Right off the bat, I'll tell you this is going to be a bit of a rant, so if you're not into that kinda thing, this probably isn't a good place to be.

I hate the term 'Haunted House Makeup", I really do. It's used as a euphemism for crappy, awful makeup that's not worth the time.

I've heard it--and gotten into lengthy arguments over it on numerous makeup and effects sites. As some people might already know.

I've even tried to pitch a story about it to some folks at MAmag(which appears to have prompted an issue on the topic, but not the discussion that needs to be had).

But this, is not about that.

This is about the frequency that I'm hearing it come from people in the industry--as an excuse for shoddy, sup-par makeup jobs--'because they'll only see it for a second', or 'because it's all you need with that lighting' or some other such asstastic excuse for, let's be honest here, not doing a good job. And the people saying it are doing so with a smile--and they're getting agreement! I can't count the number of times I've heard purported makeup artists say 'don't worry, it's just hunt makeup.'

What is going on? When did we start applauding shoddy makeup?

First, let's dispense with those two most common excuses, lighting and duration of how long a patron will see it. There are two big reasons why these excuses don't work. In horror movies, elaborate makeups are often shown in atmospheric(dim, dark, foggy, etc.) lighting and they are often shown for brief periods of time. Yet they are also often superb. And often filled with that bane of makeup artists everywhere--details that only we will notice. So what lets us off the hook then? A lot of folks will say they simply don't have the time, that the Hollywood guys can take hours to do a makeup whereas we get only minutes. Well, that's another excuse, and we'll get to that one in a moment.

But the important one is how long--and how closely-- a patron will see the makeup. Unlike films or theatre, where an effect has to last for X duration, once, we run multiple shows--one literally on the heels of the next. Our makeup is constantly being viewed, for one group after the next. And, if we're in a busy house, there will be times where the makeup is continually in view as the inevitable back-ups happen. So instead of having to look good for a quick jump scare, or a specific scene, the actors have to look good for a conga-line of customers.

And then there are the close-ups. Unlike Hollywood, where a closeup is often a specially filmed shot that will be seen by patrons sitting more than twenty feet away, our actors are going to be seen from feet--and sometimes inches away. What are patrons going to think when confronted with raccoon eyes and halloween shop blood--particularly if they're snaking through and getting a really good look at crappy makeup? Think they're coming back? Think they're telling their friends what a great house you've got?

We do not really have the luxury of quick glimpses and dim lighting--despite the fact that so many think we do. Now, to be fair, lighting can help. It can hide edges, it can hide slight color differences. Blacklight can alter a makeup considerably. But all of that has to be planned for.

And that brings us to that tertiary excuse that popped up--time.

We do not have the time to sit an actor in our chair and give them a four hour makeup. Time is our greatest hurdle. And it is here where we can sometimes best Hollywood. I have personally done fifteen minute makeups that fooled medical personnel--and only one relied at all on blood. We leap the hurdle of time with two things--Design and Planning.

If you know what characters you need (and I hope, if you're running an attraction that you do), you can pre-design the makeups with time in mind. Pictures of what characters re supposed to look like. Pre-painted appliances, just stick, blend and finesse. Masks where appropriate--and silicone and foam masks are great, even with their flaws. Flaws? Well, they're hellishly expensive, and, they ARE still masks, with a bunch of the shortcomings of masks still intact. Occluded hearing and vision, some talking problems(not all have this, but some do) and overheating, especially early in the season. But they save time immensely. If you have makeup artists that also make appliances take advantage of that. Design with your strengths in mind.

Planning, I think, is something that goes without saying. Most elaborate makeups first, less elaborate makeups next. But are there ways to gain time. Besides elaborateness, consider placement in the haunt. An elaborate makeup that is at the end of the haunt can be started later. Or doubling up. If one makeup requires drying time for adhesives, have the artist work on a less elaborate makeup while waiting for the adhesive to dry.

Design and planning can get us top notch makeup. It can make the term 'haunt makeup' a compliment, instead of an insult.

And the makeup is important. Lately, along with applause for shoddy haunt makeup, I've heard that contacts and teeth can make a makeup look great. But it's not true-- scary contacts and good teeth on a raccoon-eyed, gored up actor look like money poorly spent. A tuxedo t-shirt is a tuxedo t-shirt no matter how good your hair looks.

We can do this. We can turn out quality makeup. And we can do it fast. We're the haunt industry--people expect us to provide better thrills than they can get at a movie theater. They expect monsters up close and personal. For a lot of people we ARE Halloween. Let's live UP to the hype.