Face Off: Bottled Up With Bill Corso and Douglas Noe (Review)

The foundation challenge for Face Off: Bottled Up had Douglas Noe (The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Pulp Fiction) as guest judge and the remaining contestants had to create Valkyries Norse Goddess warriors.

Face Off - Season 10

The foundation challenge for Face Off: Bottled Up had Douglas Noe (The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Pulp Fiction) as guest judge and the remaining contestants had to create Valkyries Norse Goddess warriors. After a short list of what the hopefuls needed to keep in mind, which included color palette and not being garish, Noe finished by asking, “Will  your Goddess make a statement without saying a word.”

At the end of the first challenge of this episode all the creations were impressive and Noe gave detailed critiques of the characters made by the artists. The top two were Yvonne, who used feathers to good effect on her creation. But it was Melissa with her “clearness of vision” and overall effect who won the foundation challenge and earned immunity for the spotlight challenge.

Face Off - Season 10
Douglas Noe and McKenzie Westmore inspecting Yvonne’s Valkyrie

The second challenge of the evening ties in perfectly with the show’s title as a bevy of genie bottles are put out for the hopefuls to chose from. Using the bottle itself as motivator, the genie to be created by the artists should reflect its home.

Mel has trouble from the start and her issues are compounded when Michael Westmore tells her that her sculpt may be too obscure for the judges. Walter is very pleased with his character, which is heavily influenced by the dragons on his bottle, and he spends a lot of time on his sculpt.

Robert Lindsay ignores Westmore’s advice to keep away from making his creature too cat-like.  Walter spends so much time on the sculpt that he has to rush his mold.  When the time comes to break it open, Walt has problems. Melissa and Yvonne step in to help and Walter is grateful to his fellow artists.

In the application phase, Walter finds that despite the rush, his mold came out clean with no clay left behind. Robert is very pleased with his makeup for the cat genie and he is the only artist not to do a cowl.

During last looks the artists put on their finishing touches. Robert had issues with the pieces on his creation’s face but everyone, including Walter, finish their genies. Then they meet Bill Corso (Deadpool, Dumb and Dumber To, Foxcatcher) who was the guest judge for this challenge.

After the judges took a closer look at the creations  Yvonne and Melissa (who had immunity for the challenge) were sent backstage; safe. Rob and Walter were the top two looks  and Mel, along with Robert’s cat genie were  the bottom.

Face Off - Season 10
Robert Lindsay with his cat genie

It is Walter’s dragon inspired “scary/evil” genie that wins him his first Spotlight victory. It seems that many times on Face Off stress goes on to assure wins.  Rob has proven this in the past and now Walt has shown that despite things going so pear-shaped, he persevered and went on to win.

Face Off - Season 10
Walter’s dragon genie for the win.

Bill Corso, who Mel was so excited to meet, was a gracious guest judge who even had constructive things to say about Robert’s design.  It was Lindsay’s mischievous disregard for the guidelines that sent him home this week.  Robert was not overly sad as he was very pleased with his creation and the make up.

There are now five hopefuls left and Face Off airs next Wednesday with the Keep One Eye Open challenge.

Face Off: Smoke and Mirrors – “That’s so Cool” (Review)

This week’s Face Off: Smoke and Mirrors once again moved to the darker side of fantasy and while Mel Licata did not win this week, she did get a “That’s so cool” from her model.

Face Off - Season 10

This week’s Face Off: Smoke and Mirrors once again moved to the darker side of fantasy and while Mel Licata did not win this week, she did get a “That’s so cool” from her model. This could actually describe the whole challenge.  Using the motif of witches who have their facade peeled away to show their evil visage was a touch of “dark Disney.”

After The Gauntlet II, where Michael Westmore was given a break from being adviser, the makeup legend made a comeback.  At the start of the episode McKenzie introduced the contestants to the challenge outside the “incredible” Lobo Castle and she explained that, like the well known saying, beauty is only skin deep.

The castle door opens and seven stunning models, made up as beautiful evil sorceresses, came out and were picked by the remaining seven contestants. Rob was excited that he got the “dragon queen” as he made the instant connection of castles and dragons.

