FANGORIA: Old School Kills: Behind The FX Of STUDIO 666 With FX Legend Tony Gardner

Old School Kills: Behind The FX Of STUDIO 666 With FX Legend Tony Gardner

The Foo Fighters and Gardner join forces for some good old fashioned beheadings, guts, and rock ‘n roll.

BY HEATHER WIXSON · @THEHORRORCHICK · MARCH 3, 2022, 9:20 AM PST

FX legend Tony Gardner has been involved with countless iconic horror properties and films throughout his amazing career that includes well over 200 credits and began back when he was invited to help out on Michael Jackson’s Thriller as a part of Rick Baker’s crew, nearly forty years ago now. For his latest effects project, the horror comedy Studio 666 which features Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters battling evil forces as they record their latest album, Tony and his team at Alterian, Inc. got to go old school and deliver up some of the best practical kills this writer has seen in some time.

Prior to Studio 666, Gardner had previously collaborated with Grohl and the Foo Fighters on several music video projects. But teaming up for a full-blown horror movie provided both the legendary FX artist and the band with the opportunity to push themselves in some new and exciting ways.

“Dave was at our shop one day, and he told me how they were currently recording over at this old house,” Gardner explained. “Dave had this idea about making a movie where this house would be haunted, someone in the band would get possessed, and all this crazy stuff would happen. He showed me a few pictures of the house for inspiration, and then I went and looked at it to figure out what sort of setups could happen with what was available there. He asked me, ‘Do you have any ways that you have ever wanted to kill people that you’ve never had an opportunity to do?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I actually do.’ His response was, ‘Well, I think it would be fun to incorporate those kills into this haunted house idea.'”

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“So, Dave put together this story treatment that was a page and a half, and then I put together two pages worth of different scenarios on how people could die in or around the house. My list included chainsawing two people in half while they were having sex – I just thought it would be a funny riff on those classic over-the-top ’80s type of kill scenes, where the promiscuous people die a horrible death. I just wanted to push it way over the top. And after I gave Dave and his two producers my breakdown, they hired screenwriters to put the two documents together and incorporate the death scenes into the script. So it was a totally backward way of doing things, but it was fun to be there from the very beginning.”

Even though Gardner has worked on hundreds of projects throughout his career, Studio 666 stood out as a chance to experience something he doesn’t often get to in his work: total creative freedom. In most cases, when effects teams are brought onto a project, they are working with an existing list of goals and ideas to achieve through the FX, but on Studio 666, Gardner got to push himself creatively in ways he hadn’t really ever experienced before.

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“Truth be told, I have never had as much freedom on a film as I had with this one. It was fantastic. We were literally the first people hired on Studio 666, and I had come up with the death scenes, so we were really in control of our stuff and some other elements of production early on, too. We storyboarded several of the scenes and did mockups of ideas at Alterian as well. It was super great to feel trusted like we were here, and then to be given creative free rein on top of that was just a dream come true kind of experience for myself and everyone else on my team.”

“The other thing that stood out about Studio 666 was that everyone who worked on that film was so nice, and that the Foo Fighters themselves were all up for anything and everything. I remember when we first started talking about the Chainsaw death and the question was, “Well, who in the band would he be able to tolerate all of the lifecasting required?” as opposed to it already being delineated in the script. I had already done lifecasts on all of the band members for the Run music video for old age makeups, and some of the guys enjoyed the experience and some people, not so much. But Rami was really cool about all of it, so that was another case where we were coming at this from a reverse engineering type of way, and figuring out the best person to support the effects and then writing that person into the scene. We were just figuring stuff out along those lines throughout Studio 666 because time was limited. They self-financed the movie and there was only so much time to get everything done. So when we were on set, it really felt like the clock was always ticking.”

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Despite the time limitations they might have faced, Gardner and his team were able to achieve so many mind-blowing effects sequences throughout Studio 666. Their work undoubtedly gives all upcoming movies with ten times the budget of this indie horror-comedy a real run for their money. And while the proper resources are always something that can make or break the FX work in a project, time is another crucial element that can really help an effects team be more than prepared to take on the number of ambitious gore gags, kills, and other fun elements that make Studio 666 such a memorable cinematic endeavor.

“We always wanted to be super organized on this,” Tony recalled. “Because we were hired so early on, we had the chance to do multiple video tests of almost every single gag we did, which we never have the time or freedom to do these days. ​​So that was really nice, too. For example, when we did Rami’s death scene, we had time to experiment, and built a giant rig under a fake bed that puts a spinning chainsaw blade up three feet on a platform and moves it from A to B. As a result, production was able to build a set elevated off the floor so that we could get our rig in to do what it needed to do. Besides the pneumatic rigs, there were also these 55-gallon drums of blood pumping under the floor, too, and based on our tests, we knew our rig would ruin the entire room – so a fake one was built outside and tented off for the blood.

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“The goal whenever you’re doing a scene like this is to have it be easy going on set because we only have a day to ruin that room, and the cleanup of the room between takes would be hellacious because the blood’s hitting the ceiling and then dripping down. So we mapped out how we wanted to do all of it to go in, and in one take or two takes, hopefully give them what we know works. And it couldn’t have gone any smoother, to be honest with you. For all these things that could have gone wrong, we were very fortunate.”

“What helped was that we also had the chance to test everything with the blood rigs and everything well ahead of time so that we could finesse the pressure and take care of all these things that sometimes you’d be dealing with on set and in the moment instead of ahead of time. We were also able to get feedback from Dave and BJ [director BJ McDonnell] and everybody right off the bat, and then dial things in for set. It was really fun,” added Gardner.

Even though Gardner and his team at Alterian are no strangers to modern effects techniques and applications, Studio 666 provided them with the opportunity to go old school in a lot of ways, which Tony said helped everyone out on set during the film’s production.

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“The goal when you’re in FX is to do the film and not have to use CG for anything other than maybe some wire removal. But with Studio 666, we didn’t even have to do that. We were burying hoses in the dirt, and building sets three feet off the ground, and doing what needed to be done in advance in order to make things work, and work well practically. That made all the difference in the world to us. It was fun to do what we grew up doing with new people too. Some of the crew were half our age, and they were saying, ‘Hey, this practical stuff is cool.’ It doesn’t have to all look like a video game; it can actually exist in front of you. And all the actors really appreciated being able to see and interact with all this stuff. Which makes all of us look really good in the end.”

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“I also have to say that making a horror-comedy is always really fun, because part of what you’re doing is figuring out how far you can push everything within those boundaries, and with a horror-comedy, you can push the gore really far because things are supposed to be funny. So it opens up the opportunity to get really crazy with everything, like Taylor’s sudden death or Will Forte’s head getting shot off, where there’s just so much blood shooting out of his neck stump and at such a high pressure. It was literally vaporizing as it was going up into the air. At the same time, creating elements like Chris Shiflett’s severed head where we had to match his eyeballs and hair patterns, and making something where the detail needed to hold up in an extreme close-up is just as rewarding. Looking back on it now, Studio 666 was an experience that you know you’re not going to have very often, and you appreciate everyone and everything that’s happening that much more because of how special it feels. And then, when you get to see the crew responding to it and enjoying it, that’s the best,” added Gardner.

