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Makeup Artist Names The Classic Monster Movies She Studied For Her Work On Werewolf By Night - Exclusive

While horror movies are a staple in Hollywood, it's not that often that film artisans get the opportunity to shoot a movie or TV show in black and white. The format, of course, was the only option available to Universal Studios when it was releasing its monster movies from the early 1930s through the late 1950s, making classics out of such terrorizing tales as "Frankenstein," "Dracula," "The Mummy," "Bride of Frankenstein," "The Wolf Man," and "Creature from the Black Lagoon."

The lycanthrope character among those titles undoubtedly inspired the Marvel comic book line "Werewolf by Night," which has been adapted for the screen by director Michael Giacchino and Marvel Studios for a new Disney+ streaming special. While KNB Effects created the look of the monsters in "Werewolf by Night," prolific makeup artist Ellen Arden headed the makeup department for the human characters in the film.

Having grown up watching monster movies and worked on several horror films and TV series since becoming a makeup artist in Hollywood, Arden got the rare opportunity to tailor her craft for a black-and-white presentation for "Werewolf by Night." The short film follows a group of monster hunters vying to claim a supernatural gem known as the Bloodstone, which gives its possessor the power to control monsters. Jack Russell (Gael García Bernal) is one of the hunters seeking the Bloodstone, even though he is harboring the secret that he is cursed to become the Werewolf by Night. Also in the hunt is Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly), the estranged daughter of the monster hunter the gem is named after.

In an exclusive interview, Ellen Arden told Looper which monster movies she studied to help bring her makeup work to life in "Werewolf by Night."

Arden studied classic vampire and werewolf movies

As a fan of Bela Lugosi's "Dracula," Ellen Arden told Looper that vampire movies were naturally among the films she looked at while preparing for "Werewolf by Night," as well as any movies featuring lycanthropes. "I definitely looked at 'Dracula's Daughter' and a bit at this movie called 'She-Wolf of London,' because I knew that when we were approaching Elsa [Laura Donnelly], I wanted her to look different than everybody else," Arden said. "... We knew that she should be edgy and fresh, but at the same time, when she comes to this memorial and hunt to see everybody in garb, face paints, war paints, and all that kind of stuff, we wanted to set her apart." 

To do so, she took cues from "Dracula's Daughter" and "She-Wolf of London" to focus on Donnelly's "classic beauty." Arden explained, "Those movies really did play a hand in the makeup that we chose for her, because we needed her to be luminescent so that she had that whole old Hollywood makeup, 1930s lit-from-within type thing that you would see on those actresses from that day."

"Werewolf by Night" was a unique project for Arden in that it was a Marvel Studios horror project. Having worked on such MCU films as "Black Panther" and the upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3," Arden welcomed the rare opportunity. "It was the perfect marriage of things for me because I've spent so much of my career on horror films, but then also, I have this whole superhero side of my career," Arden said. "... It also had the interesting elements of black and white and being an homage to classic horror films. ... It was definitely a dream come true."

"Werewolf by Night" is streaming exclusively on Disney+.