By MICHAEL GINGOLD
A fixture on the Canadian makeup effects scene for over 20 years, Ryan Nicholson parlayed that experience into a second career as a director, and word came down today that he has passed away.
Nicholson’s wife Megan posted on his Facebook page that he has lost his battle with brain cancer. He began his career in the late 1990s, working on the makeup teams for such popular TV series as MILLENNIUM and STARGATE SG-1 and independent features such as BLEEDERS (a.k.a. HEMOGLOBIN) and THE PEACEKEEPER, spending time under Oscar-nominated artist Adrien Morot. After he and his father Roy launched the Flesh and Fantasy Inc. company, Nicholson designed and supervised effects on higher-profile films like FINAL DESTINATION and SCARY MOVIE and contributing to David Cronenberg’s EXISTENZ and Lawrence Kasdan’s DREAMCATCHER. He began his directorial career in the mid-2000s with short films and the 47-minute TORCHED, released as part of the direct-to-video anthology HELL HATH NO FURY, before making his first feature, the snuff shocker LIVE FEED, released in 2006.
Nicholson followed FEED up with a string of movies that became notorious for their no-holds-barred, often sexual violence, including GUTTERBALLS (2008), HANGER (2009), STAR VEHICLE (2010) and COLLAR (2014), all while continuing in the effects field on films both big (from GHOST RIDER to THE PREDATOR) and small (among them numerous Syfy flicks). Most recently, he worked on Marcel Walz’s BLOOD FEAST remake and Adam Wingard’s BLAIR WITCH; his last two features were Lisa Ovies’ PUPPET KILLER and Dan Walton and Dan Zachary’s MURDERSHOW.
“I’ve lost a dear friend,” Walton tells RUE MORGUE. “Ryan and I go back to GUTTERBALLS and HANGER, and those were good times with lots of laughs and late nights full of gore. He taught me that a day was not meant to be wasted. Not only was he a loving father and husband, he was a kind and giving friend—someone who was always a pleasure to be around, including when he was on set directing horror films. I will miss him.”