With his incredible work on Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th and Creepshow, Tom Savini was the godfather of gore in the eighties, and when he decided to get out of the foam latex business, he handed the torch to Greg Nicotero. Greg founded the company KNB with Robert Kurtzman and Howard Berger, and the company’s done a fine job creating modern gore FX and monsters.Nicotero’s gotten a lot of attention lately because KNB provides the FX for Walking Dead, and he’s also an executive producer on the show. In addition, Nicotero is the subject of a documentary called The Nightmare Factory, which will be playing on EPIX. Nicotero came along at a great time, when Savini was becoming a make-up FX star, and Tom was a great mentor to Greg.
As Nicotero told Collider, “Between Tom, Rick Baker, Dick Smith and Rob Bottin, in the late ‘70’s, when make-up effects were really coming into the forefront, they were the stars of the movies. I moved to L.A. in ’85, and it was right at the pinnacle of make-up effects.” When Nicotero finally told his parents he wanted to work on Day of the Dead instead of completing his pre-med courses, they were surprisingly very supportive of his decision.
The great thing is KNB is doing plenty of practical FX in the age of CGI, and Walking Dead is still going strong in the ratings. Nicotero said that with Dead, “We really hit our stride this year,” and that he has “a lot of creative freedom to design all the gags and all the walkers. Some of that stuff is not written into the script. Some of it is just things that I want to do, or things I know haven’t been done before. So it’s challenging because we have eight days of prep per episode, then eight days to shoot. It’s challenging in terms of the volume we have to turn over.”
Nevertheless, we’re very grateful that Nicotero and company are flying the flag for great make-up FX and gore. Not to mention he’s still doing practical FX instead of doing it all CGI. That alone is commendable in this day and age.