This past Halloween, Wally undertook an intense process to create the ultimate Michael Myers mask from the movie “Halloween.” Check out the full story in this 50 image slideshow about how he and a few industry pro friends turned something small and unusable, into something big and “Boo”-tiful!
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When the first “Halloween” film was released in 1978 it started a whole new genre of horror/suspense movies. It blazed the trail for films like “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare On Elm Street.” It’s hard to believe that much of the success of the main character in “Halloween,” Michael Myers, is owed to “Star Trek.”
In 1975 the Don Post Mask Company released several high quality latex masks based on characters from the “Star Trek” TV series. In the early 70’s “Star Trek” found a second life in syndication, and was wildly successful. Masks in the likenesses of The Gorn, The Mugatu, The Salt Vampire, Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk were released.
Because the original “Halloween” was on such a limited budget, they couldn’t afford to design a custom mask for their screen killer to wear. Instead, the production staff found an available mask at a magic store and modified it for their purposes. The mask they chose was the William Shatner/Capt. Kirk mask.
The sideburns were removed, the eyeholes were enlarged, the face was painted a splotchy white, and the hair was matted and painted dark. Little did moviegoers knowthat the silver screen serial killer was wearing the face of their favorite Starship Captain!
As the years went on, the original Capt. Kirk masks became very difficult to find. The cheaply made rubber masks didn’t hold up to age very well. But a keen-eyed “Halloween” fan found one in the late 90’s at a flea market in Los Angeles; and in very good condition. He made a mold of it and sold copies through a magazine ad.
But the materials he used to make the copies weren’t the correct ones for the task, so the duplicated masks shrunk to the size of a child’s head. I purchased one of these masks and, when it arrived, I remember beingvery disappointed at its diminutive size. The ad failed to mention that the masks weren’t wearable.
It looked like the William Shatner mask, but it was the size of a softball. Sadly, I wouldn’t be wearing this mask any time soon. So I stuffed it away in the back of a shelf and forgot about it for years.
Recently I was cleaning through a bunch of stuff in the Chaney Room and I happened across “Little Mike,” as I was now in the habit of calling him. I marveled at the amazing contours of a beautiful mask, but again lamented its puny size. Then I got an idea.
Through the magic of modern-day digital technology, I knew it was possible to make a 360 degree scan of an object, and then print out that digital information in a 3-D format. I reasoned that, much like a Xerox copier, the 3-D printers probably had the capacity to enlarge the print at will. I contacted Jim Ojala, the effects master who has created many striking display pieces in Planet Wallywood, to have him research it further.
Jim found out that it was possible to do what I desired; digitally enlarge the small mask and create a mold for a new, bigger mask based on that source model. But the expense was considerable. After pondering it for a little while, I decided to go ahead with it. I was relatively certain that I would be one of only a handful of fans who went to this ambitious level to acquire an almost-perfect copy of the original William Shatner/Capt. Kirk mask.
The scanning company Jim found was professional and thorough. After Jim removed the hair and excess paint from the mask it was scanned and turned into a digital file, ready for enlarging and printing.
When Jim was satisfied with the details of the scan, he took the information to a 3-D printer who input the information into his 3-D printer.
Before output, the operator ordered the printer to produce a 3-D model of the scan at roughly 120% larger than the original. That would not only achieve the desired size to create a mold for a wearable mask, but would also account for the slight, anticipated shrinkage in the final product.
The final 3-D master was printed as a translucent, hollow model from which Jim could create the perfect mold for a large mask. The final size of the model was close to 12 inches tall, anticipating that once a latex mask is pulled from the mold it would shrink down to about 11.5 inches, which is the perfect size for an average human head.
Once the new 3-D print was placed next to the original mask, a very noticeable difference was apparent. We were on the road to making a gorgeous replica Shatner/Kirk mask; even though it would essentially be a copy of a copy of an original mask.
Because of a generational loss of detail, which occurs when you make multiple copies of an item, it was necessary for Jim to refer to pictures of an original William Shatner mask so he could sculpt back in some of the lost detail with clay. Also, several flaws in the original copy made it necessary for Jim to do a little patch work to bring back the smoothness of the original Don Post sculpt.
After weeks of back and forth communication with Jim, we finally settled on the perfect set of minimalistic enhancements. Where possible, we let the original contours of the mask shine through. The help Jim gave it was necessary, but not noticeable. The main thing he did was to close up the eyeholes which were cut much too large in the original copy. Other work was done to enhance the brow, cheekbones and top lip.
Jim built a case around the piece with stone and fiberglass, so he could fill it with silicone and make a negative master mold suitable for making latex masks.
As you can see, the silicone reproduced the piece beautifully, and it preserved a lot of the detail we had hoped for. Jim was now ready to start pouring latex into the mold, and making the first mask; or “pull” as it’s called.
The very first pull was a little thicker than Jim would have liked it to be, but I didn’t mind at all. Since the mask for my collection was not for wearing, but rather for display, I actually preferred it to be thicker. That way it will have a longer life. Thinner latex masks deteriorate faster and as they age, as they’re more prone to rips, tears and natural decay.
While the latex in the mold for pull #1 was drying, Jim started in on repainting “Little Mike,” which was also going to figure into my planned display. There’s nothing quite like seeing the first offspring pop forth from the mold when you’re engaged in a project like this.