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Another crucial element to the success of Studio 666 was having a seasoned director in the form of BJ McDonnell at the helm who not only had a knack for working in the genre, but also enthusiastically embraced the FX process. And for as much as Tony helped guide so many moments in the story of Studio 666 early on, he was also one of the first who originally thought McDonnell would be the best filmmaker to take on the indie horror-comedy.

According to Tony, “I was one of the first to recommend BJ to direct this, and it was for that very reason – he knows effects. He knows how to light them. He knows how to make stuff that’s not real actually look real. He gets the genre. We’ve worked with him on a lot of different shows as a camera operator and steady cam operator. He had been a camera operator on the “Run” music video, so the band and the producers already knew who he was as well and liked him, too. He had directed a few music videos for Slayer that Alterian had done makeup effects for, and we always thought that he had such a great understanding of everything we were doing from so many different perspectives, so it felt like he would be a perfect fit for us because he knows and understands what we’re doing. He gets how to cut from this angle to that angle to make an effect work better, instead of lingering on one angle for so long, and how to light makeup effects elements, so having him come on board for Studio 666 was a huge relief for us because we knew we could have solid conversations with a director that would understand what we were talking about. It was great not to have to spend time explaining what we were doing; instead, we could get right into it. He’s an amazing guy, he is super articulate, and he is very creative. I’m really glad that it all worked out and that he was the one directing this.”

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“Honestly, there was a genuine love of the film from everyone on set for Studio 666. Everyone on the crew was there because they wanted to be there. None of us were being paid our regular rates because it was a low-budget movie. But everybody was so very passionate about what they were doing and really great to work with such a great attitude, and I think all that shows up on screen in the film. I think a lot of that attitude came from the top down, and Dave and BJ and producers Jim Rota and John Ramsey all had such a great attitude and sense of humor about everything.”

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“Something else that ended up being so cool about this was how Dave managed to get John Carpenter to not only write original music for the movie but get him to show up for a day to shoot with us, too,” Tony continued. “Things were just happening very organically like that on this film, beyond what you would normally expect. But when John came down, he was totally into it. My daughter, Kyra, was shooting behind-the-scenes video on this, documenting from the first meetings and table read all the way through to the premiere last night. And John Carpenter sat down with her on camera and just talked forever, and she had the best time with him. After it was over, I was like, ‘Okay Kyra, you need to know the pedigree of a guy that you were just talking to because he’s a legend to all of us.'”

“On a totally selfish level, besides getting to come up with the kills, I also got to play one of the zombies that tears Dave up during his nightmare. ​​And for Kyra’s behind-the-scenes interview with me, she picked the day I was in full makeup and contacts to do the interview, so that was fun. You barely see us zombies in the movie, but I always have a good time playing a zombie – how can you not? I just felt like, with this one, it was my responsibility to myself to either kill someone or be killed.”

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Original Article: https://www.fangoria.com/original/old-school-kills-behind-the-scenes-of-studio-666-with-fx-legend-tony-gardner/


CREATIVE BOOM: Daft Punk's Discovery at 20: Collaborators on Crafting the Iconic Robot Look and Revolution

Daft Punk's Discovery at 20: Collaborators on Crafting the Iconic Robot Look and Revolution

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March 2001: former humans Daft Punk unleash Discovery onto the world, their seminal sophomore LP which changes the dance scene forever. A month or two earlier, the French house duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter showcased their robotic new look in legendary UK magazine The Face, changing the look of music with equal impact.

A whole generation of producers would disguise themselves over the next twenty years with masks and helmets of their own making. The main man behind the revolution was the founder of Alterian Inc. and Co-founder of Oxcart Assembly Tony Gardner, a Californian SFX legend who’s helped transform everyone from Sacha Baron Cohen to director Spike Jonze. As Creative Boom learns, it was actually the latter who recommended Gardner to the act, having worked with Tony on 1999’s Three Kings and Daft Punk themselves on classic videos Spike directed for them like ‘Da Funk’.

“They were looking to create personas that were more specific and long-term because they’d usually put on a disguise or a mask for performances for the sole purpose of masking their identity, without thinking of the image,” Tony tells us over video chat. “The goal was to create an identity for them that would continue with longevity. They had an idea they wanted to be robots which they wanted to incorporate into cartoon form into anime music videos for Interstella 5555, and then have the robots ‘come alive’ for the new album.”

Luis Sanchis remembers this real-life realisation well; after all, the French creative was the one who photographed the duo for Face magazine’s rather eye-opening spread. As these (NSFW) scans demonstrate, the robots were posed in some very human scenarios indeed, chilling with a bunch of laughing nudists being the most memorable example.

“They wanted to portray a day in the life of Daft Punk,” Luis tells us in a phone call from New York. “I came up with some of the scenarios, like the one with the people naked. That shot was actually taken in the Los Angeles house they were staying in at the time. We hired people from a real nudist colony, and as I was preparing the lights they came in – and all of a sudden, they were naked!”

Original gauntlets and helmets (Courtesy of Tony Gardner)

The Face shoot took place in late 2000, by which point the playful, textural work of the photographer defined the magazine’s look. Though already a seasoned pro with years of experience behind him, working with robots still posed a unique set of challenges for Luis.

“They had to wear the helmets with a backpack (powering their LED displays), so their clothes had to be bigger sizes to hide the backpacks. The tricky part was one shot where they’re reclining in loungers by a pool. We had to make a hole behind their heads to put the cables connected to the backpack: There was no Photoshop back then, everything had to be done in-camera. But people like to hire me for very challenging projects, so I know how to execute them well.”

Tony reveals the helmets and backpacks were equally challenging to make. At the time, he and his colleagues at SFX studio Alterian Inc. were busy making prosthetics for the Farrelly Brothers flick Shallow Hal. Their stock-in-trade came in handy when making ribbed hoods for the costumes out of foam latex. Everything else, though was a real journey of discovery.

Townspeople helmets for Daft Punk's Electroma (Courtesy of Tony Gardner)

“Inside our shop was like two different worlds,” Tony recalls. “It was big bodysuits over here (for Shallow Hal), and on the other side, it was all hardware and robotics and people figuring out how to vacuum-metalise fibreglass. We had no real previous experience in things like metalising, chroming, metal plating, LED technology, or anything this complex! Stuff like the circuitry, the readouts and the manufacturing of the LED screens themselves, it was all within learning distance, but how to program that and create a console that Daft Punk could then wear on their arm to control those facial features? We needed to reach out to people that were already experts in the field.”

Experts who got involved included one of the main brains behind those Jumbotrons which embarrass couple spectators in baseball stadiums. The result allowed Daft Punk to communicate with those around them through their sci-fi helmets.

Behind the scenes filming Daft Punk's Electroma (Courtesy of Tony Gardner)

“We pre-programmed a bunch of responses and visuals on Guy-Manuel’s helmet and taught Thomas how to do the keypad on his arm so that they could really be in control of their characters. Thomas got into the programming right away. He’s such a smart guy, and he came up with some really cool stuff. He’s also a very communicative person, so that’s why he has literal text on his face. It’s literally sort of who he is.”

Guy-Man, as Tony calls his old friend, is a quieter and more introspective sort of Punk, which inspired the team to output all his communication as pictographs. As he says, “Whether it was a heart showing up or rain coming down, there was never a word on his face, ever.”

Early concepts of the bots by Alex Courtes and Martin Fougerol were inspired by cult movies like The Man Who Fell to Earth and Phantom of the Paradise. These designs originally envisioned a red visor for Thomas and a golden NASA-style one for Guy-Manuel, until it hit that the latter was impossible for photographers like Luis of The Face to shoot.