Mel picked the “Temptress of Flame” and it is this model who reacted so enthusiastically to the artist’s makeup choice later in the program. Walter Welsh wound up with the “Emerald Empress” one of the choices he really did not want. Annie picked the “Shadow Enchantress” and she was quite enthusiastic about getting started despite what she felt would be a hard job.

Face Off - Season 10
Robert’s transitional creation does not go over well.

Yvonne got the “Corpse Conjuror” and she felt up to the challenge of creating her vision of the evil underneath the facade.  Robert allowed his mischievous side take over from the start and this almost cost him dearly later on.

Michael Westmore came on with McKenzie and he looked at each draft design and, as usual, offered advice and praise to the hopefuls. Rob looked less than pleased at the idea of his sculpt looking like a “standard old-man” and he also learns, from Michael that his nose needs work.

Rob had issues with gender in that his sculpt looked too masculine and he went to Anna and Mel who helped him out with “shape” advice.  Considering Rob has two wins under his belt, and grabbed another (his third) with this challenge, it is clear that he works better when stressed.

While Rob does go on to win this challenge Yvonne came a close second with the judges remarking on her splendid paint job and use of makeup. All the panel agreed that each week she gets better and better. It is this consistent improvement that may allow her to take Rob’s current lead away from him.

Face Off - Season 10
Yvonne’s Corpse Conjuror comes a close second to Rob’s Dragon Queen.

Robert Lindsay’s impish approach to the challenges thus far earned him the “class clown” of Face Off title from the judges. This jovial attitude landed him at the bottom with Anna as the two worst looks of this challenge.

Anna, the loser in this challenge, struggled with her concept and has to do the fastest sculpt she has ever done. Sadly, despite her focus,  the final product did not match the judge’s expectations.  As Ve Neill tells the artist, it looked great from a  distance, but, fell apart close up.

Face Off - Season 10
Anna working on the sculpt.

At the end of the episode, after the “safe” contestants were sent off, it was Yvonne and Rob who wowed the judges.  While Yvonne’s painting, sculpt-work and makeup were all beautiful, Rob got his third win because of the overall quality of his creation, his “Dragon Queen” was the whole package.

Face Off - Season 10
Glenn Hetrick: “I absolutely love this.”
Face Off - Season 10
Rob’s complete package for the win.

Anna Cali may have been sent home, but as the artist told the judges, she wanted to be on Face Off ever since season one. This was a dream come true for her and Neville Page told Anna he expected to see more from her in the industry.

Face Off airs Wednesdays on SyFy. Tune in now as the final six face further challenges.

Face Off: The Gauntlet II – Challenge Times Three (Review)

Face Off: The Gauntlet II offered up three different challenges and only the bottom looks had to come back each time to compete.

Face Off - Season 10

Face Off: The Gauntlet II offered up three different challenges and only the bottom looks had to come back each time to compete.  Each of the stages got harder as the challenge progressed. The first was laying on beards, the second was using specific  prosthetics  for other parts of the face and the third was “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”

The contestants all react with a modicum of panic and stress levels raise when the tri-challenge gauntlet (II) is revealed.  Kaleb, who has the  expletive removed reaction may have had a premonition about the end of the challenge and where he would end up.

McKenzie explains that in each challenge the top two winners will not be required to compete in the remaining tests.

The first challenge was not only nautical in nature but also supernatural. Four ships from the world of myth set up the themes on offer. The Flying Dutchman, The Manjet Barge, The Naglfar and The Nautilus (technically not from the mythical realm but from fiction). The artists had to hand lay the beard of their “captain creation” and there were mixed reactions to this news.

Regardless of the experience levels all did well with their efforts but Melissa (who was the most experienced) and Walter took top looks to win. Melissa chose the Manjet Barge and Rah for her inspiration.

Before Walter’s creation was judged, Glenn Hetrick and Robert Lindsay bonded over his “Captain Dishwasher” of The Flying Dutchman. After Robert explained about the “dishwashing” curse, Hetrick remarked that Lindsay was a “strange, strange man.”

