Exclusive: KNB's Greg Nicotero Talks Evil Dead II, The Walking Dead and More! - Dread Central
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Exclusive: KNB’s Greg Nicotero Talks Evil Dead II, The Walking Dead and More!

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When it comes to creating jaw-dropping special make-up effects in movies, it doesn’t get any better than the work by Greg Nicotero, one of the masters of KNB EFX, who have been responsible for some of the biggest and best effects of the last 25 years in the industry.

With the recent release of the Evil Dead II Blu-ray, Dread Central had the opportunity to briefly sit down and chat with the make-up maestro about his experiences both working on the cult classic as well as revisiting them some 25 years later now. Nicotero also briefly chatted about the last few days of shooting for “The Walking Dead” and so much more.

Dread Central: Greg, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I can’t even imagine how busy your schedule must be right now with “The Walking Dead” on top of everything else.

Greg Nicotero: “I literally wrapped Friday morning, and right now I couldn’t even tell you what day it is. All I know is that I’m exhausted because the last few days of shooting “The Walking Dead” were pretty hard. We shot all night scenes last week so it was around 23 degrees every night- the complete opposite of the heat we started off in. It was hard to imagine; we even had fake bodies start to freeze while on set, which was definitely a first for me.”

DC: I can’t even begin to imagine that. Now let’s talk a bit about your own home videos being on the Evil Dead II Blu-ray because I think including them is remarkable. It’s not like behind-the-scenes features were all the rage back then so getting that kind of coverage for a cult classic like this is pretty amazing. So thank you for having that kind of foresight to film everything.

Nicotero: “Well, that’s something I have to give Tom Savini a tremendous amount of credit for actually because he always documented everything, and I think a lot of that came from Dick Smith originally because Smith was a big fan of testing make-ups and doing shooting tests. But when I went to work on Day of the Dead, I ended up being the guy who documented everything we did on that movie, and I saw how important it was to get everything on record.”

“So when we started Evil Dead II with Mark (Shostrom), I had my camera on my shoulder and I filmed a bunch of the work we did in the studio. Then, when we went to set, it was all a bunch of young guys living in different houses in Waynesboro, North Carolina, so it had this ‘summer camp’ feel, just minus the whole massacre part. But back then you didn’t have to worry about the internet or media finding your footage so everyone was really open to my filming on Evil Dead II, which was great because I have a lot of lost scenes in my footage. Sam and Bruce were really open to me filming them- they would begin to ham it up or start performing for the camera anytime I pointed the camera in their direction. Because of that I now have thousands of hours of footage of us on different movie sets because I saw how important it really was.”



“What’s so amazing, though, is the amount of filmmakers that love that film and found inspiration in Evil Dead II. I was working on a project with Bill Paxton, and he told me how one morning James Cameron just showed up at his house and told him he had two minutes to get ready because he was taking him to see Evil Dead II. And even back when I was working with Robert Rodriguez on The Faculty, I had him come by my house and he saw the tapes on my shelf. He had no idea I had worked on it, and when he found out I had like six hours of behind-the-scenes footage from it, we had to watch it all that night. It was so much fun because everyone seems to love the ‘down and dirty’ filmmaking approach on it; I think the effects we did on Evil Dead II was a bit of an inspiration behind the kind of gore you saw in Robert’s Grindhouse movie, too. It’s a classic for a reason.”

DC: As a fan of practical effects, what I loved so much about seeing your footage was the fact that Sam and everyone really created some movie magic on Evil Dead II because everything had to be done in-camera. When you go back and look at your early work like that, do you get nostalgic at all for the earlier days of special effects?

Nicotero: “Absolutely. It’s true that they don’t make films like that anymore at all. It’s interesting. I’ve been thinking a lot about it and what it took to make a movie like Evil Dead II back then and the amount of creativity it took to get everything to work. Clearly Sam, as imaginative as he was and still is, used every trick in the book that he could find; he loved stop-motion; we also used rear screen projection, some miniatures, practical effects, some animation and then just some minor visual effects to finish everything.”

“That being said, I think Evil Dead II is literally one of the most fun movies to watch that I’ve ever worked on. It’s definitely a springboard movie for all of us who made it, and I think because of all of our ingenuity on that film, it really took all of us effects guys to an entirely different level. What I think is great is that even after all this time, we still get to work with Sam (and even Bruce) on the new Oz movie and Sam’s still the same guy he was back then. He still has the same passion and love for filmmaking, and I don’t think anyone would have realized his true level of talent had it not been for Evil Dead II.”

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Honest Trailers Takes on Stephen King’s IT

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Who out there loves Screen Junkies Honest Trailers?

Well, then today is your lucky day as the YouTube channel has just released their Honest Trailer for director Andres Muschietti’s take on Stephen King’s IT.

I don’t tend to watch these Honest Trailers videos but I have to admit this one was pretty fun. I’m not for mercilessly poking fun at movies that don’t deserve it, but when someone can point out issues I never realized (that are kinda valid) then I’m all in.

You can check out the Honest Trailer for Stephen King’s IT below and then let us know what you think!

Stephen King’s IT is now available on Blu-ray.

BUY IT NOW!

Synopsis:

Seven young outcasts in Derry, Maine, are about to face their worst nightmare — an ancient, shape-shifting evil that emerges from the sewer every 27 years to prey on the town’s children. Banding together over the course of one horrifying summer, the friends must overcome their own personal fears to battle the murderous, bloodthirsty clown known as Pennywise.

