1980’s Music Videos & Make Up Effects

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Greg Cannom Ozzy Osbourne ”Bark at the Moon”
In 1980, Ozzy Osbourne signed as a solo act by Epic Records; at his first meeting with the company’s top brass, the Ozz pulled a dead pigeon out of a paper bag, and bit its head off. Supposedly the record execs were quite shocked, and ready to terminate Osbourne’s contract then and there. It’s said that his manager had to do a lot of managing to smooth things over with the record honchos.

The story of the rocker’s geek-like behavior got out to the rock press, and it didn’t seem to hurt Osbourne’s image any. If anything, it seemed to cement his reputation as a “real showman” one who would do anything to give his audience a rise. Then, during a concert in Des Moines in 1982, a member of the audience threw something on stage. To Osbourne, it looked like a toy-a rubber bird. It seemed a good idea to play along with the gag, so the Ozz picked it up and bit into it.

Instead of getting a mouthful of rubber, Osbourne again felt the sickening crunch of tiny bones as he bit off the head of a dead bat. Again, this time by accident he’d played the geek. And, again, the story got played up by the rock press, though most reporters neglected to mention that the incident had been accidental; as far as they were concerned, it was just old Ozzy, the madman of rock, playing that role to the hilt. It didn’t feel that way to Osbourne, though, who had to endure a painful series of rabies shots for his error.

During his 1983 tour of the U.S. Osbourne found his concerts were the target of a pressure campaign by church and parents’ groups, who perceived the Ozzas some form of human devil. Animal Cruelty and satanism were regarded by these groups as a regular part of his act, which of course they had never seen. Robert Hilburn of the L.A. Times reported on a meeting of one such group, which had Seen Osbourne’s act after they had failed to stop it.

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The next morning, several of the concerned ministers gathered to hear a report on the show. “You know what bothered me the most?”one pastor asked. “He said ‘God bless you.’ That’s blasphemy.”

Osbourne, a sincere Christian in his private life, was more than a little upset by these attacks by the clergy.” At first, all this satanic business was funny,” he told Hilburn. It brought me a lot of publicity when I needed it… But it has become like a nightmare. It’s like an LSD trip. You take a tablet and it’s fun at first, but you can’t turn it off.

“To me, it’s like American Werewolf in London or something, just a put on… Why are these people picking on me? Why don’t they picket Vincent Price? He must have been in 90 films with all kinds of satanic references.”

The Ozz made it pretty clear in all of his interviews of the period that he was ready for a change. That change arrived this year, when he appeared, on the Bark at the Moon (1983) album cover and in the video for the title track, as a werewolf. Osbourne’s logic here is pretty clear-if no one believed he was play-acting as a satanist, maybe they will finally recognize Ozzy the Werewolf as a creation of the purest fantasy.

Because Ozzy, like Michael Jackson, is a huge fan of John Landis’ An American Werewolf, Rick Baker was the first artist approached; but Baker was determined to take a hiatus from makeup work. Osbourne and company began combing the country in search of the right makeup man for the job, when one of their contacts recommended Greg Cannom, who had cut his teeth, lycanthropically speaking, as a key crew member on The Howling. “They told me they needed this werewolf makeup in one week,” says Cannom.

There were actually two Cannom werewolves involved, the first to be done for the album cover photo session, and a second for the Bark at the Moon video. “In a way, I viewed the album cover shoot as a test; for the video, we had more time, and made a few changes that made it much more to my liking.”

Cannom’s involvement in the video has convinced him that the music business is even crazier than the movie business, though he found the project, overall, a fun assignment. Initially, Cannom was put off a bit by Ozzy’s “madman” reputation; that changed, however, when he met Osbourne. “His wife said to me, ‘I want to see how you’re going to get Ozzy to sit still for five hours,” Cannom recalls. “But he did it, no problems, and he wore the contacts with no problems.”

True fans know that Ozzy’s personality is more puppy dog than Satanist, and Cannom’s design reflects this with a more doglike countenance. A chief difficulty in the design of prostheses was the requirement that Osbourne’s tattoos, on his knuckles, chest and arms, should show through. This required the laying of very fine hair.

Two continents collaborated to get the work done within schedule. We were surprised to learn that in the U.S., Cannom’s chief assistant was Kevin Yagher. The hair for Ozzy’s wig was laid by Hollywood’s leading hairmeister, Josephine Turner. In England, Janice Barnes tied the individual hairs to lace hairpieces for Osbourne’s body, which she also applied.

