Good Day Boils and Creepy horse humping fiends, today i bring you an FX man named Jason Alvino who has done so many projects in horror FX and Sculpting, and his recent efforts can be seen in the horror short COTTONMOUTH on www.cottonmouth.tv Also he works for Wicked EFX! Lets Fire away now!
Dr. Gorehound: When did you first encounter the art of make-up FX and prosthetics before you got your big break in the business, and what fascinates you most about that field?
Jason Alvino: As a kid I was always interested in monster movies, comic books and magic tricks. Later I discovered horror movies and Fangoria magazine and that was it for me, I was hooked. When I realized that there were guys whose job it was to actually make those monsters, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, so to speak. I guess finding makeup FX was just a natural progression.
Dr. Gorehound: What FX Company do you work/own and what types of FX does your company specialize in?
Jason Alvino: I co-own Wicked EFX with my two partners, Marissa Masella and G. Edward Melamed. Depending on the project, we also work with an extremely talented group of makeup artists that enable us to be a versatile unit. While we can handle anything from beauty and glamour makeup to straight up gore, my personal favorite projects are when we get to do creature effects and character makeups.
Dr. Gorehound: What films/TV shows have you done gory/creature FX on, and what are the materials that you used to create those?
Jason Alvino: Wicked EFX has supplied all kinds of special makeup and effects to many different productions. We’ve contributed to everything from national television programs and internet shorts to feature films and live events. I try to choose projects that are interesting or give us an opportunity to work for someone we admire or challenge us artistically. With “Cottonmouth” we were lucky enough to have the project present all three of those points, so that was a bonus for us. As far as materials, we use whatever works for the effect. I personally really like using the new transfer prosthetics and silicone materials. I find them to be the perfect solution for doing lab work in a small space. We don’t really use foam latex too much, unless the project absolutely called for it.
Another project in particular is a really cool short film called WICK, directed by Micah Gallo. We provided some creepy creature FX which was two silicone and foam puppets as well as a “spontaneous combustion” type gag which involved cotton, latex, gelatin, a fake skeleton, a PA’s legs and a gutted Lazy Boy recliner. I think the short is awesome and I’m really pleased with the work we contributed. I can’t wait for people to see it!
Dr. Gorehound: What is the film Cottonmouth about and what FX did you do in that film, also how did you create them?
Jason Alvino: “Cottonmouth” is about a man haunted by four vengeful ghosts whose lives he destroyed.
We supplied all the ghost FX, including the makeups and the glowing eyes. Those were all custom made, thin silicone appliance masks and fiber optic lines with clear plastic reflective lenses fitted over the actor’s eyes. We used very bright LED flashlights as a light source and ran the fiber optic line up the actors back, around their ears and under the thin silicone masks. There was also the man’s sewed-up mouth and the end sequence where he is all rotted and nasty. We used a combination of transfer prosthetics, bald cap application and body painting in addition to live insects. John Brodie was quite the trooper that night!
Dr. Gorehound: The film Cottonmouth is based on an old comic strip in one of the 1980’s issue’s of the horror mag Gore Shriek. So what made you or the director decide to turn that into a short film?
Jason Alvino: Actually it’s based on a three page story by writer and artist Steve Bissette in the 80’s horror comic Gore Shriek. It was all Chris Garetano’s idea to adapt it. He called me one day and asked, “Did you ever read the story “Cottonmouth” in Gore Shriek issue one?” and I was like, “Um, yeah. I have it right here!”
It was so strange, I just happened to open a box of old comics and knew exactly what he was talking about. I think I remembered it so clearly for the same reason Chris chose to adapt it… after all those years, the story stuck with us.
When he told me he was planning on adapting it with Bissette’s blessing, I was instantly sold. Pre-production was a very exciting time for all of us and I’m glad Chris had the foresight to document as much as he could. When we finally got to see our work standing there on set, live, it was such a thrill. I was amazed that I was part of something I was already a fan of. Even if I wasn’t involved in the production, I would still be stoked about an adaptation of a story from a horror comic I used to read as a kid. It was definitely one of those weird life-moments for me.
Dr. Gorehound: What was it like working with the gorgeous scream queens Debbie Rochon and Monique Dupree on Cottonmouth?
Jason Alvino: Debbie and Monique are fantastic to work with. They are total pro’s, never complaining, always with a positive attitude. I’ve know Debbie for a while and we met Monique on a film we worked on called BACHELOR PARTY IN THE BUNGALO OF THE DAMNED. Actually, the first time we met her, we had to make a cast of her breasts! Monique and her husband Saint were such cool people; I knew she had to be involved in “Cottonmouth” somehow. They are both great actresses and just a joy to be around.
Dr. Gorehound: Which gory deaths have you created recently that left others in shock/disgusted?
Jason Alvino: There is an intense self-amputation gag in THE WRECK that seems to gross people out. The film played at Fantastic Fest recently, and from what I understand the audience reaction to that scene was pretty nuts. I remember when we were filming it; some of the crew were gagging and couldn’t even watch it.
Dr. Gorehound: What are the films THE WRECK and HOLOCAUST HOLOCAUST about, and what FX did you create for those films?
Jason Alvino: THE WRECK is about a couple who are trapped in a car for days after an accident in the woods. Nobody knows where they are, they are wounded and the wife is pregnant. On top of all that, there seems to be someone stalking them. For that film, we supplied makeup effects to practically every scene. There were of course the wounds on the two leads, which had to get worse as the days went by, and a few nasty gags including the self-amputation I mentioned before.
