Wednesday, Nov 30 2022

Looking Inside: Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities

LOOKING INSIDE: GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES
MY CHAT WITH THE MONSTER MAKERS AND A MONSTER


As children, we initially start out fully believing that monsters are lurking everywhere, waiting for the most opportune moment to drag us away from our family to be devoured at its leisure. We just know, without a shadow of a doubt, that something is going to catch us and it’s most certainly going to eat us! Is there something sinister under the bed? Lurking in the closet? Of course, there is! Only fools, or parents, would think otherwise! Or is this thing, this monster, waiting in the shadows for us as we walk home in the dark, every muscle fighting to keep us from breaking out into a full sprint? Well…obviously! It’s only our ability to run like the wind that’s kept us from ending up as some monster’s number one favorite meal, and then eventually its number 2! As we get older, and we’re entering into those important formative years, that fear we had as children inexplicably, for a lot of us, turns into this joyful desire to be scared. Right? You know what I’m talking about. How much we enjoy that rush of adrenaline that comes whenever Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, or Eddie Quist appears on-screen, making us fidget in our seats, hands at the ready to cover our innocent eyes! Of course, unless we’re with our buddies, that is. Then those hands will drift nowhere near our eyeballs. Nope. Instead, those fingers of ours will be firmly buried in the hard plastic of the theater seat’s arm rests! 

What begins as genuine fear when we’re children, becomes a true fascination with the macabre as we mature into adulthood. We start seeking out [flashing in big red neon lights, like the sign of a movie theater] the next BIG THRILL or the  next BIG SCARE or maybe the next BIG MONSTER. Whatever it is we’re looking for in order to satisfy our need for that fear based adrenaline rush, rest assured it’ll be something that will, if the filmmaker or author have done their job correctly, end up leaving us feeling unnerved, perhaps even a little bit uncomfortable. Because isn’t that the whole point of horror? 

People have been drawn to the weird, the creepy, and to the horrors that live just over the line that separates reality from fantasy, for ages. And it’s this desire to explore those horrors and the dark recesses of the human mind, to push the boundaries of imagination, that’s given us such literary horror icons as Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft, and they, in turn, influenced the more modern literary horror icons such as Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Anne Rice, and many, many more. These legends…ahem…sorry…LEGENDS of the Literary World have themselves inspired those who would go on to become LEGENDS of the Cinematic World! Again, ‘legends’ in all caps has to be used to introduce such greats as Tod Browning (Dracula), James Whale (Frankenstein), Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho), Steven Spielberg (Duel), Brian De Palma (Carrie), Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) and many, many more. 

Simply put; whether it’s found in literature, movies or both, we love our horror, we love our monsters, and we love…

Our monster makers!

One such monster maker is Mexican director, producer and author Guillermo Del Toro. Now counted as one of the LEGENDS of both the cinematic and literary world, thanks to films such as Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water, Blade 2, Hellboy 1 and 2, The Devil’s Backbone, Crimson Peak, Cronos, Mimic, Pacific Rim, and The Strain (based on the trilogy of novels he co-authored with Chuck Hogan), Del Toro has spent his entire filmmaking career showing us time and again how much he enjoys creating stories and making movies about monsters and the worlds monsters inhabit. He also created the animated fantasy streaming series, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, produced by Dreamworks and Double Dare You Productions for Netflix. He considers monsters to be symbols of great power and strives to show us, his audience, that even within the most grotesque of monsters, there is still beauty. Plus, he cites Frankenstein’s monster as being his favorite film monster, along with the Gill-man, Godzilla, Alien and The Thing-the latter two monsters inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, an author whose work generated a new type of genre: cosmic horror. 

