If McKenzie Westmore didn't know the world of movie makeup already, she surely would now.
The former co-star of the daytime serial "Passions" hails from an Oscar-winning Hollywood makeup family, which continues to make her an ideal host for the Syfy competition series "Face Off." Its seventh round begins Tuesday, July 22, with the season-long theme "Life and Death" giving the new contestants -- including Lake Zurich native Dina Cimarusti -- special-effects makeup challenges related to mortality.
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Returns 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 22, on Syfy
"When I learned about this theme, I loved it," Westmore said. "Anytime there's extremes like that with our show, you know it's going to be action-packed." Viewers' tweets will determine a weekly "fan favorite," with the overall favorite getting $10,000 at season's end.
The first new "Face Off" features actor Robert Englund, alias Freddy Krueger in the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise. "I panicked and almost couldn't deliver my lines," Westmore admits. "I have been obsessed with Freddy Krueger since I was a little girl. That was the horror villain of my time -- and maybe there's a sickness to it, but being that I grew up among severed heads and bloody thumbs, to me, Freddy was the man!"
Of course, those unattached body parts were in the workshop of Westmore's father, Michael, a "Face Off" contestant mentor who earned an Oscar for transforming Eric Stoltz's appearance for the 1985 movie "Mask." Other family members' work dates back to such classics as "Gone With the Wind" and "Creature From the Black Lagoon."
Among the many "Face Off" twists for Season 7 is one that's evident right at the outset: None of the contestants is officially part of the show yet when it begins, and their first challenge actually is their final audition for one of those slots.
"This is the first time we've ever done that," Westmore said, "and it was a shock for me, too, to find out that's how we were starting off. Here we are at Season 7, so we have to keep changing it up. It can't always be the same game."
To that end, "Face Off" also involves a new judge. Series veteran Ve Neill was committed to work on the "Hunger Games" movies, so Oscar winner Lois Burwell ("Braveheart") joins returnees Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page for much of the new season.
"It was sad for all of us to know that Ve wasn't going to be there the full time," Westmore said, "but we knew she was at least going to be involved every so often. Lois was such a joy to have; first, you look at her body of work, and then her advice to the contestants was amazing. It was tough, but with love behind it."