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Mark Mayling served as Cannom’s assistant at Shepperton Studios for the album cover shoot, and on location for the video. Cannom is particularly pleased with the skill and the speed displayed by Turner and Barnes on the exacting hair work. “It was amazing, just plain incredible, that they were able to come through in that amount of time.

“The video was shot at Northampton County Sanatorium, which was built for rich people in the early 1900’s; they closed it down just a few years ago. It was one of the most spectacular buildings I’ve ever seen, and one of the scariest. Hundreds and hundreds of vast, empty rooms and vaulting hallways. I’d hate to be in there at night. One of my main disappointments with the video was that they really didn’t make very good use of that fabulous building…I was also disappointed that they didn’t show the makeup up close, after all the effort that went into it.”

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John Carl Buechler on the Ronnie James Dio’s Last in Line (1984)
In 1984, Ronnie James Dio’s eponymic band followed up the success of Holy Diver with their second album, The Last in Line. The title track was accompanied by a completely bizarre music video directed by Don Coscarelli, who also brought us the horror flick Phantasm.

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The Ramones Psycho Therapy Video
Shostrom’s entry into the wide world of rock video makeup came while he was working at an L.A. prop house; at the time, he was molding various nefarious devices to be used by the intergalactic buccaneers in the forthcoming film Ice Pirates. “Frank Delia, the producer of the Psycho Therapy (1983) video, knew John Varris, the vice president of the company,” Shostrom says. “John came in one day and said, ‘I know a lot of you guys have weird portfolios, a friend of mine is producing a rock video, and if you bring in your portfolios tomorrow, you can show him your stuff.'” The next day, Delia looked over the portfolios of the crew members; Shostrom and Showe were picked for the job.

Delia was far more open to input by the makeup artists than most film producers. “I don’t think Frank had worked with special effects of this sort before,” says Shostrom, “and, considering the weird situations portrayed in the video they’d planned, he was more inclined to be open, allowing us to toss in some ideas.

“Frank played the song for us, gave us copies of the lyrics, explained the basic idea of the psychoward and asked us if we had any ideas. We threw the ball around for several hours, and came up with the scenario of the Teenage Dope Fiend-the TDF, as Frank liked to call him-on the table about to be given a lobotomy, when his head splits open and this ‘alter ego emerges.”

This effect was accomplished “dry that is, without unpleasant gore, slime or other viscous substances, though a more graphic approach was considered. “But even before filming, there were many people at Warner Brothers and MTV who let Frank know they were against it,” says Shostrom. “Frank fought them, though we didn’t go with any blood. It was still too gory for a lot of people; when they screened it for MTV, people walked out and said there was no way they could show it.

“All of the work has done in eleven arduous days—the lifecast of the actor, Robert Dennis, who played the TDF, his splitting head, the creature puppet, the corpse apparition of the psychiatrist, and one other thing that you can barely see at all in the video, a breathing desktop-a slight Videodrome ripoff. If you look carefully when the corpse-psychiatrist is on, you can see a bulge rising in one corner. And there was also a brief cutaway for the operation scene, where the surgical team is a bunch of rotted corpses. The work for that consisted mostly of taking some old heads off my shelf and throwing some shit on them.”

The puppet, a caricatured likeness of actor Dennis, was built onto a cast of Shostrom’s arm. For actual shooting, Shostrom manipulated the puppet while Showe worked the cables that opened Dennis’ head. Their only assistant was Miles Liptak, who helped with the casting.

“Unfortunately, we never got to meet the Ramones,” laments Shostrom, who has performed as a rock musician himself. “They shot it over a three day period; the first two days they shot with the Ramones, while we continued work in the shop the last day was just pickups and effects, so the Ramones were gone.”

Music Video Work
Shostrom, who has recently finished working on a second rock video, for Blue Oyster Cult, expects special makeups to be an increasing part of the rock video phenomenon. “It’s good for the artist,” he says, “because you’re not tied into a script, and it’s clear that they need your ideas and input. Also, it’s a very small proportion of films that can use or require special makeup. Rock videos, just by the nature of the music, have great possibilities for visuals of all kinds, including makeup.”

It’s long been known that one factor that draws rock fans to auditoriums is the chance to hear their favorite hit tune performed live. Taking the rock video phenomenon to its logical conclusion, it probably won’t be long before groups start attempting to re-create their hit videos, live on stage. Imagine, for instance, the Rolling Stones interrupting a performance of Undercover of the Night to engage in a heated on-stage gun battle!

