Local experts share what it takes to be scary this fall

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published August 28, 2018

 Makeup artist Theresa Audia Garofalo applies some latex “wounds” during a graduation test at the Astute Artistry studio inside the Detroit School of Digital Technology.

Makeup artist Theresa Audia Garofalo applies some latex “wounds” during a graduation test at the Astute Artistry studio inside the Detroit School of Digital Technology.

Photo provided by Lisa Glickoff, of Astute Artistry

 Stomach-turning wounds, perfect for Halloween, are easier than you might think to create, according to makeup artist Lisa Glickoff.

Stomach-turning wounds, perfect for Halloween, are easier than you might think to create, according to makeup artist Lisa Glickoff.

Photo provided by Lisa Glickoff, of Astute Artistry

 Actors at Erebus Haunted Attraction in Pontiac have attended Boo School with film and special effects professionals to learn how to be truly terrifying. Photo provided by Ed Terebus, of Erebus Haunted Attraction

Actors at Erebus Haunted Attraction in Pontiac have attended Boo School with film and special effects professionals to learn how to be truly terrifying. Photo provided by Ed Terebus, of Erebus Haunted Attraction

Photo provided by Ed Terebus, of Erebus Haunted Attraction

METRO DETROIT — Two weeks ago, actors from across metro Detroit filed into an old building in downtown Pontiac to see if they have what it takes to make a grown person cry. Maybe even wet themselves. 

Ed Terebus, owner of Erebus Haunted Attraction, on Perry Street, was auditioning new scare actors ahead of the venue’s opening Sept. 21. No experience was needed, since they’ve got some serious tutoring available for potential haunters. Terebus said he was mainly looking for a certain spark.

“We still need a few more people, but we’ve got a good base going. We’ve got one group in Boo School; that’s happening next weekend. But this year we’re looking to be a lot stronger in the acting department, so I was really looking for a passion to scare,” he said.

The four-story haunted house has managed to scare more than 7,000 visitors to the point that they couldn’t make it to the end of the attraction. Needless to say, that takes some talent, dedication and, more importantly, bodies — both dead and alive, if you will.

Terebus brought in a special consultant who’s worked with Disney and Universal Studios and has expertise in special effects to assist with the scare actor auditions and training. But really, he said, it’s up to each actor to create a unique style and character to really get crowds trembling.

“They need the ability to step out of yourself and really be someone else. One of the most beautiful things about Halloween and trick-or-treating, per se, is that you can be whoever you want and whatever you want and no one will criticize you,” he explained. “If you were to dress up right now and run around as Wonder Woman, people would think you’re nuts. On Halloween, everyone would be like, ‘Hey, great costume. That’s so cool.’”

 The ability to express a side of ourselves we don’t always indulge is one of the main reasons artist Lisa Glickoff has been teaching folks to apply Halloween makeup for more than 20 years.

“I’ve taught 4,000 people in this trade,” said Glickoff, the founder of Astute Artistry Film Makeup Academy and, more recently, a co-founder of the Detroit School for Digital Technology, a fully accredited film production and technology trade school in Detroit. 

“Halloween is the one time of year we feel expressive and creative, and maybe act out a side we can’t any other time of the year. Personally, I think it’s a place for art,” she added.

Nothing says Halloween like some over-the-top, show-stopping makeup to complete a costume. Zombies are always the go-to for Glickoff when it comes to scary looks because there’s something so plausible, maybe, about some virus bringing our dead back to life to terrorize the living.

“Think about it: You watch ‘The Walking Dead,’ and it’s so realistic it really scares the crap out of you,” she said.

Wouldn’t you know it, zombie makeup is actually pretty simple to apply, too. Glickoff said a “properly trained 5-year-old” could turn his or her face into a decaying, bloody mess with the right tools. 

“It takes a handful of supplies: latex, or spirit gum if you have a latex allergy; tissue; fake blood — both light and dark, because it takes both to look realistic; and a toothpick,” she said. “Start with some light foundation and powder to make the face look pale. Then if you want to make a gunshot wound to the head or left cheek, you alternate applications of latex and tissue, back and forth, until it’s about maybe an inch off the side of your face. It dries super quick, so you have to work fast. Then add the blood and mix light and dark blood and maybe some coagulated blood, which you can find at my school or Halloween USA, and then the toothpick. Stick the toothpick through certain areas of the latex and paint it with blood and it will look like bone.”

Glickoff will spend the next couple of months ahead of Halloween enrolling new students at the Detroit School for Digital Technology — financial aid, Michigan Works! and veteran assistance are available, by the way — and applying makeup on individual customers looking to make a statement at their upcoming costume party. She also does tons of tutorial programs at libraries around metro Detroit. She expects to start booking those dates soon.

Terebus will be busy in the coming weeks too, getting his team ready to do what Erebus is known for: entertaining customers and, hopefully, making it tough for them to sleep that night.

“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of work. It’s not screaming in someone’s face. … On a busy Friday night ... you’re scaring hundreds of people,” he said. “But to see a grown man drop to his knees and crawl away from you and to know you did that, you almost have to snicker. It makes the work worth it.”

Erebus Haunted Attraction is located at 18 S. Perry St. in downtown Pontiac. For more information, call (248) 332-7884 or visit hauntedpontiac.com.

The Detroit School for Digital Technology is located at 1759 W. 20th St. in Detroit. For more information, including help with admissions or booking makeup services, call (313) 263-4200 or visit dsdt.tech.