Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween Horrors (behind the scenes)

Ah, Halloween, when all the ghosts and ghouls come calling (usually for chocolate), when the evenings are dark and the air smells of woodsmoke and the thoughts of us all turn to the idea of watching something scary and creepy.

Me and Dude as zombies, Halloween 2015
As regular readers of the blog will know, I love behind the scenes stuff for movies (you can check out more on this link) and today, of all days, I thought it'd be fun to show what film crews have to do to make the viewer scared.

When I put the post together I realised that all the films I'd chosen came from the 80s, which isn't to say I couldn't have chosen any other decade (and I'm sure there'll be another post, sometime in the future, doing just that).  But I have a special affection for the 80s which might be because it's the decade I came of age - I'll tell you my story about watching Poltergeist in 1983 with friends on a sunny Saturday morning one day - or it might also be because they saw an explosion in horror films with some excellent practical make-up effects.  From the master, Rick Baker, to the young turks of KNB, there was some terrific work created to compliment terrific films and I hope you share my love for the ones I've highlighted here.

Happy Halloween!

An American Werewolf In London (1981, directed by John Landis)
special make-up effects supervised by Rick Baker (for which he won an Oscar)
Rick Baker's effects team (with Steve Johnson second left kneeling) sets up one of the transformation shots (the spine popping up).  Note that the head is just a wig and the hands/paws are on lengths of wood. 
The Howling (1981, directed by Joe Dante)
special make-up effects supervised by Rob Bottin
(1981 was a bumper year for werewolf movies!  Rick Baker assumed, since it had taken so long to get financing, that John Landis' film wouldn't get made and since he'd already worked out the technology, he shared some of it with his apprentice Rob Bottin for "The Howling".  Landis wasn't best pleased...)
Belinda Balaski is attacked by the wolf (Rob Bottin, in white shirt, operates the puppet head and arm)
Scanners (1981, directed by David Cronenberg)
special effects make-up (prosthetics) by Dick Smith, head explosion supervised by Stephen Dupuis
If you've seen the film, you know what this sequence is.  If you haven't - and you're squeamish - it's perhaps best not to watch...

Poltergeist (1982, directed by Tobe Hooper)
special effects make-up supervised by Craig Reardon
For the sequence were Marty (Martin Casella) tears his face-off,  producer (some also say director) Steven Spielberg was chosen to be the 'hands' of the effect
Videodrome (1983, directed by David Cronenberg)
special make-up effects supervised by Rick Baker
Filming the demise of Barry Convex (the fx crew was under the floor)
Gremlins (1984, directed by Joe Dante)
special effects make-up supervised by Chris Walas
It takes a lot of people to make one Mogwai move...
Nightmare On Elm Street (1984, directed by Wes Craven)
special effects make-up supervised by David B. Miller
for the bathtub scene, Heather Langenkamp was sitting on two planks of wood over a tank.  Mechanical Special Effects designer Jim Doyle then sat in front of her wearing the glove - he was chosen to perform the role because he had Scuba experience and needed to be underwater for certain shots
Day Of The Dead (1985, directed by George A. Romero)
special effects make-up supervised by Tom Savini
Seen briefly, but to good effect, in the opening sequence, 'Dr Tongue' is well named.  Tom Savini is operating the arms of the puppet and the man with the creepshow t-shirt is Greg Nicotero, who would go on to co-found KNB Efx and is now one of the leading lights in The Walking Dead crew.
Fright Night (1985, directed by Tom Holland)
special make-up effects supervised by Steve Johnson
The meltdown of Billy Cole
The Fly (1986, directed by David Cronenberg)
special make-up effects by Chris Walas
Brundlefly starts to walk...
Robocop (1987, directed by Paul Verhoeven)
special make-up effects supervised by Rob Bottin
Officer Murphy is shot to pieces by Clarence Boddicker and his gang
Evil Dead 2 (1987, directed by Sam Raimi)
special make-up effects supervised by Mark Shostrom
Greg Nicotero (he got around) operates the Henrietta head to terrorise Ash (Bruce Campbell)
Child's Play (1988, directed by Tom Holland)
special make-up effects supervised by Kevin Yagher
It took a lot of wires to make Chucky move...  Howard Berger, holding the puppet and not looking too happy about it, co-founded KNB Efx and won an Oscar for his work on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Phantasm II (1988, directed by Don Coscarelli)
special make-up effects supervised by Mark Shostrom
The Tall Man puppet stands in for Angus Scrimm as things get sticky towards the end.  At the back of the picture, with the beard, is Robert Kurtzman, who would go on to co-found KNB Efx (he has since left)

Look out for more make-up and behind the scenes posts to come...

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