“We realised quickly that everything in the room reflected in the gold visor,” explains Tony. “You couldn’t take a photo of Guy-Man without seeing the camera and everything in the room! All of a sudden we were trying to dull down the visor’s metallic finish so we could infer that robot vibe, but still make it function.”

“When you shoot a flash at Guy-Man now you don’t see anything inside the helmet because his faceplate has multiple layers. We had to create another interior layer like a tight black mesh that allowed him to see through it but didn’t allow people to see him. That mesh layer had to allow the LEDs to read through it as well.” Tony reveals the tinting for the helmet was done by a company in Ohio that manufactures astronaut helmets, an interesting precursor to recent campaign work Tony has done for NASA with his creative studio Oxcart Assembly. Another interesting factoid? The Punk robots were originally as hairy as us human folk.

Daft Punk's Electroma (Courtesy of Tony Gardner)

“The characters actually had hair on their heads up until, I don’t know, half an hour before their first photoshoot,” Tony reveals. “That’s how fluid and organic the process was when we were designing and fitting.”

Once Discovery was out of the door, Tony and team worked on elements of the live show in support of the album. The collaboration continued in the form of promos for third LP Human After All. It ended with Daft Punk’s Electroma, the cult art house film celebrating its 15th anniversary this year that finishes with – spoiler alert – a rather explosive ending for the robots.

“We thought everything was gonna end after Electroma,” says Tony. “It’s like; they’re done, we blew them up, we burned them down, that’s the end of it.”

Daft Punk's Electroma (Courtesy of Tony Gardner)

Of course, you can’t keep a good concept down. The robots would make a return in TRON: Legacy and later music videos in updates on the original Alterian makes of Y2K, proving that Daft Punk would be forever associated with their robot guises. While the musical DNA of Discovery is all over any retro dance or pop track with soft rock and disco elements, the album’s visual impact remains harder to miss.

It’s easy to forget that there was little else like it on the scene when the robots first emerged in Face’s February 2001 issue. In fact, the rebranding of Daft Punk as robots was a vital push behind Discovery’s marketing. As Luis explains to us, even though his Face shoot has the feel of cinema from the ’70s-’80s period the Punks were borrowing sounds from, the music itself wasn’t available to him during the planning stages.

“The pictures weren’t influenced by the music at all,” he tells us. “They had their own identity. It was more about introducing the helmets.” The photographer’s work undoubtedly pushed the glowing, otherworldly look of these aliens into pop culture, changing the rules for how an artist could market and represent an identity in music. Not that either creative could have realised it at the time.

“I think as time’s gone by we’ve obviously realized the impact that our combined work has had,” says Tony. “When you’re in the moment, you don’t realise something can have that sort of lasting impact. You just dive in with enthusiasm and try to figure it out.”

“It was an enjoyable experience, and it was exciting, and it was new. It’s a very creative group of people, and I feel very fortunate to have been a part of that.”

“It doesn’t feel like 20 years ago,” Luis concludes. “It really feels like it was yesterday.”

The futurists of Daft Punk, timeless after all.


BLOODY DISGUSTING: ‘Hocus Pocus’: Tony Gardner Shares Never-Before-Seen Photos From Set!

‘Hocus Pocus’: Tony Gardner Shares Never-Before-Seen Photos From Set!

We’re huge fans of Hocus Pocus here on Bloody Disgusting, and we’ve got quite a treat today for those of you who are fellow fans of the 1993 Halloween classic.

Not only did we get the chance to speak with Alterian Inc’s makeup FX master Tony Gardner, who was the film’s animatronic cat effects artist/special makeup effects artist, but he was also awesome enough to share with us TONS of behind the scenes insights as well as NEVER SEEN set photos that document his team’s effects work.

Of course, one of the film’s biggest effects is the undead character Billy Butcherson, played by iconic creature performer Doug Jones. Gardner’s photos and insights peel back the curtain and showcase all the work that went into bringing Billy to the screen; did you know, for example, that Jones wasn’t the only one to play Billy?!

Consider this an early Halloween treat – a bonus featurette for Hocus Pocus, if you will, that you certainly won’t find on any of the film’s home video releases!

Most of the set photographs below are credited to Andrew Cooper.

Published

on

“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life.”

We’re huge fans of Hocus Pocus here on Bloody Disgusting, and we’ve got quite a treat today for those of you who are fellow fans of the 1993 Halloween classic.

Not only did we get the chance to speak with Alterian Inc’s makeup FX master Tony Gardner, who was the film’s animatronic cat effects artist/special makeup effects artist, but he was also awesome enough to share with us TONS of behind the scenes insights as well as NEVER SEEN set photos that document his team’s effects work.

Of course, one of the film’s biggest effects is the undead character Billy Butcherson, played by iconic creature performer Doug Jones. Gardner’s photos and insights peel back the curtain and showcase all the work that went into bringing Billy to the screen; did you know, for example, that Jones wasn’t the only one to play Billy?!

Consider this an early Halloween treat – a bonus featurette for Hocus Pocus, if you will, that you certainly won’t find on any of the film’s home video releases!

Most of the set photographs below are credited to Andrew Cooper.

KEEP UP WITH TONY GARDNER and ALTERIAN INC. AT THE FOLLOWING SOCIALS:

Instagram: @tonygardner and @alterianinc
Website: www.alterianinc.com
Twitter: @TonyatAlterian and @alterianinc


“This behind-the-scenes photo from Hocus Pocus was taken on the lot at Disney Studios, on the soundstage where both the Witch’s house and the Graveyard sets were built. Here Director of Photography Hiro Narita fine-tunes the lighting on Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson, for the scene where Billy faces off against the witches on their broomsticks flying towards him over the cemetery. A giant flying grid was mounted to the ceiling of the stage that was capable of flying the Sanderson Sisters anywhere on the stage at any angle, and in this case, a cameraman was flown towards Thora Birch in the rig, representing Bette Midler/ Winnie Sanderson’s point of view. The high speed of travel on the rig would cause the “rider” to spin out at a certain point towards the end of their trajectory, which made for entertaining shooting days.”

Published

on

“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life.”

We’re huge fans of Hocus Pocus here on Bloody Disgusting, and we’ve got quite a treat today for those of you who are fellow fans of the 1993 Halloween classic.

Not only did we get the chance to speak with Alterian Inc’s makeup FX master Tony Gardner, who was the film’s animatronic cat effects artist/special makeup effects artist, but he was also awesome enough to share with us TONS of behind the scenes insights as well as NEVER SEEN set photos that document his team’s effects work.

Of course, one of the film’s biggest effects is the undead character Billy Butcherson, played by iconic creature performer Doug Jones. Gardner’s photos and insights peel back the curtain and showcase all the work that went into bringing Billy to the screen; did you know, for example, that Jones wasn’t the only one to play Billy?!

Consider this an early Halloween treat – a bonus featurette for Hocus Pocus, if you will, that you certainly won’t find on any of the film’s home video releases!

Most of the set photographs below are credited to Andrew Cooper.

