Fantastic Flesh Kevin Van Hook

Fantastic Flesh Kevin Van Hook
New from distributor Anchor Bay, the repository for '80s/'90s horror schlock, is this documentary on the great make-up effects artists in schlock cinema. With fan boy reverence we are given a comprehensive history lesson of the splattered genre, from early Hollywood cinema to today. Most of the great artists are covered: Jack Pearse, Dick Smith, Rick Baker, Greg Nicotero, Tom Savini, Rob Bottin - if anything, discussion of the great Stan Winston is conspicuously absent. But the filmmakers get access to all the right clips from the benchmark films: the early Lon Chaney films, James Whale's Frankenstein, Dawn of the Dead, The Thing, From Dusk Till Dawn, etc. The storytelling skills are rudimentary at best, as the filmmakers opt for an information-heavy approach to the subject. At times, the film feels like a bunch of DVD featurettes strung together, and certainly the amount of coverage the KNB guys (Kurtzman, Nicotero and Berger) get in the first half makes it feel more like a show reel than a real film. Needless to say, the DVD has no special features - the entire film is a special feature. But as each artist tells their personal story of how they first got bit by the moviemaking bug a common theme emerges. The story of Greg Nicotero sums it up perfectly. Nicotero describes how at 14 he met George Romero in a restaurant and at that point decided he wanted to become a special effects artist. His childlike passion for the art and his DIY creativity fuelled his successful career. The doc makes a smart decision to start with Nicotero's work on The Chronicles of Narnia - the absolute top of the ladder - and then gradually reveal his humble beginnings and slow progress from backyard squirt gun effects to the multi-million dollar work of today. Horror cinema has the most dedicated and appreciative fans of any movie genre and every kid who grew up idolizing Tom Savini's work in Dawn of the Dead or Rob Bottin's grotesque creations in The Thing will be more than satisfied with this. (Anchor Bay)