Horns in Film

At the Nocturnal Designz Studio we have our sights set on everything horns.  

Below we discuss some of our favorite and inspiring films featuring characters with badass horns and the awesome artists who created them.


Special Effects/ Makeup: Rob Bottin & Peter Robb-King

At the time of its filming in 1985, Legend had the largest make up crew ever dedicated to one project. All of that work would pay off as it was later nominated for three awards in the Best Make Up category by the Academy (Oscars), BAFTA and the Academy of Science Fiction (Saturn Awards).

Director Ridley Scott asked known SFX Artist Rob Bottin to join the film, however, Bottin was currently finishing up John Carpenters: The Thing and was unavailable. Scott gave him the script anyway and after reading it, Bottin jumped on board and immediately began sketching characters out.

The script originally had over a thousand creatures which Bottin would later reduce to a more manageable amount.

Bottin and his crew had to make prosthetics that could be worn for over 60 days during the duration of filming. Many characters had between 8-12 prosthetic pieces worn at a time – some being full body – which would have to be individually applied, made up, and molded so that the pieces would move along with the actors natural muscles. Each character had three artists working on them at a time and would sit in the chair for about three and a half hours just for prosthetic applications.

One of the most memorable characters was that of Darkness, which was played by Tim Curry. He would spend over five and a half hours each day in the chair because his entire body was encased in makeup. He also wore a large structure on his head with three foot fiberglass horns which were supported by a harness worn under his makeup.

Because of the way the horns sat on his head, it would cause a lot of strain to his neck and as a result the horns would later be replaced with ones that were lighter in weight.


Special Effects/ Makeup: KNB EFX
Supplemented by Visual Effects by Tippett Studio

In one of Radcliff’s darker films, KNB EFX was tasked with making a series of horns and prosthetics for the actor’s transformation from normal guy to full-fledged demon. This series included four stages of horns during transformation, fantasy drug-dreamed prosthetic makeup, a burn suit and a final demon look with a full large set of horns. Daniel would be fitted for prosthetics over 35 times during the duration of the film’s production. Conceptual designer, John Wheaton, looked to nature for inspiration and finally settled on a version of Rams horns.

The horns were cast using Dental Acrylic, attached to a wire and placed on Daniel’s head cast. Hair clips were then used and a small prosthetic was applied to help blend them in and make the horns look like they were coming out of the actors skin. A helmet was also used with a wig and horns that were screwed in during scenes that required stunts. The final demon look took two hours to apply and was done by Mike Fields, Maiko Gomyo and McCarty


Special Effects/ Makeup: David Marti & Montse Ribe of DDT SFX

Director Guillermo del Toro and artist Montse Ribe first worked together on The Devil’s Backbone and Hellboy. So it was only natural that Del Toro would later seek out Ribe and partner David Marti to help take on and create this imaginative and dark tale. From the beginning they decided to take a more natural approach with the characters designs. They wanted them to blend with creatures/things you would find out in the woods that have blended there for hundreds of years.  DDT SFX went through six design stages to get the final looks they wanted.

One of the greatest pairs of horns in film can be found on The Faun which was played by Doug Jones. Del Torro loved them so much that when he first saw Jones in full makeup he walked up to him and just hugged him. At that moment the crew applauded and they knew this character design was perfect. To this day Jones speaks about the role and says that not only was the suit one of the easiest he’s ever had to wear but it is still his most favorite character to date.

The characters of this film are all very elaborate. So elaborate in fact, that with the films small budget, DDT SFX actually went bankrupt as they neared the end of the film production. Luckily for the team, not only did PANS end up earning over $83.25 million in the box office, it also received over 100 award nominations. Marti and Ribe alone would receive more than 10 nominations and several wins for Best Makeup from the Academy (Oscars), BAFTA and Academy of Science Fiction (Saturn) to just name a few


Special Effects/ Makeup: Jake Garber

Another of Guillermo del Torro’s works is that of Hellboy. In this film he teams up with Jake Garber (The Cell, Star Trek: Enterprise) to bring this comic book character to life.

Ron Pearlman, who plays Hellboy, has a full body transformation daily. He not only wears prosthetic pieces on his head, he also wears a full body suit to give him extra bulk/mass, and a tail.  For everything else that is left exposed, it gets painted with body paint in the colour red. Ron and Jake would show up to set four hours early every day to finish the makeup. It paid off as Jake and his team were nominated/won for Best Makeup from the Academy of Science Fiction, Chainsaw Award, OFTA and several others.


Special Effects/Makeup: Rick Baker

Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie, used had a tag team of artists to create Angelina’s final look.

The look was said to be so scary that they ultimately decided to cast Angelina’s own daughter, Vivienne, to play the role of young Aurora as the other children were too scared to be around her. The most standout feature of Maleficent are her horns. Rick and his team made four sets of horns for the Director and Jolie to decide upon. To make these, Rick Baker casted them using urethane casting resin. They had a skull cap with the base of the horns as well as a few inches of horn sticking out. The rest of the horns were then connected using strong magnets.

These magnets were strong enough to hold the horn in place but still allow the team to remove them in between takes. They wanted them to be made this way in case Jolie bumped into anything the horns would just break away and not injure her. The horns themselves were sent to London milliner, Justin Smith, who was responsible for the unique look of the horns being wrapped in leather.