CULT OF CHUCKY: Killer Performance

Cult of Chucky: Killer Performance

 

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Inside the Insanity of Cult of Chucky

Inside the Insanity of Cult of Chucky

 

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COPPEL: Behind the Scenes with Grandfather Memo

Coppel: Behind the Scenes with Grandfather Memo

 

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Good Guys Gone Bad: The Incarnations of Chucky

Good Guys Gone Bad: The Incarnations of Chucky

 

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DAFT PUNK: "Behind the Helmets" Documentary

Daft Punk: "Behind the Helmets" Documentary

Tony Gardner revisits the evolution of the Daft Punk helmets and costumes in this illuminating behind the scenes interview.  This mini-documentary reveals the entire process; from the first conceptual sketches to the making of the actual helmets and the design challenges involved.

 

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KATY PERRY: Birthday - Behind the Scenes: 90 Years in 30 Seconds

Katy Perry: Birthday - Behind the Scenes: 90 Years in 30 Seconds

 

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DREAD CENTRAL: Cult of Chucky – FX Designer Tony Gardner Speaks!

Cult of Chucky – FX Designer Tony Gardner Speaks! Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Video and Images!

Tony Gardner is one of the most accomplished special effects designers in the biz. He has designed and created effects for Zombieland, 127 Hours, Smokin’ Aces, Hairspray, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, The Addams Family, Shallow Hal and many more. Not the least of which are the last three Child’s Play movies. With the newest one, Cult of Chucky (review), out now we caught up with Gardner at his studio, Alterian Ghost Factory, and picked his brain about all that went into the latest installment.

Dread Central: When did you first get to work on a Chucky movie?

Tony Gardner: We had met David Kirschner (producer of the Child’s Play franchise) on Hocus Pocus; we did Billy Butcherson and the animatronic cat. When he was going to pitch Bride of Chucky to the studio, he wanted to go in with a display presentation. So he had us build Chucky carrying Tiffany, sort of like the classic bride and groom over the threshold kind of pose. And we built an arch, they were full size, and did a presentation piece for that. And that was sort of our first taste of Chucky. It wasn’t until Seed of Chucky – it wasn’t until three months before they were supposed to pack everything to ship to Romania, that I was contacted and asked if I’d be interested in doing some animatronic characters for a film. It was so vague at first, because I think they were trying to work stuff out still, and then three months prior to them needing to ship out, they were like, ‘okay, we need three animatronic characters that need to be able to do full dialogue, get in fights with each other, throw things,’ and I don’t know what I was thinking but I said ‘sure, that sounds great, let’s go for it,’ and we did. So my first professional experience I didn’t really even have time to think about what we doing. We just had to do it. We were matching photos and trying to be as accurate to photos as possible. There were no physical items to be had. So it was just a constant scramble and literally throwing things into boxes and getting on a plane. Then sorting it out for a week or so before filming in Romania.

DC: Chucky’s gone through a few different incarnations.

TG: Yeah, it’s interesting because when we did Seed, we were trying to match everything to Bride, but at the same time they wanted to reference the characters had a little bit of a Hollywood makeover because this was a film inside of a film. So there was a slight shift there and some things were sort of tweaked or cleaned up in a way. And then when we came to Curse, the idea was that the Good Guy doll face was actually a fake face stretched over the scarred Chucky in disguise and I think we took it a little too literally and I think that wasn’t such a great idea on my part….. But then when we went into do Cult, I was really adamant that we got everything really right, one hundred percent accurate – like start over and start with the Good Guy doll, let’s start with the original and go back to what everybody wants to see. So I was really sort of a little obsessed with hand size and body proportion and the face, even the eyes. And the eyes change a bit in the first three films and I really got analysing the first three films and the scenes that Don [Mancini, director] liked the most and trying to mirror his look there but then there were a couple concessions to the location this time. Where because there was such a white stark background the idea was to amp up the color of his hair, so that it popped a little bit more against the white. So, it wasn’t quite so auburn but it was a little more vibrant. So that’s why his hair is a little bit more intense than it should be. And then there was the idea here with him being able to go back and forth between the Good Guy doll and an evil version in kind of, an instant. The question was, he’s not turning human so what can we do to mix it up a bit and get a little bit more of the humanity of Brad Dourif into it. One of the ideas was sort of a sense of eye bags underneath the eyes, which goes against what to doll has, so that’s something people found interesting. So that also allowed us to be able to have the eye lids track more with the eye balls when he looked around so we could make them a bit more human and a little less doll like. So, he’s sort of evolving as time goes and a lot of times it’s kind of, at least lately, what serves the story better.