Pull #2 was for my pal Scott Maguire in Sioux Falls. Since we were in our early 20’s he and I have been fascinated by the “Halloween” film franchise; with the focus of our fascination being in the iconic imagery of the Michael Myers mask. Though I didn’t know him when the first film was released in the theaters, he and I sat through many screenings of “Halloween 2” together during its initial release. Scott’s mask was poured slightly thinner than mine.
Jim did a rough cut out for the nose and eyeholes, and the detailed work on the cuts would be done later in a more meticulous fashion. The thinner pull has a lighter hue than the thicker one, due to the amount of the layers of latex used in each mask. That’s how we ended up telling them apart in the early stages.
When Jim started painting the base coats on the first two masks, he also made himself a mask. It was our intent to only make 3 of these and stop there. That way it makes them a little more special, and makes our displays more unique. We have no plans on making any more after these 3 are finalized. But…you never know.
When Jim got all of the details painted into the first two masks, it was time for my friend Sergio Lopez to begin on the hairwork. I’ve known Sergio since the days we used to work at Universal Studios together in the Beetlejuice show, and there are very few hair people in town better than Sergio. He’s done amazing hair work on virtually every figure in my collection. We printed photos of the original mask from the first “Halloween” movie and hung them all around the Chaney Room to give him reference.
According to our exhaustive research, the type of hair that would have been used on the original Don Post masks was either Yak hair, or something called crepe hair; or crepe wool. We bought a bunch of medium brown crepe wool at a local beauty supply store, and Sergio started laying the hair on the masks with Barge glue. He started on the “Little Mike” mask as a guinea pig.
Crepe wool is packaged in braids for convenience. In order for it to be usable for our purposes it needed to be uncoiled and steamed; which straightens out the kinks. Once it’s fully unfurled, Sergio can start attaching the strands of crepe wool to the mask, and cut it to the lengths we need.
The glue rows were laid out on the mask according to how the Don Post mask company used to do it. Every square inch of the head is not covered in hair. It would make the final result much too dense and thick. The hair is laid on in long strips in about 5 rows, and then combed over the open spaces on the scalp. This was no doubt done to keep the costs down on each mask back in the 70’s.
Once the hair has finished being attached, it gives the mask a very “dreadlock” look. Sergio wanted to maintain a certain amount of the texture and kinkiness so he would have a great deal of body to work with later when he began the styling process. It will also help in achieving that “matted” look that is so prevalent in the original mask.
After the glue has been given 24 hours to fully dry, the comb-out process begins. This makes “Little Mike” look less like Michael Myers, and more like Brad Pitt’s “Johnny Suede” character. But the hair withstood the pulling and combing well, so next it’s time to start styling it.
Since the process on our guinea pig “Little Mike” was so successful, Sergio starts hairing the first two masks. (Jim is going to hair his own mask) The glue will need to set on these for a full 24 hours before any styling can commence.
After a day of drying, the masks are ready to be styled with the odd, but iconic Michael Myers hair style. The mask on the left is mine, and the one on the right will go to my friend Scott in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Though they’re virtually identical, Scott had very specific requests for his paint job, which made it more customized to his personal taste. When the hair is completed they will go back to Jim for final paint touch-ups.
After combing through the hair, Sergio needed to start cutting the length. Since the hair on the original mask has all sorts of varying lengths (close on the side, choppy in the back, long behind the ears, and puffy on top) Sergio meticulously measures as he trims; checking the length after each cut. It’s very difficult to add back length after it’s been removed.
When he gets the hair length of one mask completed to satisfaction, he starts on the other to make it identical. Then he sprays it with hair spray to lock it in. After the hairspray sets, he begins distressing the hair in certain parts, poofing it up on top, and matting it down in the back to give it that famous Michael Myers look.
Once the perfect blend of matting, wisps and poofiness has been achieved, the entire hair style is oversprayed with dark brown Streaks N Tips; a temporary hair color available at any costume or make-up supply store.
The obvious question is: if you’re going to paint it dark brown in the end, why not just use dark brown hair in the first place? The simple answer is…because they didn’t do it that way in the original film. The original William Shatner/Capt. Kirk mask already had medium brown hair on it. But in order to make it look creepier, the production team on “Halloween” sprayed it with Streaks N Tips to darken it up.
This is why in some shots in the film you can see medium brown hair underneath the dark brown top coat. In order to give it that multi-layer look (like in the film) this is way you have to do it in order to achieve those results.
When the hair is finished the masks go back to Jim for final paint touch-ups. We wanted to get that perfect level of shading and enhancements for our displays. Once I signed off on the paint-job, Jim sprayed the masks with a sealer, and we were good to go! Now to put the mask on my Michael Myers mannequin in the Chaney Room for everyone to enjoy!
Once the mask was completed, I placed it on my Michael Myers mannequin. Both “Big Mike” and “Little Mike” seemed right at home, and may people have commented that “Little Mike” is MUCH creepier than “Big Mike.” But I’ll let you decide.
Here are some shots I took of the final figure using a variety of different lighting techniques. Sergio, Jim, Scott and I are very happy with the end result and we feel we have the closest thing to a screen worn Michael Myers mask out there. Though the expense of bringing this to fruition was considerable, it was very worth the journey.