For close to a decade, rock’s leading dramatic troupe has been none other than The Tubes, a musical ensemble composed primarily of former art students. Though the group successfully entered the mainstream of recorded rock with their 1983 hit “She’s a Beauty,” in the mid-70’s their live stage shows were viewed by many as the leading edge of rock’s avante garde.

king Quay Lewd

The elaborately staged Tubes concerts as preserved for posterity on Thorn-EMI’s cassette, Tubes Video, have always been enormously expensive to mount. Early on, the group found a bargain in Rick Lazzarini, a 15-year-old makeup enthusiast. “My brother knew a guy, Tim Mazonk, who was doing pyrotechnics for them,” recalls Lazzarini, “and that was how I hooked up with them.” For one segment of the show, Lazzarini transformed lead singer Fee Waybill into the ultimate punk rocker” by festooning his face with razor blades and other sharp objects. Another character, glitter rock king Quay Lewd, sported 13-inch platform shoes built by Lazzarini (these are still in the act). In a sequence that anticipated Videodrome, Waybill would ram headfirst into a Lazzarini-built TV set, coming up with the set stuck on his head, distorting and magnifying his features. On special occasions, Lazzarini would join the group onstage during the finale, to dance about in his own “anatomically correct” complete with genitals apesuit.

Lazzarini’s otherwise normal teenage lifestyle prevented him from touring nationally with the group, but he worked with them throughout the state of California, where the group enjoyed its greatest popularity. “It was a great thrill,” Lazzerini recalls,” ’cause here I was a kid from a hick town south of San Francisco, reading every copy of Famous Monsters and running out into the street with blood all over me like your readers do, so it was great to have the chance to do these really bizarre things.”

At 17, Lazzarini began touring with KISS as a pyrotechnician, designing various stage effects, and preparing and cuing the on-stage explosions that accompanied their high-decibel rock. His makeup skills were later called into play, however, for such tasks as finding a formula for stage blood that would meet the high standards set by Gene Simmons. “He wanted something that would be healthy if you swallowed it.” Lazzerini recalls. “We wound up using a mixture of egg whites, some flour to thicken it, and red food coloring. It had to be warmed a bit, too, because he didn’t want to take it cold.”

Simmons had a unique method for maintaining discipline among the pyrotechnics crew. A quantity of mouthwash was kept on-stage so that Simmons could clear his throat after performing fire-breathing stunts; when any of the pyro crew missed an effects cue, they could expect to be sprayed with a mouthful of Lavoris. Lazzerini apparently didn’t find Simmons’ methods too unreasonable, however, later, when working for the Hollywood Wax Museum, the makeup artist arranged for the group to be immortalized as one of the museum’s most popular exhibits.

Around the same time, Lazzarini and John Watkins (who would later succeed him as pyrotechnician for KISS) organized a group called the B.E.M.’s (Booger Eating Morons). The group lasted for only one concert hall appearance before becoming a San Francisco Bay rock legend. Suffice to say that their act featured on-stage gunplay, blood pumps, smashed guitars and the microwave massacre pictured above.

Lazzarini subsequently resumed his college education. “I was taking film courses,” he says, “and also courses in business, law and computer science-I decided I wanted to be a rich makeup effects artist, not just a makeup effects artist.” While pursuing his education, Lazzarini referred any major assignments he was offered to friends, though he contributed additional stage effects designs for a subsequent KISS tour.

Lazzerini’s return as a rock’n’roll makeup maestro came with the making of the Jeopardy video featuring Greg Kihn. As head of makeup effects, Lazzerini was in charge of zombie-izing 30 people, attendees at a wedding of the dead, and sculpted a 6-foot-long Octopus tentacle (adapted to greater length by the video crew) which engages Kihn in mortal battle. Assisting with the zombie makeups was a young makeup artist with the singular name Syd Terror; Terror also provided the connective tissue for a strange pair of Siamese Twins seen in the video, and “Martha,” the video’s zombie bride.

The resultant video was one of four nominees in the best effects category of Heavy Metal magazine’s rock video awards last year, and the only nominee that did not rely heavily on opticals for its razzle-dazzle. Just recently, Lazzarini and Mark Shostrom worked together on a brand-new video for Blue Oyster Cult, produced by Frank Delia of Psychotherapy fame. The video, called Shooting Shark, features two ravishing and scantily clad models wearing custom masks designed by the pair. Lazzarini built the iguana head, and contributed mechanicals to Shostrom’s jackal head that allow it to snarl. Unfortunately, the ravishing models are not featured in the video as prominently as are the less-than attractive faces of BOC’s members.

