Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Michael Moore Says Clint Eastwood Threatened To "Kill" Him 10 Years Ago, Calls 'American Sniper' A "Mess" Michael Moore Says Clint Eastwood Threatened To "Kill" Him 10 Years Ago, Calls 'American Sniper' A "Mess" Woody Allen’s Next Movie With Joaquin Phoenix & Emma Stone Titled ‘Irrational Man,’  Sony Pictures Classics Nab Rights Woody Allen’s Next Movie With Joaquin Phoenix & Emma Stone Titled ‘Irrational Man,’ Sony Pictures Classics Nab Rights Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel'  Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel' 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See The 10 Best Films Of 2007 The 10 Best Films Of 2007 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Watch: Vintage 1980s Profile On Mad Monster Maker Rick Baker

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist October 1, 2012 at 2:19PM

Rick Baker is one of those guys whose work is so consistently brilliant you kind of forget how awesome he is. As the make-up designer and creature creator behind everything from the dancing zombies in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video to Martin Landau's Bela Lugosi make-up in Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" (which won him his third – of seven – Academy Awards) to Robert Downey, Jr.'s black-face in "Tropic Thunder," Baker is a living legend, able to conjure all sorts of creatures and characters solely from his fertile imagination. What's so startling about the footage of Baker dug up from an early '80s CBS special on monsters (this was at the peak of horror's cultural resurgence -- via Reddit), is how in command of his craft Baker seems to be at such a young age.
0

Rick Baker
Rick Baker is one of those guys whose work is so consistently brilliant you kind of forget how awesome he is. As the make-up designer and creature creator behind everything from the dancing zombies in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video to Martin Landau's Bela Lugosi make-up in Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" (which won him his third – of seven – Academy Awards) to Robert Downey, Jr.'s black-face in "Tropic Thunder," Baker is a living legend, able to conjure all sorts of creatures and characters solely from his fertile imagination. What's so startling about the footage of Baker dug up from an early '80s CBS special on monsters (this was at the peak of horror's cultural resurgence -- via Reddit), is how in command of his craft Baker seems to be at such a young age.

At the time of the special, which doesn't have a time stamp but identifies "An American Werewolf in London" as Baker's most recent film, putting him in his early thirties, he was still starting out. He had established himself by providing the make-up for a number of key films and, as the segment notes, both designing and performing the titular creature from the limp Dino De Laurentiis remake of "King Kong," but he wasn't yet the figure whose mere presence can send an entire horror convention into hushed silence.  

The segment finds Baker working in his creature factory, sculpting a clay model while his confederates busy themselves on similar tasks – making false teeth for a mask, designing some demonic creature. Host Charles Osgood, who is still on television with "CBS News Sunday Morning," asks Baker about his nightmares, to which Baker curtly replies that he doesn't have nightmares, man, these babies are all from his imagination.

A couple of things are striking, too, about the brief segment – one, that the special doesn't place all that much emphasis on his work on "An American Werewolf in London," even though it had just come out and nobody (and we mean nobody) had ever seen a full-body man-to-wolf transformation like Baker (and director/frequent Baker collaborator John Landis) had achieved. Now it's seen as one of the defining make-up effects of the last couple of decades (if not all time), but the special treated the effect and the movie like just another horror romp. There's also a great moment when Baker puts on a latex mask to show how an actor brings something to the role, and the mask, while fairly flat, looks uncannily like a character Baker would create, almost a decade later, for Disney's profoundly underrated "Captain America" prototype "The Rocketeer." It goes to show you that good ideas never die, they just sit around a dusty warehouse surrounded by monsters.

This article is related to: Rick Baker


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates