Jack Pierce

Jack Pierce with Bela Lugosi for Son of Frankenstein

Jack Pierce is hardly an unsung hero of thirties horror, but he’s certainly not as well known as someone like Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff. He is, however, perhaps as responsible as anyone else for the genre’s success in the thirties. The imagery of movies like Frankenstein and Dracula is so enduring as to be representative of the novel’s characters and Pierce’s touch can be found all over those movies.

He is probably best known for his work designing the make up for Frankenstein – the iconic, square headed, scarred, electrode-bolted monster is so iconic as to become the look for Frankenstein’s creation. Even today, whether the illustrators are  representing Karloff, Lugosi, or Strange,  it is Pierce’s makeup that has remained the iconic image of the Monster.

Although both Karloff and director James Whale apparently contributed somewhat to Pierce’s design, the credit has always rested largely with Jack Pierce.

Pierce also designed the Dracula costume both for Lugosi and the later design of Son of Dracula and all of the John Carradine Dracula films. Another notable collaboration with Lugosi is the tropical gothic White Zombie. Murder Legendre’s iconic look is certainly a very important part of that film.

bela lugosi as murder legendre

Although Pierce continued to work on Universal pictures throughout the forties, notably designing the Wolfman makeup and feuding with that picture’s star, Lon Chaney Jr, he was gradually edged out of the business due to the changing nature of makeup application.

He is regarded with reverence by the generation of makeup artists that emerged later, names like Rick Baker and Tom Savini acknowledge a supreme debt to the mastery of Jack Pierce.

It is important not to forget those like Pierce who made huge contributions to the field of thirties horror, even though they did not command the crowds like the on screen stars.

Amazon has a variety of books and movies about Jack Pierce

Episode 1: Dracula’s Daughter “The Teeming Madness of a Sleepless City”

pre-production-promotional-poster

Myself and Andrew Baillie will be recording a series of podcasts talking about the films discussed in my book.

What to Expect

Well, we talk about the plot of the movie, but not in depth. We’re not trying to do a summary here. We are instead trying to discuss the movie in an intelligent (although brief) fashion.

Andrew is a horror movie novice; I watch these movies every day. We conceived of the podcast as being an interesting combination of those two elements.

Go easy on us – we’re both nerds or thereabouts, not great radio voices and we talk over each other helter skelter. We’re new to this podcasting stuff.

Dracula’s Daughter – Show Notes

Dracula's Daughter

(A blog post will likely be forthcoming about Dracula’s Daughter.)

Dracula’s Daughter (Wikipedia)

Hays Production Code (Wikipedia)

A Vampire in the Mirror: Sexuality in Dracula

Carmilla

Sleepless in Seattle

Dracula’s Daughter/Son of Dracula (Universal Studios Dracula Double Feature) on Amazon

Theme music on sound cloud – DuBoLoGy – Swan Lake Dub

Matt Bevilacqua on Twitter

Andrew Baillie on Twitter