“Thank you,” Robert replied and Glenn finished by saying that he liked it, presumably meaning Lindsay’s strangeness and the creation.

Walter’s character was influenced by the Naglfar; the Viking ship made from bones and nails. HIs creation and Melissa’s which used a minimal approach, gave them the first challenge win.

McKenzie explains to the winners of the first stage that they are to be treated to a “night on the town.” A limo would pick them and the second stage winners up for a night out. So not only did the winners not have to compete for the rest of the challenge but they also got a restful night off.

The next challenge in the Gauntlet was Pandora’s Box, where the remaining artists had to “create order from chaos.” There were several boxes and each one contained three disparate pieces of prosthetic. The challenge was to create a cohesive character using the contents.

The catch was that the prosthetics could be used for their original purpose, i.e. a chin piece was not to be used on the chin, nor was it to be used to turn another part of the face into a chin.  As Neville Page explained, “you cannot put the chin on the forehead and use it as a chin-forehead.”

Face Off: Season 10
Robert Lindsay, strange and colorful…

Mel pointed out that this was more difficult than the first stage challenge. It also turned out to be the most colorful. This portion of the challenge showed the real creative muscle behind each contestant. Rob and Robert actually won the competition with the former’s creation looking “like a background extra in a film” and Robert’s character looking eerily Kabuki-like.

Rob Seal’s relief at not having to go on to stage three was almost palpable and Robert had  already made menu plans earlier before the judges looked at his creation.

The remaining four; Yvonne, Anna, Kaleb and Mel leave for a night’s rest and the double set of winner enjoy a meal at “Castaway.”

Face Off: The Gauntlet II ends on a tough challenge, the four artists see 12 models revealed after McKenzie orders the curtains pulled. Ms. Westmore then explains about the “see no evil” theme and that the hopefuls have four hours to make their three characters and an hour to fix any problems during “last looks.”

Kaleb had issues from the very start. Everyone else came up with a theme; Mel – priests who mutilate themselves, Anna – zombie attack victims, Yvonne – ghosts of the “king’s torturers” while Kaleb failed to find a theme till the last possible moment.

Out of all the contestants who are left, Yvonne is easily the most panicked as it took her so long to come up with a workable theme. As she begins to air brush the models, she refers to last looks as “fast looks.”

Ironically, Yvonne  came a close second to Gauntlet challenge winner Mel, with her superlative paint job and brilliant use of prosthetics along with a cohesive theme.

Face Off - Season 10
Mel, killing it…

Mel won, however, as her masterful use of anatomy pushed her disturbing creations to the forefront of the judges attention. Sadly, Kaleb never recovered from his lack of focus and he missed the mark of the third challenge completely.

After being told that he was to leave, Glenn Hetrick gave Kaleb Lewis words of encouragement and told the artist he would surely see more of his work later on in the industry.

The Gauntlet challenges are intense and truly show the creativity that each contestant applies under pressure. Face Off airs Wednesdays on SyFy, tune in for some brilliant magical creativity.



The X-Files: My Struggles II – A Nod to Millennium & Paranoia

The mini-series season 10 appearance of The X-Files ended on Monday with My Struggles II. The season finale felt a little like a nod to the season two finale of Millennium (Chris Carter’s other odd-ball series featuring the weird and wonderful as well as another “mother” of all conspiracy groups).


The mini-series season 10 appearance of The X-Files ended on Monday with My Struggles II. The season finale felt a little like a nod to the season two finale of Millennium (Chris Carter’s other odd-ball series featuring the weird and wonderful as well as another “mother” of all conspiracy groups). The season 10 ending, besides being a cliff-hanger of course, also felt a little like a kitchen sink scenario. Carter throws it all in the mixer in the end and leaves us wondering what will come out after.

Peel away all the various mad plot threads; viruses running amok and killing all who do not have the alien DNA, the corruption of the immunity gene and even contrails. What do you have left? The three Carter “Horsemen of the Apocalypse” Dana, Fox and Cigarette Smoking Man. This triangular set of characters who stand above all the madness.