“Working with Frank, you find that he doesn’t know what he wants, but he knows what he doesn’t want-and that leads to numerous changes and headaches,” says Lazzerini. “But it also gives you an opportunity to offer your ideas, which is always good, So there you have it a natural combination: fast, loud music and special makeup effects. When there’s more to report in this burgeoning field, we’ll be reporting it. In the meantime, just remember the wise words of Sleepy LaBeef: It ain’t what you do, It’s the way how you do it And it ain’t what you eat It’s the way how you chew it.

Stan Winston sculpts Mr. Roboto (1982) for a Styx music video, the character would become one of the most iconic pop-culture figures of the 1980’s.


Ed French/”Torture” The Jacksons
I got a phone call from a woman saying, “We need a character with a leering, toothy grin from ear to ear (literally, a hand with a human eyeball growing out of its paim, a rock with a human face and three people singing… without faces (all features blank, smooth except for mouths). Are you the person who does this sort of thing?” “Yes,” replied, “I’m that kind of guy. “We’ll need you next week if you’re available. That was producer Kathy Dougherty on the phone two days before the Jacksons were to begin shooting the “Torture” video from their Victory album.

Very shortly after that I was sitting with director Jeff Stein in the dining hall at Astoria Studios, I found out that Jeff had directed videos for the Cars (“You Might Think”, Billy Idol (“Rebel Yell”) and Hall and Oates (“Out of Touch). His laid-back demeanor, I later realized, were quite necessary to his survival during the uninterrupted 24 and 48 hour stretches of filming and editing that would take place during the next two weeks.

Since the final effect of the video would be more of a “fun-house” experience than a “chamber of horrors’ a la “Thriller”, we agreed that the artistic effects would be slanted toward the surreal. Art director Bryce Walmsley was coming up with a wall composed of oversized moveable plastic eyes, so we decided that, in an atmosphere like this, my Gahan Wilson-inspired “Mixed-up Face mask (a.k.a. “The Geek” appearing in Geek Maggot Bingo) would be right at home in cameo appearance.

While repairing, retouching and restoring “The Geek to his original ghastly splendor, I was also sculpting a dental nightmare in clay on a stone life-cast of my face. Having just completed an exhausting stint on Larry Cohen’s new epic The Stuff, my death-like appearance probably inspired Jeff to cast me as the video’s leering “Phantom of the Opera” character. Although leff had those abominables, Phibes and Sardonicus, in mind for the shrouded, ear-to-ear grin figure at the high-tech pipe organ, my immediate inspiration for the prosthetic leer was that gooney Hirschfield caricature of Jerry Lewis I was seeing all over town in the adverts for the Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.

The monstrous grin was sculpted and the two-piece mold completed in about four hours. The only other prosthetic appliance that could be pre-fabricated was for the bit in which the eye peeks through the skin in Jackie Jackson’s hand. Using a negative hand mold, close to the size of Jackie’s hand, created a thin latex rubber skin that I would adhere over a semi-spherical glass eye l had attached in the palm of Jackie’s real hand When the hand opened, a pre-cut slit pulled apart and the eye pushed through the “skin” The faceless singers were supposed to be three of Jackie’s brothers and the immediate makeup solution was to use prosthetic adhesive to glue nylon stocking over their heads, exposing only their mouths and ears, “seal” the material with liquid latex, make it up with rubber-mask grease paint and, lastly, add wigs. Even considering the total absence of pre-production time, I thought these things could be effective.


It turned out to be overly optimistic to think that “Torture could be shot in four days. The Jacksons would shoot their scenes for the first three days (Tuesday through Thursday and many effects scenes would be shot on Friday featuring Jackie. The shooting schedule actually expanded in to a marathon seven days and nights, which was still remarkably short, considering that every shot had some special effects in it. Steve Kershoff, whom I had met on Exterminator Il and who had recommended me for this job created smoke effects, whips that cracked explosively and other pyrotechnic goodies. Louise de Teliga provided dancers with spider costumes containing extra arms and, in a nifty visual pun, Peter Wallach animated break-dancing skeletons, (built by Bill de Paulo) that really broke!

