With four films and a TV series a fifth film, Evil Dead Rise, had to compete with the franchises previous gory set pieces that still required a level of realism. Perhaps nowhere is that naturalism heightened more than in the amount of blood these characters exude, encounter and are engulfed by. So how did Evil Dead Rise got so blood soaked? ‘Blood’ fell under the purview of special effects supervisor Brendan Durey (and, if self-generated, makeup FX and prosthetics designer Luke Polti). Durey’s company has worked on Tapert productions dating back to the 1990’s, and that’s a lot of blood.
Durey explains, “The blood recipes have evolved quite a lot. We’ve done a bunch of jobs where we’ve had all sorts of different types, including vampire blood. Over the years we’ve crystallized it down to quite a good formula, which makes a strong, rich dark colour, but we also have a mix for a brighter colour, for something supercharged and very visceral. Going into EVIL DEAD RISE, we found that our formula didn’t quite meet up to the demands of the film, so we had a research and development session and came up with a new dedicated recipe.” That recipe was utilized to create more than 6,500 litres of blood—the total amount used during the making of EVIL DEAD RISE. (For comparison, a typical human body contains only about five litres … doing the maths, that’s the equivalent of 1,300+ bodies’ worth.)
When that blood is the result of, say, severed limbs, a whole new set of challenges arises. Per Durey: “To nail down some of the key factors when you’re squirting blood around, you’ve got to tune it to the right viscosity by using accumulators, pressure pots and tubes to force the blood out of different nozzles. So, it’s about trying to assess how it works, and then get the tests in front of Lee to establish what’s in his head and what he wants it to look like. It can be very hit-and-miss on the day—once you start squirting actors with it, it can be a bit of a time sink, cleaning them up afterwards. We test as much as possible before shoot day.”
Morgan Davies’ character Danny undergoes some unfortunate alterations after he becomes a Deadite, and the actor was subjected to hours of prosthetic makeup and ensuing “blood tests.” He remembers, “I hadn’t done any prosthetics work before. I had to sit in a chair for about five hours; it’s not the hardest thing in the world. The prosthetic team was amazing. The difficult part was the blood—how f**king sticky it is and how it gets everywhere. And unless you’re careful, whatever hair it touches, on your head or your body, it’s going to rip out. What I found super interesting, actually, we have arms and heads, skin and guts all over the set, and it becomes the most normal part of life. I was already kind of desensitized, because I’m a horror fan, but it does become different when you’re holding a dismembered arm. Even then it was, like, totally normal. And I bugged everybody, because I really wanted to keep my prosthetic arm.”
Having been involved in the franchise since the very beginning, Bruce Campbell has developed a philosophy with regard to the actors who enter the ‘Evil Dead’ universe. He states, “The most important thing they have to know is to be patient and kind of tough, because it’s going to test you like nothing else. I’ve said this to every ‘Evil Dead’ actor: Afterward, you’re going to look back and go, ‘I’m glad I did it.’ Not necessarily while you’re doing it. There are harnesses, prosthetics, pretty long hours. And it’s pretty traumatic stuff that you’re feeling. And this one had kids that needed to be terrified and crying. Lee had his hands full. The actors were all chosen for their talent and resilience, and we were delighted with every single one of them. You know, the cast of ‘The Evil Dead’ didn’t speak to us for six months after wrap! But then, they saw it and were like, ‘Wow, that’s cool!’”
And they are cool with test audiences raving about how Evil Dead Rise got so blood soaked
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