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In his field, makeup man has a monstrous impact

When producers at the local haunted-house attractions mention something about "Hollywood-quality" makeup effects, it's unlikely that they're talking about something on this scale.

Over the past weekend, Rocky Point Haunted House, 3400 S. State, brought in Brian Penikas, a designer and lab technician for Makeup & Monsters, a Los Angeles-based effects house. Not only did he give some pointers to the attraction's makeup artists, he also applied makeup and prosthetics for some of its "creatures.""This sends me back to my roots. I learned a lot of the tricks of the trade myself by working in haunted houses when I was younger," said Penikas, who has worked for some of the best makeup men in the business, including Rick Baker, Stan Winston and Michael Westmore.

Some of his most recent movie work includes the body makeup for the character "Bane" in "Batman & Robin," and the facial appliances for both John Astin in "The Frighteners" and Kevin Bacon in "Murder in the First."

Cydney Neil, producer for both the Salt Lake and Ogden Rocky Point locations, has brought in other Hollywood effects men and set designers to lend a hand and make the attraction a learning environment as well.

"It's kind of a training opportunity for some of the kids," she said. "I know some of them would like to go on to bigger things, and getting advice from the pros always helps."

Admiring Penikas' work were Eric Clark, one of the house's six makeup artists, and Bill Rogers, who plays one of the attraction's "undead" characters.

"It's great to get worked on by Brian. I wish I could have him put my makeup on every night," Rogers said.

Not every actor was quite so pleased, however.

"It's cool. I mean, like really cold!" Scott Litton said while Penikas applied ice-cold, colored hairspray to his face and scalp. (Penikas was actually using the hairspray as a base foundation before he applied blue and white makeup to Litton's face for his final transformation into "Mr. Freeze.")

The experience was also a little uncomfortable for Penikas, who said he is used to having a lot more time on each project. At the haunted house, he had about 15 minutes per "monster."

"It forces you to be more creative when you don't have so much time or some of the resources," he said. "I'm having to blast through each one, and having a blast at the same time."