This past Sunday, a new terror arose in the world of The Walking Dead. Well, I guess “arose” isn’t the right word—a new terror scuttled across the floor on all fours in the world of The Walking Dead when poor Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Virgil (Kevin Carroll) found themselves trapped in a spooky, run-down house full of humans who had gone completely feral. It turns out a lot went into bringing the Pack (as I’ve dubbed them) to life.
In an excellent interview with Winter Is Coming, executive producer, special effects legend, and “On the Inside” episode director Greg Nicotero discussed everything that happened behind-the-scenes to make these new antagonists scary:
“Well, it’s interesting that they have the same goal the walkers have, which is to consume you. For whatever reason. So I knew number one, they had to be different. We didn’t want the audience to think that they’re just zombies moving fast. So we went with the hair, we did some little tabs under the eyes so that the skin would pull down under the eyes. We had eyebrow blocks and some prosthetic pieces on them just to make them look just a little weirder, a little angular. We paled them out and used more blues on them instead of the brownish greys that we use on the zombies.
“But for me it was really important to have the movement. So the first thing I did was I collaborated with the stunt coordinator and said, ‘Look, I want you to film people on all fours running as fast as they can. And that’s using the set, using the set by climbing up the side of the wall, or leaping off a piece of furniture ... I knew that the movement was going to be absolutely critical and I loved the idea that they can come out of a corner or they can be perched on top of a piece of furniture and that they could be there the entire time.”
If you read my episode recap, you know I thought the episode was often very successful when following horror’s cinematic tropes. But the movement was also critical for me, in that I found it absolutely goofy. Not only did running on all fours slow them down, making the Pack one of the least dangerous antagonists on the show, but they also seemed to leap and gad about at least as much as they attacked people. This silliness was exacerbated by the knowledge that these once-normal humans had somehow lost the ability to talk, stand upright, and use fire in a mere 12 years after the zombie apocalypse began, which was just hysterical.
If you found them genuinely scary, more power to you, but I’m always happy to utter a laugh or two during The Walking Dead. I highly recommend checking out the full interview, in which Nicotero explains all the other work he did to turn the show into a mini-horror movie—no small feat on a show about zombies.
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