Blood, blood and more (fake) blood… Canada’s Wonderland’s annual Halloween Haunt attracts not only daring visitors from across Toronto and the GTA, but also all kinds of zombies, ghouls and menacing monsters. Each of these frightening characters requires a complete costume, including detailed makeup, and that means lots of blood!
Behind the scenes of Halloween Haunt, it takes a team to prepare these characters before every evening of scary fun. Meet Rachael, one of our awesome SFX Makeup Artists. With a formal education in both beauty and special effects makeup, Rachael has spent the past 11 Halloween Haunts with us!
Why do you enjoy being an SFX Makeup Artist for Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland?
I love the variety of characters I can work with each season and how creative I can be designing each of the SFX makeup looks. It’s fun knowing you’re a part of a premier event, with thousands of guests enjoying and experiencing my makeup creations each October!
Where does the inspiration come from to create Halloween Haunt looks?
I am generally able to be as creative as I can be but within certain limits as I want to ensure that the look fits with the maze or atmosphere location the scare actor is working in. Makeup is often that final piece that completes the character so I want to make sure that the look is appropriate. The scare actors will often bring me ideas too for inspiration, especially those that have been the same character for several years, and I’ll then put my own spin on the design.
Can you explain the process in getting someone ready for Halloween Haunt?
Typically, most of the actors will have prepped their skin prior to their makeup call time. I do recommend that they apply a barrier cream prior to each SFX application. Because I work with a variety of materials when doing makeup at Haunt, I mostly use airbrush makeup as the base, which adds depth through shading. I also will add detail with cream-based professional theatrical makeup, and will often work with latex to build texture, e.g. to simulate wounds. Some of the actors will also have a prosthetic piece that will be applied with a special adhesive glue and we will then blend with the airbrush makeup.
Can you share two techniques you use often in creating Halloween Haunt makeup?
I like to create texture in my work with latex, especially for the atmosphere performers. If I want to create an open wound, I will use simple materials like tissue or cotton, and then apply these materials to the skin dipped in latex. The latex will dry and help the materials adhere to the skin. While the latex is wet I can also sculpt to create more depth to the wound. When everything is dry, I apply cream based makeup, as well as airbrush makeup around the wound, to blend into the skin, and then add the finishing touch - fake theatrical blood! I like to add the blood and let it drip naturally so it looks even more realistic!
I also have created signature teeth that actors will request each year. These teeth actually work well with a variety of looks, from zombies to skeletons. I will airbrush black makeup over the mouth or sides of the face to create an extended smile, and then paint on teeth with cream based white theatrical makeup. I’ll add roots to the teeth to place my own spin on it and sometimes I’ll add some fake blood around the mouth to make it extra spooky!
Which Halloween Haunt character do you enjoy creating the most and why?
I enjoy working with actors from all the different maze locations and atmosphere zones, given I get to be creative working with a variety of looks. It’s always fun when Canada’s Wonderland creates new mazes, such as this year’s additions of Forest of Fear and Blackout!
There is one particular character who is part of the atmosphere area, Ghostly Pines, that I have worked with for many years. This actor is very open to new ideas, and every year, we focus on out-doing the looks from the previous seasons to be gorier!
If you had any advice for someone trying to recreate a Halloween Haunt character at home, what would it be?
A lot of the local party stores will have a variety of makeup to work with and at a lower cost than at professional stores. I’d recommend searching on social media for ideas and for application tips (e.g. YouTube videos, Instagram).
Toronto has a costume and makeup store I like to use called Malabar, where they sell professional theatrical makeup that I use to create the looks at Halloween Haunt. They also sell a variety of professional costumes and spooky contact lenses that can really complete the look!
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