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Theatre / Universal's Horror Make-Up Show

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Universal's Horror Make-Up Show is a comedic behind-the-scenes presentation that's located at Universal Studios Florida. Opening with the park on June 7, 1990, the show remains as one of the few original attractions to still be operating to this day.

The show features two hosts, the first being Alex Ross, who soon then introduces the Special Guest host, Mark James (or Marty James, if a woman is playing the part), who is said to be a professional Hollywood makeup artist. Together, they discuss how make-up appliances are used in the Horror film genre to create the effects of blood and gore, as well as the appearances of many famous movie monsters. In particular, they mention the works of several famous horror makeup artists, such as Lon Chaney, Jack Pierce, and Rick Baker; along with discussing how the elaborate effects were done for films like the Universal Classic Monsters series, An American Werewolf in London, and The Mummy (2017). On top of everything, Hilarity Ensues throughout the show via the hosts' various antics.


When the show first started up, it was known as The Phantom of the Opera Horror Make-Up Show and featured a pre-show with the famed phantom, but over time was changed to put the focus on all of the horror genre. The show itself has also gone through a few changes, with the films discussed and featured being swapped out over time to remain up-to-date.

Tropes shown in Universal's Horror Make-Up Show include:

  • Audience Participation: Mark/Marty will pick out a guest from the audience to use as a way to demonstrate horror effects.
  • Beat: Used numerous times in the show, one example being when Alex tells the guest volunteer that they're going to reward her for participating, he/she says, "We're going to give you and your family a three-day cruise (beat) brochure."
  • Bait-and-Switch: Mark/Marty shows a film clip of a moon looming over a forest and specifically asks the kids in the audience to guess what the movie being shown is; E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial being the usual answer. It turns out that it's actually An American Werewolf In London being shown, which is revealed when the clip cuts to the movie's Transformation Sequence.
    Mark/Marty: Oh yeah! E.T.'s back and he's pissed!
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  • Black Comedy: What the whole show is, with how it explains makeup in horror films through comedic means.
  • Bloody Handprint: After fighting off the werewolf, Mark/Marty puts their bloodied hand on the glass part of the stage door, leaving behind a mark.
  • Bloody Hilarious: More or less the entire point of the show, particularly when Mark/Marty squirts the audience with "blood" and focuses on hitting one specific guest.
  • Body Horror: The show goes into detail about how the gruesome effects behind several werewolf transformations in films were done. The original finale of the show also recreated The Fly (1986), with Mark/Marty slowly mutating into a fly monster and back.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: This is what Mark/Marty views a certain kid in the audience as, due to Alex lying about them throwing a rock at his/her invention.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: At the end of the original show, Alex remarks that he may have had "a little accident" whilst witnessing Mark/Marty's horrific transformation.
  • Butt-Monkey: The volunteer gets subjected to a lot of scare pranks and other antics throughout her time on stage.
  • Bystander Syndrome: While "dying", Mark/Marty laments how no one in the audience seems to care about the fact that he/she has been impaled in the chest.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Mark/Marty is about to use a knife on a volunteer:
    Mark/Marty: (beat) You want me to cut a kid?
  • Content Warnings: The show is among the few attractions in the park to have a content rating, with it being rated "PG-13", even though one of the central gags in the show relies on there being a kid in the audience.
  • Crossdresser: In some variations of the show, Mark will at one point reveal that he's wearing a bra for whatever reason.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both Alex and Mark/Marty have their moments throughout the show.
  • Depending on the Writer: The show's script is constantly being tweaked by the actors in order to keep things fresh, so some of the tropes you see here may not be present in the version of the show you watch.
  • Don't Try This at Home: The two hosts make it clear to the audience that they should not try anything they see in the show at home.
  • Dramatic Curtain Toss: At the end when Mark/Marty is about to reveal their invention (Eddie) to the audience, he/she purposely plays things up dramatically as they pull back the curtains.
  • Drum Roll, Please: Mark/Marty says this just before doing the above.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: invoked Subverted. When discussing Lon Chaney's makeup filmography, Mark/Marty claims that for one role he poured bleach into one of his eyes to turn it white...and then immediately afterwards says, "I just made that up."
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: Mark/Marty, after being attacked by the evil werewolf robot addresses the kid in the audience one last time (though he survives).
    Mark/Marty: [gasping for air, clawing at the window] [Child's name]... I hate you! [is dragged offstage]]
  • Enforced Plug:
    • The show is often used to promote some of Universal's upcoming horror films.
    • In 2013 and 2015, the hosts specifically mentioned that there was a haunted house for An American Werewolf In London at Halloween Horror Nights that year in the bit where they discuss the respective film.