KEEP UP WITH TONY GARDNER and ALTERIAN INC. AT THE FOLLOWING SOCIALS:

Instagram: @tonygardner and @alterianinc
Website: www.alterianinc.com
Twitter: @TonyatAlterian and @alterianinc


“This behind-the-scenes photo from Hocus Pocus was taken on the lot at Disney Studios, on the soundstage where both the Witch’s house and the Graveyard sets were built. Here Director of Photography Hiro Narita fine-tunes the lighting on Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson, for the scene where Billy faces off against the witches on their broomsticks flying towards him over the cemetery. A giant flying grid was mounted to the ceiling of the stage that was capable of flying the Sanderson Sisters anywhere on the stage at any angle, and in this case, a cameraman was flown towards Thora Birch in the rig, representing Bette Midler/ Winnie Sanderson’s point of view. The high speed of travel on the rig would cause the “rider” to spin out at a certain point towards the end of their trajectory, which made for entertaining shooting days.”


“This photo was taken on the Disney sound stage where Hocus Pocus’s graveyard set was built. Actress Thora Birch reacts to Winnie Sanderson (Bette Midler) flying down to grab her, while Headless Billy Butcherson struggles to put his head back on in the background. For the scenes in the film where Billy Butcherson loses his head, actress Karyn Malchus took over for Doug Jones as “Headless Billy.” I wanted to shoot the effect practically on set, so we built up an upper torso for Karyn to wear that was proportionate to Doug Jones’. Karyn wore a skullcap with a neck stump on it that had magnets inside the stump that corresponded with magnets buried in the neck of the latex and polyfoam severed head of Billy Butcherson. Alterian had done a variation of this design on Karyn earlier, for a film called Freaked, where Karyn played a character named “Sock Head” and wore an animatronic “head” above her own, mounted on a skullcap.”

Published

on

“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life.”

We’re huge fans of Hocus Pocus here on Bloody Disgusting, and we’ve got quite a treat today for those of you who are fellow fans of the 1993 Halloween classic.

Not only did we get the chance to speak with Alterian Inc’s makeup FX master Tony Gardner, who was the film’s animatronic cat effects artist/special makeup effects artist, but he was also awesome enough to share with us TONS of behind the scenes insights as well as NEVER SEEN set photos that document his team’s effects work.

Of course, one of the film’s biggest effects is the undead character Billy Butcherson, played by iconic creature performer Doug Jones. Gardner’s photos and insights peel back the curtain and showcase all the work that went into bringing Billy to the screen; did you know, for example, that Jones wasn’t the only one to play Billy?!

Consider this an early Halloween treat – a bonus featurette for Hocus Pocus, if you will, that you certainly won’t find on any of the film’s home video releases!

Most of the set photographs below are credited to Andrew Cooper.

KEEP UP WITH TONY GARDNER and ALTERIAN INC. AT THE FOLLOWING SOCIALS:

Instagram: @tonygardner and @alterianinc
Website: www.alterianinc.com
Twitter: @TonyatAlterian and @alterianinc


“This behind-the-scenes photo from Hocus Pocus was taken on the lot at Disney Studios, on the soundstage where both the Witch’s house and the Graveyard sets were built. Here Director of Photography Hiro Narita fine-tunes the lighting on Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson, for the scene where Billy faces off against the witches on their broomsticks flying towards him over the cemetery. A giant flying grid was mounted to the ceiling of the stage that was capable of flying the Sanderson Sisters anywhere on the stage at any angle, and in this case, a cameraman was flown towards Thora Birch in the rig, representing Bette Midler/ Winnie Sanderson’s point of view. The high speed of travel on the rig would cause the “rider” to spin out at a certain point towards the end of their trajectory, which made for entertaining shooting days.”


“This photo was taken on the Disney sound stage where Hocus Pocus’s graveyard set was built. Actress Thora Birch reacts to Winnie Sanderson (Bette Midler) flying down to grab her, while Headless Billy Butcherson struggles to put his head back on in the background. For the scenes in the film where Billy Butcherson loses his head, actress Karyn Malchus took over for Doug Jones as “Headless Billy.” I wanted to shoot the effect practically on set, so we built up an upper torso for Karyn to wear that was proportionate to Doug Jones’. Karyn wore a skullcap with a neck stump on it that had magnets inside the stump that corresponded with magnets buried in the neck of the latex and polyfoam severed head of Billy Butcherson. Alterian had done a variation of this design on Karyn earlier, for a film called Freaked, where Karyn played a character named “Sock Head” and wore an animatronic “head” above her own, mounted on a skullcap.”


“This is a photo of Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson on the set of Hocus Pocus. His weathered skin and gaunt look was created by using one single foam latex appliance to cover his entire face and neck. I thought it was the easiest way to keep the prosthetics as thin as possible, and be able to have the wrinkles and folds line up and move well over the entire surface of his head. Because it was so thin and delicate, it took two makeup artists to apply it every day: myself and Margaret Prentice. The stitches were glued into his facial appliance every day, and between shots I would disconnect them on the bottom lip so that Doug could talk and eat. It wasn’t a flattering look though – he looked like a cross between a walrus and a skinny teenager trying to grow a mustache.”

Published

on

“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life.”

We’re huge fans of Hocus Pocus here on Bloody Disgusting, and we’ve got quite a treat today for those of you who are fellow fans of the 1993 Halloween classic.

Not only did we get the chance to speak with Alterian Inc’s makeup FX master Tony Gardner, who was the film’s animatronic cat effects artist/special makeup effects artist, but he was also awesome enough to share with us TONS of behind the scenes insights as well as NEVER SEEN set photos that document his team’s effects work.

Of course, one of the film’s biggest effects is the undead character Billy Butcherson, played by iconic creature performer Doug Jones. Gardner’s photos and insights peel back the curtain and showcase all the work that went into bringing Billy to the screen; did you know, for example, that Jones wasn’t the only one to play Billy?!

Consider this an early Halloween treat – a bonus featurette for Hocus Pocus, if you will, that you certainly won’t find on any of the film’s home video releases!

Most of the set photographs below are credited to Andrew Cooper.

KEEP UP WITH TONY GARDNER and ALTERIAN INC. AT THE FOLLOWING SOCIALS:

Instagram: @tonygardner and @alterianinc
Website: www.alterianinc.com
Twitter: @TonyatAlterian and @alterianinc


“This behind-the-scenes photo from Hocus Pocus was taken on the lot at Disney Studios, on the soundstage where both the Witch’s house and the Graveyard sets were built. Here Director of Photography Hiro Narita fine-tunes the lighting on Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson, for the scene where Billy faces off against the witches on their broomsticks flying towards him over the cemetery. A giant flying grid was mounted to the ceiling of the stage that was capable of flying the Sanderson Sisters anywhere on the stage at any angle, and in this case, a cameraman was flown towards Thora Birch in the rig, representing Bette Midler/ Winnie Sanderson’s point of view. The high speed of travel on the rig would cause the “rider” to spin out at a certain point towards the end of their trajectory, which made for entertaining shooting days.”


“This photo was taken on the Disney sound stage where Hocus Pocus’s graveyard set was built. Actress Thora Birch reacts to Winnie Sanderson (Bette Midler) flying down to grab her, while Headless Billy Butcherson struggles to put his head back on in the background. For the scenes in the film where Billy Butcherson loses his head, actress Karyn Malchus took over for Doug Jones as “Headless Billy.” I wanted to shoot the effect practically on set, so we built up an upper torso for Karyn to wear that was proportionate to Doug Jones’. Karyn wore a skullcap with a neck stump on it that had magnets inside the stump that corresponded with magnets buried in the neck of the latex and polyfoam severed head of Billy Butcherson. Alterian had done a variation of this design on Karyn earlier, for a film called Freaked, where Karyn played a character named “Sock Head” and wore an animatronic “head” above her own, mounted on a skullcap.”