In 2018, the announcement came that Netflix would again be teaming up with Guillermo Del Toro to produce a horror anthology streaming series entitled, appropriately enough, Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities! Production began June 28th, 2021, in Toronto and Hamilton Ontario Canada and premiered on the Netflix streaming service October 25th, 2022, to very solid and positive reviews! Consisting of eight segments released two at a time each night until the series concluded on October 28, 2022, introduced by Del Toro himself, each segment featured a different director, such as Guillermo Navarro (Lot 36), David Prior (The Autopsy), Keith Thomas (Pickman’s Model) and Catherine Hardwicke (Dreams in the Witch House), and boasts an all-star cast including Tim Blake Nelson, Crispin Glover, Peter Weller, F. Murray Abraham, Ben Barnes, Rupert Grint, Andrew Lincoln and many others! Plus, two of the segments are based on stories written by H.P. Lovecraft, as well as original stories by Del Toro himself, Emily Carroll, Michael Shea, and Henry Kuttner. So many monster makers gathered together for our entertainment, just before that most excellent of holidays that celebrates all things monstrous!

But wait…

There’s more? 

Of course, there’s more! In order to bring these terrifying creatures to life, Guillermo Del Toro needed some of the best monster makers in the biz to make the imaginary…REAL! At least, real enough to scare the bejesus out of us at home! Who were these Dr. Frankensteins tasked to make the impossible possible? Those mad geniuses that took pieces of ideas here, suggestions and drawings from there, stitched them all together on a table and brought them to ‘life’, screaming and ROARING and clawing and biting and EATING and…

Sorry…almost lost my cool there. 

While I still have it together, for the moment, the Dr. Frankensteins that I was so very fortunate to get a chance to speak to are Mike Hill of Mike Hill Creations and Glenn Hetrick of Alchemy Studios. Mike has provided work for Del Toro on such films as Nightmare Alley, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and The Shape of Water, and has worked on Apocalypto, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, The Wolfman, Men in Black 3, as well as the upcoming Last Voyage of the Demeter. Glenn and his team have provided work for films such as The Hunger Games trilogy of films, Legion, Blade 2 ,  The Chronicles of Riddick, as well as providing all of the FX for nearly 50 seasons of episodic television series including Star Trek: Discovery, The Birch, CSI:NY, Heroes, Three Rivers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Charmed, X-Files, Crossing Jordan, and MARVEL projects such as Runaways, Inhumans, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

And again…

That’s not all! 

I was also extremely fortunate to get a chance to interview one of the ‘monsters’ from the segment Pickman’s Model, Megan Many. An amazing special effects artist in her own right, Megan has worked on such films as Real Steel, Cowboys & Aliens, Snow White and the Huntsman, Total Recall, and Life of Pi, Megan was cast in the role of Lavinia the witch! 



Megan Many being transformed into the witch Lavinia for the segment, Pickman's Model

HorrorHound: Mike, when did you initially begin providing work for Guillermo Del Toro? 

Mike Hill: I met Guillermo approximately twelve years ago. He actually wrote to me, sought me out with an amazing bit of detective work because he found me on an old [model kit] forum, I hadn't been on for like ten years. Guillermo really likes model kits and garage kits, and I used to do a lot of those. He'd seen my stuff at Monsterpalooza, but he hadn't seen me, we hadn't run into each other. And he wrote to me because he'd seen that work and yeah, he wanted to order some artwork from me. His first commission for me was the Boris Karloff sitting in the makeup chair.

HH: I’ve seen that! It’s a wonderful, amazing piece of work!

MH: Thanks Michael! So that's what he first commissioned and that was it. Going forward, he’d buy a lot of work from me, which helped pay my bills! He’d joke, ‘Mike thinks I'm his personal ATM’. I kept making things, and he kept having to buy them, which was nice, he’s been very kind. 

HH: [laughs] That’s pretty awesome! 

MH: And then eventually, he started to do the movie The Shape of Water. I was over at his house regarding something else and he showed me a maquette. I said, “Wow! That's excellent!” On my drive home from his house I was thinking, damn, I’d love to work on a movie like that! And then a few days later he wrote to me, “Hey, I would like you to come work on the project with Legacy Effects” and here we are. I've been working on a lot of his work ever since, which is great. 