DC: Which Chucky is your favorite?

TG: Wow, tough one. I like him in almost every film in different scenes for different reasons, and I know that sounds kind of weird. Child’s Play Two he’s on a dresser, completely inanimate and his body posture and everything looks like a doll and when he comes to life and he straitens up and he suddenly possesses an attitude, the performance in that to me, is just as inspiring as the animatronics – like that’s the kind of stuff that we’re trying to push him to now, albeit on a budget one fifth of what all those original films had but that’s a challenge as well in and of itself. But I have to say I think I like – I honestly like him in all his incarnations. I think the scar Chucky was pretty fascinating just from the sort of Frankenstein perspective, you know, I really enjoyed that. I feel that in the new film now that we have multiple versions within the same film, I have to say my favorite at the moment, is really the new Chucky, buzz-cut Chucky, the guy with the haircut. Because he’s new to all of it but he’s so excited by everything and the idea of putting that enthusiasm in his face, in his mannerisms and then Brad actually having his voice crack when he does that character. I mean that was the most enjoyable of all of them to do. And there’s a lot of stuff buzz cut does that isn’t in the film that – maybe it’s in the deleted scenes, I don’t know, but it’s a very humorous character – so he’s my favorite right now.

DC: What’s it like to collaborate with Don Mancini?

TG: It’s interesting working with Don, because essentially Don is the franchise. He’s written all of them, he’s directed the last three, he knows the cannon, he knows how everyone’s story fits, he’s followed everything tonally, he’s directed it on paper tonally for seven films, he’s actually directed the last three. So you go to Don with a question and you get an answer that’s immediate and specific and he’s not hemming or hawing or wondering about options. He knows all of this stuff inside and out. And that is so rare and it’s kind of what makes this whole thing amazing and what gives this whole franchise it’s longevity is the fact that Don is behind it and he steers the boat with the big picture all the time. Every character motivation, every bit of dialogue, every angle choice, he’s just really amazing.

DC: What’s it like watching Cult of Chucky with an audience?

TG: The first time the film screened was Fright Fest in London. It was over a thousand people and they’re all horror fans so all the reactions and responses were huge. So it was interesting to watch it and see where the audience was willing to go and then also how extreme their responses were to some of the stuff and how much they actually really enjoyed it. And what was nice there was were able to talk to a lot of people beforehand and then afterwards and hear their feedback and how positive everything was and how much they enjoyed that it wasn’t re-hashing stuff. It was keeping things fresh, incorporating new characters and that was exciting to hear because you don’t know how people are going to respond to a lot of that stuff. And the end itself, the end of the movie is such a huge surprise with suddenly the ability to sort of, do the split your soul up and spread it out to a couple of different places. It just opens up so many doors for the future as far as possibilities of what could be done. How many story lines could go on at the same time in different places, how many off shoots could you do. Could you take the Star Wars universe idea and you’ve got one through line with the main characters and then every other film that comes out, is somebody shipped a box off to Japan or to Germany or to a specific person that was referenced in another film. It seems like there actually really is a Chucky universe, in and of itself, that could be tapped into and I think this film made that really obvious.

Written and directed by Don Mancini, Cult of Chucky stars Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Michael Therriault, and Elisabeth Rosen. Cult of Chucky is available NOW!

Synopsis:
Confined to an asylum for the criminally insane for the past four years, Nica (Dourif) is wrongly convinced that she, not Chucky, murdered her entire family. But when her psychiatrist introduces a new group therapy tool — a “Good Guy” doll — a string of grisly deaths plague the asylum and Nica starts to wonder if maybe she isn’t crazy after all.

Andy (Vincent), Chucky’s now-grown up nemesis from the original Child’s Play, races to Nica’s aid. But to save her he’ll have to get past Tiffany (Tilly), Chucky’s long-ago bride, who will do anything, no matter how deadly or depraved, to help her beloved devil doll.

