After STAR TREK IV wrapped I found myself back in our little apartment in Eagle Rock, CA unemployed for what seemed like a day or two. Mark Shostrom called me to tell me that he had just landed the sequel to Sam Raimi's incredible midnight movie classic THE EVIL DEAD. I had seen THE EVIL DEAD but not in the theater. Oh no. I watched the film on video in a dark room, by myself in the middle of the night. It was so unique, frightening, funny, weird, and wonderful that by the time it was over I wasn't sure how I felt about it other than I loved it. I had also seen CRIMEWAVE (The XYZ Murders) and loved it! So the opportunity to work on EVIL DEAD II would be a career high, after two previous career highs. I seemed to be on a wave and was so happy and fortunate to be invited to participate.
Mark told me that he had also hired Howard Berger and a friend of his, a sculptor from Pittsburgh that he and Greg Nicotero had worked with on DAY OF THE DEAD. This was Mike Trcic. Greg had already worked for Mark as his coordinator and would be returning as well as Aaron Sims, who Mark had asked to do a few designs. Because of the nature of the effects in the film, Mark said his plan was to parcel it out amongst the artists and have each artist take care of one of the major characters in the show. He would be handling the "Henrietta" chores. It was to be be the largest, most ambitious possession character in the show. Howard would handle all of the "Ash" possession make ups on Bruce Campbell. The "Linda" corpse effects would be sculpted by Mike Trcic. Aaron Sims would work on Ash's "Evil Hand" as well as Henrietta's "Pee Wee Neck" as Mark referred to it. That left the character of "Evil Ed" in my hands.
Mark asked if I was interested in doing some drawings. The only note I got was that Ed was going to have an over-sized mouth. Hmmmmmm. I got to thinking. The best over-sized mouth make up I had seen was the one that Steve Johnson had done for the character of Amy in FRIGHT NIGHT. In fact, I LOVED that make up. But what could I do to sort of take it to the next level? I thought back to my Halloween costume the previous year. Remember? This one:
|For all intents and purposes, this was the prototype for my Evil Ed make up.|
|My design for Evil Ed. White prismacolor on black paper.|
|I can't remember a single thing about this book, except its haunting cover.|
After we all met in the shop, it was evident that we would all have to establish our working areas because there were so many artists and so many pieces to build in the show. Within a few days, actors began arriving for life casts. The first up was Ted Raimi, Sam's little brother whom many of you might recognize from his later efforts like SEAQUEST and the SPIDERMAN series. Ted arrived first because he was going to go into the suit to portray the possessed Henrietta. As Sam Raimi put it - He could torture his brother on camera with no fear of repercussion.
We life cast Rick Francis, who would portray Evil Ed, Denise Bixler, Linda, Bruce Campbell, Ash, and finally Kassie Wesley, who played Bobbie Jo. I can't remember why it happened, but we realized that we needed a pair of leg casts for Bobbie Jo after Kassie's casting session had been completed. Calling her back would have been a problem, so we called in my girlfriend (at the time), Tracy, to come in and get her legs cast up to her hips!
And the, the sculpt-a-thon began...Howard started on sketches of Bruce Campbell's possession make ups. Mark started on his Henrietta sculpts, Mike Trcic began work on his Linda headless possessed Linda body, Aaron worked on Ash's possessed hand, and I began Evil Ed's appliances.
|How often do you see video of a photo being taken or vice versa?|
I can't remember how many weeks it had been before Bob Kurtzman and Dave Kindlon returned from Italy and the shooting of FROM BEYOND. Bob came back to the shop to help out Mark with the hand and feet sculptures of Henrietta. Dave was "farmed out" a few jobs, but more on that later.
Sam came by early on to see Howard's sketches and check on our progress...
Finally, it is revealed. My "true" inspiration for Evil Ed:
After Mark had finished the Henrietta suit, Don Pennington (SPLASH, COCOON, THE ABYSS) was hired (I have NO idea who contacted him or how we got in touch with him or him with us) to make the fiberglass mold on the huge body. Again, I'm not sure why Steve Patino was not hired; perhaps he was too busy at the time. I'm not sure but he might have been building stuff for John Carpenter's PRINCE OF DARKNESS around that time.
So Don came in and did something that I've never seen someone before or since do when prepping the clay for molding in fiberglass: He had Mark buy two cases of Krylon Crystal Clear acrylic spray and then sprayed all 12 cans on the sculpture allowing each coat to dry completely before going on to the next layer. I recall that it took him the better part of a day just to do that. Don Pennington knows his craft where it comes to fiberglass! The mold he made was outstanding. I wonder what Mark did with it when he closed that shop location in South Pasadena???
|No, I didn't ACTUALLY sculpt like this, but wouldn't it have been cool if I had?|
For Evil Ed, I had sculpted the facial appliance that had broken down into two parts: The face, and the bottom lip. The pieces needed to be pre-painted so that the multitude of teeth could be glued in prior to the application. I also fashioned a set of dentures for Rick that not only changed the shape of his pearly whites from their photogenic straight appearance to jagged, sharp teeth and I even included a set that protruded from the roof of his mouth!
|Working on the appliance sculpt|
|See how I was able to shorten the nose by burying Rick's real nose within the upper lip?|
|Ah, the 80's, when we loved finger extensions!|
|Rick Francis' clay pour became...|
|...this sculpture of the Evil Ed puppet head. This photo appeared in MAD MOVIES, a French publication. Remember that for later.|
|I don't recall why, other than sculpture quality, I replaced the clay ears with flexacryl copies from Rick's cast.|
|"Chop Top" with his withered brain and Elvacite webs...|
|Here is the left over piece, mechanized by Dave Kindlon so that the eyebrow moved.|
|Okay, so not technically "first person" but designing and sculpting this make up has been one of the defining pieces in my career.|
I would also like to recognize Aaron Sims, who at the time was still relatively new to the business, however, Mark let Aaron spread his wings and sculpt several important items. Ash cutting his own possessed hand off with a chainsaw is still, to this day, one of the defining moments of EVIL DEAD II. Aaron's illustrations and sculptures set a foundation for what he has managed to accomplish for himself today as one of the preeminent creature designers and production designers working in contemporary Hollywood. Good show!
A few weeks before everyone left for North Carolina, Sam Raimi and Rob Tappert came to the shop for a marathon make up test day. Howard made up Lou and Bruce, Bob and I made up Rick Francis. The only thing missing that day were lenses, but in any case, I was able to see that my "big mouth" theory was going to work well.
|Howard doing an out of the kit possession make up on Lou Hancock|
|Howard applying an Ash possession make up to Bruce Campbell.|
|Bob applied the camera-left side of the test make up...|
|I applied the camera-right side, although technically I'm taking the make up off in this photo.|
|Here's how Rick looked in the shop from the side. Look how BIG that mouth looks!|
|See? Teeth on the roof of his mouth!|
|This Bruce Campbell head went to North Carolina for "Fake Shemping" - a Sam Raimi term meaning to stand-in for an actor who is about to be physically abused on screen.|
|The Evil Ed puppet prior to shipping and filming.|
|Bob tried the puppet on to get a feel for it when he operated it on set.|
What those guys experienced in North Carolina really defined THEIR careers in many, many ways. It established long-lasting relationships between them all and Rob Tappert and Sam Raimi. During the shoot, they sent me a video tape to share their experiences, but since I wasn't actually there, you'll have to watch a DVD or Blu Ray of the film's extras to get a sense of everything they went through.
No one could have predicted what a cult sensation EVIL DEAD II would become. But it would be some time before the film opened, and I was to continue working on the show, but at another location.