Iconic FX: Legend (1985)

If you’re going to give your project a name like Legend, you really need to deliver. Anything less than a remarkable cinematic experience makes that title suddenly – and tragically – ironic. Does Ridley Scott’s 1985 cult classic live up to its moniker? From a story standpoint, that’s up for debate. The makeup effects, however, are a little easier to assess.

This film boasts an eye-popping sixty-nine credited members of its makeup department. I’m sure we’ve all been in work environments where a handful of people are just standing around, not really doing much, trying to look busy. By the looks of the final product, none of that nonsense was happening on the set of Legend. From the expert design and execution of Tim Curry’s Darkness, to the eerily enchanting shimmer of Oona the fairy, to the looks-so-real-you-feel-like-you-should-take-a-shower aesthetic of those pesky Goblins, it’s clear everyone in that crew was pulling their weight round the clock.

 

The makeup that gets the most attention, and rightfully so, is that of Darkness. Rob Bottin and company designed a character that deftly straddles the line between otherworldly and humanlike, leaving an impression that is terrifying yet strangely inviting. As one CMS staff  member put it, “Darkness definitely gives me nightmares, but I also kind of want to hang out with him.” Some of that could just be the essence of Tim Curry, but that’s another blog post entirely.

One of the beautiful things about makeup is its ability to transport a person into a new world. Even when faced with story flaws, the creatures in the film are fully realized to the point of suspending viewers’ disbelief all on their own. With that commitment to world-building through effects, it’s really no wonder Legend has developed a cult following. 

So, to answer the question: Yes, Legend lives up to its name. And we have the makeup to thank for it.