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Jack Kevan



At the major studios, makeup expert Jack Kevan made contributions to films in numerous categories, including Westerns and comedies, but is best known for his work in horror and science fiction movies, among them Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Mole People, and This Island Earth. He has never been as famous as Bud Westmore, Wally Westmore, et. al, but he has one credit that few men in his field ever achieved: producing a film that has stood the test of time.

Kevan got his start at MGM at the end of the 1930s, and worked uncredited on George B. Seitz's Gallant Sons. Following World War II, he returned to the movie industry as an employee of Universal, with his first credit as the makeup artist on Ma and Pa Kettle (1949). He subsequently worked on Winchester '73 (1950) and Montana (1950), among other productions of the studio. It was in 1953, however, that Kevan began making a distinct and lasting contribution to cinema in the form of the makeup on Jack Arnold's science fiction classic It Came From Outer Space. The following year, in collaboration with Bud Westmore, Kevan was one of the designers of the "gill man" monster suit that Ben Chapman wore for the on-land scenes in Creature From the Black Lagoon. He also helped design the mutant costume for This Island Earth, and was one of those responsible for modifications to the gill man suit for the sequels Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. Kevan also worked on The Mole People, Man of a Thousand Faces, and The Incredible Shrinking Man for Universal, and was the special effects designer for The Land Unknown for the same studio.

At the end of the 1950s after leaving Universal, Kevan used his skills in makeup, costume design, and special effects to step into the producer's spot on an independently financed horror film, The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1957). One of the better movies in this genre -- although no real rival to Universal's Creature From the Black Lagoon or its sequels -- this movie is largely remembered today for Kevan's contribution, in particular the monster suit that he designed. The creature (which various sources say was played by Kevan, while others say Peter Dunn) was as fearsome as the gill man from Creature From the Black Lagoon, and looked fully capable of the grisly slaughters (and methods) attributed to it. In addition to a uniquely gory plot for its era, the movie benefited from what may have been a macabre "in-joke" in one scene, courtesy of Kevan's skills -- a deputy, played by Peter Dunn, left to guard a murder scene, has disappeared, and the monster suddenly reveals himself, carrying a bloody, totally realistic replica of Dunn's head, a true "inside joke" if Dunn were in the monster suit. The head-piece for that monster suit later turned up in an episode of Flipper entitled "Flipper's Monster," that aired in April of 1965.

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet The Monster of Piedras Blancas
  • The Monster
  • Producer
1958

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