Howard Sherman - 'Bub' / John Vulich - Major Special Makeup FX talent


'This is the best effects crew I've ever had' emphasized the Captain of 'Saviniland', Tom Savini,
during the 'Day of the Dead' cruise.
The special makeup effects Guru hired some highly talented young makeup artists for the demanding job.
It all started with the crew who were already at his side during the 'Tales of the Darkside' production.
For the Season 1 episode 'Inside the Closet', directed by Tom Savini, Savini and his crew brought to life 
the notable horror creature 'Lizzie'.
The great sculpting and the mechanical tricks were instrumental in making 'Lizzie' an almost iconic figure.
With a status similar to the Ghoul figure that the legendary John Chambers created for the 'Pickman's Model' episode 
of 'Night Gallery' in the 70s.
Dave Kindlon was the wizard for the cable operated inner mechanics of the ghoulish 'Inside the Closet' figure.
A ghoulish figure inside the closet? Ghoulies!
Greg Nicotero and Mike Trcic were the other 'Lizzie' guys who now formed the first small crew for 'Day of the Dead'.
It was completely clear that 4 people would not be enough to cope with the expected workload.
John Vulich was the first addition to the team.
Others expanded the crew's options, like Everett Burrell, Howard Berger (both recommended by Vulich) or 
Mike Deak (another buddy of Vulich), to name a few.
Team leader Tom Savini in Fango #47:
"John Vulich was a guy from California that I had hired as an additional member on the 'Friday IV' crew, 
his name didn't appear in the credits - I don't know why, everybody else on the crew was named.
John was a fan who'd sent me pictures of some masks he'd made, and all the masks in the kid's room, 
except for the one Tommy wore -which was an overnight job by Alec Gillis- were by John. 
But I didn't know much about John's work beyond those masks, so I didn't really trust him to do much on 'Friday IV'. 
I really though of him as a kid who helped me.
Then, while I was hiring for 'Day', I asked him to send me more pictures, and he sent me some great zombie pictures. 
His work on 'Day' made me sorry that I didn't use him more on 'Friday IV' - 
excellent painter, moldmaker, another all-around fantastic guy."
John Vulich came as an addition and pretty quickly became the show's creative mastermind!
An imaginative person with visions, who always knew a solution.
'Bub' was a co-production of Howard Sherman and special makeup effects wizard Johnny Vulich!

The central character of 'Day of the Dead', 'Bub', was played by actor Howard Sherman.
Sherman never liked the movie, it was a show gig for him, that made him good money. 
Maybe it was his disillusionment and disappointment that sparked a creative fireworks during the shooting.
I remember Michael Caine hating everything on 'Play Dirty', but his performance was one of his best!
That 'Bub' became such an incredibly popular figure is directly related to Sherman's own interpretation of his part.
His instinct and talent for improvisation developed the character perfectly, often right on the set during the shoot.
The likeable side of 'Bub', his childlike joy and naive innocence, made some memorable moments possible.
One of my favorites is the scene where Bub has broken free of his chain.
He immediately wanted to show Dr.Logan his joy and enthusiasm for having made it.
Played brilliantly!
His fascination for music emanating from a Sony Walkman ... great and worth seeing!
Howard Sherman on Bub (laughing): "He has the intelligence level of a very stupid dog" (Cinefantastique, July 85).

