Recently we came across a great article by Jezebel.com in their Muse editorial section. It was a story about the “Gore Girls of Instagram” and it really got us to thinking about the future of practical gore effects in a male-dominated industry and how women are taking to social media to do tutorials on makeup that goes beyond contouring, making your lips look plumper, or eyelashes fuller.
[Editor’s Note: before you read any further, there are some images below of a graphic nature]
If I were to ask you to think of a prominent figure in gore effects, you would probably visualize a man: perhaps Tom Savini, the master of monster movie make-up.
He created the gore for the original Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
His skills in making realistic head traumas, severed limbs and open wounds are a result of his career working as a combat photographer in the Vietnam War.
Having to witness the real-life visceral damage done by machines of war, Savini kept his sanity by fantasizing the victims were actually in studio make-up.
Although the atrocities of war are still happening today to our brave men and women who put their lives on the line overseas; stateside, young civilian amateurs are taking advantage of social media in order to display their talents for intricately piecing together prosthetics and detailed displays of war-like open wounds and blood splatter.
Women are quickly becoming noticed more and more in the news feed and they aren’t offering beauty tips, in fact, it’s just the opposite.
Kiana Jones is more interested in turning stomachs than turning heads through her YouTube channel, even if that means her videos are hidden because of horrified viewers.
“I had this severed fingers video from a few years ago—it had like 18 million views and I was getting hundreds and thousands of views on the video but then it went down to just 300 overnight,” Jones told Jezebel. “It got reported enough times that YouTube just took it out of the suggested videos list.”
She adds, “When it comes down to that, to me being hidden, it just feels unfair.”
The Aussie native now 28, told the publication that doing this type of art was not her original goal; she hated horror movies and didn’t understand why people would want to see such things.
But as a visual arts student in college, she participated in a zombie crawl at her university and got many compliments on her work.
From there she decided that she wanted to create effects as detailed and realistic as possible. Her over 427,000 fans on YouTube and 152,000 on Instagram seem to agree she is dong just that.
Another 28-year-old female artist Elly Suggit also has a penchant for prosthetics and taught herself how to do them when she was just a teenager.
“My family and friends were pretty creeped out by it all,” she said. “But after a few months it became the norm for me to answer the door for the postman with a full face zombie makeup on my face and no one batted an eyelid.”
iHorror did its own research and discovered Amanda Prescott an Instagram member with over 41k followers, whose makeup effects look so real that she has to provide this disclaimer:
“These are all my SFX MAKEUP, and NOT real injuries”
Prescott is yet another person of the fairer sex who is self-taught in the art of faux bodily injury. She too began the craft as a teenager.
Her work is so good that anyone trying to catfish their employer by calling in sick because of a fractured finger, or severed hand, could screen capture any of her Instagram photos and use them in their favor. It may prompt someone to call 9-1-1, but it’s still a day off work–or maybe longer.
Amanda, having just graduated from high school says she wants to take her skills into higher education.
“What I’m planning next is to go off to a four-year university to get my bachelor’s in studio arts,” she said in a 2016 interview. “While at the same time freelancing. After I receive that, I was going to go to special effects makeup school to be certified as a professional makeup artist.”
Unlike Kiana and Elly, Amanda doesn’t give many tutorials on how to replicate her work, she takes more of a “finished product” approach to social media.
But it does beg the question about young female talent and the recent popularization of them doing gore effects on social media. With computer software so readily available and somewhat inexpensive nowadays, why would production companies want to spend the extra money for practical work?
Maybe that’s the problem. Big studios are hoping to gross at the box office not gross-out the audience. They are leaving that chore to television shows and lower budget films.
We thought of a popular television series which uses practical effects in their show and came up with The Walking Dead; we wanted to see the ratio of men to women in the special effects department.
Out of the 24 “series special effects crew,” only five are women and four of those go uncredited according to IMDb.
On that same page, under the heading “Series Makeup Department” where effects wizard Greg Nicotero is credited, there are 84 people listed through the entire life of the series; only about 33 of these are women.
Nicotero has done the special effects for all 96 episodes thus far. Of those people under his management who have done 48 episodes or more, only two are women; one of those is the “contact lens designer/ painter,” the other, Donna M. Premick was a “key makeup artist” (2010-2014).
This isn’t to say that that the Walking Dead’s makeup department is sexist, it just shows that women don’t dominate the industry.
Another practical effects driven show we looked at is Starz’s Ash Vs. Evil Dead. That special effects staff has 16 people; three of those are female.
Recently, practical effects made a comeback in the low budget movie “The Void,” an homage to creature transformations via oleaginous blood and goop: Special effects wizardry there? Stefano Beninati
Social media seems to be the best place for women who love to craft graphic practical makeup.
At least there they can showcase their talents– name front-and-center–without being hidden in a list of men who share their same passion.
We aren’t sure if we will ever see a day when we think of a woman’s name before Tom Savini’s for gore effects on a major motion picture, but these Instagram and social media “Gore Girls,” are either on their way to doing just that or making one helluva reel to get their (severed) foot in the door.