HH: Glenn, I understand you and your company, Alchemy Studios, provided the special effects for the segment, The Autopsy. How did that come about?

Glenn Hetrick: It wasn't that long ago, maybe three, four years ago, that Mike and I started saying, we really needed to work together. So, this was the first thing that came along. [Mike] called me, and he's like, [at this point, Glenn speaks using his best British accent] “I've got this show, and this episode’s got fucking bodies. Would you like to work on it with me?” I said, “Oh, my God, yes!”

HH: [laughing] That was great!

GH: I've had the great benefit of having access to real life coroner experts. And my entire team's ability to replicate reality when it comes to forensics, it's really grown over the years. So, we not only nail the autopsy thing, hopefully, in terms of what a lung looks like or something, but the placement of the organs and the specificity with which you fold the flaps back and how they’re pinned. We've been through so many autopsy scenes that we really have all that stuff down and have just a massive amount of molds for internal organs. 

We could jump into the autopsy stuff so readily because of our library of molds, that this presented Mike an opportunity to find a way to work with me. This episode was something that we were uniquely fit for because we could bring all of that, and the access that we had to all the different organs and bodies and heads with so many molds of things from all these shows, that we were able to jump in and start testing right away. Whereas someone else would have to start by sculpting a lot of it from scratch. Certainly, there's a ton of original work on here. Ultimately what's on screen, the heads have to match the actors and everything. So, yeah, that's basically how Mike brought me into the show.


Megan Many transforming actress Lize Johnston into the witch from the segment, Dreams in the Witch House.


HH: Megan, looking over your resume on IMDB, I saw that you’ve had the opportunity to work on some pretty amazing films, including a few of my own personal favorites, such as Pacific Rim, Real Steel, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark! How did you come about pursuing a career in special effects?

Megan Many: Ever since I was a little girl, horror movies, specifically, have been my obsession! Growing up in Brooklyn, money was tight, and my neighborhood was not conducive for little girls to be playing out on their own. So, to keep me quiet, my mother started letting me rent my own video tapes weekly. And God bless her, I had no restrictions! Naturally, I was drawn to the best covers [featuring] the best artwork. Along with my love for horror, came an obsession to figure out how, in fact, was this not real?!? How can this face be stretched, or that face be completely changed!? With the burning pressure of becoming an adult, I finally figured out that special makeup effects can be a career.

Horror is my favorite genre, as it’s been the one that’s most captivated me. Renting movies was an escape [for me] as a child, especially when there was a good makeup effect. I am a true horror nerd! Let’s just say I had already seen The Exorcist and was on my way to watching Italian horror by the time I was 6! My mother is also an enthusiast of the genre and was very progressive and honest with explaining things to me. I wasn’t the type of little girl to believe in Santa Claus but did [believe] you could 100% be possessed! [laughs]

HH: Mike, of all of the segments, which would you say was the most difficult to work on and why? 

MH: I would say the most difficult for us was Dottie for Lot 36. There’s a very limited crew on this thing. I don't like big crews. I try to get as much of the work done myself, but it's not out of mistrust. It’s out of, I know exactly what it is that I want, and in the time it takes me to explain it, I might as well just do it. It’s just the way that I work. 

We had to make the suit for the actress, Lize Johnston. There was a full foam rubber suit of her laying on the floor as the Dottie creature, which included a full foam body, full foam feet, foam hands, gloves, a foam cowl with hair punched in, and then the arms themselves are made up on set. But after that stage, she actually gets up and tears out of her own torso and stands up. The legs remain the same. So, we made a second suit that had basically the same legs, except the skin of the upper torso had been torn off and you had all this meat under there, with all the fat and stuff and muscles on the ribcage. And when the chest opens, we made the ribs to act and look like teeth to eat the poor victims. 

