The Weekly Geek: “Face Off” delivers gory fun

I have a tiff with the Sci-Fi Channel – excuse me, Syfy. Personal hatred of misspelled brand names aside, they cancelled my all-time favorite series, Farscape, back in 2003, one year shy of the show’s planned five-season run. So, it takes a little something special from them to make me sit up and notice.

The channel’s new original series Face Off may just be the thing that brings me back in. A show that pits creature-creator makeup artists against one another, Iron Chef -style, to make the most awesome/gory/out-of-this-world creatures, it looks like a boatload of freaky fun.

Wired just reviewed the premiere (which debuted just last night), giving it a big old monster-loving thumbs-up. Bearing witness to the creative process is always fun – watching it in the context of sci-fi/fantasy/horror creature production is doubly so. They write:

Peeling back the layers of entertainment spectacle is always an intriguing exercise, and watching Face Off contestants grab whatever they find in the room to instantaneously make heinous monsters or gashed victims is more interesting than watching cooks or clothiers create cold fine dining or hot runway messes.

Food porn is lovely and all, but as a geek, I have to say give me nasty monsters any day of the week. That is, until someone can combine the concepts of making gourmet food and creature creation – then we’d really be in business.

The details are intriguing, and there’s real talent behind the series:

Face Off’s judges — creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos (I Am Legend) and makeup-effects artists Ve Neill (Beetlejuice) and Glenn Hetrick (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) — are no joke. And while the voyeur inside me takes pleasure in watching them haze contestants for ratings and laughs, the empath in me watches in awe as Face Off artists make surreal hybrid humans inspired by ostriches, beetles and elephants.

It’s not perfect – writer Scott Thill notes that some tired reality show tropes are trotted out – the odd bit of verbal abuse from the judges here, a touch of melodrama there – but on the whole, this sounds like just the thing to draw me back to the supposed nerd mecca of Syfy. If the first episode is any indication, it most definitely will.

If you want to give it a shot, Face Off airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. and you can watch the premiere episode at syfy.com.

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