LAYTON – It’s not easy making the undead look their worst.
Layton native Mason Hall is the makeup director for the haunted hospital Asylum 49, which is open now through Nov. 2. In his work with the attraction and others throughout the Wasatch Front, Hall has spent months dripping blood, peeling off faces and otherwise transforming normal people into the stuff that nightmares are made of.
“I was a paramedic for 15 years, so injuries are my specialty,” said Hall, showing off pictures of gaping wounds and skin that’s been ripped away.
Hall, who also works as an emergency planner for the state of Utah, first got into makeup design through his paramedic work. He started as a moulage artist, using makeup to create mock injuries for the purpose of training emergency response teams. Then he decided to expand his horizons.
“I went to the local haunted house and asked if they needed help,” he said.
As director, Hall oversees a team of makeup artists who do all the makeup for the Asylum 49 cast. His work starts earlier in the year, designing make-ups based on the different rooms and themes the haunted attraction has decided on for the upcoming season.
“You have to look at the different roles they’re going to want, based on the setup they’ve designed,” he said. “If we’re doing stuff from a movie, we’ll watch it a couple of times to get ideas.”
Lighting also plays an important part in a makeup artist’s work, with everything from angles to bulb colors affecting the final result.
“If they’re under a red light, I can’t put red makeup on them because it washes right out,” Hall said. “If I need to draw veins or something, I’ll use green or black instead. In daylight it looks kind of goofy, but under the colored light you can see it better.”
Hall and his team have two hours every night to completely do all the makeup for Asylum 49’s cast of 70, starting with those at the front of the attraction and working through to the back. With that kind of clock, speed and skill are vital.
“I look at each artist’s strengths when I assign the different make-ups,” he said. “I have one artist who’s extra good with clowns, so she gets all the clown make-up. I get the injuries.”
Despite the years he’s spent transforming people into monsters, the make-ups that are closest to his heart were designed to help unmask those monsters. He once did a set of make-ups speaking out against domestic violence that showed common injuries.
“They were all from real domestic violence cases I’d been called out on,” he said. “They were rough, both those have the most meaning.”
Note: Many of Hall’s most impressive make-ups were far too disturbing to run in the newspaper. To see his entire online portfolio, check out the photos section of his Facebook page at facebook.com/mhall1977. His full set of domestic violence photographs are there as well.