We made a silicone half-body husk as well, which you don't really see in the episode. When she stands up, she leaves her husk behind on the floor. In a sense, it's two full body suits and all this apparatus of making rib cages that move and yada, yada. She was always going to be a blend of visual effects with the tentacles, that was always the plan. When she stood up at that point, of course, she’d left her husk behind, her upper body, with her arms and her head, she just had a green-screen hood on and green-screen arms, because we didn't need that section of her. So, that was it! The Dottie creature was the most difficult!

HH: The design was very Lovecraftian in appearance, which I thought was interesting since a few of the other segments are adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft stories. Would you say that his influence is felt throughout all of the segments?

MH: I can't answer it throughout all the segments, but obviously, Guillermo is a huge advocate of H.P. Lovecraft. So, I'm certain that influence is there, and it is intentional. Guillermo worked with artist Guy Davis, who is an incredibly gifted concept artist, and they came up with the concept of this thing with the tentacles.

Originally, Dottie was conceptualized as having a skull-like head, amongst the tentacles. I made a tiny maquette, not even six inches tall, of the character with the skull. And then we took the skull off and sent the photos of both versions to both the director and Guillermo, and they signed off on for it having no head. Of course, I’d have loved to have created the head, but I get it. It was the correct choice. It's so nightmarish that this thing is just this living, but rotting, woman who splits apart and this demonic entity climbs out, tentacles squirming.  I think it was a very nice creature. I'd like to make a statue of that creature because I’d like to see it in all its glory without it flashing around so you can get a good look at it. 


HH: Glenn, did you and your team run into anything particularly challenging while working on The Autopsy segment and, if so, how did you get around it?

GH: The challenge was that I never got to work with the Joe Allen actor [Luke Roberts] in Los Angeles with him in the actual Autopsy table, and the way that I approached the big gag in autopsy-ing himself in the alien transfer[scene] required that I do an on-screen magic trick illusion called a Slant Board gag. It’s also called the Magician’s Trick Gag in our industry. So, it's basically your body is under a table, and the only part of you sticking out [of the table] is your head and arm, and there's a fake body that's coming off of your neck, and we can't see that you're down in a hole. 

Now, I've done this gag many times on forensic shows because anytime a victim came in and was still alive and we had to do a surgery and extract organs or whatever prior to them being deceased, and we had to work with the actor, we’d use this.  So, we knew we had to do that. But every other time I've used it, I've been able to get the actor into my studio with the table, right? Whether it’s an autopsy table or a picnic table in someone's backyard that they do the surgery on, but in this case, we couldn't. So even though we cast the actor in Los Angeles, we didn't get to put him in the table. So, the production’s Art Department in Canada banged up, basically, a mockup of the table out of plywood and two-by-fours and shipped it to us so that we knew the exact height and pitch of the table. Then they cut the board and we put Ken, the crew member who is closest to the actor’s height and weight in the table, to figure out the very, very specific logistics of the angle of the body. (Ken was already there every minute of every day as he led a massive amount of the effects and fabrication on all of the bodies and gags, so it made sense… and the man is an absolute beast)! Where does the neck cut off? How do we hide those edges? And that's where this episode got really tricky. That's the stuff I love the most. Figuring that stuff out.

We knew that we wanted the director, David [Prior], to have the freedom to float over that table and shoot it from as many angles as possible without betraying the fact that the guy is under the table. Now, of course, the table is a metal top. It's open underneath. There's no way to hide the body down there. When I pitched the magician's table gag, David loved it because it allowed him to get as much of the actor as possible. And that's another one of my goals. I had to make sure that we were getting the most out of the amazing actor they cast for Joe Allen and selling the alien. 

I don't think anyone expected us to do what it is that we accomplished, especially on a television schedule, when I pitched it, because I had done it before in forensic shows, and David realized he could have it all. He could have the actor's face and arms. We could keep all of that kinetic performance and the emotive capacity of his face, but also see him autopsy-ing himself! So, the big challenge was making that all work out over 3000 miles! [laughs]

It actually had a major impact on how we designed that makeup, not just the body prosthetics. Once he's in the table and he's autopsy-ing himself, it's only his head and hands. I came up with a concept that would allow us, if we started with a makeup that would help facilitate that gag, by the time we're at he's in the table and it's a fake body, there was a way to make the fake body much more realistic, and that was to use sloughing skin.

