In A Bottle Baby

Face Off Season 10: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

I’ve been laid out sick the last couple of weeks, and unfortunately missed not one, but two episodes, including The Gauntlet! Last year’s gauntlet win for Nora put her in a  frontrunner position from which she never really left. Will last week do the same for Mel? (I’m going to say no–the decision to hand out immunities along the way meant that those who could have won the whole shebang, like Rob and Melissa, were basically taken out of the running because they won too early.) Meanwhile we lost Johnny and Kaleb. I was slightly surprised by the former, but not at all by the latter.

With seven contestants left, this week is the “mirror” challenge that the trailers have been hyping since the beginning of the season. Seven enchantresses in beauty make ups are on hand, each with a little hand mirror baring their character’s name. The contestants will each pick one. Their job is to create the evil witch underneath that their character really looks like when the glamour magic is taken away.


To wit:

  • Rob: Dragon Queen
  • Yvonne: Corpse Conjurer
  • Melissa: The Wiccan of the Woods
  • Anna: Shadow Enchantress
  • Robert: Sea Witch
  • Mel: Temptress of the Flame
  • Walter: Emerald Empress

The designers hang out with their models during the design phase. But instead of interviewing them, the models sit and pose for pictures while the designers tell them the back story they’re making up for the character. (For the record, I don’t see any of the usual models among the group this week.)


Back at the lab the Westmores turn up and check in during the sculpting phase.

  • Melissa: Her Wiccan Witch’s evil side is that she looks like a tree. Westmore is concerned, because painting wood to look like wood is really hard.
  • Walter: His Emerald Witch has emeralds embedded in her face. Westmore tells them they need to be accents
  • Robert: He wants to make a pretty evil witch. Point of the challenge, missed.
  •  Anna: Her stock has fallen in the last two weeks, and Westmore’s treatment of her speaks to that.
  • Mel: He tells her not to “over flame” her “Flame enchantress.”
  • Rob; He was all about dragons before the challenge, and picked the Dragon Witch. So he’s doing…a boring old age make up. Westmore’s eyebrows go up.

Rob goes back to the drawing board, and comes back with something between Maleficent from Snow White and Goat Boy. Mel and Anna come over and try and talk him through fixing it. In turn, Yvonne talks Mel through using vacuu-form and a heat gun to make fiery shapes.


Day two, and the advising each other continues. Mel talks Yvonne through being more anatomically accurate on her neck. Rob talks Walter through the best may to mold her shoulders. No one has mold drama as much as Anna simply fails at time management. Personally, I think that’s worse, since it can’t magically be fine.

Application Day and no one is doing the Polyfoam Run of Shame, which is something of a miracle. Also, we have the reveal of how the characters looking at each other in the mirror is achieved. Remember how those original models were not our usual group? Well, those who turn up today *are* our usual group. The trick is that there is no trick–it’s two different models. I suppose you might consider the trailer shots to therefore have been smoke and mirrors.

Let’s see what the judges have to say.

Continue reading Face Off Season 10: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered