I, like most horror nuts, am fascinated with the practical special effects process that goes into creating monsters, gore and general madness. So, unsurprisingly, I got pretty damned excited when, while strolling through the library of the school I work at, I stumbled across this:
The centred image from one of my favourite Hammer films – The Reptile (1966) – drew me to the book, which sat hanging half off the shelf. As soon as I read the title, Greasepaint and Gore: The Hammer Monsters of Roy Ashton, and without looking inside the book, I checked it out in a flash. Here was a book focused not only on Hammer Film Productions, a company whose films I love with a feverish glee, but on Roy Ashton, their Australian-born special effects make-up artist!
The book itself is a treat for Hammer fans with lots of input and stories from the late Ashton and – most importantly – a whole lot of sketches from his creative process. I thought I’d share the sketches and behind the scenes pictures I enjoyed the most. Most of the images can be clicked on for a larger view (and some of them require it).
First up is a whole lot of scans from the chapter on The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) – Ashton describes his make-up on the film as his best, “the most satisfactory one, the most rewarding and one of the most difficult.”
Some of the most interesting sketches in the book come from one of the few Hammer productions I dislike – She (1965). I feel that Ashton’s fine work was wasted on She.
Here’s a few sketches from The Mummy (1959) – I really like his notes on these.
And finally, some great mask designs from my favourite Hammer film – The Plague of Zombies (1966)!