Starz Inside: Fantastic Flesh
Airdate: 10-11 p.m., Tuesday, Oct 7 (Starz)
As interesting as it is at times, this detailed look at the art of special effects makeup in movies has limited appeal.
It's not that the subject isn't interesting, watching "Fantastic Flesh: The Art of Make-Up EFX" is pretty much like looking in on the conversation of a group of special effects makeup artists (and the directors who work with them) but never being in on the action, on the meat of the discussion. If you don't mind feeling like a fly on the wall, this oftentimes informative but limited docu will carry you along on its coattails.
The documentary focuses on the work of KNB EFX Group, whose members dress the faces of actors in contemporary horror flicks. In fact, this is one great piece of advertising for them, even if it sometimes looks back on the history of special effects movie makeup, including the brilliant work of Lon Chaney, Jack Pierce (1931's "Frankenstein"), Dick Smith ("The Exorcist") and John Chambers ("Planet of the Apes" and its '70s sequels). We also get interviews with such contemporary artists as Rob Bottin and Tom Savini and directors including George A. Romero ("Night of the Living Dead") and Robert A. Rodriguez ("Sin City"), among others.
Still, as much as "Fantastic Flesh" attempts to cast a wide net over special effects makeup in the movies, the entire telecast feels pretty closed in, as if those on camera were talking mostly to themselves and having a great time of it. It could not have hurt if makeup masters of the past were put in a broader, more thought-provoking context. Yes, Chaney was a master, but what of it? What has it done for audiences in the larger sense? What lay behind it for Chaney? As it stands, "Fantastic Flesh" keeps its focus narrow and technical. That's a lot of fun for those doing the talking, and talking to each other, but it leaves the rest of us out in the cold.
Production: Starz Media
Producer: Andrea Kaufman.
Director: Kevin VanHook.