Prolonged Halloween Effects

What would Halloween be without Horror movies? I wouldn’t be very fun for adults. Now let’s think a bit about what makes a Horror movie so damned scary. The story is most definitely a key element. A spooky soundtrack and good Foley adds to the experience. These aren’t the reason we go to a Horror flick. It’s the special effects for most of us.

In honor of Halloween I have for you my list of the best FX artists in Horror.


Lon Chaney

Due to his ability to portray an endless variety of characters, Lon became known as “The Man of a Thousand Faces.” Chaney was famous for both his commitment to his roles and his artistry applying makeup. He professed that his stock in trade as “was in makeup and the art of pantomime.”

Most famous for:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera, Mr. Wu, London After Midnight







Jack Pierce

The Universal Studios Master who’s diminutive stature may be the reason he turned to effects work in the first place.  Jack gave us many of the movie beasts we have come to love.

Most famous for:

Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolfman, White Zombie





Robert Kurtzman/Gregory Nicotero/Howard Berger (KNB Studios)

These fine fellows founded KNB Studios in the 1980’s and have been involved in so many films off and on since that its tough to separate out the individuals achievements of each.  Rest assured they have had their collective hands in hundreds of your favorite horror flicks.

Most famous for: 

Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Nightmare on Elm Street 5, Scream, In the Mouth of Madness




Giannetto De Rossi

Lucio Fulci’s gore master from the late seventies and early eighties made the walking dead amusing and disturbing in ways never seen on-screen.  Fans of zombie flicks should be familiar with his grotesquely-realized gags such as pierced eyeballs and flesh-eating spiders.

Most famous for:

Zombi, Dune, High Tension, Conan the Destroyer





Carlo Rambaldi

Rambaldi has the distinction of being the first special effects artist to be required to prove that his work on a film was not ‘real’. Dog-mutilation scenes in the 1971 film A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin were so convincingly visceral that its director, Lucio Fulci, was prosecuted for offences relating to animal cruelty. Fulci would have served a two-year prison sentence had Rambaldi not exhibited the film’s array of props to a courtroom, proving that the scene was not filmed using real animals.

Most famous for:

E.T., Alien, Dune, King Kong, Close Encounters of the Third Kind



Tom Savini

You know Savini’s work if you have watched movies in the last 30 years.  He is a true master in every sense of the word.  His effects brought us some of the most realistic zombies around. Savini’s artistry was actually born from real-life experiences following a stint as a combat photographer in Vietnam in the late ’60s. As a result he came to understand the non-Hollywood-ized details of real death.

Most famous for:

Dawn of the Dead, The Burning,  Friday the 13th, Creepshow



Dick Smith

Smith Smith pioneered the method of applying prosthetics made from foam latex in small pieces as opposed to the standard of applying a latex mask as one solid piece.Smith’s technique allowed the actor to have a wide range of facial expressions, making the makeup appear more natural. Despite initial criticism from many professional makeup artists at the time, Smith’s makeup techniques proved to be superior. Today, the standard of applying prosthetics are those that Smith invented.

Most Famous for:

Scanners, Taxi Driver, Altered States, The Godfather, Amadeus, The Exorcist




Rob Bottin

A protege of another famous FX artist in this list at the tender age of 14, founder of his own studio at 18 and Oscar winner. Bottin is without question one of the best. Few can boast the résumé Bottin has crafted.  If his only credit had been John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi/horror classic – on which he worked for 57 grueling weeks straight – Rob Bottin would still be hailed as one of the greatest special effects artists in the history of cinema.

Most Famous for:

The Howling, The Thing, The Fog, Cantina Scene in Star Wars, Legend, Mimic, Fight Club




Rick Baker

As a teen, Baker began creating artificial body parts in his own kitchen.  His first job was assisting another great FX artist on the set of the Exorcist. He has gone on to teach multitudes of other artists the trade and win more academy awards than any other in his field to date.  He is responsible, in my opinion, for the greatest werewolf transformation ever captured on film.  he is particular noted for his ability to recreate realistic animals, especially great apes.

Most Famous for:

Its alive, American Werewolf in London, King Kong, Star Wars, Videodrome, Thriller music video, Harry and the Hendersons, Hellboy, the list goes on and on.





Stan Winston

When picking from the two grand old masters of FX, Winston wins over Baker in my book, but its a super close call.  Winston passed away in 2008 but in his nearly 60 years in the field he gave us pure unadulterated magic.  From killer robots to giant dinosaurs, cursed monsters to evil Aliens.  Winston was the first to truly break FX ground when computers began to take over the world.

Most Famous for:

The Wiz, Terminator parts 1 and 2, Aliens, Monster Squad, Pumpkinhead, Edward Scissor hands, Jurassic Park, Wrong turn, Constantine, the list goes on and on and REALLY on.






About JayCooper

Puzzled WebWizard from Mount Juliet Tennessee. Married for 25+ years to a wonderful wife with three grown sons.

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