Wash, line, and stipple.
Johnny Vulich giving the latex appliance mask (makeup) of Howard Sherman some finishing touches - Saviniland cave.
Tom Savini made the cast of the face, teeth and hands of Sherman in his Pittsburgh house during the summer of 1984.
Shortly afterwards, John Vulich began sculpting the wrinkled face of 'Bub'.
The entire conception and design was in his hand.
Vulich developed the prosthetic makeup of Bub (face, hands) using stretch-and-stipple technique.
The result is fully convincing.
This is what Bub should look like!
When I first saw the Bub makeup, 'Shock Waves' immediately came to my mind.
The striking makeup design that Alan Ormsby created for the zombie soldiers in the 1977 Ken Wiederhorn movie
seems to have been an inspiration for Vulich.
The Ormsby Zombies were exposed to the water for a long time, their skin is washed-out and wrinkled.
But Vulich's approach is a different one. 
His Zombie 'Bub' doesn't even know what water is and is very well-fed.
Like all other Zombies, Bub likes human flesh, but he never drinks.
And that's just not good for your skin in the long run - dehydration!
The skin dries out and becomes wrinkled and cracked.
That's the prosthetic makeup concept for Bub.
No drink is served with meals! - The bone dry life of a mummy.
At about the same time (mid 80s), Nick Maley developed his concept for the shriveled look of 
the 'Space Vampire' victims in 'Lifeforce'. 
A top-notch and effective 'Look', that relied more on glued-on appliances.
Another inspiration for the 'Bub' design, which Vulich confirmed in Lee Karr's 'Making Of' book, 
was the make-up that Tom Savini did for Scott Reiniger in 'Dawn of the Dead'.
Doc Zombiestein and his creation.
Johnny Vulich was an all-around talented guy whose crazy brain and overflowing imagination contributed 
some truly mind-blowing gags to the show.
Bub, plagued by confusing memories of life before death, seems to remember Thanksgiving ...and wants to 
bite off a crispy wing of turkey Johnny.
Of course it could also be that he would like to express his deeply felt gratitude to his cosmetic advisor.
Howard Sherman developed a lot of things spontaneously and intuitively during the filming process.
The 'Saviniland' crew was able to keep Bub under control by satisfying his feeding impulse.
But if the catering crew were to mess up a feeding time, the mood of Bub, his lovable qualities, 
might change radically...
Forget the director, the cook is the most important person!
(35 mm slides)
Makeup artist and Vulich buddy Michael Deak was another guy of the group of makeup freaks on 'Day' who got started in the 
'Rubber-Hell' of John Carl Buechler, 'Mechanical and Makeup Imageries, Inc.'.
Buechler obviously did a lot right!
Howard Sherman quickly became an attraction, 'Bub' was the most popular photo motif of the whole show.
Everybody on the Set wanted to watch the exhilarating performances of 'Bub'.
A day of shooting with 'Bub' quickly turned into a happening.
Howard Sherman in the book of Lee Karr:
"When you can interest the guys who move the wires and move the lights, they're notoriously ... 
they just don't give a shit. 
They're just there to get their money - when those guys stop what they're doing and pay attention...
Whenever I was acting in front of the camera all of those guys were there watching.
They'd come up to me afterwards at the craft services table and say, 'Hey man, I really like what you're doing.' 
So, there was a kind of a sense on the set that Bub was an event! 
And that's cool when you're an actor."
Two big guys enjoy the moment. 
Michael Deak became a full-fledged all-around talented special effects makeup guy at the MMI shop of Buechler.
The shop that never stood still in the 80s, with an order book full to the brim. 
Creature after creature crawled out of the clubhouse ...
As an on-set effects supervisor, Mike Deak was often on a plane to Rome, Italy, to oversee the makeup work 
in the Empire Studios, formerly the Dino de Laurentiis Studios, the second home of the MMI shop.
Learn more about all that here: SPELLCASTER.
John Carl Buechler always encouraged experimentation!
Whenever you have new ideas, you have been encouraged to follow them by John.
Mike had such an idea ...and Buechler gave him his blessing to run 'AlchemyFX'.
Though John probably meant something else by 'ideas'.
After the end of his legendary Empire Pictures Charlie Band was back in business (was he ever gone?) with 'Full Moon' 
and ready to unleash a barrage of low-budget direct-to-video surprises in quick succession.
'AlchemyFX' was the shop Mike Deak was running as an in-house company to design cost-efficiently all the creature 
and special makeup effects for the 'Full Moon' flicks of schlock entrepreneur Charles Band.
Mike became a frequent flyer again in the 1990s, but this time he flew to Bucharest, Romania, 
where many of the 'Full Moon' adventures were filmed.
He doesn't bite ... he just wants to play!
The Boss, Tom Savini, with the film's only Zombie with 'personality' and soul, 'Bub'.
Bub really becomes the film's hero ...and the hero kills the bad guys.
At the very beginning, Bub was just a better zombie ... but he pretty soon mutated into a little Pop Star of the Undead.
The Guts juggler meets the Pop Star.
Hey Charlie, isn't that a title for you?
Tom Savini and his crack crew delivered some state-of-the-art makeup effects for the Romero movie. 
Savini in Fango #46: "I just hope that people will see that it's the result of the combination of all
my guys, together, believing in miracles."
And in Fango #47: "..in this crew every single guy could do everything."
The Cramps dance the Zombie! - check out this: Bryan Gregory.
Howard Sherman, 'Bub', after a long shooting day.
Grrr ...latex.
It took a long time until everything was in shape and place, endless touchups and sticky brush strokes, 
and in the end the stuff doesn't even want to get off your skin and hair.
You can see that the makeup goes over the lips into the mouth. 
Mmmh ... latex 'skin' glued in the mouth. Delicious.
Howard Sherman: "...the difficult thing was the mask, literally.
The lip came over my lip and right at the threshold of when your dry lips reaches the inside, 
where it's wet, was right at the point where they had to put this latex and make it one skin and 
paint it over. And every twenty minutes it would come loose or the corners of my mouth would come loose 
and then they'd be in there fixing the damage.
So I just had to as much as possible not talk, not drink, not eat - not do anything unless I was on camera."
(Lee Karr - The Making of)
The very interesting book by Lee Karr describes the filming of 'Day of the Dead' in great detail.
The genesis, the production, the actors, the makers behind the scenes, and much more.
Lots of interesting insights, definitely recommended!
Out of print, but from time to time it pops up on ebay ...or in your local 2nd hand bookstore.
It's worth the search!

After a few years of intense work in the 'monster kills barely clad teenagers' genre of the golden 80s, 
including some incredible adventures during the heydays of the 'Mechanical and Makeup Imageries Inc.' shop of 
John Carl Buechler (Ghoulies, Troll, From Beyond), John Vulich was ready for the next step into creative freedom.
When Everett Burrell called him with the idea of running their own shop together, it happened pretty quickly.
'Optic Nerve Studios' was founded 1989 by Everett Burrell and Johnny Vulich in the Garage of Burrell.
The first job for the new shop was an embarrassing Fred Olen Ray trash flick with Erik Estrada, called 'Spirits' (1990).
Soon the garage location was too small, the projects got bigger ('Night of the Living Dead'-Tom Savini), 
the shop was running on high speed and the boys were winning awards (Babylon 5).
When Everett Burrell wanted to dive more and more into the world of visual effects, he left 'Optic Nerve'.
Johnny went on without him and ended up selling 'Optic Nerve' to longtime staffer (lab technician,...) Glenn Hetrick.
Glenn is still running the shop, which is named 'Alchemy Studios' today.
Alchemy again?
John Vulich went on to work in production at Disney Studios before dying of a heart attack on October 12, 2016.
Especially the 80s and the early 90s were wild but beautiful years for every young special makeup enthusiast.
Hundreds of movies, and even more rubber creatures and drooling monsters! 
Witches' kitchens in every third garage!
Johnny (1961-2016) was very often right in the thick of it.
He died way too soon.

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