2011
10.01

EP53: Creepshow

Greetings, kiddies! We’re Matt and Jason — the CREEPS! — and we’ll be your guides on this five-part journey into fear. So get yourself some cake and gasp like a lunkhead as we creep up on you with commentary for the 1982 anthology, Creepshow. Awful anecdotes, yell yarns and fearsome fables will unfold in the form of movie background, the merits of long-haired ladies, more mass murder fantasies, Matt’s home bar project, libertines, Netflix gripes, alcohol faux pas and other means to measure the bite marks. And, if you can hold your breath for a long, long time, we might even chat about some things after the movie. Of course, you know that if your dad catches you listening to this podcast again, you won’t sit down for a week. Remember that! Tuck in!

Do You Like Jim Beam? | Tom Atkins’ Moustache Appearances | Creepshow: The Comic Book | Laurel Entertainment | Tom “So-Meanie” Savini | The Story of EC Comics | Horrifyingly MAD | It’s Both, Jason | Jack Kamen | Joe “Monkeyboy” Hill | Kiss My Ashtray | Ripple-De-Doo-Dah | It IS An Autoclave, Matt | Spiderman: ’70s-Style | Prophet 5 | Hee Haw

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  1. Fluffy. The sheer name brings gasps of terror, shock and dread to the ever-parched lips of Terror Fiends. And maybe some giggles too…

    Fluffy, of course, is the beloved monster featured in “The Crate” segment of the horror classic, Creepshow and is perhaps one of Tom Savini’s greatest creations (except that wholly unwholesome grand-daughter he insists on making out with — to silent applause — at recent conventions). Here, as promised, is his story…

    Fluffy was the very first creature effect Savini embarked on when he signed the deal to handle the special effects on Creepshow and his evolution began a full three months before the rest of the production was even underway. Given that Savini had never attempted such a specialized mechanical creature effect, he phoned the great Rob Bottin (The Howling) to get some tips on the engineering that was involved in some of his own creations. Fortuitously, Bottin happened to attend the LA premiere of Romero’s Knightriders (starring Tom Savini and the soon-to-be-immortalized-in-disco-dance-infamy Ed Harris) and was gracious enough to give Savini a tour of his effects laboratory after the show. Of particular interest to Savini was the interior mechanisms Bottin had devised for his snarling werewolf creature featured in The Howling as well as some of the featured beasties in The Thing. Savini would make grand use of his on-the-spot education in the months ahead…

    At this point Savini began his creation by making a life cast of his assistant effects wiz, Darryl Fellucci, and sent Fellucci to the Big Apple to be fitted with sclera cat-eye type lenses crafted by a NY optometrist (Theo Obrig). Fluffy’s head was then sculpted in plastiline clay and positive and negative molds were taken from this sculpt so that several foam latex masks could be struck from these (over a dozen masks were constructed in all). At this point a fiberglass skull was formed into a rubber mold which the mask would fit over and it was on this skull the mechanisms to animate the features were constructed (more on that below). Teeth modeled from a male gorilla were then placed into this skull and pink acrylic was used for his gums both of which were coated with an epoxy to give them that deliriously wonderful wet shine approximating living tissue. A tongue was then built into the mouth to cover the actor’s chin area and the finishing touches of scabs, wounds and hair were applied to give him that glorious “been in a crate for 150 years but never felt so good” vivacity. An interior padded helmet was then built underneath the skull to allow some semblance of comfort to the poor sap who had to climb into the damn thing (again, Darryl Fellucci). The mask would then be fitted over the finished skull/helmet and sealed up the back with a swathe of velcro covered by a hair appliance. And now for the engineering…

    A chin cup was formed into the bottom of the mask and attached to Fellucci’s jaw to enable the opening and closing of Fluffy’s maw (used to particularly wonderful effect in the Barbeau twin’s demise sequence). Tubes were run behind Fluffy’s two front teeth thru which Savini and crew could pump glycerine to give the drooling effect and the lips were animated in several sections by cables which enabled him to snarl in either side of his mouth individually or all together at once. Condoms were then glued into Fluffy’s cheek hollows which could be inflated with a valve attached to a rectal syringe (you’ll have to ask Matt about that one) to allow the wonderful breathing in the cheek effect glimpsed in the finished film. On top of all of this engineering wizardry, a mechanism was built which could raise and lower Fluffy’s eyebrows and therefore breathe some humorous personality into the character.

    All of this took several weeks of 14-hour days for Savini and crew to dream up and execute but the work was only half-finished. The effects team then had to operate it! At times there were six or seven crew members operating the controls on Fluffy — one doing eyebrows, one the lower lip and another the upper, one pumping saliva, another operating that rectal syringe (oh my!), one to work the prophylactics for breath, another operating the feet when necessary, and of course poor ol’ Darryl Fellucci inside the creature chomping his jaws and moving dramatically to and fro. Fellucci also operated the hands which were sculpted by Rick Catizone (who also sculpted the chest area) and in the actual physical biting sequences a hand puppet was constructed with rubber teeth (so as not to injure the actors) which was utilized and operated by Savini himself.

    All in all, I think most of you will agree that Fluffy is one of the most beloved creatures in horror film history and our collective hats should come off in honor of the Sultan of Splatter, Sir Tom Savini. More kudos go out to Darryl Fellucci, who aided mightily with the mechanization and without whose blood, sweat and tears Fluffy wouldn’t have had a semblance of his onscreen persona. We, the Fiends, are deeply grateful and forever indebted. Thank you.

    Condoms, rectal syringes, glycerine and Savini’s grand-daughter, oh my! Pleasant dreams, Terror Fiends!

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