  • Eye Am Watching You: Mark/Marty does this to one of the kids in the audience, due to he/she believing that they threw a rock at their invention.
  • Freudian Slip: At one point in the show, Alex accidentally mispronounces "latex" as "playtex".
  • Funny Foreigner: The volunteer that Alex picks is often a foreigner, as the hosts use the occasional awkwardness generated from such to a comedic advantage.
    • Given that the "volunteer" does not speak before Alex chooses them, he is choosing based on nothing but skin color. This leads to Mistaken for Foreigner any time the chosen audience member is an American of non-European heritage.
  • Gender-Blender Name: The main host is named Alex Ross, so the role can be played by either a male or female team member.
  • Go Fetch: When the werewolf comes to life on Mark/Marty, he/she tries to make it go away by playing fetch (with an arm prop as the bone). It doesn't work.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Averted when the hosts demonstrate how the effect of cutting someone's arm with a knife is done; it's shown in full-blown detail.
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: The original title of the show was changed fairly early in the '90s to The Gory, Gruesome and Grotesque Horror Make-Up Show, presumably as a way of keeping sensitive audiences from seeing it. Alternatively, as the travel guide Walt Disney World for Families humorously mused, it was a way of making the show more attractive to horror-loving kids — "while they may not have known who the Phantom [of the Opera] was, they all knew what gory and gruesome meant."
  • Got Volunteered: Alex picks the unwilling volunteer on his/her own, not taking any raised hands.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Mark/Marty mentions to the volunteer that this is the worst-case scenairo of what could happen when the power to the helmet/vest controller is turned on.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The show is occasionally billed as "Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show".
  • Incoming Ham: Marty/Marty's introduction has them "dying" in an over-the-top manner, and screaming just as cheesily.
  • iProduct: When Mark/Marty tries to convince Alex to put on a "high-voltage" vest, he/she tries to cover it up by saving that it's the latest "iVest" from Apple.
  • Jump Scare: At one point, Mark/Marty has the guest participant carry a bunch of fake arms over towards a table with even more fake arms - one of which ends up coming to life accompanied by the sound of a screaming woman.
  • Kensington Gore: In one segment of the show, the hosts discuss how chocolate syrup was used to give off the appearance of blood in movies like Psycho and Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  • Killer Gorilla: Subverted in the original version of the show. A giant gorilla would suddenly pop out and briefly rampage through the set, until it's revealed that it was just one of Mark/Marty's friends in a costume.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others:
    • When showing the monsters Jack Pierce helped to create for Universal, Mark/Marty names each of the monsters as they appear on screen, only to name the last two (Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein's Monster) as "Lady Gaga" and "Kanye West".
    • During the former Wolfman segment, Mark/Marty would show a series of clips of the title character growling while he/she made a "roar" sound for each of them. On the last clip, instead of doing the "roar" sound, he/she would menacingly say the name of the kid in the audience from earlier.
    • In visual-gag form, the stage features a variety of horror-creature masks being displayed on shelves, with the masks on the far-right being of Fred and Barney from The Flintstones.
  • Long Title: One of the show's original titles, The Gory, Gruesome and Grotesque Horror Make-Up Show.
  • Mechanical Monster: Eddie the Werewolf is a robot monster invented by Mark/Marty. Of course, it ends up going rogue soon after being activated.
  • Mad Scientist: Mark/Marty has traces of this, as not only is he/she eccentric beyond belief, but all versions of the show end in them creating a crazy invention that ends up going horribly wrong.
  • Man of a Thousand Faces: When discussing make-up pioneers, the hosts specifically talk about the Trope Namer, Lon Chaney, who they even mention that he was known as the "Man of a Thousand Faces".
  • Monster Delay: Eddie, the robotic werewolf, doesn't appear until the end of the show. Justified as Mark/Marty is purposely keeping him under wraps to build up excitement for the reveal.
  • Monster Misogyny: Alluded to in that the volunteer that Mark/Marty picks out from the audience is always a woman. In addition, the woman picked is usually either elderley or a foreigner.
  • Nausea Fuel: invoked Before showing a montage of clips from Universal's horror history, Alex and Mark/Marty make mention that the clips are nauseating and that anyone squeamish should look away.
    Mark/Marty: But let your kids watch! (wink)
  • Never My Fault: When Alex attempts to peek at Mark/Marty's invention and accidentally triggers the alarm, he/she attempts to put the blame on a little kid in the audience, saying that they threw a rock at the invention.
  • Only in Florida: When the hosts have the volunteer's family take a picture of them "cutting" into the volunteer's arm, Mark/Marty smiles and exclaims, "Welcome to Florida!"
  • Overly-Long Gag: Mark/Marty's "death" at the beginning of the show goes on for a while, with him/her dying a slow death as he/she constantly screams to the point of sounding bored and spends a large portion of time specifically asking one person in the audience for help.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: As mentioned before, Mark/Marty creates their own robot werewolf for the purpose of using on a children's show. The werewolf basically looks like a fusion between a werewolf and the Hulk.
