Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan — Roy Wooley of Tucker the Chief Makeup Artist and Creature Designer at Netherworld Haunted House in Norcross prepares for Netherworld's 16th year of entertainment this Halloween season. Wooley is featured on the television show "Face Off" along side some of the best makeup artists in the industry.
NORCROSS -- Netherworld Haunted House is known for creepy, crawly creatures, blood-splattered bodies and supernatural spirits.
But have you ever wondered who brainstorms, sketches and brings these hair-raising demons to life?
That's where Chief of the Makeup Department and Creature Maker Roy Wooley takes control. He's been playing with makeup for as long as he can remember.
"I've been doing this since I was a kid, then I moved over to Georgia (from Alabama) and happened to find a haunted house here," Wooley said of Netherworld. "It was its the first year in this building (in Norcross), second year of operation and they didn't have a makeup department."
In hopes to fill the need, Wooley showed his portfolio to Ben Armstrong, co-owner and creator of Netherworld. The haunt didn't need artists, just actors.
"I had nothing else better going on, so I acted my first year and did my own makeup," he said.
Fifteen years later, Wooley is the main man in charge of all things silicone, polyfoam and latex.
Besides being known in Netherworld, Wooley has been nationally recognized. He's currently on the third season of the Sy-Fy show "Face Off," a competition like "Top Model," but featuring special effects makeup. Contestants are given a challenge -- turn models into monsters -- and are judged for their creativity or lack thereof. The weakest contestant is sent home as the others battle for a $100,000 grand prize.
"I applied for season two and didn't get in because I applied on the last day," Wooley said. "(The show) contacted Ben because they saw him on the 'Daily Show' dressed as a monster."
Wooley auditioned in Orlando, Fla. and was cast for the new season. The show is on its sixth episode and the Netherworld artist hasn't been eliminated. So far, he's created a zombie inspired by "Alice in Wonderland," a dead pirate with daggers in its ribs and an alien that would fit in the "Star Wars" cantina scene, just to name a few.
"They had this lab that was stocked with everything. I couldn't tell you how much I spent in silicone in last (Sunday) night's episode," he said.
Since he's finished taping until the live show on Halloween, Wooley and Armstrong are focused on the monsters at Netherworld. This year's themes are "Banshee" and "The Hive."
"We just finished a three-year cycle called the blood night that was originally based on vampires and brought more characters into it, but we had a feeling that we wanted to get back into the traditional Halloween feel," Armstrong said of the main haunt, "Banshee." "We went to the roots of it and it was kind of Irish mythology is where the jack-o'-lanterns originated, so we went with an Irish character, the banshee. ...We embraced Halloween and over the next couple of years, we're going to be exploring traditional Halloween themes."
To tackle the other worldly creatures, Wooley uses several techniques to get the characters ready to scare willing haunted house walkers.
"We use a lot of airbrushed paints, which we're changing slowly because we're trying to get into using more prosthetics," he said. "This year, we're using prosthetics throughout the entire show. We're trying to raise the level in the quality of makeup. In the past, we've made some prosthetics and bought some from other people. This year we're making all of them."
Armstrong added, "Some years we're moved to silicone because they're more durable, but they have their own problems because they don't breathe. We find that doing the foam is better, but they don't last as long. Maybe if you're lucky you can re-use them a couple of times."
Wooley works constantly to work out the bugs throughout each season.
The second haunt, "The Hive" is located in the basement. It has a gorier, industrial-looking set in a '50s fall out shelter infested with mutated bugs.
"Adding monsters down there is really going to change the vibe," Armstrong said. "We're curious to see people's reactions."