HOLOCAUST HOLOCAUST is a cool little film about a group of people who are marooned on a cannibal (and zombie) infested island after their boat sinks. Our friend and fellow makeup artist Ingrid Okola brought us on to supply some zombie makeups and a few other gags. The guys who made it did some amazing things with a handful of credit cards, like constructing an entire cannibal village somewhere in the woods of Vermont . I think the title may change, but everyone involved was really great to us.
Dr. Gorehound: Do you also create custom made horror masks and busts?
Jason Alvino: I’ve started to make custom Frankenstein’s Monster busts, the first in a series inspired by the movies I loved growing up.
You can find these at Hyaena Gallery in LA or just go to www.hyaenagallery.com and ask Bill for more info.
Dr. Gorehound: What are some gory deaths you did on Dead Calling and Grace?
Jason Alvino: Well for GRACE, we created the title character. We fabricated an “undead baby” puppet and handled a pretty nasty birthing scene. We also popped out Brian Austin Green’s eyeball and stuck a pen through his throat! You can watch the short film right on our Myspace page. I think you will be hearing a lot about the feature soon.
DEAD CALLING was a pitch film, or trailer for a feature film that was ultimately never made. We had a great time on that project though, and made a really cool eyeball slicing gag out of a hard boiled egg!
Dr. Gorehound: Who are some of your favorite actresses or actors to work with on films and FX on them?
Jason Alvino: For the most part, everyone we’ve worked with has been cool to us. Lisa Weil, Monique Dupree, Debbie Rochon and Suzi Lorraine were all great to work with, and very nice people. Brian Austin Green, Aaron Lohr, Jonathan Cherry and Peter Stickles are all fine actors and great guys.
Dr. Gorehound: Have you had any actor complain when you did a custom mold on their faces and how did you deal with it?
Jason Alvino: Luckily, no… so far at least!
Dr. Gorehound: Do you also do props for haunted house attractions or set design for them?
Jason Alvino: There really aren’t many haunted attractions in Brooklyn . I think there are maybe two in NYC, but they have their own people. I’d really like to try one sometime though, from what I understand they are pretty lucrative.
Dr. Gorehound: Did you also work on the documentary HORROR BUSINESS and what can you tell us about its sequel SON OF HORROR BUSINESS?
Jason Alvino: We met director Chris Garetano after HORROR BUSINESS was completed and he was starting to promote it. We offered to do some makeup demos at a few screenings and the rest is history. There is even some footage of that stuff on the DVD’s special features.
SON OF HORROR BUSINESS is a bit different from the first film, it’s got an overall different perspective, I think. I know Chris shot a lot of footage of us, some of which I know is going to be a blast to see because at the time I remember thinking, “This is so bizarre, I’m glad someone is shooting this!”
Dr. Gorehound: What separates other good horror docs like Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film and Masters of Horror from Horror Business?
Jason Alvino: have to say it’s completely different from those other films you mentioned. It’s about what it’s like to be one of those guys trying to break into the horror genre and how difficult it is.
Dr. Gorehound: How did it feel to win the first prize at a Fangoria Weekend of Horrors costume contest when you were 14 years old?
Jason Alvino: That was definitely one of the defining moments of my childhood… it was such a thrill. It was more of an art contest than a costume contest and I remember I made this cable-controlled zombie puppet out of a latex mask and an old bicycle brake. My Dad, my brother and I schlepped this big box into NYC from Long Island and I was so excited, I was shaking. I was nuts about Fango, my hero Tom Savini was there and it was the first time I ever really showed any of my work in public. I remember the audience reaction very vividly when I took my homemade zombie prop out of the box and displayed it; I was stunned. When they announced me as a winner I was even more stunned!
For my prize, Creation Convention owner Adam Malin took me around the convention and gave me all this great stuff. That was a really great time to be a kid.
Dr. Gorehound: Who are some of the FX legends that you admire and paved the way for you to do what you love?
Jason Alvino: Tom Savini is the reason I do what I do. He was a huge influence on me in my youth. The first time I met him, he was at that Fango convention I talked about before. Afterwards, I showed him my little book of like ten photos of practice makeups I did on my friends. He autographed my copy of Grande Illusions, wrote Dick Smith’s address in the back of the book and then gave me his personal business card. For a kid like me back then in the ‘80’s, that was a huge deal. My future was practically written right there and then.
Rob Bottin’s work was also a huge influence on me. I remember watching THE THING over and over on VHS, pausing frame by frame during all the creature parts. I went to see ROBOCOP and TOTAL RECALL in theaters and they just blew me away. Not to sound like an old fart, but movies were different back then. Even the experience of going out to the movies was different then, and that influenced me as much as the movie itself; if that makes any sense.
Dr. Gorehound: What advice could you give up and coming FX artists trying to make a name for themselves?
Jason Alvino: The best advice I can give someone starting out is to learn as much as they can about ALL aspects of being a make-up artist, even the stuff that isn’t gore or monsters. Consider taking Dick Smith’s course and definitely practice sculpting; maybe even take a class or two just for that. Practice and then practice some more. Be confident and focused, be professional, be clean and neat, and by all means don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.
Dr. Gorehound: Lastly what is your favorite horror movie of all time?
Jason Alvino: That’s tough. There are many, but this month I’ll say John Carpenter’s THE THING.
Dr. Gorehound: Do you have an official website or MySpace that FX clients can contact you at?
Jason Alvino: Sure, check us out at: www.myspace.com/wickedefx
Dr. Gorehound: Thanks for your bloody time Jason! ;)
Jason Alvino: Thanks for your interest Doctor, this was fun!
Dr. Gorehound: Okay now time for me to exact revenge on the bastard who caused the death of my dog “Spot” with those poisen bloody tampons!
The Doc is out!
Interview: Jason Alvino (Wicked EFX Studios)