  • Practical Effects/Computer-Generated Images: The show mostly focuses on discussing on how the former is used in horror films, but it does briefly dwelve into how the latter is used during The Mummy segment.
  • Reference Overdosed: Being a natural thing for this kind of show, many, many horror films are referenced throughout the presentation, as well as in the exhibit at the attraction's lobby.
  • Remote Body: Eddie can have his movements controlled remotely via a special vest and helmet that the volunteer wears. Whatever movements the volunteer makes, the werewolf will duplicate it exactly.
  • Say My Name: After having coming into conflict with a kid in the audience, Mark/Marty will menacingly exclaim the kids name during certain portions of the show as a Running Gag.
  • The Scapegoat: When he sets off the alarm for Mark/Marty's secret invention, Alex puts the blame on a kid in the audience.
  • Screaming Woman: For the bit where Mark/Marty pretends to cut the volunteer's arm, he/she tells her to give them her best scream.
  • Slapstick Knows no Gender: If either host is being played by a woman, they'll still be subjected to the same amount of physical comedy that their male counterparts are regardless.
  • Slashed Throat: In the original version of the show, when Mark/Marty shows how a fake knife can be used to give off the illusion of cutting into someone, they originally would go as far as to make it look like as if they're slitting the volunteer's throat.
  • Special Guest: Marty/Marty is this from the perspective of the show's storyline, as its said that they're a famous makeup artist that's making a special appearance on the show.
  • Spiritual Successor: The show largely takes inspiration from The Land of a Thousand Faces, another show focusing on the usage of make-up in films that existed at Universal Studios Hollywood from 1975 to 1980.
  • Stock Scream: A stock female scream is heard when one of the arms on the prosthetic body parts table comes to life.
  • Stock Sound Effects: When Alex tries to peek at Mark/Marty's secret device and accidentally triggers its security mode, a car alarm sound is used.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Alex and Mark/Marty. Alex is the more sane and logical host, while Mark/Marty is way more wacky and off-the-rails.
  • Take That!: The show takes a few jabs at celebrities, one example being when Mark/Marty at one point informs the audience that the knives used in the show are "dull and plastic, just like the Kardashians."
  • The "The" Title Confusion: Not only is it sometimes marketed as "The Horror Make-Up Show", but the title is referred to as such by the hosts in the show.
  • Teleporter Accident: The original finale of the show involved Mark/Marty stepping into the teleportation pods from The Fly (1986) and accidentally getting mutated into a fly monster, before Alex is able to reverse the process.
  • Think of the Children!: Before Mark/Marty uses his/her "knife", Alex suddenly mentions that they should give children a disclaimer that all of the props and effects in the show aren't real, so they don't feel as terrified.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: Mark/Marty's evil robot werewolf is simply named, "Eddie".
  • Transformation Sequence: A large part of the show is dedicated to explaining how the werewolf transformation scenes in An American Werewolf in London and The Wolfman were done.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: At the end of the show, Eddie comes to life on his own and attacks the hosts.
  • Updated Re Release: The show has been changed numerous amounts of times over the years; moreso than any other attraction in the park.
  • Verbal Backspace: Occurs in this exchange between Mark/Marty and Alex:
    Mark/Marty: Now, I want you to put on this high-voltage vest...
    Alex: WHAT?!
    Mark/Marty: (beat) I want you to put on this low-voltage vest...
  • Voice for the Voiceless: Mark/Marty does this for Eddie when he/she has the volunteer make the werewolf wave to the audience.
    Mark/Marty: Hi kids, I'm Eddie! I live under your bed!
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: In-universe. Mark/Marty mentions that they're going to use Eddie for a kids' show. Alex is completely baffled at the idea, not seeing how this thing would be appropriate for children in the slightest.
    Alex: That is for a children's show?
    Mark/Marty: Yes. It's for the final episode of Dora the Explorer. He sings a song at the end of the's gonna be awesome, it's gonna be bigger than Frozen. He sings, "Uno, dos, tres, I'm going to eat your face!"
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Invoked; the show involves copious amounts of horror and gore, and spends a lot of its runtime making fun of clueless parents who brought their children to see it, with a Running Gag focusing on Mark/Marty antagonizing one particular kid in the audience.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: During Mark/Marty's "death" at the beginning of the show, he/she reaches out to one of the guests for help, but often gets laughed at by them in response. Later, when Mark/Marty squirts the audience with fake blood, he/she specifically targets that same guest whilst happily mocking them.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When talking to a child in the audience that they think threw a rock at their invention, Mark/Marty threateningly states, "This isn't Disney, I don't have to be nice to you..."
  • Zig-Zagging Trope: When Mark/Marty suddenly plans to chop off the volunteers arm with a large knife, he/she shortly after says, "I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I'm not gonna hurt you with this, don't worry...I'm going to use the smaller, sharper one." This is then subverted a third time when he/she reveals that they're just using a prop knife on her to further demonstrate how gore effects are made.