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Before We Vanish Review – A Quirky and Original Take on Alien Invasions

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Starring Masami Nagasawa, Ryûhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa

Written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa


During the J-horror rampage of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo (aka Pulse). A dark, depressing, and morose tale of ghosts that use the internet to spread across the world, the film’s almost suffocatingly gloomy atmosphere pervaded across every frame of the film. Because of my love of this film, I was eager to see the director’s upcoming movie Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (aka Before We Vanish), which follows three aliens who recently arrived on Earth and are preparing to bring about an alien invasion that will wipe humanity from the face of the planet. Imagine my surprise when the film turned out to be barely a horror title but was instead a quirky and surreal dramedy that tugged at my heartstrings.

Admittedly, I was thrown completely for a loop as the film begins with a scene that feels perfectly at home in a horror film. Akira (Tsunematsu), a teenage girl, goes home and we enter moments later to blood splashed on the walls and floor and bodies strewn about. However, the disturbing visuals are spun around as the young girl walks down a highway, her clothes and face streaked with blood, Yusuke Hayashi’s music taking on a lighthearted, almost jaunty attitude. From there, we learn of the other two aliens (yes, she’s an alien and it’s not a secret or a twist, so no spoilers there): Amano (Takasugi), who is a young man that convinces a sleazy reporter, Sakurai (Hasegawa), of his true form and tasks Sakurai with being his guide, and Shinji (Matsuda), the estranged husband of Narumi (Nagasawa).

What sets these aliens, and their mission, apart from other invasion thrillers is their means of gathering information. They’re not interested in meeting leaders nor do they capture people for nefarious experimentations. Rather, they steal “concepts” from the minds of people, such as “family”, “possession”, or “pest”. Once these concepts are taken, the victim no longer has that value in their mind, freed from its constraints.

While this may seem like a form of brainwashing, Kurosawa instead plays with the idea that maybe knowing too much is what holds us back from true happiness. A man obsessed with staking claim to his family home learns to see the world outside of its walls when “possession” is no longer a part of his life. A touchy boss enters a state of child-like glee after “work” has been taken. That being said, there are other victims who are left as little more than husks.

Overly long at 130 minutes, the film does take its time showing the differences between the aliens and their individual behaviors. Amano and Akira are casually ruthless, willing to do whatever it takes to send a beacon to begin the alien invasion, no matter how many must die along the way, while Shinji is the curious and almost open-minded one, whose personal journey finds him at one point asking a priest to envision and describe “love”, a concept that is so individualistic and personal that it can’t be taken, much less fathomed, by this alien being. While many of these scenes are necessary, they could have easily been edited down to shave 10-15 minutes, making the film flow a bit more smoothly.

While the film begins on a dark note, there is a scene in the third act that is so pure and moving that tears immediately filled my eyes and I choked up a little. It’s a moment of both sacrifice and understanding, one that brings a recurring thread in the story full circle.

With every passing minute, Before We Vanish makes it clear that it’s much more horror-adjacent than horror. An alien invasion thriller with ultimate stakes, it will certainly have appeal to genre fans. That being said, those who go in expecting action, violence, and terror will certainly be disappointed. But those whose mind is a bit more open to a wider range of possibilities will find a delightful story that attempts to find out what it means to be human, even if we have to learn the lesson from an alien.

  • Before We Vanish
4.0

Summary

Before We Vanish is a beautiful, wonderful tale that explores what it means to be human when faced with the threat of extinction.

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Director Doug Liman Says Edge of Tomorrow 2 Could Be His Next Film

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I don’t know if you ever bothered to see the Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt sci-fi action flick Edge of Tomorrow, but if you missed out, you should make time for the stellar flick.

I kept putting the film off myself, but then when I finally peeped the Groundhog Day-style shenanigans contained within, I was a fan signed, sealed, and delivered D.O.A.

It is with this in mind I’m excited to share the news that Edge of Tomorrow 2 just might be director Doug Liman’s next film! Recently the director spoke with Collider and dropped some new info on the possible sequel.

“We’re just working on the script…,” Liman said. “[We’re no longer working on scheduling issues]; now it’s down to we have a window where we could go do it, and we’re frantically working on the script. It’s one of those movies that we’ll only go make if we love the script. It’s not one of those things where the studio is pushing us to make it and they don’t really care if it’s good or not. If the movie happens, it will be because Emily Blunt, Tom Cruise, and myself are passionate about making it, which is a great place to be. She doesn’t need this movie, he doesn’t need this movie, and I don’t need it. We’re gonna make it if we really believe in it. We have [a] story that the three of us love, so we’re working hard on the script.”

So when he was asked if the film could be his next flick, he said: “It could be. It has the possibility of being my next film.”

Good enough for me!

You can check out the trailer for the original film out again below; and for your own good, if you’ve been passing on the film for the last few years, give it a shot tonight. You will not be disappointed.

Synopsis:
When Earth falls under attack from invincible aliens, no military unit in the world is able to beat them. Maj. William Cage (Tom Cruise), an officer who has never seen combat, is assigned to a suicide mission. Killed within moments, Cage finds himself thrown into a time loop, in which he relives the same brutal fight — and his death — over and over again. However, Cage’s fighting skills improve with each encore, bringing him and a comrade (Emily Blunt) ever closer to defeating the aliens.

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