Expect to see some classic Greg Nicotero in Tuesday’s (April 29) episode of El Rey’s “From Dusk Till Dawn.” The special effects guru will bring to life the series’ vampires in a whole new way, and he told Zap2it about the creative experience.
“We really wanted them to be different,” Nicotero says of the design, which can be viewed above in the above exclusive photo. “There’s a lot of vampire shows that popped up on television recently, so I think Robert [Rodriguez] and Carlos Coto really had a great eye for making these creatures look different.”
When it came time to make the TV versions of the vampires, Nicotero went back to the 1996 film for inspiration. Nicotero served as makeup effects supervisor and used Aztec themes as a base from which to build the new vampires.
“In the original movie, there wasn’t really necessarily one sort of through line in terms of the designs of the vampires,” he says. “You get a sense when you watch the movie that there’s a bit of that Aztec mythology starts to creep in with Salma [Hayek]’s snake dance, and then you see the big reveal at the end of the movie of the Titty Twister being built on top of the temple. So there’s an interesting backstory that they’ve expanded upon in the TV show. We’ve gone a lot more with this mythological approach to the vampires.”
In terms of the design of the creatures, Nicotero based them on snakes. “I love the snake aspect of it, and we really wanted to try to make them feel fresh in terms of the look; in terms of patterning of the snakeskin, and in terms of the paint jobs and the color schemes. We went very bold with them,” he explains. “Even using the sort of rattlesnake design for the fangs where they have that really clear, translucent-looking fangs and gums and not a lot of teeth. We just really bucked the trend with every design choice, because we just wanted them to feel different.”
Making the vampires look so different from how people expect vampires to look was Nicotero’s way of paying tribute to “From Dusk Till Dawn’s” different take on the supernatural creature.
“If you watch the show, the rules are not standard vampire rules. You see Wilmer [Valderrama]’s character Carlos, and you see him out in the sun in the first episode. I remember watching the rough cut and going, ‘Ah, that’s strange that he’s a vampire but he’s out in the sun,’ so already our sort of mythology has changed,” Nicotero says. “Even though they are indeed bloodsuckers, they have a different mythology than we’re accustomed to.”
Working on “From Dusk Till Dawn” the TV show is also a return to Nicotero’s own past. He says the premise of the show was at first strange to him, because “I’ve never been involved in a TV show that was a remake of something we had been involved in the original.” Walking back on the set of the Titty Twister with Rodriguez was “f***ing weird,” but he enjoys having a chance to watch his “best friend for 20 years” have another go at something so close to both of their hearts.
“Robert has a very high standard of quality, but he also has a great eye. The guy never ceases to amaze me,” Nicotero says. “He inspires me. I love watching my friends soar to the stratosphere. He never stops, and so I feel sort of my own sense of obligation where if Robert’s not going to stop, I’m not going to stop either. It really gives me a great sense of pride to watch him accomplish what he does, and to be there with him.”
“From Dusk Till Dawn” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on El Rey.