Added to this end game lunacy is  aluminum being spread by those contrails, global warming, alien technology, vaccines and not one but a multitude of pandemics all on top of a conspiracy that trumps all others.

The show starts with Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) telling us who she is and a reader’s digest version of her story. In a short time Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) pops back up on the Internet like a whistle blowing “Tad-in-the-box” warning of a global pandemic that will decimate the earth’s population, beginning with those in authority; police, the military, et al.

The first step in this end-game being run by the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) starts with Anthrax vaccines running amok in soldiers with no immunity. Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) goes missing and as the sick increase in number and the hospital staff treating them start succumbing to the various viruses that surround them, Scully and Einstein race to find  a cure. 

My Struggle II is, in essence, one long race against time. A touch of backstory exposition is added into the mix and director Chris Carter has worked very hard to cover all his bases.  There is a small shift in character arc. Dana, for instance, gets her own personal “Deep Throat” via former FBI agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish). 

Sidenote: On top of Dana’s step left, Fox is now (as he has been throughout of the season) the new Scully, an almost official “doubting Mulder.”

Back to “Deep Throat” Reyes, she turns out to be more a bringer of news instead of  a whistle blower.  Reyes’ job is exposition, she reveals who is behind the pandemics sweeping the planet; Cigarette Smoking Man.  The former fed also tells Dana that she is safe and that Fox could be as the CSM “loves him” and wants to offer him a chance to be one of the “chosen.”

The X-Files season finale allows Chris Carter, who also wrote the end episode, to bring all his chickens home to roost. Sadly, while the creator manages to touch base with all the X-File “Boogeymen” in terms of alien conspiracy, the episode drags a little.

Certainly enough that, despite the “race against time” scenario on offer,  the finale feels a little over-long.  This does not, however, detract from the paranoia on offer from the maestro of all things odd and upsetting within Mulder and Scully’s world.

As Dana and Einstein work frantically to come up with a cure, there are a couple of points in their journey where the viewer cannot help but doubt Einstein’s veracity.  The younger red-head manages to be healthy for far too long. So long, in fact, that we begin to believe that she is a member of the Cigarette Smoking Man’s entourage.

For all the build up, finding the missing alien DNA, Mulder’s meeting with CSM, Miller trying to save Fox and so on, the end manages to  feel a little rushed.  Although kudos to Carter for  working Mulder and Scully’s son into the the finale as a  pretty important plot point for future episodes.

The ending, with a “space-ship” hovering over Miller, Dana and a dying Fox seconds after Scully explains about stem-cells (another modern boogeyman) from their son being the only thing that may save her baby daddy from dying, was on-point and clearly leaves an opening for a further season, or two, on the cards.

Fox looking a little worse for wear.

Standout Moments:

The Abominable Dr. Phibes moment where William B Davis’ character removes part of his face (also reminiscent of another Vincent Price moment House of Wax) was, perhaps, the highlight of the finale.

The UFO turning up at exactly the right time.

Dana meeting with Reyes a’la Mulder and his own previous  “Deep Throat.”

Final Verdict:

This final episode was a grim reminder that behind all the humor of the middle episodes, Carter’s world is full of death, conspiracy, alien technology, the Cigarette Smoking Man and an end game that only a few will survive.

The end and the beginning of this 10th season were a little morose and glum. In between, each installment contained enough gags and joviality (along with a good portion of nods and winks to older episodes and characters) that some moments felt like finely crafted vaudeville routines.

At the very least, a sort of homage to the old Crosby and Hope “road” pictures.  For example, when Agents Miller and Einstein knock on the X-Files office door, in Babylon, the following dialogue takes place:

Agent Miller:  “Hello? Anyone down here?”

Scully: “Nobody but the FBI’s Most Unwanted. I’ve been waiting 23 years to say that.”

Fox: “How’d it feel?”

Scully: “Pretty good.”

Fox: “Yeah?”

This little exchange feels like a well rehearsed comedy routine done more for David Duchovny’s benefit than for the viewer’s. (And seriously? If you close your eyes, it does feel like Der Bingle and Hope doing a gag.)  The exchange  does give the two characters a chance to reconnect though, so it makes a certain amount of sense.