HH: Oh ok! Wow! 

GH: Essentially, the biggest challenge was “how do we get the guy on the table and make it work without ever being able to rehearse it and cut the angles and everything”. So, we started talking about the physical realities of how the upper dermis will start to slip and separate and, depending on conditions, again, going back to all of those forensic shows, if your skin starts to go, you get this sort of gossamer-thin, this Saranwrappy-looking skin. And what that's going to do is it will define our look, but the audience will never know why. The why is because that's going to cover all of our edges! That's what's going to let us do this Magician’s Gag the way that we're doing it without ever seeing him and everything. 

The answer was sloughing skin, because we can create sheets of the stuff out of the mold that the body is coming from and out of the mold of the prosthetic stuff. What that will do is it will afford us the opportunity, once he's in the table, and now we've got his face on, he's got his arm prosthetics on, we've got a body that's going to line up pretty good, but it's not going to be perfect. There’s no way to create that custom appliance, but the skin can bridge the gap between his shoulders with his neck and with the body. Now that we can do that, we use these materials like UltraIce, which is a gelatinous, highly viscous material that are translucent or clear and we can color them, which we do. I've done it a ton of times in forensic shows because that's what it looks like when you get a floater, someone who’s been in the water. We inject it underneath that sloughing skin and I said ‘so that works great on dead bodies, but here it’s going to be our friend because we can cover those gaps with big piles of colored Ultra, put the skin over it. And what would normally be the worst part of this effect that you'd have to cut around, because no matter how well you shoot it, you're going to get wrinkles and the edges will be buckling when he moves his head and his arms, remember, this guy's operating on himself. Reaching across his own body and cutting the Y incision and opening his flaps, cutting his own ribs, pulling his ribcage off. He's doing all of that! He's moving so much that I know the body is going to move, the seams are going to pop up. So, with this, your worst enemy becomes your best friend. Covered with gel and a layer of skin, the more he moves, the more the gel moves under that see-through translucent layer of skin, the more gruesome and terrifying the effect looks. The paint on the appliances is darker and more saturated than what I would normally do because it needed to read-through the gel, as well as the final layer of sloughing skin. It needs to be heavier, or it gets lost beneath the secondary and tertiary layers of this appliance set design. 

Sean Sansom and his team handled the applications on set and worked with all of the gags. So, going into the tricky Magician’s Table gag for the Joe Allen self-autopsy, we had many discussions about all of the details and the layers of application. I had to make sure that he and the team understood how every single piece of our layered prosthetic approach was designed, and how it had to be applied, in order to work at the ideal level of maximum effectiveness. They did an amazing job capturing all of the details and making sure that there was a “persistence of vision” from concept through final execution in front of the camera. 

HH: Then, when the finished product is finally unveiled for the whole world to see, a lot of people are unable to fully appreciate the insane amount of time and effort that goes into creating these jaw dropping effects! 

GH: We built much more than what ends up in the [final] cut. There were three full, autopsied bodies that you only catch glimpses of as they’re cut open, each with their own creepy, ultra-real head. There was also a very complex fourth corpse featured early on in the show, the one stuffed in the tree. Only one shot made it into the final cut, but it was extremely complex! It actually folded up to fit in the tree, and much of the skin and muscle had been cut away in a garish, yet surgically accurate fashion as The Traveler had been feeding on it. 

HH: Megan, out of all of the films you’ve worked on, which would you say was the most difficult and which was the most fun?

MM: I guess out of all of them I would have to say the most challenging was Nightmare Alley, as I had Shop/ Technician/ managerial duties, and on set responsibilities. It was a long show! Life of Pi also had some complicated molds. The most fun was MIB 3, definitely my favorite! I got to use my latex mask skills and learned a lot. 



