With THE BYE BYE MAN out now, we talked to legendary F/X artist Robert Kurtzman about creating monsters. What goes into it and how he keeps them original. After EVIL DEAD 2, he, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger created KNB and went on to become the major force in horror. After going it solo in 2002, he has kept creating new and terrifying creations that resonate in our minds and dark hearts.
Sinful Celluloid – You’ve been doing this for so long and created so many different monsters but never seem to repeat yourself. How do you keep it fresh?
Robert Kurtzman – That is a really hard thing to do but what you’re working on lends itself to you. It’s hard when you are doing like a vampire movie to do something original because everyone’s doing vampire movies, or zombies or whatever. There’s nothing original with zombie movies anymore. Walking Dead’s done it all. So it depends on the material. You get certain material like TUSK, which NOBODY’S ever done that so I had free reign on that. Bye Bye man was a little different cause it wasn’t a vampire or a zombie. The hardest part is doing something like a werewolf maybe. Which again I was lucky enough to do something kind of original I thought, with LATE PHASES. So it really depends, there’s a lot of stuff I’ve done that I’ve been like “Eh” (shrugs shoulders) but I’ve been lucky enough to work with certain filmmakers like Don Coscarelli on John Dies At The End and Bubba Ho Tep. On John Dies At The End he gave me the opportunity to do that whacked out meat monster. SO he gave me the opportunity to do something original because it initially came out of his head cause of the whole concept and that allowed me to do what I do.
Sinful Celluloid – Does your actor also make a difference?
Robert Kurtzman – Yeah. Like on BYE BYE MAN I had Doug Jones who has amazing bone structure so it made things easy to work things out with clay.
Sinful Celluloid – We don’t have those days where we get these iconic atmospheric characters in mass anymore. Was there less pressure because of that or more?
Robert Kurtzman – It’s always kinda scary because nobody wanted to talk about it during the process but the money people are always thinking about making a new horror character or franchise. So the pressure was there cause in the back of everyone’s head, that’s what they’re trying to do. And most horror films that became iconic never thought about that. They were only thinking about making one movie. It just triggered something and people respond to it a certain way and it becomes iconic and you create sequel after sequel. But when you try to do it, it’s almost like setting yourself up to fail. So there was a little bit of pressure there but when we were sculpting it I felt really solid about it. So in the long run I was very happy with it.
Sinful Celluloid – I really enjoyed your Bye Bye Man creation.
Robert Kurtzman -Thank you. With the smaller pictures I’ve been very blessed. I’ve had a couple of write-ups about how I’ve been doing a lot of independent films and I have for my entire career but the small ones are the one that resonate the longest with the audience. Evil Dead 2, or From Beyond, Re-Animator, Tusk, any of those films. I think it’s the independent films that have the most unique vision.
Robert Kurtzman will no doubt continue to create great stuff that lives on forever. Be sure to check out his fantastic creation in THE BYE BYE MAN, which is out now!