The countdown to Freaky Friday is ickily ticking away.
Come Halloween, the Fright Stuff--L.A.-style, of corpse--will be out there: skulking, slinking, sliming its way around dark corners. Terrifying trick or treaters. Getting down gruesomely at parties for grown-ups.
And where will you be, you jellyfish? Holed up at home, lights out, missing a pagan good time, whining: "I don't know how to make anything scary."
Who you gonna call?
We rang up the Chiodo brothers--Charles, Stephen and Edward, the Gurus of Gore. The award-winning special effects experts from Burbank are the trio behind "Frankenstein Society," a ghoulish flick in development with knock 'em dead FX about deranged docs gone mad.
These guys built and operated millions of dollars worth of animatronics for "Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation," and produce the top syndicated kids' show "The Crayon Box." Remember the film "Killer Klowns From Outer Space," now a cult classic? It's theirs--as was the wicked work in Michael Jackson's "Thriller," "Tales from the Hood," "Darkman," "Robocop," "Critters" and "Gremlins." Their upcoming "Rattle" movie is about a mutant snake with a mouth the size of a Suburban.
Of corpse, we told them we were on a next-to-nothing budget and that the closest we've gotten to a special effects encounter was last Christmas when we short-circuited the hedges.
Not to worry. The Chiodos can deliver the ghastly goods on howl to do the fright thing--macabre makeup, creepy costumes and devilish decorations--with junk found in the garage, the kitchen and under your child's bed. (Now that's a scary thought.)
If you're a fool for ghoul, just take a look at what the Chiodos--with next to nothing but their considerable insider savvy--did with me, Zombie Reporter. Talk about a deadline. Ba-da-bing! Ba-da-boom!
But, seriously, spooks--um, folks--Charles says, "What's neat about Halloween is that it's really about horror. It's about monsters, witches, ghosts, goblins. And we like to put the macabre spin on it."
So enter--if you dare--the Chiodo Zone, or check out the brothers' Web site: http://www.chiodobros.com.
They're waiting for you, jellyfish.
The Costume: A thrift store find: $6 for the suit, $3 for the shirt, $2 for the tie. Slash the outfit (except the shirt) with a razor. Glue on plastic insects, which can be found for cheap at toy and novelty stores, and powder it to death. Time taken: 20 minutes to one hour.
The Face: Water-based makeup in white, black, green (medium and light shades), purple and red. Plasto mortician's wax or nose putty. Hair Flair. Alcohol. Makeup sponges. Two paint brushes, one flat and one pointy. Available at drugstores, Halloween specialty shops or costume and special effects stores (such as Naimies in North Hollywood or Cinema Secrets in Burbank).
1. Start with the Plasto, a putty that blends into your flesh and is perfect for shaping boils and pits and anything mutant. To look like you've been nibbled on by worms, create mounds, then dip the bristle-free end of a paint brush into alcohol and punch tiny holes in the putty.
2. Blend green and white makeup onto the putty; fill the holes with red.
3. Paint the area around the eyes purple to make them look sunken. Follow with a black-and-purple blend. Paint the eyebrows green.
4. Paint the rest of the face green and blend in white.
5. Follow up with shadows of medium green and black, dabbing on tiny dots (this is called "mottling" in the biz) instead of painting lines.
6. Paint the ears green with white, shadow with purple. Ditto for neck and hands. Highlight tendons, bones, jaw line and knuckles.
7. Streak the hair with Hair Flair, a temporary hair color, or powder it white.
Total cost: $25. Time taken: 30 minutes to one hour.
Tip: Apply makeup rough and blend with a damp sponge. Be impressionistic. Have fun. Remember, you are the living dead--a moldy, mildewy mess.
Fire Drill: Tape, clear plastic dropcloths, two box fans, two clamp-on utility lights, red and orange bulbs, tacks, two chairs.
1. Tack the plastic along the top of a window and drape.
2. Place the fans, on their backs, onto chairs several feet apart facing each other.
3. Pull the plastic loosely over the chairs and tape it onto the floor or wrap it under the chairs' legs.
4. Shine the red and orange lights onto the plastic. Switch on the fans.
5. Warn your neighbors so they don't call the fire department.
Total cost: less than $10. Time taken: less than one hour.
Web Site: Black painter's dropcloths, tacks, spider webbing, cardboard, black spray paint, red cellophane, utility lights, red and green bulbs.
1. Cover the walls and floor of a hallway with the dropcloths. Don't cover the ceiling.
2. Cut out a giant cardboard spider and spray it black. Cover its eyes with red cellophane and dangle from the ceiling.
3. Tack webbing on the ceiling and walls. Stretch it into a wispy, wicked web.
4. Backlight with the red and green bulbs.
Total cost: $15. Time taken: one to two hours.
Intestinal Fortitude: Jars of various sizes, fake fur, wig hair, old doll heads and doll body parts, a rubber chicken cut into pieces, yarn and string, macaroni and Ramen noodles, gummy worms, clay (not Play-Doh), fake eyeballs (available at toy stores), coffee grinds and foam and latex bits.
1. Lightly scatter coffee grounds inside jars.
2. Put the rest of the items into the jars.
3. Fill to the top with water (the grounds will give it a murky look).
Total cost: minimal, if you use stuff under your child's bed. Time taken: five to 10 minutes.
Chiodobot: Two garbage cans, foam cooler, two lawn chairs, flower pot, salad bowl, aluminum ducting, two wastebaskets, popcorn carton, giant toy knives, bubble wrap, vinyl hoses, tape, glue gun, spray paints.
Body: Tape garbage cans together. Torso: cooler. Shoulders: chairs. Neck: flower pot: Head: bowl. Arms: ducting. Feet: waste baskets. Add the popcorn bucket and knives for a hand. Use hoses, bubble wrap and tape for detailing.
Cost: $50 max, if you have to buy everything. Time taken: two to five hours.