HH: Mike, were there any particular characters you enjoyed creating more than others? 

MH: I’d say the Lavinia the witch from Pickman’s Model, just because it's a really creepy character and I would assume that most people who do this stuff want to make a witch. And Megan [Many], who played the witch, is really into witchcraft, and Lovecraft lore. So, when you've got a player who's going to really want to be the character, it really helps because they'll do anything to make the character work. So, I like that makeup. It didn’t get a lot of screen time but that made it more impactful and didn’t spoon feed the audience.  We also did the witch in Dreams in the Witch House, and also did the rat makeup. Two witches…what a dream!

HH: Oh, Brown Jenkins! Or I think they changed it to Jenkins Brown for the show. 

MH: Yes. We had the actor in for that, DJ Qualls, who’s a great guy and a great person to do this stuff with, we’ve become good friends. That was a silicone makeup; silicone cowl, silicone brow, dentures and contact lenses. And also, we did some little mechanical hands that you're never going to see in the film [laughs] But they're there for light and reference and stuff like that. I really liked that character. In the original story it's a rat with a human face and some of the initial sketches that we got, I thought were way too monstrous. I did some designs that were more obvious blends of human and rat, but it still wasn’t right. So, we came up with a different approach. We realized, ‘No, we can’t go monstrous or animalistic with the face, otherwise it’s not a rat with a human head anymore, it’s a rat with a monster’s head. We need to really make it as human as we can”. So, it was very small appliances on the face, nothing heavy. I didn’t do the obvious and sculpt a rat nose on him, which is the first thing people would do normally. I left him his own human nose, gave him a bit of a brow, just to blend it rodent-like into his face a little. And obviously the cowl, with a rat kind of skull, ears and whiskers, et cetera. On the whole, it was very much akin to the makeup in Curse of the Werewolf with Oliver Reed, which was my favorite makeup of all time!

HH: Mine, too!

MH: Ace! So, I really enjoyed that, and I enjoyed DJ's portrayal. He was so convincing when he was being shot, really into his character.

Mike Hill applying makeup to DJ Qualls from Dreams in Witch House.


HH: Megan, I’ve always enjoyed seeing FX artists playing a monster in a film that they’ve provided work for, and so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that you were cast in the role of Lavinia the Witch, for the segment, Pickman’s Model! As an FX artist, how was that experience for you, being on the other side of the makeup, so to speak? Was there anything that was particularly difficult to do while performing, and would it be an experience you’d like to repeat?

MM: I find that the two normally go hand-in-hand. If you are a true, old-school special makeup effects artist, you’ve done your fair share of torturing your own face! I’m no stranger to prosthetic glue, silicone and contacts lens, and I’ve had many life casts! What I found to be challenging was not being able to touch-up my own make up; I had to completely concentrate on acting! Which was definitely a challenge because I am a perfectionist! [laughs] So, YES, I’d do it again in a heartbeat, it was a great experience for me! I had a ball!

HH: Had you acted in any other productions prior to Cabinet of Curiosities?

MM: Yes, I was in a few independent projects, back when I lived in Pittsburgh, during my early 20s. Back when I was paying my dues and learning all I could as an artist.  On the East Coast, I find you have more of the guerrilla-style of artist, who get very into their work, and it’s normally a friend and family affair.

HH: Glenn, I felt there was a Lovecraftian feel to The Traveler. How did you come up with that design? 

