Hi kiddies! This is my new project MONSTER PROM.
This project was a commission from Sony UK utilizing their new full-frame Sony A7 camera. I re-imagined iconic monsters Dracula, Frankenstein, and Wolfman as teenagers posing for their Prom photos.
Virtually all Americans are familiar with the classic Prom photo. We’ve all seen them, and most of us have even posed for them. I love Prom photos. Nothing captures the quintessential awkwardness of adolescence like the Prom photo. It is the final game of dress-up before entering the adult world.
Monsters are the perennial outsider. Did any of us ever feel more like monsters than we did as teenagers? Bodies changing beyond our control, sprouting hair, developing acne, braces, bad haircuts. The self-consciousness of adolescence comes with the realization that the villagers could turn on you at any moment.
There is a long-standing tradition of teenage monsters in the Horror genre, starting with I Was A Teenage Werewolf and I Was A Teenage Frankenstein, both from 1957. Modern variations on the teenage monster movie include Carrie, Teen Wolf, The Craft, even Twilight. Wes Craven’s Scream could easily have been titled I Was A Teenage Slasher.
A lot of wonderful people helped me with my teenage monster project.
My eldest daughter Arinna (from my photograph BABYSITTER) played the part of Frankenstein’s girlfriend. She also did a wonderful job helping me cast my project, and recruited several of her friends to be models.
All of the girls’ hairstyles were done by my friend Nikki Moreno. Nikki specializes in retro Pin-Up portraits with her company Vixen Pin-Up Photography. Not only did she do everybody’s hair, but Nikki was also a crucial photography assistant. She provided set elements, like the silver tinsel backdrop, as well as lighting equipment. I could not have done this shoot without her.
Candy Cunningham – Nikki’s partner in Vixen Pin-Up Photography – did wonderful make-up for all the girls.
Rod Zirkle, a graduate of Tom Savini’s school of make-up, did a great job airbrushing monster hands for the boys.
I staged the photo-shoot in my own home. Here you can see Rod airbrushing Frankenstein’s hands in the middle of my living room, surrounded by teenagers.
The real star of this project is my friend J. Anthony Kosar, and his special-effects team at Kosart Effects – Neil Viola, Scott Mitchell, Stevie Calabrese, and Matt Kapolczynski. This was my 3rd collaboration with Anthony. He also created the make-up effects for my zombie photo LAST STAND and my upcoming film BLACK LULLABY.
I met Kosar in a parking lot in St. Louis, roughly half way between Kansas City and Chicago to collect his fragile monster sculptures.
You might ask, “Why make sculptures? Why not use make-up appliances on the models?” This was so that Kosar would not be limited to the proportions and facial structure of a real person. This way the eyes could be set further apart than a real person’s face would allow, a neck could be thinner than a real person’s neck, a mouth shape could be extended beyond the physical limits of make-up. I encouraged him to create stylized character designs, knowing that they would be fleshed out with amazing realistic detail for my camera.
I photographed the kids in full costume on my set, complete with hand make-up. Kosar even provided fake feet for teenage Wolfman, played by Wyatt Zirkle, Rod’s 12 year old son. His plaid suit was made by my friend Celine Collins (the victim in my JACK THE RIPPER project) at her store MonkeyWrench Clothing in downtown KC. Wolfman’s date was played by Fee Pauwels.
I photographed Kosar’s sculptures on the same set, under the same lighting, to ensure that both parts would fit together seamlessly when combined in Photoshop.
My daughter Arinna and her friend Andrew Gleason, who played the part of Frankenstein.
Dracula was played by my 12 year old nephew Nate. His date was played by Mary Burke.
A special thank you to my sister Sarah who made all of the flower corsages. And a big thank you to Kevin Kinkead at Boomerang in Westport, KC’s best vintage clothing store, for giving me such a great deal on all of the retro clothes! And lastly, thank you to Margaret of London for inviting me to be part of this project.
See you next time!