Jeremiah Buckhalt, the director of the new horror film Blood Widow, has one thing in common with those who detested George Lucas’s Star Wars prequel trilogy –he prefers practical effects too.
The idea started with you I believe?
I don’t exactly know who to give credit to. I did create the design of the killer, but the initial push to do a horror film was really more of a group effort. The team and I discussed for some time what kind of horror movie to do. We agreed that slashers were jointly our favorite kind of horror to watch, and we thought it was feasible, so that was what we pitched to our investors and they loved it.
Did someone or something inspire the character?
What inspired me for her suit was Edward Scissorhands. There are also Japanese kabuki masks that I thought were very haunting, and that was something I thought I could repurpose. The idea was to have a ninja-like character.
Another thing that inspired me a little bit was Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal of Catwoman. I loved how she moved, and that was pretty influential. I initially drew the Blood Widow with large seams, like Tim Burton’s version of Catwoman.
So it started with the character, but was a film always the vehicle you intended to introduce her in?
Originally, a masked character that used knives was a side character for a comic book idea many years ago. I had not worked out exactly all the aspects of her character. Usually, how I operate is to create the design of the character first, and then I use the visual design to dictate the story. That never really got going so I shelved her.
How long did it take to achieve the look of the Blood Widow on a design level? Was it months and months of tinkering?
Very early on, before we even pitched it and got funding, I went out and bought materials, along with the Marunowski brothers (the production design and art direction team), to construct the prototype outfit. We had a friend pose in the outfit and we took some pictures, and we used them in the pitch. Once funding came in, we sat down and worked out a much more detailed and authentic and realistic look for the outfit. There wasn’t a whole lot of tinkering. There was very little time to do too much.
What did you use for blood in the movie?
Michael Gore, our lead special effects artist, made his own concoction. He had to do a lot of his own research so he could find something that would make me happy. He hit the nail on the head withhis first batch, but I don’t remember exactly what he used, unfortunately.
Was everything in the film practical?
Absolutely. There was no CGI enhancement whatsoever. All effects were done right there on location in front of the camera. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun to get those effects working. I spent time with Gore, for weeks before production started, and worked out creative ways to pull off the effects. That is my favorite thing to do with special effects. It’s almost like being an illusionist on stage, trying to pull off an effect in front of an audience, but it’s better because you can do it over and over until you get it right.
What do you think of the horror movie industry as a whole at present. Is it healthy?
Some might argue that TV is where the best scares at to be found these days. The horror movie industry is healthy. It will be exciting to see what is in the future for the genre. Current technology has given more filmmakers opportunities to make horror. Ten years ago, we could not have made our movie for the amount of money we had.
Movies show the gruesome side of horror, which I think a lot of people look for. From a suspense standpoint, maybe TV is the way to go, because they can only get away with so much graphic detail.
Will you continue to make horror movies – or are you a filmmaker that likes to change things up with each thing he does?
I do like to change it up, but not until I’m satisfied with working in the genre I’m currently in. I have lots of other horror stories I want to tell. For starters, I have more ideas for the Blood Widow, a monster movie, and some other ideas I don’t want to reveal yet. Between my team and me, we have so much more in the bag, and we are anxious at the chance to let these ideas out.