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Exclusive: Set Visit to Danny DeVito’s Skin Deep; Frank Ippolito Talks FX and Addresses Syfy’s Face Off

Dread hit the set of actor Danny DeVito’s then-shooting horror short Skin Deep this past February 19th and spent some time chatting with filmmaker/FX artist and reality star Frank Ippolito, who was on hand to provide the makeup gags required of the supernatural flick.

At the time filming at the Lampoon Mansion in the Hollywood Hills, writer and director DeVito’s “Splattercut” short film (as he refers to them) is yet another addition to his growing library of horror shorts (yes, DeVito’s a horror fan and filmmaker), and eventually Skin Deep will be streamed at his website The Blood Factory (where you can currently view his other genre works).

Speaking with Ippolito – as DeVito guided Skin Deep’s leads, Erica Taylor (Night of the Little Dead) and David Margulies (Ghostbusters, “The Sopranos”), along with myriad extras through the Hollywood party scene being shot on the fourth floor of the manse – the effects artist and director (whose previous shorts include Dracula’s Daughter vs. Space Brains and the upcoming Night of the Little Dead) showed off the prosthetics for two of the short’s gags: the ‘face rip off’ appliance created for Taylor’s character and a mechanical devil’s tail, slated to be worn by Margulies.

It’s a little mechanical tail, which we made to look like a wiener,” chuckled Ippolito of the phallic creation that was utilized during the two-day shoot. “Danny wanted it to look like that. He wanted it to be that the devil is kind of mocking Erica’s character (with it). The story is that she had made a deal with him sixty-six years ago to keep her beauty, and now sixty-six years later he returns to take her beauty back, which is why he rips her face off.

As for the look of Margulies’ devil character makeup (who at the time was outfitted with convincing horns and contacts), “There’s a couple of different stages of the devil’s makeup,” said Ippolito. “He does different things. He shows up in a mirror, and he has three different sizes of horns and different contact lenses for different looks. We have yellow contacts that 9MM Effects made for us, a company that I’ve been using for all of the things that I’ve done in the past. I built another gag, too, which is a tongue with a bunch of warts on it.

Ippolito presents the referenced prosthetic appliance, which similar to a condom is designed to slip over the performer’s appendage, and which is indeed rather warty.

You can’t really glue things onto a tongue,” offers Ippolito.

Talk turns to Ippolito’s casting on the make-up effects reality competition show “Face Off” (which is currently airing on Syfy) and his subsequent being voting off of it and the producer’s interesting choice of editing, which seemed to present the artist as lazy, self-involved and careless (note: during this writer’s set visit – to Ippolito’s Night of the Little Dead, none of the above applied). Of course, a staple of reality television is the dramatic, and a villain is always inherent, whether legitimate or created during post production.

I actually think it’s kind of funny,” Ippolito reflected, more than likely relieved to have a platform via which to address his generally anonymous Internet detractors. “I just looked at my Twitter account, and someone had Tweeted, ‘Thank you Frank, for making Cleveland (from which he heralds) look like a bad city,’ like they are comparing me to LeBron James! I mean c’mon, “Face Off” is a reality show, and I think at the end of the day that it’s fun and that it’s funny. I went on there to have fun, and I had fun. I don’t really regret it.

I think it’s great that I’m getting all of this press,” he continued, “even if it’s negative, but whatever, people are talking about me and not about anyone else (on the show), and that makes it even funnier. You can’t take it seriously. I don’t think DeVito would keep me around for his shorts if I was the raging asshole or incompetent (as they edited me to be). I mean, Danny can get just about anyone he wants in town, and he’s gone through a lot of people on these shorts, and I’ve been around for over a year now (working with him on them). But the reaction (to my appearance on “Face Off”) doesn’t really bother me. I was upset about it at first, as anyone getting negative press would be, but I think it’s amusing now.

Stay tuned to Dread for our exclusive monster photos from the set of Ippolito’s Night of the Little Dead on March 15th, as well as a first look at that film’s trailer (Night of the Little Dead subsequently will be released to iTunes), and in the interim, you can visit the flick’s Facebook page here.

Exclusive: Set Visit to Danny DeVito’s Skin Deep; Frank Ippolito Talks FX and Addresses Syfy's Face Off

Sean Decker

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Sean Decker