As The Walking Dead gets ready for Season 6, the creators are not looking to sit back and coast their way through it. The series is continually finding new and interesting ways to make their zombies grotesque and terrifying. This season, they’ve added a new tool to their arsenal. With computers, they can digitally modify their zombies in order to do things that makeup can’t.
Greg Nictotero, executive producer and head of special effects for The Walking Dead, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the new things in store for the zombies of Season 6.
We're doing a few things we haven’t done before, which is digital augmentation of couple of walkers. We're moving noses and putting a cavity there. Taking the area underneath the ribcage and shrinking it down. Kind of Bernie Wrightson style. That stuff is what makes it more exciting because it gives us more opportunities.
Wrightson is a classic comic artist, best known for Swamp Thing and the Creepshow comics. It doesn’t take a long look at his work to see where The Walking Dead gets their creative influence.
We’ve seen some images of the Season 6 zombies, which certainly reinforces Nicotero’s words. These guys are utterly disgusting. Nicotero goes on to discuss the continuing evolution of the walkers on the series. Every year, they have worked to make the walkers better and better. This is something we’ve cataloged ourselves, and Nicotero discusses some key improvements, as well as what they work hard not to do.
Every season we sort of refine [the walkers]. We refine the teeth even more and we just keep changing it up and every season it’s been different and we just keep pushing it a little bit more. It’s been really fun. We sculpted full muscle arms and then we added sagging flesh off of them as everything is about to drip off. Scott [M. Gimple] has one very specific thing that he is conscious of, which is it can’t be a Ray Harryhausen. It can’t be a walking skeleton. It always has to be muscles. It always has to be something that is motivating the movement.
While Ray Harryhausen’s classic special effects were amazing in their day, they also had a unique look that nobody would accuse The Walking Dead of using. Harryhausen was fantastical, while the walkers' realism is what makes them so damn disconcerting.
We’re looking forward to all the disgusting new walkers when The Walking Dead returns for Season 6 on AMC on October 11.