13 Iconic Special Effects Make-up Looks and Their Creators

We can’t help but get excited when we see some amazing Special Effects work, so this Halloween we’ve compiled a list of thirteen iconic movie make-up looks to get into the spooky spirit!

Ranging from creepily simple or gloriously gory, high tech or totally old-school; these make-up looks are etched into pop culture memory and are instantly recognisable.

Frankenstein – 1931


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Let’s start way back – this iconic look created by legendary Hollywood make-up artist Jack Pierce has become synonymous with the classic monster tale.


Edward Scissorhands


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Who doesn’t recognise the character brought to life by Johnny Depp? The make-up was dreamed up by artists Stan Winston and Ve Neill, who were nominated for an Academy Award for their work.

The Pale Man


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Anyone who has watched Pan’s Labyrinth has the image of the Pale Man burnt into their vision; this creepy character is straight out of your most twisted fantasties. The artist behind the creation, Arjen Tuiten, managed to develop a character that will stick with us through the ages.

The Joker


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Whilst it was Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker which has immortalised this character, the make-up is instantly recognisable. John Caglione Jr. found inspiration in a painting by Francois Bacon and the finished result is both sinister and enthralling.




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Based on the writings of the King of Horror, Stephen King, Pennywise is the ultimate scary clown. Bart Mixon, who designed, sculpted and applied the make-up for the character is responsible for the oh-so-spooky look as it deteriorates from creepy-happy to downright horror throughout the story. Tim Curry’s disturbing portrayal really brought this look to life- and into our nightmares.



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The second character from a Tim Burton film to feature in our list, Beetlejuice is just as recognisable and a must see on Halloween! Michael Keating’s portrayal of the rambunctious spirit is brilliant, but it’s the make-up work within the film which brought the film its biggest accolades. Head Make-up Artist Ve Neill (who also worked on Edward Scissorhands) won the film’s only Academy Award for Best Make-up alongside co-artists Steve La Porte and Robert Short.

An American Werewolf in London


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Since premièring in 1981, An American Werewolf in London has reached cult status, thanks to Rick Baker, who is responsible for the character David’s brutal transformation into a werewolf. The film received numerous nominations and awards for make-up including the Academy Award for Best Makeup.

Freddy Kreuger

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There are so many Nightmare on Elm Street films today that we have seen the character of Freddy Krueger transform over the years. Whilst he wasn’t the first, many credit artist Kevin Yagher who worked on the Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge in 1985 to have really set the trail for what Freddy would look like in years to come.



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Brian Sipe was responsible for bringing the character of Mystique back to life in the latest X-men movies. It took him and a team of two other artists over three hours to apply the make-up each day to Jennifer Lawrence. The finished result seems worth the time and effort!




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The character of Pinhead came from the mind of horror and fantasy writer Clive Barker. The Hellraiser films have cult status, much like Barker’s novels, and the character of Pinhead features in multiple films. Geoffrey Portass was the first makeup artist to work on bringing the character to life.



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If you ask someone to name a horror movie for you one of the first names off their lips would likely be ‘The Conjuring’; it ticks all the boxes for a good fright night. We still get goosebumps when we see the character of Valek the possessed nun in The Conjuring 2. You have the likes of Key Hair and Make-up Artist Konnie Daniel to thank for those nightmares!



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The Predator films are another franchise which has gained cult status and seen many follow ons. Stan Winston, responsible for Edward Scissorhands, worked with director James Cameron to conceptualise and develop the apparatus of the Predator character which we know today.



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The moment people laid eyes on Angelina Jolie’s ‘Maleficent’, she had us dying to recreate those cheekbones and lips. The look comes down to the ultimate special effects team (who have already featured in our list!) Jolie got Rick Baker (see above) on board to work with her personal make-up artist Toni G to conceptualise the look. Then Arjen Tuiten (responsible for Pan’s Labrynth) to assist in making the prosthetics. He also did the daily application on Jolie.

What are some of your favourite iconic movie SPX Make-up?

Happy Halloween!

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