EXCLUSIVE: Making Of Vermin Man & Other Demonic Creatures From CONSTANTINE
Stan Winston Studio has graciously sent us some exclusive behind-the-scenes images of the construction of the demonic creatures that were created for Francis Lawrence's Constantine.
Stan Winston Studio has provided us with some fantastic behind-the-scenes phots and concept art from 2005 Warner Brothers, Constantine, based on the DC Comics/Vertigo series, Hellblazer.
The information below is an excerpt from The Winston Effect: The Art & History of Stan Winston Studio book. Which by the way would make a lovely gift during this holiday season.
Winston's studio was called upon to create a variety of demonic characters for Constantine (2005), a Francis Lawrence film - based on the horror comic, Hellblazer - about an exorcist named John Constantine (Keanu Reeves). Constantine's sojourns in Hell reveal a scorched landscpae populated with scavenger demons and winged seplavites. At Lawrence's urging, the studio steered clear of typical medieval-era depictions of demons, and instead looked to the art world and real-life autopsy photographs for inspiration. Winston's artists ultimately produced a scavenger demon that looked like a desiccated corpse with a hollowed cranium.
Aaron Sims designed both the scavenger demon and the seplavite in the computer, and those designs were then re-created as computer-milled sculptures. After Jason Matthews had detailed the foam pieces, they were cast to produce full-size silicone forms. Although the flying seplavite would always be computer animated in shots, the scavenger demon was a fully articulated puppet - with radio-controlled face and jaw mechanisms and cable-controlled finger articulation - operated on set by six puppeteers.
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Even when not in Hell, Constantine is plagued by demonic entities. One such creature dubbed 'Vermin Man', appears to him on the streets of Los Angeles. Although Vermin Man would be animed digitally, the filmmakers wanted to shoot a real character on the set, which Winston's crew realized as a Vermin Man mask and suit.
Aaron Sims created computer artwork depicting the character - made up of snakes, rats, crabs and many types of bugs - then key artist Trevor Hensley produced a sculpture from that design. "I remember when I first saw this great piece of artwork Aaron had done of the Vermin character," said Hensley. "I though it was really cool; but I also felt sorry for the poor bastard who was going to have to make it - unaware that I was going to be that poor bastard." After making contact with biological firms and taxidermy companies, Hensley procured dead beetles and other bugs, plus the heads of various rodents and birds. Crew members cast those bits of real vermin; and then Hensley incorporated them into his final Vermin Man sculpture.
The studio also produced a number of prosthetic makeups for the film. In an early scene, Constantine exorcises a possessed young girl (Jhoanna Trias). Trias wore a gelatin prosthetic to create the demon-possessed look. "We went with gelatin because of the closeup nature of the scene and the fleshiness of the look," stated Shane Mahan. "We gave her a forehead piece, teeth, contact lenses and an airbrushed paint job over her whole body." Winston's crew also built an articulated head-and-shoulders dummy of the unconscious girl for a brief cut in which the scavenger demon within pushes through her skin. "We didn't want to cut to a lifeless replica, so we put a little bit of life in her nostrils, gave her a breathing device, and made her eyes twitch beneath her closed eyelids."
Winston artists created a makeup for a scene in which the face of the half-breed demon, Balthazar (Gavin Rossdale), dissolves upon contact with holy water. Shane Mahan sculpted Aaron Sims's design onto a lifecast of Rossdale's head to produce a two-stage silicone prosthetic makup. Stage one included skin contusions revealing underlying areas of demon flesh; Stage two was a more extensive makeup with overlapping teeth and a shriveled left eye. Studio artists collaborated with Ve Neill, key makeup artist Joel Harlow and a team of fifteen assisting makeup artist to create prosthetic effects for a subsequent scene in a hydrotherapy room, where nearly eighty half-breed characters are similarly destroyed by holy water pumped through a sprinkler system.
Amid the downpour, a muscle-bound demon (Tanoai Reed) leaps at Constantine and disintegrates in an explosion with a shotgun blast of holy water. Shane Mahan and Chris Swift designed the disintegration as a physical effect, sculpting Reed's body was hollowed out, painted and filled with a skeleton, internal organs and ten gallons of black goo. The loaded dummy was raised thirteen feet above the studio floor, and then released to explode upon impact.
The hydrotherapy room is also the setting of the film's climax in which Mammon, son of Satan, possesses Angel Dodson (Rachel Weisz). The studio created Mammon as an articulated silicone puppet, based on an Aaron Sims design that was sculpted and painted by Joey Orosco. "Our first designs were very creepy," said John Rosengrant, "but, eventually, we arrived at the idea of Mammon being more like an adolescent boy." The final full-scale Mammon puppet was fitted with a rod-puppet armature. Tippett Studio used photographs and cyberscans of the Mammon puppet to create the prosthetic makeups for Weisz in her possessed state, which indlued a forehead piece without eyebrows, demonic teeth, black contact lenses and veined, pallid body makeup.
"What was enjoyable about working with Francis Lawrence on Constantine," Rosengrant commented, "was that his thinking was counter to the way most people think about these types of demonic creatures. They weren't the usual creatures with big fans and all of that. They were horrifying, but also pathetic. I really liked them."
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