“This is a photo of Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson on the set of Hocus Pocus. His weathered skin and gaunt look was created by using one single foam latex appliance to cover his entire face and neck. I thought it was the easiest way to keep the prosthetics as thin as possible, and be able to have the wrinkles and folds line up and move well over the entire surface of his head. Because it was so thin and delicate, it took two makeup artists to apply it every day: myself and Margaret Prentice. The stitches were glued into his facial appliance every day, and between shots I would disconnect them on the bottom lip so that Doug could talk and eat. It wasn’t a flattering look though – he looked like a cross between a walrus and a skinny teenager trying to grow a mustache.”


“This Hocus Pocus photo was taken when Doug Jones‘ lovely wife, Laurie, came out to hang with us on the graveyard set on the Disney Studios lot. She was literally the picture of serenity sitting next to her husband on set while Margaret Prentice touched up Doug’s makeup. I seized on the opportunity to make the photo more memorable for her, and photo-bombed it pretending to be yelling at Doug.”

Published

on

“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life.”

We’re huge fans of Hocus Pocus here on Bloody Disgusting, and we’ve got quite a treat today for those of you who are fellow fans of the 1993 Halloween classic.

Not only did we get the chance to speak with Alterian Inc’s makeup FX master Tony Gardner, who was the film’s animatronic cat effects artist/special makeup effects artist, but he was also awesome enough to share with us TONS of behind the scenes insights as well as NEVER SEEN set photos that document his team’s effects work.

Of course, one of the film’s biggest effects is the undead character Billy Butcherson, played by iconic creature performer Doug Jones. Gardner’s photos and insights peel back the curtain and showcase all the work that went into bringing Billy to the screen; did you know, for example, that Jones wasn’t the only one to play Billy?!

Consider this an early Halloween treat – a bonus featurette for Hocus Pocus, if you will, that you certainly won’t find on any of the film’s home video releases!

Most of the set photographs below are credited to Andrew Cooper.

KEEP UP WITH TONY GARDNER and ALTERIAN INC. AT THE FOLLOWING SOCIALS:

Instagram: @tonygardner and @alterianinc
Website: www.alterianinc.com
Twitter: @TonyatAlterian and @alterianinc


“This behind-the-scenes photo from Hocus Pocus was taken on the lot at Disney Studios, on the soundstage where both the Witch’s house and the Graveyard sets were built. Here Director of Photography Hiro Narita fine-tunes the lighting on Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson, for the scene where Billy faces off against the witches on their broomsticks flying towards him over the cemetery. A giant flying grid was mounted to the ceiling of the stage that was capable of flying the Sanderson Sisters anywhere on the stage at any angle, and in this case, a cameraman was flown towards Thora Birch in the rig, representing Bette Midler/ Winnie Sanderson’s point of view. The high speed of travel on the rig would cause the “rider” to spin out at a certain point towards the end of their trajectory, which made for entertaining shooting days.”


“This photo was taken on the Disney sound stage where Hocus Pocus’s graveyard set was built. Actress Thora Birch reacts to Winnie Sanderson (Bette Midler) flying down to grab her, while Headless Billy Butcherson struggles to put his head back on in the background. For the scenes in the film where Billy Butcherson loses his head, actress Karyn Malchus took over for Doug Jones as “Headless Billy.” I wanted to shoot the effect practically on set, so we built up an upper torso for Karyn to wear that was proportionate to Doug Jones’. Karyn wore a skullcap with a neck stump on it that had magnets inside the stump that corresponded with magnets buried in the neck of the latex and polyfoam severed head of Billy Butcherson. Alterian had done a variation of this design on Karyn earlier, for a film called Freaked, where Karyn played a character named “Sock Head” and wore an animatronic “head” above her own, mounted on a skullcap.”


“This is a photo of Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson on the set of Hocus Pocus. His weathered skin and gaunt look was created by using one single foam latex appliance to cover his entire face and neck. I thought it was the easiest way to keep the prosthetics as thin as possible, and be able to have the wrinkles and folds line up and move well over the entire surface of his head. Because it was so thin and delicate, it took two makeup artists to apply it every day: myself and Margaret Prentice. The stitches were glued into his facial appliance every day, and between shots I would disconnect them on the bottom lip so that Doug could talk and eat. It wasn’t a flattering look though – he looked like a cross between a walrus and a skinny teenager trying to grow a mustache.”


“This Hocus Pocus photo was taken when Doug Jones‘ lovely wife, Laurie, came out to hang with us on the graveyard set on the Disney Studios lot. She was literally the picture of serenity sitting next to her husband on set while Margaret Prentice touched up Doug’s makeup. I seized on the opportunity to make the photo more memorable for her, and photo-bombed it pretending to be yelling at Doug.”


“Who doesn’t want a photo of themselves with their favorite zombie and favorite actor, Doug Jones? This was taken on the cemetery set for Hocus Pocus, which was built on Sound Stage #2 on the Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. Doug wore foam latex gloves instead of hand appliances to save time during the prosthetic makeup application process, and also allow us to add some additional length to his fingertips. The gloves had acrylic fingercups inside them so that the extra length of the fingers was solid instead of floppy, and the fingercups were sculpted with long nails on them that were cast in a translucent grey dental acrylic. Given how physical Doug was as Billy, it was also nice to be able to change out his zombie gloves if they were torn up on set, as opposed to having to stop and spend valuable time repairing prosthetic hands.”

Published

on

“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life.”

We’re huge fans of Hocus Pocus here on Bloody Disgusting, and we’ve got quite a treat today for those of you who are fellow fans of the 1993 Halloween classic.

Not only did we get the chance to speak with Alterian Inc’s makeup FX master Tony Gardner, who was the film’s animatronic cat effects artist/special makeup effects artist, but he was also awesome enough to share with us TONS of behind the scenes insights as well as NEVER SEEN set photos that document his team’s effects work.

Of course, one of the film’s biggest effects is the undead character Billy Butcherson, played by iconic creature performer Doug Jones. Gardner’s photos and insights peel back the curtain and showcase all the work that went into bringing Billy to the screen; did you know, for example, that Jones wasn’t the only one to play Billy?!

Consider this an early Halloween treat – a bonus featurette for Hocus Pocus, if you will, that you certainly won’t find on any of the film’s home video releases!

Most of the set photographs below are credited to Andrew Cooper.

KEEP UP WITH TONY GARDNER and ALTERIAN INC. AT THE FOLLOWING SOCIALS:

Instagram: @tonygardner and @alterianinc
Website: www.alterianinc.com
Twitter: @TonyatAlterian and @alterianinc


“This behind-the-scenes photo from Hocus Pocus was taken on the lot at Disney Studios, on the soundstage where both the Witch’s house and the Graveyard sets were built. Here Director of Photography Hiro Narita fine-tunes the lighting on Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson, for the scene where Billy faces off against the witches on their broomsticks flying towards him over the cemetery. A giant flying grid was mounted to the ceiling of the stage that was capable of flying the Sanderson Sisters anywhere on the stage at any angle, and in this case, a cameraman was flown towards Thora Birch in the rig, representing Bette Midler/ Winnie Sanderson’s point of view. The high speed of travel on the rig would cause the “rider” to spin out at a certain point towards the end of their trajectory, which made for entertaining shooting days.”


