Fango was invited into the workshop of ultra-busy Australian makeup FX expert Justin (STORM WARNING) Dix as he and his crew of Larry Van Duynhoven and Gab Facchinei carefully applied makeup for a camera test they were conducting for their forthcoming feature RIDING HOOD—which Dix says is his next project, despite not presently having all the funding in place. “We’ll make it as weekend warriors,” Dix vows to us before estimating that the job of transforming an actor’s head into the shape and consistency of a cracked egg is worth about $10,000.
RIDING HOOD, developed by Dix in his spare time over the past couple of years as his filmmaking debut, may well be the wildest Australian project since the thoroughly crazed BODY MELT was designed around a wish list of makeup FX shots in the early ’90s. Dix, who shared Screamfest 2007’s Best Special FX award with Facchinei for STORM WARNING, describes RIDING HOOD as similar in tone to SIN CITY, featuring an ensemble cast of 12 characters. “Dumpty is probably the most full-on,” he says. “He’s Humpty Dumpty in human form, essentially, but the beauty of what we’re doing today is that it can seriously help us in terms of look and preparation time when we actually start filming, and we almost never have this luxury.”
In between constantly touching up Dumpty and ordering pizza and Coke for all present—which he admits is the real expense for this camera test—Dix also notes, “Fantasy character makeup is always the hardest, because it’s not real. When you’re working on a DYING BREED or LONG WEEKEND [two of his most recent features], you’re just adding to an actor’s face, but here we have to know everything from color to whether or not he’s going to need hair, which I already feel is the case. This gives everyone from production design to costuming a real feel for the character.”
Dix goes on to describe Dumpty as the other brother of the Brothers Grimm, who will appear in RIDING HOOD as Mafia bosses in the strangely familiar but off-kilter city known as Necropolis. “We figure that Dumpty Grimm is the brother who got dropped on his head at birth. They’re the brains, and Dumpty is definitely the brawn. Dumpty is going to be very zombielike. As one of the crew suggested, he’s several eggs short of a dozen [laughs]. Also, in the script, he’s been beaten up by the cops Rodney King-style and actually dies, but they take him to a hospital, where he’s revived 10 minutes later.” Noting that the study of death has been one of his own personal areas of research for RIDING HOOD, Dix adds that any corpse will begin to rot after death, and that he certainly intends to showcase this aspect of the character. “Dumpty is sort of a sympathetic character,” he says, “and that’s even with the pedophilic tendencies he’s developed.”
As Dix and his crew continue to help their test subject get egg on his face, the artist assures Fango that everyone coming on to work on this project understands that they’re working on a fright feature. “I’m not shying away at all from calling RIDING HOOD a horror film,” he says. “Just to give one example, although I’m loath to give anything away here, Sinderella is our local temptress vampire, and she runs a strip club with her two wicked sisters—one of whom is a gargoyle—called the Belle Slipper. I reckon Sinderella’s entrance is going to be as heavy as the ear-cutting scene in RESERVOIR DOGS. It’s a shocker, and we’re certainly not going to shy away from the violence.”