In essence, The X-Files, via My Struggle II, brings us right back to the show’s bare bones, which is these three main characters, the two “good guys” and their main nemesis, Cigarette Smoking Man, and this is as it should be.

William B Davis, aka Cigarette Smoking Man.

After all the original series,  with Tooms, “Squeeze,” and all the other oddities of Carter’s verse which included Christmas ghosts and other strangeness aside, was really about UFO abductions and Fox’s search for the truth. A voyage of discovery that tangled Scully, Mulder and Cigarette Smoking Man into a single entity of conspiracy and paranoia.

How fitting that these three are once again tied together in the season’s  beginning and finale.  Well played Mr Carter, well played, even with the kitchen sink.

Face Off: Death’s Doorstep Review

Face Off this week with the Spotlight Challenge of Death’s Doorstep saw Rob’s winning streak come to an end and a new champion stepped up to grab the gong for this episode.

Face Off - Season 10
Face Off this week with the Spotlight Challenge of Death’s Doorstep saw Rob’s winning streak come to an end and a new champion stepped up to grab the gong for this episode. McKenzie Westmore met the hopefuls in a printer’s setting and revealed that the challenge this week was all about Obits.

The specific guidelines were that each artist had to create a “whimsical ghost character that reflected the way that they died.”  Each competitor had to find clues in the obituary entries for their characters.

With names like Jerry Rig, Seymour Sharp and Suzanne Stitches, amongst other amusing names of the deceased, each competitor used the name as a major clue, along with the obit entry, and Michael Westmore stopped by to give advice, as usual.  Walter was concerned that Mr. Westmore’s guidance might leave his creation looking too minimal, but in the end he followed the master’s suggestion.

Robert’s character apparently died in the bath from electrocution and it looked like Lindsay was more excited about constructing the rubber ducky than the actual dead character.  In terms of too much focus on one specific item, Mel was consumed by the “front bottom” on her creation and it cost her later in the competition.

Johnny went way too minimal with his approach and this decision sent him home.  His creation “Sarah N. Geti” was trampled and Johnny initially has a good idea but his paint job and sculpting let him down.

Face Off - Season 10
Johnny Leftwich is sent home when his trampled look falls flat…

Death’s Door on SyFy’s Face Off this week sees Rob still in the top two with his black and white magician’s assistant.  While Ve Neill liked the bold move of not using colour both Neville and Glenn felt that Rob had down-played the concept with his lack of “gore.”

Face Off - Season 10
Rob Seal in second place…

Walter did take Mr. Westmore’s advice to heart and re-sculpted his “juggling clown” and removed the bowling ball impression, sticking instead to the knives.  Caleb put a fish on his character’s head. The fish-hat lands him at the bottom of the competitor’s creations this week, but it did prompt Neville Page to make a joke which made Ve laugh.

As the judges discussed Kaleb’s character, at the end of the show, Neville asked what sort of fish it was and Kaleb replied, “an anglerfish.” Page then says:

“But where’s the angler? Where’s that funny thing that could be hanging out there and he’s constantly going, ‘f-f-f, f-f-f. f-f-f?’ “

Face Off - Season 10
Glenn Hetrick, Ve Neill and Neville Page look at Walter’s creation…

At the end, the bottom three were Mel, Johnny and Kaleb and while the fish-hat and front-bottom did not overly impress, it was Johnny’s failure to meet the spirit of the challenge, the “whimsical ghost look” that got him voted off. Mel had a brilliant idea but she set the bar far too high.

Yvonne’s Jerry Rig allowed her to hit the whimsey nail on the head with her “death by DIY” creation.  All the judges were enamored with her character and it did capture the intent of the challenge perfectly.

Face Off - Season 10
Yvonne Cox with Jerry Rig for the win.

Yvonne was overjoyed at the win as she came at the bottom  in the last whimsical challenge. Johnny was out but not down even though he did not get the almost obligatory pep talk from any of the judges before he trudged backstage to pack his bags.

Face Off airs Wednesdays on SyFy and continues to show the work behind the wonder of creating characters for the screen. Tune in and prepare to be amazed.