We had a great response to our story about the make-up work on Hellboy 2: The Golden Army in Issue 73 of Make-up Artist magazine. So we have added Joe Nazzaro’s additional stories and photos from the film and labs where the film’s many characters were created. Make-up artists working in three different countries collaborated on these creatures—see for yourself!
From a make-up effects standpoint, the highlight of Hellboy 2 is the troll market sequence, which is an eye-popping variety of bizarre creatures created by the team at Spectral Motion as well as a number of smaller European shops. The London-based Creature Effects, for example, built a handful of specialty characters based on designs by concept artists Wayne Barlowe and Francisco Ruiz Velasco. “The Limb Vendor is a Barlowe design,” explained company co-founder Cliff Wallace, “and his head is basically a big bone with goggles and a mask.
“The Cat Seller has a bird-like face but very strange mechanical leg extensions. The Limb Vendor is probably eight and a half to nine feet tall and the Cat Seller is on extensions, so he’s quite tall, although we started out with a small guy, and the Organ Grinder is actually a small guy but built up to human size, because the design demanded that he had a very thin neck that you really couldn’t do on a human. He also had very wide shoulders, so you’ve got a thin guy that’s built up to human size, with mechanical arms that are driven by this organ that he carries around, and then he has a CG ‘monkey’ on his shoulder, or a troll monkey.”
Another U.K. company that contributed several characters was newcomer Solution Studios, created by members of the former Jim Henson Creature Shop. “We did the Strider,” said the company’s Leo Burton, “which is a four-legged creature with four spindly legs that was about 30 feet high. That was a CG creature, so we did the scanning maquette for that, and the Rider, which is a four-legged, four-armed creature that was to be riding it, so we see them walking around in the background. There’s a large walkabout suit called the Tadpole Vendor and a sitting creature called the Bagpipe Player, which is an animatronic suit with a human ‘bagpipe’ being played by a weird creature. We also did the Two-Headed Shop Owner, who gets interrogated by Hellboy in the film for information, and that was a fun character to work on because we got to design it.”
“That was a fairly conventional suit,” added Solution Studios’ Verner Gresty, “with a baby growing out of his chest, which is his twin baby brother, so that was a foam latex suit with a costume on top. The actual baby was in silicone and we had to blend that straight in and then the actor’s mouth had a prosthetic for speaking, but on top of that, his eyes and brows were animatronic on top of the head. That was challenging stuff, but I think it looks superb.”
The most eclectic collection of characters may have been turned in by Budapest’s Filmfex Studio, who built everything from the Mummy Vendor to the Skin Vendor’s fake human skins, to fried cats for the Cat Vendor’s stall. “Guillermo has a wonderful visual mind,” said Filmfex’s Ivan Poharnok, “and most of what he wanted was designed in advance, but obviously, in case of such a visually complex movie, there are always last-minute changes. We had a crew varying between 20 and 40, and the only real inconvenience that we had was that many times we worked faster than things got designed and approved.”
British make-up artist Nigel Booth divided his time on the film between Princess Nuala’s make-up and overseeing the Fish Vendor character for the Troll Market. “He has six tentacles with three digits,” Booth said, “so he’s like a squid man but with an animatronic head on a padded suit and he’s chopping bits of fish heads with a cleaver and things like that.
“He has a large internally-lit fish tank next to him, which is bubbling and blowing steam out the top, with otherworldly fish bubbling about inside it, so it was essentially a guy in a suit with mechanical tentacles which could do certain movements, and an animatronic head strapped to him. We had puppeteers around the set pulling cables for the additional tentacles, but Brian Herring, who was in the suit (his name actually was Herring!), operated the two main tentacles that held the cleaver and pots of fish and things like that, but the other ones that were positioned around him underneath the garment were radio-controlled. We had two people on the head and each tentacle had one person, but there was so much going on and every time they did the shot, there were at least two of these characters in the shot as well as Hellboy with 200 extras milling about, so we had a policy where everyone who was involved in building creatures of any sort would help each other, so everybody was available from whatever country whenever they were needed, which brought a lot of people together.”
Hellboy 2: The Art of the Movie by Dark Horse Books is now on sale.