GH:  David and I talked about it. I understand what it is that Guillermo wants, and I understand that the most important thing was not just that the audience loved the alien, that it looks cool, and then it's the payoff. It also has to physically do all these things that we need it to do to complete the story. And it had to make Guillermo proud. And so, I purposely leaned into the Lovecraftian. So, my lead designer at Alchemy is Jerad Marantz. He and I worked on these designs over and over and over again. And a lot of that is me talking, him listening and taking notes and him sending me back what he visualizes, and then me going, “This is great, but the ocular arch is a little upturned and it gives it a little sympathy, can we…is down turning it going to make it seem cheesy, like a DnD demon? So, what do we do? Maybe we can lose the eyes or maybe we make the eyes big” or whatever. We knew it had to have tentacles just because of what it has to do. And that in and of itself, I guess, is a bit Lovecraftian on the most rudimentary and boring level. Another killer concept artist named Kyle Brown that I love to work with also contributed and did some passes on details and options as well. We were all trying to find the Lovecraft in the face and in the essence of the thing. That whole ‘no eye’ thing is so prevalent today in design, which really comes out of the anime video games. So many video game creatures don't have eyes. I don't want to do no eyes. That is just so overly relied upon. I want to do eyes, but we don't want to do a lot of eyes. It's not buggy, but what is it? Do we want to do big, sort of almost insectoid? But the thing is so reptilian and cephalopod so that the juxtaposition of the insectoid eyes with the cephalopod body and the reptilian aspect, it combines into that level of horror/nightmare. And hopefully, to me at least, (and like I said, it's different for everyone), that's very Lovecraftian. Jerad did an INCREDIBLE job, so much so I very much still want to see the other unused versions of that thing brought to life at some point… maybe we NEED a Part 2!

So, yeah, it's quite large. And that was because we really figured out logistically what it needed to be for us to do all things we wanted it to do. And I threw up the design with the head and stuff and then in talking through it with David and then it was “how can we make it creepier? What can we do?”  We're not going to add to the budget, of course, we're not going to find more time in the schedule. What can we do to make that more for the audience? And it was David’s idea that it might have two heads. When you talk Giger and Lovecraft, it's almost tantamount to saying the word ‘phallic’. So, we know that that's going to be in there. So, it does, it has the phallic symbolism, the Giger and the Lovecraft. But the fact that the head retracts when we first see it, you see it in one form, and as it comes out of the body, it's got another head that comes out while it's transferring from body to body. That's freaky!

Dottie from Lot 36.

HH: Cabinet of Curiosities premiered on Netflix just before Halloween, which is like being splashed with a bucketful of nostalgia in and of itself, bringing to mind what Halloween was like when I was a kid. Every year, during the few weeks leading up to Halloween, each sitcom had a Halloween themed episodes, and Halloween specials were always a treat to look forward to, such as The Midnight Hour (a personal favorite) and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Plus, with Guillermo Del Toro himself introducing each episode, I felt as if the Cabinet was almost like a time machine of sorts, transporting me back to the 80s. When horror anthologies, such as Night Gallery, Tales From the Darkside, and Monsters, were still fairly common. When everything about Halloween was fantastically frightening and wonderous to me! 

MH: So much time and effort was put into making you believe in that world. There was nothing rushed, it was absolutely top-notch work for a show like that. It was magical. It was a good show to be on. Without sounding cliched, for the kids who grew up loving monsters, and then making monsters, and a different one for each episode, it was challenging, but it was fun at the same time!

GH: One of the greatest rewards for me was watching Cabinet of Curiosities and seeing all of the other episodes. I’m a HUGE fan of the Night Gallery and Hammer House of Horrors anthologies! Mike worked with a ton of other artists for different aspects of the other segments, including Mike Elizalde’s Spectral Motion, so, as a fan, the entire show was like the greatest Halloween treat I could have asked for! 

HH: Megan, sometimes in horror films, it’s discovered that the real ‘monster’ is man and that the monster itself should be shown empathy. The same can occasionally be said for witches in horror films, especially the ones that were burned at the stake. So, tell us; should Lavinia be pitied?

MM: I definitely agree! Most of the time the monster, or evil, is man. Which is why I say, “Eat humans, not animals!” Lavinia was very empowered and wise so, NO! All ARE ONE IN YOG-SOTHOTH!!

[gives a sly wink]