During B-D’s visit to a Scream 4 exhibit at Hyaena Gallery in Burbank, CA that featured actual props from the franchise – as well as works from a coterie of artists commissioned to create ‘Stab’-inspired pieces to be featured in the film – reporter Chris Eggertsen managed to catch up with prop master Skip Crank (‘Scream 1-4’) and special effects makeup artist Gary Tunnicliffe (in his first franchise outing) to see what he could get out of them regarding the closely-guarded sequel. Turns out Craven didn’t skimp at all on the red stuff, as both men promised this would be the bloodiest entry in the series yet! Crank also indicated there will be some very exciting cameos in the film that no one outside the production has any idea about. Check inside for all the gory details.`
“You know, like the poster says, ‘new decade, new rules’“, said wiry, bleached-blonde prop master Skip Crank – who’s worked on all four ‘Scream’ movies – when I spoke to him at the opening night of an exhibit featuring ‘Stab’-inspired artworks commissioned for the upcoming sequel. As it soon became apparent, one of those new rules is to make this entry bloodier than any of the previous movies.
“We got a little bloodier on this one, a little bit more intense“, he continued, just as special effects makeup artist Gary Tunnicliffe walked through the doors of the gallery, as if on cue, and began perusing the ‘Scream 4’ artwork. Crank quickly nodded in the other man’s direction. “[But] you can talk to him about that.”
So I did…and boy, did the mile-a-minute Tunnicliffe have a lot to say.
“Every time I walked on set, the camera crew would go, ‘oh, no’“, he said with a gleam in his eye, referring to the copious amounts of fake blood he was tasked with “distributing” for the kill scenes. “All [of them] would look down and see what shoes they were wearing that day. Like, ‘are my sneakers going to get ruined?’ And then of course they would begin binding [everything in] plastic…like, ‘Where’s it gonna go, where’s it gonna spray? Is it gonna get in my hair?’ And Wes was like, ‘You pussies! It’s a horror film!’”
Luckily Tunnicliffe just so happened to have behind-the-scenes photos from the set on his iPhone to show me – including several super-grisly shots of a suburban living room positively covered in blood (in one photo I could clearly glimpse a man’s legs dangling from the living room ceiling; another depicted the body of one of the film’s young female characters splayed out grotesquely in her bed, in a visual that eerily reminded me of a real-life crime scene photograph). Turns out what I was seeing wasn’t a set but rather a real home in Michigan that had been rented out for the production.
“These were practical locations…these beautiful real homes“, said Tunnicliffe. “You imagine taking an orange juice carton and cutting the top off and then [makes the motion of spraying fake blood all over the room]. And that’s what it does, in your house. And it goes everywhere…a few times people who owned the houses came by and were a little perturbed.”
According to the effects master – speaking excitedly in his endearing British accent – Craven was nothing if not encouraging when it came to making the scenes as grisly as possible.
“There was one time when [Wes] asked, ‘can you put some blood here on somebody?’ And I was like, ‘yeah’. And Wes was like, ‘oh no, more than that’“, said Tunnicliffe gleefully. “This was my first ‘Scream’, so a couple of times I was like, ‘I don’t remember them being this bloody.’”
Of course, the typical progression in slasher film sequels is to try and top all of the previous entries in the franchise, and given the ‘Scream’ series stock in trade – mimicking its influences at the same time as it’s satirizing them – it only made sense for this third sequel to move in the same direction.
“I mean, a couple of times we thought…’Scream 4′ [should be] one of those horror movies where it’s like crazy amounts of blood“, Tunnicliffe said later. “And Wes was like, ‘yeah, that’s a cool way to go.’ Almost like ‘Kill Bill’, [but] we didn’t go that [far]. We still kept it within the realm of reality.”
It should be noted, too, that given all the on-screen carnage it’s pretty much a guarantee that the production will run into problems with the MPAA down the line. When I asked him about this, Tunnicliffe agreed, indicated a problem could arise due to the fact that some of the murder scenes – possibly in a nod to the ‘torture porn’ films that became de rigeur following the collapse of the ‘self-aware’ sub-genre of the late ’90s/early ’00s – are more drawn-out than those seen in the first three movies.
“I know for a fact that one thing the MPAA always really hates is prolonged suffering“, he said. “And there’s a couple of [kills in the movie]…that [are] like a five minute death scene. They go on forever, and ever, and ever.”
Indeed, in a modern-day horror culture that has recently seen some of the most extreme levels of violence ever depicted in American cinema, with, among others, the Saw franchise and Eli Roth’s two Hostel films – all released after Scream 3 hit theaters in 2000 – Scream 4‘s ultra-violence may simply be a case of trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” Of course, one thing those other franchises don’t have in their arsenal is the ability to draw some of the biggest names in Hollywood to the table. After all, everybody wants to die in a Scream movie.
“Everyone wanted to be in it“, Crank told me. “There were people calling saying, ‘I wanna do this’…of course, everyone wanted Matt Lillard back in there, and Jamie Kennedy, and how can we get this person to come back?…there are a lot of people in the film that show up that nobody knows about. It’ll be a big surprise.”
In a rabid online fanboy culture in which speculation on a film as anticipated as Scream 4 has reached an all-time high, somehow Craven and his team have so far been able to keep those cameos under wraps – in no small part due to misinformation leaked out by the production itself.
“There are a lot of pictures out there that have people speculating…and that’s exactly what we intended to do“, said Crank with a wry smile. “So you think you know what’s gonna happen, but you’re wrong.”
Visit Hyaena Gallery for more on the show.