The Dead-Eyes Have It: “Monster Makeup” tips provided by legendary makeup artist Dick Smith

By on October 29, 2018

Halloween is just a few days away, but we’re sure some of you are still trying to plan out your costumes, so with that in mind we thought we’d share Monster Makeup, an instructional video hosted by the legendary Dick Smith, who offers up a few of the techniques he used in movies like The Hunger, The Exorcist, The Sentinel, Little Big Man, Taxi Driver, Scanners and more!

Watch Monster Makeup now on Night Flight Plus.


Monster Makeup is based on Smith’s instructional Do-It-Yourself Monster Makeup Handbook, a specially-published edition of Forrest J. Ackerman‘s Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine series.

Just like he does in that early ’60s book, Smith demonstrates — and in just a half-hour’s time — several basic but incredibly effective makeup techniques.


Smith applying makeup to actor F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus

One of Smith’s most famous makeup designs was the “Quasimodo”-type prosthetics he created for the short-lived early ’60s CBS series “Way Out,” a Twilight Zone-styled supernatural-themed TV show hosted by author Roald Dahl.

In Episode 7 (“False Face”), which aired on May 26, 1961, an actor playing Quasimodo in a stage play of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” pays a homeless man with a deformed face to model for him.

The actor applies stage makeup identical to the deformed man. However, after his successful opening night, the man can’t remove the makeup, finding he’s permanently disfigured.


Smith contributed his makeup applications to fourteen other memorable episodes of “Way Out,” as well as working on several other more-memorable TV shows, including the gothic TV soap opera “Dark Shadows” (1966-1971) where he aged actor Jonathan Frid’s “Barnabas Collins” vampire character to appear over 175 years old.


Here’s what it says on the back of the DVD, which features photos of two of Dick Smith’s best-known characters, his Quasimodo-esque “Dead Eye Dick” and “Martin ‘Bum’ Brooks:

“Let Dick Smith, the creator of the magic special effects for Altered States, The Exorcist, The Hunger and Amadeus show you how it’s done. You’ll never have to worry about searching for a Halloween costume again!”

“Using easily available materials, you can transform yourself into any kind of creature that you wish to become. Amaze and frighten your friends! Win prizes at parties! Learn professional secrets that might start you on your way to a movie career.”


Read more about Dick Smith below.


Hey! Do you have a Night Flight Plus subscription?

We’re offering up original uncut air masters of Night Flight programming from the video vaults of the 1980s TV show, as well as provocative new selections from the world of music, documentaries, animation, cult films and more. Sign up today!


New York native Richard Emerson “Dick” Smith (b. June 26, 1922) had thought he was going to be a dentist until he discovered the art of makeup.

Smith is probably best known for pioneering the use of prosthetic applications made from small pieces of foam latex — instead of the more regular use of applying a full latex mask over the face — allowing the actor beneath the makeup to use a wider range of their own natural facial expressions.

Today, the use of smaller latex pieces is pretty much the standard used by everyone, everywhere.

Dick Smith is seen working behind-the-scenes on the set of The Exorcist (courtesy of the film’s director of photography Owen Roizman)

Smith also pioneered the use of combining makeup with on-set “practical” special effects beginning with William Friedkin‘s The Exorcist in 1973.


Dustin Hoffman is transformed by Dick Smith in Little Big Man

Smith won a 1985 Academy Award for Best Makeup for his work on Amadeus and received a 2012 Academy Honorary Award for his career’s work.

He also shared the BAFTA Award for Amadeus with Paul LeBlanc in 1985.


Smith’s makeup techniques as seen in 1977’s The Sentinel

Smith mainly earned his living as the makeup director for NBC television shows, dating from 1945 to 1959.

There, he developed many new materials and pioneered the use of foam latex and plastic molds for many of the networks TV shows (his ideas and applications were initially criticized by other professional makeup artists at the time).


In addition to his Oscar wins — he also earned an Oscar nomination for Dad, which he shared with Ken Diaz and Greg Nelson, in 1990 — Dick Smith also won a Primetime Emmy in makeup for his work in “Mark Twain Tonight!” (1967).

He was nominated for Emmys other television specials and series, including “North and South” (shared with Alan Fama and Rod Wilson, 1986), “Harry S. Truman: Plain Speaking” (1977) and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1968).


A full list of highlights from his length career would likely include the makeup for Robert De Niro’s “Travis Bickle” character in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), which includes the bloody makeup effects for the bloodbath at the film’s climax.

Smith also designed artificial breasts for actress Karen Black for use in the 1971 movie Carnal Knowledge, although Black was later replaced by director Mike Nichols, who re-cast her part with actress Ann-Margret, who had larger breasts which required no special makeup effects.

Smith later recycled the foam rubber breasts he’d created for Black, however, for use by actress Katharine Ross in one of her signature roles, 1975’s The Stepford Wives, in a scene which her robot-like character “Joanna Eberhart” is seen in a sexy sheer negligée.

Smith also worked on memorable Eighties movies like The Fan (1981), Ghost Story (1981), Scanners (1981), Spasms(1983), The Hunger (1983), and Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986), among many, many others.


Legends: Rick Baker and Dick Smith

Smith passed away at the age of 92 on July 30, 2014.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who knew Smith for nearly thirty years, wrote about Dick Smith for Vulture, saying: “Without Dick Smith, I would not be making movies.”

Watch Monster Makeup on Night Flight Plus.


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.