This Oscar weekend, watch “THE CABIN IN THE WOODS”Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Samuel Zimmerman
Fully believing much of the Academy Awards serves as a posturing, self-congratulatory experience—as well as a ridiculous one, as this enlightening interview with an anonymous voter serves to highlight the fickle, ridiculous justifications for his choices—I also believe, and understand, there is an overt difference between a true snub and what I’d just really like to be awarded. This year, far under the categories most spend their time debating is a truly disappointing case of hard, marvelous work being overlooked.
As wonderful as it would be to say “Best Original Screenplay” is also where THE CABIN IN THE WOODS has been passed over (it has, but let’s be realistic), there’s something glaring in the fact that the brilliant Drew Goddard-directed horror film received no nod for its Makeup/FX work. This 2013 iteration, honoring the best of 2012 film finds a mere three pictures nominated for Makeup (HITCHCOCK, THE HOBBIT, LES MISÉRABLES). As you well know, following the summoning of the Buckners, the zombie redneck torture family, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS positively explodes with stunning creature work in its second half, and a great deal of it is practical; makeup, puppetry and suits. What’s more, having spoken with supervisor and designer David LeRoy Anderson in an extensive chat, the intensive process which saw components in both California and Vancouver come together, which saw strategizing and creating teams from a massive roster of artists to help realize a massive roster of monsters both looks and sounds like an achievement. And after all, this is recognizing “Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling.”
Anderson, a longtime veteran of FX, has previously won twice in the category-of-note alongside Rick Baker for their work in THE NUTTY PROFESSOR and MEN IN BLACK. It’s a shame to see a film where he’s truly excelled and captained an often breathtaking windstorm of bloody chaos, monsters, killers and creatures go unrecognized. As the tremendous third act begins, and Dana and Marty descend underground, it’s truly a breathtaking plunge into the unknown. Out of each box of blackness comes a new piece of nightmare. It’s an exhilarating, and increasingly unique, feeling of movie magic.
Here’s what Anderson had to tell Fango about one of the undisputed highlights of CABIN, Bradley Whitford’s longed-for Merman: “That was one of the big ones. It was the Merman, the Werewolf and the two goblins, which I don’t know that the Goblins are in it a lot, but they were just as complicated to build. The Merman was Richard Cetrone. He also plays the Werewolf, and he played a couple of mutants too. So, we had him in just a whole week of body casting. We did a body cast of him in a certain position for the Werewolf, and then for the Merman, he needed to be laying down in kind of a Superman, flying position, and so that was all sculpted here in LA and the pieces were all foam rubber. That was all shipped up to Canada and Hiroshi [Katagiri] was the sculptor, and the painter. And we brought him up to Canada and he painted it up there. It was a team of probably four or five of us that actually glued Rich in on the day, and it was not an easy thing to be in for the whole day because he couldn’t walk, or anything. That was a really rough day for Rich. The poor guy was in that thing for probably a good twelve hours, and I’d say eight hours before we even shot. Once we brought him to set on a stretcher, he was laying on the floor there in a fetal position, sleeping most of the day while the shot was being set up. He was immobile, he couldn’t do anything. So, we just got him a nice pillow and there’s actually some really funny shots of the Merman all curled up, sleeping in the middle of the floor [laughs]. He was amazing. Hiroshi was amazing, that was his baby.”
Anderson, Katagiri, Cetrone and the entire team (of which Anderson was passionately praising when we spoke) really nailed something special. What’s probably a great deal more rewarding than a statue (I’m assuming, and being an idealist) is the fact that audiences continue to watch, love and appreciate not just Anderson’s, but everything that went into making CABIN IN THE WOODS the exceptional film it is. So this weekend, prior to the telecast, watch THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. Watch it alone, watch it with friends, watch it with someone who’s never seen it before. Focus on the nightmare gallery. Pick a favorite Buckner, Merman, Werewolf, Ballerina Dentata, Fornicus or Unicorn. They’re all worthy of applause and all worthy of reward.