The alien-landscape set of flat terrain, with the occasional black papier mache rock Sprouting up from terra-burlap, took up fully one third of the huge Studio H floor and included a beautifully air brushed cyclorama of star filled heavens with very agreeable looking pastel colored “cosmic dust.” While “The Geek’s fleeting appearance was being enormously enhanced by the camera work of Tony Mitchell, the “Forbidding Fortress set was being constructed only a few yards away, complete with sliding doors, dungeon and a pipe organ that rolled like a train down tracks which disappeared at the end of a corridor. This was where I would do my leering Lon Chaney routine while a dozen or more plastic-clawed dancers clutched at Jackie’s stunt double through bars in their floor prison.


Test estimated that the leering-face makeup would take three hours to complete, so I started at 3:00 am by waxing down my beard, In the past, I’ve prepared for roles by cutting my hair short and even shaving my scalp to alter my hairline. If a role has required a beard, and there was time to grow it, I grew it. If I had a beard and it had to go, I shaved it without a second. This time I experimented with applying the piece over the beard. At 4:00 am I had completed the application of the unpainted appliance and took a little walk through the Carpentry shop and out onto Studio H where the crew was still working the kinks out of the set’s moveable parts. Hoping that the completion of my makeup would coincide with that of the set, I took three more hours with the painting, assisted by a fabulous West Coast makeup artist, named Sally Childs and we were still ready too soon.

I took a little nap in the makeup chair until l was awakened, “1984” style, with the Jens of a camera about six inches away from my face. It was 8:00 am and a video crew was documenting the making of “Torture.” pointed to my face and shook my head “no” to indicate that I couldn’t talk under the monstrous mouth. After a quick trip to wardrobe, I took my place at the organ. It’s not easy playing the pipe organ in a shroud, especially if you’re miming it to a Jacksons hit while your mouth is glued shut at 8:30 in the morning. On top of that, while listening to my directions, (“Get down”, “Play that muthal”, “Get funky, Ed” screamed Jeff Stein) manfully attempted to stay aboard a speeding pipe organ, that could have used a seat belt, when it abruptly reached the end of its runway. I had been in makeup about 10 hours when the 40-second sequence, that took five hours to shoot, finally wrapped.


Aside from my good fortune to work with the Jacksons, that week was also special because I moved to my new 2500-square foot living and working space. “Torture” continued shooting and in between trips in a moving van between Manhattan and Brooklyn I found myself sitting on the floor of one empty living room or the other, talking on the phone with Sally Childs or Jeff Stein in Studio H in order to keep tabs on when I would be needed for Jackie’s third eye bit. The action of the scene had Jackie backing into the wall of eyes and inadvertently sticking his hand through one of the orbs and then retracting the hand now covered with dripping goo. He would then open his wet hand to reveal the eye staring at him. Sally told me, “They need the eye goo standing by!” and I suggested picking up a few jars of pink Dippity Doo setting gel, which is exactly what we used when the scene was shot on the following Tuesday. Although fatigued from being on call most of the night and obviously not having the easiest time of it, injured Jackie cheerfully climbed into a canvas chair so that makeup could begin. A few feet away the wall of eyes was being lit. It was Jackie’s final scene and when Jeff yelled “Cut” everyone gave him a well-deserved round of applause.

It looked like that pretty much wrapped up my work on “Torture”, too, but two days later, I was contacted about the pick-up shots that would be filmed in a photography studio in Manhattan. One of the shots was to be that trio of faceless singers and I was feeling a litt anxious about the effect as we were not able to use the same marvelous cameraman. I was very pleasantly surprised and relieved when I walked into the studio Saturday morning to find that Dave Greene was to be Tony’s replacement. Greene’s photography and canny suggestions had been a great help to me when we worked together on Sleepaway Camp

The three brothers.. actually, three volunteers were supposed to simply turn to the camera and reveal their blank faces. I suggested that we not have them move at all, but rather simply have them wear the trademark.

Jackson shades and simultaneously remove them on cue. (You never see these guys without them on, right?) Our Jacksons surrogates were extraordinarily patient, especially when you realize the makeup totally abscured their vision for three hours. Now, part of my job became that of escorting these guys to the bathroom and making sure they didn’t incinerate themselves or anything else while they were smoking. When the nylon edges around the mouths started to work loose, due to the wear and tear or repeated takes of lipsynching the song, I not only reglued them but hit upon the idea of concealing the now obvious edges with quickly improvised mustaches. The three of them appear on the video for one freaky second you might miss them if you blink.


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