August 12, 2019

How 'Scary Stories' Pulled Off Its Crazy Practical Effects

Producer Guillermo del Toro and director André Øvredal were tasked with bringing Stephen Gammell‘s iconic illustrations to the big screen. To succeed, they needed Spectral Motion to help them change the effects game.

When you're watching a movie you don't want anything that takes you out of the story. That goes double for horror movies. When you're inside them, the creeps and scares keep you on the edge of your seat. But horror movies that rely heavily on CGI or computer-generated effects often are not as thrilling.  

Practical effects are always better. They just are.                     

That's why it's so cool to see that Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark has relied on human ingenuity and advanced make-up techniques to keep their chills as real as possible. 

Check out this video from Insider that details how the practical effects were achieved.  

It's inspirational to see how accurate these costumes are based on the characters in the book. 

Spectral Motion has had a hand in lots of Guillermo Del Toro works, mainly in his Hellboy film series. So they're not new to making what's on the page, on the stage. But this kind of art direction is not easy, especially when you're adapting a beloved book and scene, based on only one picture. 

They created the character off the performer's bodies, using their human angles to work around some inhuman forms.

So the movie had to be cast before it was done practically. 

They created digital art on ZBrush and sculpted molds based on the actors' bodies. 

Suits and skins were painted with acrylics, and a base had to be lain town, then detailed every time they put on the costume. 

The Jangly Man and Pale Lady were full-body costumes that had to move with the performers. That meant watching performances out of costume, then troubleshooting the problems they'd have in real-time as they created the costumes. 

Still, by casting these roles first, everything created had a bespoke and unique fit only to the talent involved. It made the costumes feel so personal and really pop within the performances. They're almost a second skin. 

Even with practical effects, they were able to take out toes and scrub other parts in post. 

This use of computers in post only makes the mostly practical effects feel more real. 

While the drawings are in black and white, each suit's color underwent a rigorous discussion with the director, producers, and designers. 

They opted for a lot of rotting palettes, and even some that felt "nicotine-stained."

Costumes were so detailed, that each designer took only one body part to work on, and then they assembled them together to make sure they had time to do work on multiple costumes at once. 

What are some of your favorite practical effects in movies? 

Let us know in the comments! 

What's next? Learn how to make fake blood

Learning how to make the best fake blood recipe can save your movie (or your Halloween costume). So let's go over these recipes together! 

Click the link to learn more. 

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