I first became aware of artist Steve Neill in the 1980s. It’s difficult to remember exactly how I found out about him but I am guessing an ad either in FANGORIA magazine or a UFO magazine. I have always been fascinated with the topic of UFOs and aliens and when I saw his ad, I immediately requested his catalog. In it were some masks of aliens as well as paintings. One mask in particular really stood out to me. It had the typical gray alien look and had plastic lenses for eyes. I fell in love with it and I bought it. I still have it to this day, which shows the quality. Most latex will rot after all of these years; it still looks amazing.
I have been collecting masks since the 1980s and what I collect changes almost always. I have never been able to focus on one type, more so going for whatever I think is cool. Lately though I have been thinking of refining my mask collection to just one type. Aliens. This is why I contacted Steve. I knew he was working in movies but I was curious if he was still doing these masks.
For those that don’t know, Steve Neill is a special effects makeup artist, filmmaker, puppeteer, model maker and visual effects (VFX) artist in film and television with a career spanning over 35 years. In addition to some of his creations being used in documentaries on aliens and UFOs, he has also worked on some fun genre films.
Some of the films he has worked on are THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER (1977), BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980), SATURDAY THE 14TH (1981), GHOSTBUSTERS (1984), FRIGHT NIGHT (1985), THE STUFF (1985) and STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991). After doing a Google search on Steve, I found his actual website and immediately knew I had to contact him.
On the site was a video he shot, showing some of the mask designs he was selling. One of them was a new gray alien. I e-mailed him and shared with him the picture of the Alien Gray mask that I had gotten from him back in the 1980s. I think he was surprised that I still had it and that it was in such good condition. We e-mailed back and forth and it wasn’t long before he was making me his new Alien Gray.
One of the things I like when working with Steve is that he posts updates on the creation of your item on his website, so that you can see the progress. It was fun watching this. For me, the anticipation of receiving this mask was very high. I could not wait to see the final mask in person.
When the mask arrived I was not disappointed. Everything about this piece was beautiful. The sculpture was amazing, with subtle but very effective wrinkles in the skin. Every detail coincided with what those that have encountered alien beings have reported. The black eyes add so much to the piece. They are very black and highly reflective, like they can look right through to your soul. Never has such a simple design been so effective!
The latex pour is very thick, guaranteeing that this mask will last for many years to come. I am not sure what kind of latex he used for the mask I got from him in the 1980s but I hope this latex is just as good. The paint job is also really well done. Subtlety is the key with these characters and I wonder if achieving that without over-doing it is actually difficult.
I am so glad, that after all these years, Steve is still making alien masks. They are among the best and are definitely showcase masks in my collection. I look forward to seeing what else Steve is working on and his website, THE ART OF STEVE NEILL, is a great place to visit and hang out.
Steve has been nice enough to grant me an interview as well so watch for that soon! Make sure to check out my other entries in my MONSTROUS MASK REVIEWS series.