“This photo was taken on the Disney sound stage where Hocus Pocus’s graveyard set was built. Actress Thora Birch reacts to Winnie Sanderson (Bette Midler) flying down to grab her, while Headless Billy Butcherson struggles to put his head back on in the background. For the scenes in the film where Billy Butcherson loses his head, actress Karyn Malchus took over for Doug Jones as “Headless Billy.” I wanted to shoot the effect practically on set, so we built up an upper torso for Karyn to wear that was proportionate to Doug Jones’. Karyn wore a skullcap with a neck stump on it that had magnets inside the stump that corresponded with magnets buried in the neck of the latex and polyfoam severed head of Billy Butcherson. Alterian had done a variation of this design on Karyn earlier, for a film called Freaked, where Karyn played a character named “Sock Head” and wore an animatronic “head” above her own, mounted on a skullcap.”


“This is a photo of Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson on the set of Hocus Pocus. His weathered skin and gaunt look was created by using one single foam latex appliance to cover his entire face and neck. I thought it was the easiest way to keep the prosthetics as thin as possible, and be able to have the wrinkles and folds line up and move well over the entire surface of his head. Because it was so thin and delicate, it took two makeup artists to apply it every day: myself and Margaret Prentice. The stitches were glued into his facial appliance every day, and between shots I would disconnect them on the bottom lip so that Doug could talk and eat. It wasn’t a flattering look though – he looked like a cross between a walrus and a skinny teenager trying to grow a mustache.”


“This Hocus Pocus photo was taken when Doug Jones‘ lovely wife, Laurie, came out to hang with us on the graveyard set on the Disney Studios lot. She was literally the picture of serenity sitting next to her husband on set while Margaret Prentice touched up Doug’s makeup. I seized on the opportunity to make the photo more memorable for her, and photo-bombed it pretending to be yelling at Doug.”


“Who doesn’t want a photo of themselves with their favorite zombie and favorite actor, Doug Jones? This was taken on the cemetery set for Hocus Pocus, which was built on Sound Stage #2 on the Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. Doug wore foam latex gloves instead of hand appliances to save time during the prosthetic makeup application process, and also allow us to add some additional length to his fingertips. The gloves had acrylic fingercups inside them so that the extra length of the fingers was solid instead of floppy, and the fingercups were sculpted with long nails on them that were cast in a translucent grey dental acrylic. Given how physical Doug was as Billy, it was also nice to be able to change out his zombie gloves if they were torn up on set, as opposed to having to stop and spend valuable time repairing prosthetic hands.”


“Makeup Artists Margaret Prentice and myself touching up Billy Butcherson (actor Doug Jones) on the set. Doug’s prosthetic makeup took a little over two hours to apply, including the wig. The hands were foam latex gloves and were not worn until just before the camera was rolling. Doug wore a full-body spandex suit underneath his character’s wardrobe, which had foam latex “zombie” arms and legs, which were visible through the character’s tattered wardrobe. After the first makeup test, it was agreed upon that Doug’s big brown eyes were the soul to the character, and as a result, no contact lenses would be used.”

Published

on

“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life.”

We’re huge fans of Hocus Pocus here on Bloody Disgusting, and we’ve got quite a treat today for those of you who are fellow fans of the 1993 Halloween classic.

Not only did we get the chance to speak with Alterian Inc’s makeup FX master Tony Gardner, who was the film’s animatronic cat effects artist/special makeup effects artist, but he was also awesome enough to share with us TONS of behind the scenes insights as well as NEVER SEEN set photos that document his team’s effects work.

Of course, one of the film’s biggest effects is the undead character Billy Butcherson, played by iconic creature performer Doug Jones. Gardner’s photos and insights peel back the curtain and showcase all the work that went into bringing Billy to the screen; did you know, for example, that Jones wasn’t the only one to play Billy?!

Consider this an early Halloween treat – a bonus featurette for Hocus Pocus, if you will, that you certainly won’t find on any of the film’s home video releases!

Most of the set photographs below are credited to Andrew Cooper.

KEEP UP WITH TONY GARDNER and ALTERIAN INC. AT THE FOLLOWING SOCIALS:

Instagram: @tonygardner and @alterianinc
Website: www.alterianinc.com
Twitter: @TonyatAlterian and @alterianinc


“This behind-the-scenes photo from Hocus Pocus was taken on the lot at Disney Studios, on the soundstage where both the Witch’s house and the Graveyard sets were built. Here Director of Photography Hiro Narita fine-tunes the lighting on Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson, for the scene where Billy faces off against the witches on their broomsticks flying towards him over the cemetery. A giant flying grid was mounted to the ceiling of the stage that was capable of flying the Sanderson Sisters anywhere on the stage at any angle, and in this case, a cameraman was flown towards Thora Birch in the rig, representing Bette Midler/ Winnie Sanderson’s point of view. The high speed of travel on the rig would cause the “rider” to spin out at a certain point towards the end of their trajectory, which made for entertaining shooting days.”


“This photo was taken on the Disney sound stage where Hocus Pocus’s graveyard set was built. Actress Thora Birch reacts to Winnie Sanderson (Bette Midler) flying down to grab her, while Headless Billy Butcherson struggles to put his head back on in the background. For the scenes in the film where Billy Butcherson loses his head, actress Karyn Malchus took over for Doug Jones as “Headless Billy.” I wanted to shoot the effect practically on set, so we built up an upper torso for Karyn to wear that was proportionate to Doug Jones’. Karyn wore a skullcap with a neck stump on it that had magnets inside the stump that corresponded with magnets buried in the neck of the latex and polyfoam severed head of Billy Butcherson. Alterian had done a variation of this design on Karyn earlier, for a film called Freaked, where Karyn played a character named “Sock Head” and wore an animatronic “head” above her own, mounted on a skullcap.”


“This is a photo of Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson on the set of Hocus Pocus. His weathered skin and gaunt look was created by using one single foam latex appliance to cover his entire face and neck. I thought it was the easiest way to keep the prosthetics as thin as possible, and be able to have the wrinkles and folds line up and move well over the entire surface of his head. Because it was so thin and delicate, it took two makeup artists to apply it every day: myself and Margaret Prentice. The stitches were glued into his facial appliance every day, and between shots I would disconnect them on the bottom lip so that Doug could talk and eat. It wasn’t a flattering look though – he looked like a cross between a walrus and a skinny teenager trying to grow a mustache.”


“This Hocus Pocus photo was taken when Doug Jones‘ lovely wife, Laurie, came out to hang with us on the graveyard set on the Disney Studios lot. She was literally the picture of serenity sitting next to her husband on set while Margaret Prentice touched up Doug’s makeup. I seized on the opportunity to make the photo more memorable for her, and photo-bombed it pretending to be yelling at Doug.”


“Who doesn’t want a photo of themselves with their favorite zombie and favorite actor, Doug Jones? This was taken on the cemetery set for Hocus Pocus, which was built on Sound Stage #2 on the Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. Doug wore foam latex gloves instead of hand appliances to save time during the prosthetic makeup application process, and also allow us to add some additional length to his fingertips. The gloves had acrylic fingercups inside them so that the extra length of the fingers was solid instead of floppy, and the fingercups were sculpted with long nails on them that were cast in a translucent grey dental acrylic. Given how physical Doug was as Billy, it was also nice to be able to change out his zombie gloves if they were torn up on set, as opposed to having to stop and spend valuable time repairing prosthetic hands.”


