Creepy Creatures

Monsters come to life at one Boulder City museum, which displays horror film favorites made by resident Tom Devlin.
Devlin is a renowned special makeup effects artist who has worked on several movies, such as Scorpion King, Terminator 3, Daredevil and more. He moved to Boulder City to raise his family and opened Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum in 2017.
The museum features his original work on several classic monsters, like mummies, werewolves and evil clowns. His purpose is preserving the art of special makeup effects and the history of horror films.
“If you build it they will come — who knew they needed a monster museum in Boulder City?” Devlin laughed. “It looks like a cheesy road-side attraction, but once you get inside it’s very educational in the art of practical effects. I built everything in there by hand — it’s all one-of-a-kind works of art.”
Devlin has been a horror-film junkie since his teenage years and he knew early on he wanted a career in the industry.
“My whole life I just loved monsters,” he said. “When I was a little kid I loved He-Man and Masters of the Universe, and then that became Ninja Turtles and as I got to high school I got really into the horror movies — Freddy & Jason, the Puppet Master stuff, Chucky — I just always liked the characters.
“I wanted to be a comic book artist at first, but I learned in high school I didn’t really like the repetition of drawing the same characters over and over, so I wanted to find something new. I was introduced to an effects artist named Tom Savini and I had read his books and I thought, ‘ooh this is cool, I could do this.’ So I really set my sights from high school on, all I wanted to do was make monsters.”
During their introduction at a horror convention, Savini told Devlin to attend Joe Blasco’s Makeup School in Los Angeles. Devlin took his advice, but makeup school didn’t go quite as planned.
“The ironic part is I never learned effects at makeup school,” Devlin said. “They make you take the beauty courses first. So I took the beauty courses for 11 weeks and then when it was time for my effects class there was no one else signed up. They put the class off for six months so they gave me an internship at a place called WM Creations, owned by Matthew Mungle, who is an Academy Award winner for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I was very familiar with WM Creations, and my internship started on X-Files season 8, so I worked on two episodes of X-Files as an unpaid intern and then they offered me a job there and I stayed working there for two years. I never went back to school. Before my class had graduated I was working on X Files, then Scorpion King, Red Dragon, Terminator 3, Daredevil — big blockbusters.”
He proved himself as a Hollywood artist but Devlin really wanted to be working on low-budget horror films, so he created his own company, 1313FX, and has been doing that for 20 years.
“I make mostly low-budget horror movies, not limited to, but that’s where my forte has landed, and it’s all I ever really wanted to do,” he said. “I’m part of a company called Full Moon Features and that’s a company I’ve wanted to work for since I was a little kid — I loved movies like the Puppet Master, and now I’m responsible for the Puppet Master movies.”
He has a workshop at his museum where he continues to create monsters as well as teach classes on mask making.
“We do all different workshops, different lengths and different criteria — anything from animatronics to character makeup,” he said. “It’s everything to do with being an effects artist.”
For those interested in taking a class, visit the website makeupeffectsschool.com.
Devlin has created countless creatures, but there are a few standouts in his career.
“I really liked a character called Lo, he’s a demon in the dark from a movie that was on Netflix for a long time,” he said. “I work on the Puppet Master movies and I grew up with that stuff, so it is cool to be a part of it. I wouldn’t say they are my favorite characters but they are very personal to me because of my childhood enthusiasm for them. And then there’s a character called Killjoy, which I’ve done a lot of the Killjoy movies and I have a lot of ownership over him — I love Killjoy.”
You can see his Killjoy masks and Puppet Master figures inside the museum, along with some behind the scenes photos and information.
“It is educational and we try to share information about the characters and the movies and the artists that made the characters,” Devlin said. “It’s designed so that you don’t have to be super into horror, there’s information for everybody, it’s not just a dark morbid thing. It’s to preserve the art and history of practical effects.”
The museum also hosts a few character signings throughout the year.
“We bring out horror celebrities here once every other month or so and do signings, so it’s like we bring a little bit of Hollywood to Boulder City,” Devlin said. “We’ve had the guy that played Michael Myers here, Candyman, Leatherface and the folks from Child’s Play 1 and 2.”
October is the best time to visit the museum, because it doubles as a haunted house. The museum is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily for tours. The haunted house will then open at 7 p.m. on weekends through October. Devlin said some of the displays will be replaced with real people to pop out and give guests a fright.
“In the museum it’s really cool, at night we shut all the lights off, fog it up, you get a tiny flashlight and we replace some of the displays with real people,” he said. “So even if you were here two hours before we close, you don’t know which ones are real and which are fake.”
Devlin said he will have a second haunted house on his property, called the “Fright Zone.”
“The new one that we are building right now is awesome, I’ve been working day and night — I do it all myself,” Devlin said. “There’s the circus freak show, the slaughterhouse, Frankenstein’s lab and other different zones.”
The haunts will be open from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. on Friday-Saturday the first three weeks of October, the fourth week of October it is open Thursday-Sunday and the last week it will be open Wednesday-Saturday. Tickets are $15 for one haunt or $25 for both, and can be purchased at the door or online at tomdevlinsmonstermuseum.com.