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Our Latest DISSECTING HORROR Panel (“Special & Visual Effects”) is Now Available on YouTube

Last month, Dread Central and Impact24 PR launched the first in an ongoing series of virtual horror panels. Dubbed “Dissecting Horror”, the goal is to aproximate the panel experience fans usually get at conventions–something we’ve had to forgo in the age of Coronavirus. Our first episode shined a spotlight on horror movie composers and our second honored some of today’s hardest working professionals doing stunts in films and television.

Our most recent “Dissecting Horror” panel took place last Wednesday (May 27th) with a focus on special and visual effects. Panelists included Heath Hood (special effects coordinator for Universal’s Halloween & Halloween Kills), Marcus Taormina (visual effects supervisor for Netflix’s Bright & Bird Box), Jeremy Hays (special effects supervisor for Sony Pictures’ Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Warner Bros. Pictures’ Doctor Sleep) and Jason Piccioni (visual effects supervisor for FX’s American Horror Story and Hulu’s Castle Rock). Yours Truly served as modorator.

If you missed it, you can now check out the entire panel below. Look for highlights below the video.


  • Jason Piccioni says the hardest visual effect on American Horror Story has been Sarah Paulson playing conjoined twins. He also talks about how sets will be different when they get to go back to work. There will be limited day players, limited extras and the makeup department will be a lot different.
  • Special effects coordinator Heath Hood says Halloween Kills is bigger, badder, scarier, and hotter than 2018’s Halloween. They finished production before the pandemic hit.
  • Visual effects supervisor Marcus Taormina revealed that in Birdbox, originally audiences were going to get to see the monster. But they ended up taking it out late in production.
  • Discussion of visual vs special effects: Jason says there is a perception that the visual and special effects people fight, but that’s really not true. There is a lot more teamwork there then people think. “We are all trying to come in on budget.” He mentions his Castle Rock team was amazing. Heath adds, “It really is a marriage, we have to work together to make the show work”.
  • Jeremy goes on to say, “Effects came from optical effects from the 20s. That was already a marriage from the beginning where people like Buster Keaton said, “I have this idea, let’s write it in the story.” It progressed from there. After Jurassic Park we heard people say, “We are done, everything was going to be on computer.” But that didn’t happen because visual effects are still pretty expensive, so the lower budget projects prefer special. It evolved into a marriage to make it all work. “I like to meet with the visual effects people on films and see how we can help each other.”
  • Most gruesome kill for everyone:
    • Jason: “Season 2 of American Horror Story: Asylum for sure. When Jenna Duwan had the autopsy performed on her and she was still alive. Have the scalpel go down her chest and she is screaming. That was a lot.”
    • Jeremy: He reveals that it wasn’t planned to torch the girl in the pool in Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood. Quentin decided to do it pretty last minute. “The scene where she gets set on fire in pool has to be it for me.”
    • Heath says, “There was a kill scene in Preacher Season 1. One of the actors gets his arm cut off by a chainsaw. Then there is a heavy bludgeoning scene right after, where I was laying under the camera with the actor laying in a pan full of blood with sponges. We had blood spurting out of the prosthetic arm. Pretty horrific. Another one in The Crazies where the young kid is running back to his mom at the farmhouse and I blew the back of his head off. There was a giant silhouette of blood backlit by the light.”
    • Marcus says, “When Lydia walks into the car in Birdbox was the most disturbing. Also, when Sheryl takes scissors to her neck [same filom]. Those scenes are always jarring.”

About Impact24 PR:
Impact24 PR is dedicated to capturing the spotlight for the talent behind-the-camera and behind-the-curtain. From Hollywood to Broadway and beyond, our agency offers a full range of services including public relations strategies, media outreach, social networking, awards campaigns and event programming.

Based in Los Angeles, we are a team of passionate and experienced communications experts who shape and define the public profiles of many of the industry’s leading creative artists, including composers, directors, costume designers, cinematographers, production designers, music supervisors, makeup artists, VFX, VR/AR and more.

We pride ourselves on strategically elevating each client’s personal and professional brand in alignment with their objectives, identity and persona. With thousands of print publications, millions of blogs and billions of social media interactions, we guide our clients through the complex world of entertainment with an effective, positive and results-driven approach.

Have you been enjoying our “Dissecting Horror” virtual panels? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.

Written by Josh Millican

Josh Millican is the Editor in Chief at Dread Central.

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