Learn How Photographer Fin Costello Made ‘The Prince of Darkness’ Cry Wolf!
It was a frigid night in October 1983, Ozzy Osbourne, was still reeling from the death of guitarist and best friend Randy Rhoads the previous year, covered in hair and prosthetic werewolf makeup, and squatting on a fallen tree to boot. The occasion was the photo shoot for Bark at the Moon, the Prince of Darkness’ third solo studio album.
The location chosen for the “Wooly Happening” was Shepperton studios, a facility outside London that had hosted the filming of Led Zeppelin’s fake live concert film, The Song Remains the Same, among many other famous productions, but on this particular night it was commandeered by British rock photographer Fin Costello and his crew. Costello had already made a name for himself by shooting the covers for two previous Ozzy solo albums, 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz and 1981’s Diary of a Madman, but the Bark at the Moon shoot required more extensive preparation than most.
“Ozzy and Sharon were very involved, originally, CBS art director Roslav Szaybo wanted to put a wolf’s hide, complete with head, on Ozzy and shoot that, but Ozzy wasn’t too happy with that and wanted something more extreme.” – Fin Costello
According to Fin, Sharon had recently met special-effects makeup artist Greg Cannom, who had done the prosthetics for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video and would go on to sharpen his makeup skills on the sets of The Lost Boys and a 1987 made-for-TV movie entitled Werewolf. “He did all the molds and fake bits, such as the fingers, in L.A.,” Costello says. “Meanwhile, Ozzy and I got together in the pub with a load of reference books from werewolf movies and literature to knock some ideas about. All of this took a month, on and off.”
On the day of the shoot, Ozzy arrived for makeup at 6 a.m., but the real shoot didn’t get started until 10 p.m. “All Ozzy had on was a pair of black tights, as the rest of him was covered with hair,” Costello recalls. “He was freezing, but never complained—even after five hours of shooting, mainly outdoors.”
The iconic imagery that resulted from all this was actually a combination of two photographs. The shot of Ozzy was a production still from a roll of 35mm film (“It was rough and looked more like the werewolf had been surprised by the photographer”.
The background photo of the moon was from a previous session, when Costello had photographed Ozzy’s entire band at Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey, where Bark was recorded. “Technically it’s terrible, but it works perfectly for the cover in question,” Costello says of the final result.
The Osbourne’s were comfortable to see the cover art had “taken on a life of its own”.