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Monday, August 24, 2020

RICK BAKER: METAMORPHOSIS Vol. 1: 1950-1989 Vol. 2: 199-2019

Though I've had it since just after my birthday, I have finally sat down (during dialysis) and begun reading special effects makeup legend Rick Baker's enormous and comprehensive two-volume autobiography, METAMORPHOSIS.

Straight-up the most expensive book I have ever purchased as a new edition, this tome is worth its weight in gold to Baker's fans, something I have counted myself as since the 1970's, and upon cracking it open and thumbing through it I felt like I had not spent a dime. This an exhaustive retrospective that stuns with every page, providing candid info on Baker's career, straight from the man himself, warts and all.

I brought Volume One with me to dialysis and began reading; introductions from frequent collaborator John Landis and director/fanboy Peter Jackson were heartfelt, but I was riveted from page 1 of Baker's recollections, beginning with his childhood years of encouragement from parents who pretty much allowed him to turn their little house into a makeup effects lab (his dad was a frustrated artist of considerable talent whose parents did not think being an artist was a real job), chronicling his teen years and early gigs (including working on GUMBY and DAVEY AND GOLIATH), then on to his first meeting with mentor and effects makeup god Dick Smith, followed by chapters on the making of OCTAMAN and SCHLOCK and other low-budget fare before being tapped to do makeup effects for the eighth James Bond film, LIVE AND LET DIE. Right now I'm absorbing his account of his time serving as Dick Smith's assistant on THE EXORCIST, and while I thought I knew pretty much everything about making of that film, I somehow never knew Baler had been involved, as the (deserved) lion's share of the kudos went to Smith.

I cannot wait to resume reading, as what have read so far made the 3.5 hours of dialysis just fly by. In short: If you can spare the hefty price, order your copy before it goes out print and becomes an even pricier collector's item. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION.

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