Following yesterday’s interview with Hostel: Part II director Eli Roth, here’s a yap with special make-up effects supervisor Greg Nicotero. Look out next week for interviews with stars Lauren German and Heather Matarazzo. Hostel: Part II is out now. Click here to watch the trailer.
Is this a slasher film?
Greg Nicotero: Well, you know, I really love that Eli took the theme of the first film but changed the perspective. I love that it’s the girls’ perspective. It just has such a different feel. It’s not a bunch of guys sort of bopping around trying to get laid, which is what I really liked about it. I like the sensibilities of this movie tremendously.
You’ve been doing this since 1988?
Yeah, we started KNB [award-winning sfx studio formed with Howard Berger and Robert Kurtzman] in 1988. My first movie was in 1984 in Pittsburgh with George Romero.
How much did your experiences on The Green Mile, Vanilla Sky, and Sin City help you professionally to be able to handle a film like Hostel: Part II, in which effects are very prominent?
Well, one of the strengths of our company is that we have a certain versatility. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I still feel like I get something out of every project that I do. I was a horror movie fan growing up. I probably watched all the exact same movies that Eli watched. When you watch Cabin Fever you can see Sam Raimi’s influences; you can see George Romero and John Carpenter’s influences. But you know, you’re always learning and you’re always adjusting with the audience. I mean, Eli takes these gags to the 10th degree, whereas a lot of other filmmakers would shy away from a girl whose face has been blow-torched.
How was the transition from the script to the shoot? How did you
It was pretty seamless. Eli really trusts us and trusts our judgment. A lot of times, because these films are shot in Prague, and our studio is in Los Angeles, we spend a lot of time building stuff here, and then we will do tests. We’ll have a brief discussion with Eli about what he wants to see, and then he lets us run with it. Eli knows what we’re capable of and what we’re qualified to do, he really trusts that we’re going to engineer stuff that’s going to be to his liking.
Can you explain the process of creating the replicas of the different bodies and body parts?
What we were really successful with last year was we kind of re-engineered how we make fake bodies. There’s a company called Cyber Effects which has a machine that mills out a perfect, one-to-one replica of the body. The thing we’ve been doing differently is actually machining out armatures that have the exact joints that replicate the human skeleton. You run the body out of silicone, and you make the body solid. So the body actually weighs 70 or 80 pounds, but it’s got this perfectly-jointed armature in it. It can move. We’re constantly trying to use new techniques because audiences nowadays, they’ll get the movie on DVD and they’ll freeze-frame it and they’ll dissect every single shot.
Tell us about the inspiration for the look of the film?
Literally, you know, it’s mirroring a slaughterhouse. The first film didn’t have quite that feel. I mean, the first film felt much more industrial because of where they were in Eastern Europe, and it was the idea that they’re in that kind of funky warehouse with the basement. But this movie definitely is much more. And I think, again, because of the sensibilities of the women, to seduce a woman versus seducing a man, it’s completely different. There’s a lot more to it in terms of the contrast of the romance and the sexuality of it. Then you get into the brutal torture part of it. I mean, it really is much more horrific.
Is it tough to still surprise audiences?
It’s very challenging. The first Hostel, a lot of people didn’t know what the film was about. Now the bar has been raised. But I think that what Eli has been able to capture is that he’s been able to keep the material fresh by expanding on the death sequences.
Is it scarier because it’s realistic?
Absolutely. And that’s the big difference between a film like this and some sort of supernatural movie. If it’s a ghost story or if it’s a monster movie, people generally don’t think about it. But listen, we’ve all read headlines, and you’ve all heard horrible stories. You get on an airplane, you fly to a foreign country you’ve never been to before. You can’t help but feel slightly uneasy. You know, I think one of the creepiest aspects of the whole Hostel franchise is the idea that these people that are committing these atrocities, it’s like they’re bored. They have more money than they know what to do with, and they’re just like, “I’ve never tortured somebody before. I’m curious to see what that’s like.”
What percentage of the film would you say uses visual effects?
Not very many at all. As far as I know, there’s very little CGI work. All the gags that we did were all practical and all on set. There may be some matte paintings or there may be some mega-green screen shot here or there, but, you know, to my knowledge, this was much more a practical makeup effects movie than a digital movie.
What was the most difficult aspect of the project for you?
I think the likenesses and the heads are always a challenge. Getting likenesses is still challenging. Blood gags here and there. There’s a science to them because there’s an unpredictability about the blood – you know, how much blood is going to pump out and is it going to look right? And then you’ve gotta clean it up and re-dress. But I think this was really pretty straightforward.
How was your experience working with Eli Roth?
I love working with Eli. Our contribution to his movies is very important and it means a lot to him. So he makes a point of coming up to the studio and interfacing with us. It’s like for him it’s a field trip. It’s like going to bloody Disneyland for Eli.
Posted by Thin White Duke