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The Special Page

On this month's Special Page:

Haunting with Foam Latex Appliances and how it’s done


Ellen Datlow
Brent Monahan
Owen King
Dacre Stoker
Piers Anthony



Haunts FX

by Mathew Cade

In today’s age, professional haunts and some home haunters are using prosthetics and appliances to create character altering effects. Everything from simple lacerations to elaborate full face pieces is being used in conjunction with costumes and props. 

There are a few types of prosthetics and appliances on the market but what I would like to introduce is the foam latex Appliance. Foam latex is lightweight, and a result of a four part chemical process that creates a fluffy froth. The foam is poured or injected into custom designed and fabricated molds then baked for several hours resulting in a skin like appliance. Foam latex is lightweight, durable and moves with your expressions after applied with special adhesives. The same appliance will look somewhat different on each wearer so  several actors may use the same style of appliance but have different looks and end result.

Foam latex appliances generally come in either a crème color or skin tone shade depending on the manufacturing company chosen. Foam latex appliances will fit almost any adult male or female, and some smaller appliances may be used on smaller framed faces or kids.  

With proper care during the removal process and storage, a foam latex appliance may be reused a few times depending on the conditions of the use. Cost of a foam latex appliance can range from a few dollars to excess of one hundred dollars, depending on size. It is not recommended practice to “share” appliances between actors for sanitary reasons.

Foam latex appliances are safe to use and have been used for years in the film and haunt industry; however, with other mediums, some people may be allergic to its properties. If you have known allergies to latex, adhesives or makeup, you should stay away from this type of appliance and use an alternative. Always do a test patch in an inconspicuous area 24 hours prior to application just to be sure and safe. Latex allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the degree of your sensitivity. Mild symptoms may include itching, skin redness, hives or rash. More severe symptoms as sneezing, runny nose, itchy watery eyes, scratchy throat, difficulty breathing, wheezing and coughing may be present. The most serious allergic reaction is an anaphylactic response which can be deadly. Signs and symptoms include but not limited to difficulty breathing, wheezing, drop in blood pressure, dizziness, loss of consciousness, confusion and rapid or weak pulse.  If any of the above symptoms occur seek medical attention immediately and remove the appliance.  

Foam latex appliances will accept a wide range of makeup, including bases, crèmes, RMG paint, and airbrush colors as well as stage bloods and gels.




One of the most frequent asked question Haunts FX gets is “How do I apply a foam latex appliance?” Many people are scared to try foam latex appliances due to the costs and misconception of difficulty to apply one. The most difficult part of any appliance application is blending of the edges. With practice like anything else you too can achieve great mind-blowing results. 

Just like application of an appliance, removal is just as important. The team at Haunts FX has broken down the application and removal process of any foam latex appliance into simple easy to follow steps that anyone can follow.
Application begins…

  1. Wash the area appliance is to be applied with warm water and soap. Dry area completely.
  2. Clean area with rubbing alcohol to remove any remaining oils from the skin.
  3. Apply a light coat of powder to area while holding prosthetic in place to mark the position where appliance will be applied. 
  4. Apply adhesive using a cotton swab starting in the middle of area.
  5. Position appliance and press in middle. Working from middle outward continue gluing appliance in place one section at a time stretching as needed for best fit.
  6. Glue down outer edges so they lay flush with the skin.
  7. Seal the edges; use a wedge sponge to dab a thin amount of liquid latex to outer most edges to help blend them. Several thin layers will blend better than one thick layer.
  8. Apply color as desired. 

     Now that you’ve completed scaring all your victims for the night, it’s the removal time…

  1. Using a flat soft brush apply adhesive remover generously around entire edge of prosthetic
  2. Starting at upper corner slowly work remover into adhesive in a side to side motion.
  3. Once appliance corner raises from skin begin applying remover generously behind appliance in the same side to side motion.
  4. ALLOW REMOVER TO DO THE WORK. Do not pull appliance. This will cause damage to both the actor and the appliance.
  5. Once removed, lay down on paper towel sticky side up to dry.
  6. Note that the appliance may swell when saturated with remover. Once dry, appliance will return to original shape and size.

     It is highly recommended NOT to use the same appliance on several different actors due to Hygienic reasons.


About Mathew Cade


Matthew in makeup wearing a Haunts FX Vampire brow

Matthew is owner and operator of Haunts FX, a Professional Foam Latex Prosthetic and Makeup Studio located in Southern Louisiana. Matthew has supplied highly detailed prosthetics as well as applied makeup services for film, television and the Haunted Attraction Industry from the United States to several other countries around the world. 

A “hobby” as an eight-year-old has now become a way of life for this middle-aged artist with a passion for realism and detail. Matthew grew up in a small town (now classified as a village) in Southern Louisiana. He loved horror films as a child and was always interested in how it was done. For Christmas (at age eight), Matthew was given a Movie Magic book and a quart of latex rubber. Through trial and error, the creations began taking form paper to a fully fabricated prop or makeup. 

As Matthew grew older, his knowledge and skills grew extraordinary fast. His work was supported by his family and he was taught to sew, carpentry skills, welding, sculpture and various other crafts that have come in handy and helped with his future career. No matter if the project failed or was a success, Matthew chalked it up as a “lesson learned.”

Every Halloween, he would construct and decorate his house using scrap wood, cardboard and other building materials to turn him home into a “Haunted House” for people when they would trick or treat. No one in the small community had really ever seen such a display and would flock from miles away just to trick or treat but some just drove by, too scared to stop. 

Matthew attended Nicholls State University and studied Graphic Design which further polished his visual concept skills. He has worked with many Haunted Attractions across the United States such as “The 13th Gate” in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; not only supplying professional prosthetics but being a Makeup Artist for them.  

He has supplied prosthetics for “Zombies Vs People” project as well as many applied makeup jobs for “Midnight Production” and “Bigfoot Productions.” His key to success has been his drive for realism.  Matthew strives to take the threshold away from “Fake to Realism.” 

Special Effects Makeup is a hands-on learning, one must practice, practice, practice and learn from mistakes. One of Matthew's key advice is never give up and learn the anatomy of your subject matter.