Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting in touch with your inner chimp

So you've probably been asking yourself: how can I transform myself into a chimpanzee version of Abe Lincoln for Halloween? It's simple - provided you possess skill, diligence and the willingness to sit there for a couple of hours basically gluing hunks of foam latex onto your face.

First, I started with a lightweight foam latex chimpanzee facial appliance I found on the internet for $45. This was a pretty lightweight, detailed, nicely-made appliance.

A facial appliance is not a full-head mask, as you can plainly see above. Instead, it is made of flexible, lightweight foam latex, which allows for detail, movement and actor expression. The edges are fairly thin to allow blending to the skin. In Hollywood make-up has been done like this for decades, and in fact, this appliance is very similar to what John Chambers used on "Planet of the Apes."

Then, I found a pair of monkey ears at another website for $7. These were sorta rubbery and cheap.

The appliance came as one whole piece, but the night before I cut it into 3 pieces: the brow, the muzzle and the chin. I did this to allow for greater facial movement and to allow for less stress on the spirit gum adhesive, knowing that I was going to be wearing it for the night (I wore the applied piece for about 8 hours). Also, in my "Making Of Planet of the Apes" book, pictures show the on-set appliances cut up in this fashion, so I reasoned it was a good idea. Before cutting it into section though, I pre-painted the piece in order to get greater detail in the wrinkles and also so that I was putting less stress on the pieces once they were affixed. Getting the ears to match color-wise was a pain, as they were already painted dark and made of a different material than the facial appliance, so the make-up looked different on them. But I managed to make it work.

The next day I applied the 3 sections using spirit gum. I did the brow first, then the nose / muzzle / cheek portion, and then the chin. I then used layers of liquid latex to hide any seams and blend the outer edges to my face.

Then I applied make-up to my skin, blending it to match the pre-painted appliance. Then I stuck on my beard and donned the Abe Lincoln tunic and hat (the beard, hat and topcoat-shirt-tunic thing came together as an "Abe Lincoln in a bag" costume for $35), and presto - Ape Lincoln was born.

There you have it. I really enjoyed doing it, as "Planet of the Apes" has been an obsession of mine since I was a wee lad. And the pieces moved really well together - I was able to drink many beers easily (using a straw), and even managed to eat nachos and two corn dogs. And undergoing this whole process, which allowed me to accurately duplicate something that landed with a thud in my young brain and never left, cemented a certain thought in my head. And that thought is this:

The world has never been in a shittier state, but it has never been greater, either.

What I mean by that is: War, famine and strife seem to be our constant companions. Our economy is in the crapper. Weather systems grow increasingly more extreme, harsh and destructive. Greed runs rampant and colors our every move, and our government rushes to bail-out bankers who made stupid decisions of their own accord while the ranks of the homeless, unemployed and uninsured swell. And yet - I can click a button on my computer, and for a mere $45 someone will mail me a foam facial appliance of a chimpanzee that utilizes the same technology that somebody used to win an Academy Award with back in 1969. Amazing.


RGame said...

Yes, the certain aspects of the world will always stink. Yes, it's cool that you can just click a few keys on your computer and have things delivered to your house. And yes, Planet of the Apes will always be awesome.

I wish, though, that you'd use your cool ape mask to make a cool, funny video and upload it to YouTube or something. I'm pretty sure you could do something pretty neat with it.

BlogFoot said...

I have a foggy (drunken) memory of someone shooting some video of Mr. Lincoln playing "Rock Band." Specifically - Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up," I believe. I'll inquire as to it's whereabouts.