Special Features:

  • Inside the Insanity of Cult of Chucky — Viewers will discover what it was like to film inside an insane asylum and the challenges production faced on set. They’ll also hear from the cast and filmmakers as they discuss why they were attracted to this story and how the filmmakers’ vision brought this fun-filled horror film together.
  • Good Guy Gone Bad: The Incarnations of Chucky — This featurette offers a peek into Alterian’s workshop, the studio behind Chucky’s puppeteering, to see how the magic is created and focuses on how the look of Chucky has evolved over the years.
  • Feature Commentary with Director and Writer Don Mancini and Head Puppeteer Tony Gardner.

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Original Article


BROKE HORROR FAN: Interview - Tony Gardner (Cult of Chucky, Hocus Pocus)

Interview: Tony Gardner (Cult of Chucky, Hocus Pocus)

Tony Gardner is the animatronic effects supervisor who brought Chucky to life in the new Cult of Chucky, as well as in previous entries Seed of Chucky and Curse of Chucky. We discuss his history with the killer doll and the latest installment in the franchise. He also reminisces about some of his past projects, including Hocus Pocus and The Return of the Living Dead.

Can you begin with a brief history of how you got involved in the Child’s Play franchise?

I came on board in a roundabout way in the beginning. [Producer] David Kirschner was pitching Bride of Chucky to Universal and wanted to do a display to have on the conference table when he did the presentation. It was classic Chucky holding Tiffany in his arms, like a groom carrying a bride through the threshold at a wedding. That’s how I met Chucky for the first time. We built that display, and then they went off and got the movie going, and I thought that was the end of it.

Then about three months before they were going to head off to Romania to shoot Seed of Chucky, I got a few cryptic phone calls asking about animatronic babies. That eventually segued into conversations, “Would you be interested in working on the next Child’s Play?” I said yes, even though they told me there are three animatronic characters that had to be finished in three months time and we’d be filming in another country. I thought it sounded like a blast, so I signed up - and here I am!

From your perspective, how does Cult of Chucky different from the previous entries?

I think all of the films are different in their own way. I think they’re almost all successful as standalone films. I feel like Don [Mancini, writer] introduces new characters each time to the Charles Lee Ray storyline, but you don’t necessarily have to know the entire history in order to follow the story. This one is different aesthetically. Storywise, I think it actually succeeds in combining the scary stuff along with the more serious things and the comedic side. That goes for the actors too. There’s a more comedic side to Jennifer Tilly’s character, and Fiona Dourif’s character is very serious, so the fact that Don was able to put of them in the same room to have a conversation with serious impact and gravity to it but still have Jennifer able to play the humorous sex kitten part at the same time, the mashup of all that is what makes this one really different. And he’s done it successfully, which makes it that much more enjoyable.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I really enjoyed how it brought together all of the storylines and characters from throughout the franchise while expanding the mythology.

Don doesn’t discount anything in any of the stories. He goes out of his way to reference all of them, sometimes in little ways. I think that’s really cool. He’s really the glue that holds the entire series together and makes it work, because he understands the characters so well. They live in his head; he knows how they talk and why they say what they say. If anyone is going to mix those worlds up and make it work, it’s going to be Don. Hats of to him for having the guts to dive in and give it a shot in the first place!

How has the advancement of technology changed how Chucky is brought to life?

It’s helped us a lot, because we’ve been able to use digital technology to erase the puppeteers from shots, especially in this last one, so that we can get closer to the puppet and do a better a performance with his physical moment. When we did Seed, all the characters are 100% animatronic and we operated through the floor. Almost all the puppeteers were underneath the set watching monitors in order to make it happen. We were pushing for some rod puppet work for some of the scenes, and we did one or two in that film, but people were still of the mind that you had to frame things certain ways. It felt very limiting.

Then when we did Curse of Chucky, we had some scenes on practical floors where we couldn’t get under the floor. We could be right on top of the character in order to put more life into them and then be digitally removed. And then with Cult, we had three of them operating at the same time. We have limited resources as far as animatronic puppeteers, so to be able to shoot each one separately and then combine things made life so much easier. It’s still complicated and hard, but to not have to frame based on where somebody is operating a puppet makes a huge difference in how you can film it. It impacts the performance as well. The advent of digital technology has really been our friend, because it’s an awesome tool for us to be able to take advantage of.

Don Mancini is primarily known for being a writer, but you’ve worked on all three films that he’s directed. How would you describe him on set?

He never loses his cool. I don’t get it! [laughs] He’s amazing on set. He’s very calm and very focused. He’s able to roll with the punches. He’s able to actually articulate what he wants, how he wants to do it, and, if anybody asks, he can explain why. He’s a really solid leader, and he has a really solid grasp of his subject matter. He’s super articulate in being able to tell all of us what he wants. Most importantly, he’s really calm and he stays very focused. He’s a really smart guy.