“Makeup Artists Margaret Prentice and myself touching up Billy Butcherson (actor Doug Jones) on the set. Doug’s prosthetic makeup took a little over two hours to apply, including the wig. The hands were foam latex gloves and were not worn until just before the camera was rolling. Doug wore a full-body spandex suit underneath his character’s wardrobe, which had foam latex “zombie” arms and legs, which were visible through the character’s tattered wardrobe. After the first makeup test, it was agreed upon that Doug’s big brown eyes were the soul to the character, and as a result, no contact lenses would be used.”


“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life. We spent a day at Alterian doing a complete headcast and bodycast of Doug Jones, and also cast his teeth (so that we could build a rig inside his mouth to house some moths and dust for him to cough up on command). A month or so later we had Doug back out to try on his full body spandex suit, which included foam latex arms and legs – so that Billy’s zombified body could be visible through the tattered wardrobe, and we did our first glue-down test of the facial appliance makeup. That’s when actress Karyn Malchus came onboard to play the part of “Headless Billy.” In the first photo, we have Karyn and Doug side by side, both wearing the legs for the character. From here we figured out the best method to build Karyn’s upper body up proportional to Doug’s, and still allow here a range of movement with her arms to be able to carry her head around as well as crawl around the ground. The second photo is of Doug’s first wardrobe fitting at Alterian, with his skin color adjusted per the lighting on set, and his hero wig on and styled. The last photo in the series is of the completed look on set.”

Published

on

“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life.”

We’re huge fans of Hocus Pocus here on Bloody Disgusting, and we’ve got quite a treat today for those of you who are fellow fans of the 1993 Halloween classic.

Not only did we get the chance to speak with Alterian Inc’s makeup FX master Tony Gardner, who was the film’s animatronic cat effects artist/special makeup effects artist, but he was also awesome enough to share with us TONS of behind the scenes insights as well as NEVER SEEN set photos that document his team’s effects work.

Of course, one of the film’s biggest effects is the undead character Billy Butcherson, played by iconic creature performer Doug Jones. Gardner’s photos and insights peel back the curtain and showcase all the work that went into bringing Billy to the screen; did you know, for example, that Jones wasn’t the only one to play Billy?!

Consider this an early Halloween treat – a bonus featurette for Hocus Pocus, if you will, that you certainly won’t find on any of the film’s home video releases!

Most of the set photographs below are credited to Andrew Cooper.

KEEP UP WITH TONY GARDNER and ALTERIAN INC. AT THE FOLLOWING SOCIALS:

Instagram: @tonygardner and @alterianinc
Website: www.alterianinc.com
Twitter: @TonyatAlterian and @alterianinc


“This behind-the-scenes photo from Hocus Pocus was taken on the lot at Disney Studios, on the soundstage where both the Witch’s house and the Graveyard sets were built. Here Director of Photography Hiro Narita fine-tunes the lighting on Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson, for the scene where Billy faces off against the witches on their broomsticks flying towards him over the cemetery. A giant flying grid was mounted to the ceiling of the stage that was capable of flying the Sanderson Sisters anywhere on the stage at any angle, and in this case, a cameraman was flown towards Thora Birch in the rig, representing Bette Midler/ Winnie Sanderson’s point of view. The high speed of travel on the rig would cause the “rider” to spin out at a certain point towards the end of their trajectory, which made for entertaining shooting days.”


“This photo was taken on the Disney sound stage where Hocus Pocus’s graveyard set was built. Actress Thora Birch reacts to Winnie Sanderson (Bette Midler) flying down to grab her, while Headless Billy Butcherson struggles to put his head back on in the background. For the scenes in the film where Billy Butcherson loses his head, actress Karyn Malchus took over for Doug Jones as “Headless Billy.” I wanted to shoot the effect practically on set, so we built up an upper torso for Karyn to wear that was proportionate to Doug Jones’. Karyn wore a skullcap with a neck stump on it that had magnets inside the stump that corresponded with magnets buried in the neck of the latex and polyfoam severed head of Billy Butcherson. Alterian had done a variation of this design on Karyn earlier, for a film called Freaked, where Karyn played a character named “Sock Head” and wore an animatronic “head” above her own, mounted on a skullcap.”


“This is a photo of Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson on the set of Hocus Pocus. His weathered skin and gaunt look was created by using one single foam latex appliance to cover his entire face and neck. I thought it was the easiest way to keep the prosthetics as thin as possible, and be able to have the wrinkles and folds line up and move well over the entire surface of his head. Because it was so thin and delicate, it took two makeup artists to apply it every day: myself and Margaret Prentice. The stitches were glued into his facial appliance every day, and between shots I would disconnect them on the bottom lip so that Doug could talk and eat. It wasn’t a flattering look though – he looked like a cross between a walrus and a skinny teenager trying to grow a mustache.”


“This Hocus Pocus photo was taken when Doug Jones‘ lovely wife, Laurie, came out to hang with us on the graveyard set on the Disney Studios lot. She was literally the picture of serenity sitting next to her husband on set while Margaret Prentice touched up Doug’s makeup. I seized on the opportunity to make the photo more memorable for her, and photo-bombed it pretending to be yelling at Doug.”


“Who doesn’t want a photo of themselves with their favorite zombie and favorite actor, Doug Jones? This was taken on the cemetery set for Hocus Pocus, which was built on Sound Stage #2 on the Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. Doug wore foam latex gloves instead of hand appliances to save time during the prosthetic makeup application process, and also allow us to add some additional length to his fingertips. The gloves had acrylic fingercups inside them so that the extra length of the fingers was solid instead of floppy, and the fingercups were sculpted with long nails on them that were cast in a translucent grey dental acrylic. Given how physical Doug was as Billy, it was also nice to be able to change out his zombie gloves if they were torn up on set, as opposed to having to stop and spend valuable time repairing prosthetic hands.”


“Makeup Artists Margaret Prentice and myself touching up Billy Butcherson (actor Doug Jones) on the set. Doug’s prosthetic makeup took a little over two hours to apply, including the wig. The hands were foam latex gloves and were not worn until just before the camera was rolling. Doug wore a full-body spandex suit underneath his character’s wardrobe, which had foam latex “zombie” arms and legs, which were visible through the character’s tattered wardrobe. After the first makeup test, it was agreed upon that Doug’s big brown eyes were the soul to the character, and as a result, no contact lenses would be used.”


“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life. We spent a day at Alterian doing a complete headcast and bodycast of Doug Jones, and also cast his teeth (so that we could build a rig inside his mouth to house some moths and dust for him to cough up on command). A month or so later we had Doug back out to try on his full body spandex suit, which included foam latex arms and legs – so that Billy’s zombified body could be visible through the tattered wardrobe, and we did our first glue-down test of the facial appliance makeup. That’s when actress Karyn Malchus came onboard to play the part of “Headless Billy.” In the first photo, we have Karyn and Doug side by side, both wearing the legs for the character. From here we figured out the best method to build Karyn’s upper body up proportional to Doug’s, and still allow here a range of movement with her arms to be able to carry her head around as well as crawl around the ground. The second photo is of Doug’s first wardrobe fitting at Alterian, with his skin color adjusted per the lighting on set, and his hero wig on and styled. The last photo in the series is of the completed look on set.”


