Some bodies are more than meet the eye, as seen in the “The Autopsy” installment of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Based on Michael Shea‘s short story of the same name, the episode sees a coroner brought in to do the autopsies of several miners who died when one of them set off an explosion with a mysterious object, only to learn of the surprising truth behind him.
F. Murray Abraham and Luke Roberts lead the cast of “The Autopsy“, which hails from The Empty Man writer-director David Prior. Primarily set in an isolated location, the episode is a chilling game of mental chess as Abraham’s Dr. Carl Winters grapples with the revelation of why the miners died, and how he may be next.
In anticipation of its premiere, Screen Rantspoke exclusively with director David Prior to discuss Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, his installment “The Autopsy,” his and del Toro’s shared love of reading, The Empty Man‘s mishandled release, and more.
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Tony McVey sets up his sculpture in front of the motion-control camera.
The sound of a heartbeat is heard. A human fetus fades up on the television screen in close-up and a voiceover begins: “Would you give a cigarette to your unborn child?” The camera pans and dollies back to reveal an entire fetus existing serenely in the womb of its mother. “You do every time you smoke when you’re pregnant.” At this point, the fetus slowly brings a lit cigarette to its lips and takes a puff, exhaling the smoke into the glowing placenta it lives in. And the voiceover finishes: “Pregnant mothers, please don’t smoke.”
The 30-second spot was produced for the American Cancer Society by a talented and relatively untapped group of San Francisco Bay area filmmakers, modelmakers, and computer specialists brought together by producer Joseph Vogt (Rick Springfield’s “Bop ’Till You Drop”). With a film and conceptual design education behind him, Vogt organized the majority of his film crew from the ranks of Industrial Light and Magic. It was with the abundant talents of these production people — director David Fincher, Midland Productions, and Monaco Labs — that Vogt brought life to a most creative and technically challenging public service announcement.
Director of photography Michael Owens at the Mitchell GC ready to shoot the prepped sculpture.
Jerry Angert, director of broadcasting with the American Cancer Society, described the ad as “one of the most powerful we have done… We considered the fact that it would be controversial and the networks might not show it, but counted on the local stations to take it.” And that’s exactly what transpired. NBC and CBS chose not to air the graphic spot while CNN (Turner Broadcasting), ABC and its affiliates and affiliates of NBC and CBS elected to show it.
CBS and NBC claim the spot is too graphic. An NBC spokeswoman cited “general taste considerations” as a deterrent to airing the spot. “It was the sight of the fetus that was especially shocking and we felt it was potentially offensive to our viewers,” she was quoted as saying. A CBS spokesman said the network agreed with the “importance of the intent of the message,” but said that the spot was “far too graphic for broadcast on CBS.” An ABC spokesman, however, said the message put forth by the spot was “important for pregnant mothers to understand.” The network felt that. while it was “different visually” from the usual fare viewed on TV, it contained no material that warranted its ban from the airwaves.
Rick Baker’s Cinovation Studios deliver the aged Brad Pitt silicone heads by Kazu Hiro to Digital Domain to be digitally scanned. Top center: Kazu Hiro and Rick Baker. Top right: Eric Barba, Visual Effects Supervisor for Digital Domain (Kazu Hiro, 2006)
Sculptor and Special Make-Up Effects Artist Kazu Hiro (Make-Up Artist Magazine, 2018)
Are computer generated visual effects really ruining movies?
We believe that the reason we think all CG looks bad is because we only see “bad” CG. Fantastic, beautiful, and wonderfully executed CG is everywhere – you just don’t know it. Truly great visual effects serve story and character – and in doing so are, by their very definition, invisible.
Written and Narrated by Freddie Wong
Edited by Joey Scoma
Assistant Editor – Joshan Smith
ALIEN 3 celebrates its 25th anniversary this month, and to celebrate we present this gem from deep within the VHS vault–footage from the prep and rehearsals of the Bishop puppet shoot complete with direction from David Fincher. Despite the aged quality of the video, it’s still an interesting watch demonstrating the collaboration between director and effects crew on set.
As the 25th Anniversary of ALIEN 3 approaches, we could not ignore our contribution to the film’s title character: the Alien itself. Through the miracle of VHS and exclusive photographs, ADI takes you back to that year of hard work at Pinewood Studios. Enjoy the retrospective!
For Gone Girl’s memorable sex scene — its climax ending in a pool of blood — Neil Patrick Harris and Rosamund Pike spent a whole afternoon working through the scene with the “exacting” director David Fincher and, at one point, with Ben Affleck looking on. “[Fincher] was asking us to have unbridled sex — and my character is really into her so is very overwhelmed with — with great precision,” Harris said. He broke down the scene in a conversation at Vulture Festival, moment to moment: “We were just rehearsing porn for hours.”
Neil Patrick Harris Bares All About His Sex Scenes
My next one is the boxcutter kill in Gone Girl. It was just an honour to work with David Fincher. I was a huge fan of David Fincher anyway, and although there’s only really one kill in the movie, because the movie is so slow burn, no one expects that kill to happen. David is incredibly precise about everything. I think we did 20 or 30 tests of flow, colour, amount and everything else. That whole sequence had to be planned to military precision because we had so much blood going everywhere that we had to clean up the actors and the bed in between takes. The actors were very patient and very cool. I will never forget Rosamund Pike on set going ‘Gary, my butt cheeks are sticking together from the blood’, or having to stick my hand up Neil Patrick Harris’ underpants to wire up the bloodline through his neck. Every time I shoved my hand up through his underwear, he said, ‘I think you and my husband are the only people who have had their hands in my underwear this much’. It was a great couple of days shooting that sequence and very bloody! And then to see the scene in the film and it be so iconic, it was fantastic. It was a badge of merit and to have David Fincher come to you at the end and shake your hand and say, ‘great job’. To me, that’s as good as any Oscar.