Your daughter, Kyra Elise Gardner, made a short documentary focusing on the familial aspects of the Child’s Play movies, which is included on the Cult of Chucky Blu-ray. I really enjoyed it and wanted to know if there’s any plan to turn it into a full-length documentary.

That’s Kyra’s goal, to do a feature documentary. She goes to Florida State University, and she was evacuated for the hurricane recently. We had two events go down with Chucky projects. Jennifer Tilly came to the opening of Halloween Horror Nights, and she agreed to sit down with Kyra for about an hour an hour half. She did a super in-depth interview with her. And then Kyra saw Fiona the following night for a Cult of Chucky panel at Monsterpalooza, and Fiona stuck around for about an hour and talked more about herself and her experiences, as opposed to the family dynamics that’s more the subject of the short documentary. I think Kyra is working on it as we speak. She’s getting stuff that a lot of people have never been able to get. More power to her!

Do you have a favorite effect that you’ve created, or one that stands out as being a particular point of pride?

Honestly, I think the half-corpse from Return of the Living Dead is a favorite, because I was in my early 20s and I didn’t know what I was doing. I had never done animatronics, and I had this really cool opportunity. I built like 80% of it myself; I had some friends help out with mechanics in the hands. It was a learn-as-you-go type of experience. I had an amazing design by William Stout to base it off of, and then I only had like two weeks to build it at night, becuase I had a real job during the day. It holds this warm spot in my heart. There’s nostalgia, but it’s also sort of a stepping-up-and-showing-what-you’re-made-of moment. I love the character too and how successfully we were able to bring her to life. I had never had the experience of going to set and puppeteering an animatronic character before. I really enjoyed it. Oddly enough, it’s Don Mancini’s favorite creature from a movie, so I think it did me well! [laughs]

I’d say so! As someone who worked on the original, how do you feel about the recent news that Disney is planning to reboot Hocus Pocus with a new cast?

It’s been conversations that have been ongoing for seven years, honestly. I feel like there’s a meeting once a year for it. The fact that they’ve finally announced something publicly means that they’re serious. There have been so many scripts over the years, the question is: which direction are they going to go? I know the fans all want to see the three witches, and it’s amazing how many girls want to see Billy Butcherson come back. I don’t know where it’s going to go. I’m super excited for it. It also makes me a little a nervous, because the whole idea of a sequel living up to an original is always daunting. Don Mancini has pulled it off, but not too many people have. The world is definitely a different place than when the first Hocus Pocus came out [in 1993], so if you’re going to put it in contemporary times, I’m curious as to how much adjusting of the content is going to need to take place and how that’s going to impact the characters. I’m excited, but I’m nervous!

In addition to the ones we’ve discussed, you’ve worked with several other iconic films and characters, like Aliens, Army of Darkness, and The Blob. Are there any other big franchises that you’d like to tackle?

I feel like we got to do a lot of really cool ones already. Darkman is a personal favorite as well. We’ve been able to do some cool animatronic ones and some cool prosthetic ones. On a selfish note, I think it would be really fun to have the opportunity to be involved in a lot of the genre films. We almost worked on a Friday the 13th reboot at one point. It was exciting to take over Chucky and keep him going, so I thought it would be interesting. There’s quite a few other horror icons out there that it would be a blast to bring back to life. But I feel I’ve been really fortunate at this point.

As a kid, I wanted to remake Planet of the Apes, but it’s been done a million times and now it’s a computer. If I had to pick a film to redo just for pure selfishness: The Day the Earth Stood. The robot in that, Gort, was a favorite. That whole film was a favorite, but that robot in particular always fascinated me. You can kind of see a bit of it in one of the Daft Punk promos. It was one of Thomas Bangalter’s favorite films as well, so we felt justified doing a little homage.

You’ve dabbled in directing short content, but have you ever wanted to make your own feature?

To be honest, I don’t know if I have the attention span and the focus to do a feature. I really enjoy doing music videos and short films. If I had nothing else that I needed to focus on, I would love to take on a genre feature. To do something along the lines of the original The Thing - something that offers you opportunity to really stretch your imagination - would be exciting enough to me. If I could drop everything else to do it, I would be happy to.

Original Article