“This behind the scenes photo was shot right after Doug Jones had had his zombie makeup touched up, and he had gotten settled into his coffin for his resurrection scene. The ground in the area where his grave was located was built off of the stage floor high enough to allow for the pneumatic rig that Terry Frazee‘s physical effects crew had built that would make the earth rise and fall, and also push Billy’s coffin up and out of the ground. Doug was fine will doing this stunt himself – which was good, because his makeup would have looked pretty humorous on anyone else. Once Doug was settled into the coffin, it was lowered down into the ground, a breakaway coffin lid was laid down over Doug, and then loose dirt, moss and leaves were piled on top of that. Once we got the “all clear” and the machinery started up, Doug was on his own. I think they had their shot on the first take.”

Published

on

“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life.”

We’re huge fans of Hocus Pocus here on Bloody Disgusting, and we’ve got quite a treat today for those of you who are fellow fans of the 1993 Halloween classic.

Not only did we get the chance to speak with Alterian Inc’s makeup FX master Tony Gardner, who was the film’s animatronic cat effects artist/special makeup effects artist, but he was also awesome enough to share with us TONS of behind the scenes insights as well as NEVER SEEN set photos that document his team’s effects work.

Of course, one of the film’s biggest effects is the undead character Billy Butcherson, played by iconic creature performer Doug Jones. Gardner’s photos and insights peel back the curtain and showcase all the work that went into bringing Billy to the screen; did you know, for example, that Jones wasn’t the only one to play Billy?!

Consider this an early Halloween treat – a bonus featurette for Hocus Pocus, if you will, that you certainly won’t find on any of the film’s home video releases!

Most of the set photographs below are credited to Andrew Cooper.

KEEP UP WITH TONY GARDNER and ALTERIAN INC. AT THE FOLLOWING SOCIALS:

Instagram: @tonygardner and @alterianinc
Website: www.alterianinc.com
Twitter: @TonyatAlterian and @alterianinc


“This behind-the-scenes photo from Hocus Pocus was taken on the lot at Disney Studios, on the soundstage where both the Witch’s house and the Graveyard sets were built. Here Director of Photography Hiro Narita fine-tunes the lighting on Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson, for the scene where Billy faces off against the witches on their broomsticks flying towards him over the cemetery. A giant flying grid was mounted to the ceiling of the stage that was capable of flying the Sanderson Sisters anywhere on the stage at any angle, and in this case, a cameraman was flown towards Thora Birch in the rig, representing Bette Midler/ Winnie Sanderson’s point of view. The high speed of travel on the rig would cause the “rider” to spin out at a certain point towards the end of their trajectory, which made for entertaining shooting days.”


“This photo was taken on the Disney sound stage where Hocus Pocus’s graveyard set was built. Actress Thora Birch reacts to Winnie Sanderson (Bette Midler) flying down to grab her, while Headless Billy Butcherson struggles to put his head back on in the background. For the scenes in the film where Billy Butcherson loses his head, actress Karyn Malchus took over for Doug Jones as “Headless Billy.” I wanted to shoot the effect practically on set, so we built up an upper torso for Karyn to wear that was proportionate to Doug Jones’. Karyn wore a skullcap with a neck stump on it that had magnets inside the stump that corresponded with magnets buried in the neck of the latex and polyfoam severed head of Billy Butcherson. Alterian had done a variation of this design on Karyn earlier, for a film called Freaked, where Karyn played a character named “Sock Head” and wore an animatronic “head” above her own, mounted on a skullcap.”


“This is a photo of Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson on the set of Hocus Pocus. His weathered skin and gaunt look was created by using one single foam latex appliance to cover his entire face and neck. I thought it was the easiest way to keep the prosthetics as thin as possible, and be able to have the wrinkles and folds line up and move well over the entire surface of his head. Because it was so thin and delicate, it took two makeup artists to apply it every day: myself and Margaret Prentice. The stitches were glued into his facial appliance every day, and between shots I would disconnect them on the bottom lip so that Doug could talk and eat. It wasn’t a flattering look though – he looked like a cross between a walrus and a skinny teenager trying to grow a mustache.”


“This Hocus Pocus photo was taken when Doug Jones‘ lovely wife, Laurie, came out to hang with us on the graveyard set on the Disney Studios lot. She was literally the picture of serenity sitting next to her husband on set while Margaret Prentice touched up Doug’s makeup. I seized on the opportunity to make the photo more memorable for her, and photo-bombed it pretending to be yelling at Doug.”


“Who doesn’t want a photo of themselves with their favorite zombie and favorite actor, Doug Jones? This was taken on the cemetery set for Hocus Pocus, which was built on Sound Stage #2 on the Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. Doug wore foam latex gloves instead of hand appliances to save time during the prosthetic makeup application process, and also allow us to add some additional length to his fingertips. The gloves had acrylic fingercups inside them so that the extra length of the fingers was solid instead of floppy, and the fingercups were sculpted with long nails on them that were cast in a translucent grey dental acrylic. Given how physical Doug was as Billy, it was also nice to be able to change out his zombie gloves if they were torn up on set, as opposed to having to stop and spend valuable time repairing prosthetic hands.”


“Makeup Artists Margaret Prentice and myself touching up Billy Butcherson (actor Doug Jones) on the set. Doug’s prosthetic makeup took a little over two hours to apply, including the wig. The hands were foam latex gloves and were not worn until just before the camera was rolling. Doug wore a full-body spandex suit underneath his character’s wardrobe, which had foam latex “zombie” arms and legs, which were visible through the character’s tattered wardrobe. After the first makeup test, it was agreed upon that Doug’s big brown eyes were the soul to the character, and as a result, no contact lenses would be used.”


“There were many steps involved with bringing the character of Billy Butcherson to life – or reanimated life. We spent a day at Alterian doing a complete headcast and bodycast of Doug Jones, and also cast his teeth (so that we could build a rig inside his mouth to house some moths and dust for him to cough up on command). A month or so later we had Doug back out to try on his full body spandex suit, which included foam latex arms and legs – so that Billy’s zombified body could be visible through the tattered wardrobe, and we did our first glue-down test of the facial appliance makeup. That’s when actress Karyn Malchus came onboard to play the part of “Headless Billy.” In the first photo, we have Karyn and Doug side by side, both wearing the legs for the character. From here we figured out the best method to build Karyn’s upper body up proportional to Doug’s, and still allow here a range of movement with her arms to be able to carry her head around as well as crawl around the ground. The second photo is of Doug’s first wardrobe fitting at Alterian, with his skin color adjusted per the lighting on set, and his hero wig on and styled. The last photo in the series is of the completed look on set.”


“This behind the scenes photo was shot right after Doug Jones had had his zombie makeup touched up, and he had gotten settled into his coffin for his resurrection scene. The ground in the area where his grave was located was built off of the stage floor high enough to allow for the pneumatic rig that Terry Frazee‘s physical effects crew had built that would make the earth rise and fall, and also push Billy’s coffin up and out of the ground. Doug was fine will doing this stunt himself – which was good, because his makeup would have looked pretty humorous on anyone else. Once Doug was settled into the coffin, it was lowered down into the ground, a breakaway coffin lid was laid down over Doug, and then loose dirt, moss and leaves were piled on top of that. Once we got the “all clear” and the machinery started up, Doug was on his own. I think they had their shot on the first take.”