SPOILER ALERT: This interview is all about the latest demon Ash (Bruce Campbell) faces in Ash vs. Evil Dead, so if you’re not caught up on the show, you might want to hold off on reading this until you’ve watched Episode 3, “Books from Beyond.”
Now that that’s out of the way, how about Eligos? For the most part, Ash battles Deadites throughout the Evil Dead series. However, in “Books from Beyond,” he comes up with the downright ridiculous idea to conjure another evil entity from the Necronomicon in hopes that that creature will be willing to tell him how to vanquish the Deadites. Sure enough, Lionel’s (Kelson Henderson) teeny tiny mouse demon is actually Eligos, an especially gnarly looking monster who prays on the spiritually and emotionally weak.
I recently got the opportunity to have a brief e-mail exchange with the man responsible for creating Eligos, Roger Murray. He broke down the whole process of monster making for Ash vs. Evil Dead from the pre-production “beat sheets” all the way through to what they implement in post-production. Check out what he told me about bringing Eligos to screen, his especially curious tease of what’s to come on the show and two exclusive hi-res Eligos images.
ROGER MURRAY: I am the prosthetic designer and props-making supervisor for Ash vs. Evil Dead. I’m responsible for the design, application and continuity of the makeup FX and the creation of hero props for the show.
How exactly was Eligos pitched to you? What’s the process of finding out what monster you have to create next?
MURRAY: Eligos grew from an early script that described him as being a faceless demon. The producers wanted something horrific with extra sensory perception. They wanted him to look like he came from another dimension. During pre-production meetings we get “beat sheets” or draft scripts of upcoming episodes. From those early drafts, we can signpost key beats of horror and any demons, creatures, specialized rigs or puppets. I spend a lot of time with producers talking about upcoming creatures and how we can make them unique and horrible in the short timeframes.
Were there any specific rules you had to abide by when designing him? Any elements you had to include or ones that you were told not to use?
MURRAY: I had plenty of scope to design him. The only parameter was he had no eyes. The design always has to include in its equation the budget, makeup time on set and the amount of time to create him. We didn’t have any specific restraints on his design. As always, the producers wanted something memorable and scary.
How did the Evil Dead mythology come into play with the design?
MURRAY: We are trying to expand the Evil Dead mythology with new creatures and characters that work well for a TV series. We are always mindful of the tone and coloration of the original films’ demons in the design process.
Did the look of the Deadites have any effect on Eligos’ look?
MURRAY: The look of the Deadites and a lot of the demonic elements in the show all share a similar coloration or tone. We wanted him to look “otherworldly,” but hold some Deadite looks.
How much of the monster is practical?
MURRAY: Eligos is mostly a practical monster. He has a full pull-on facial appliance made from silicone with extended dentures and many open sores on his body. His fingers are also extended and is fully body colored. He was great to sit down with at lunchtime and feed with a spoon and straw! The only VFX elements for Eligos are blurring for modesty and when he “cut jumps” or flickers through time and space. We also made a facial appliance with small eyeholes for him to see out of for more stunt and movement work. Those were removed in post.
How’d you come up with that flickering effect?
MURRAY: The flickering effect was done in post-production using VFX and some in camera “jump cuts.” He was shot on green screen for some sequences so the background could be replaced later. The look of the flickering was created by the VFX supervisor, George Ritchie, who spent a lot of time on set to make sure the shots were the right ones for post-production.
What exactly do you need to do on set to make sure something like that works when you get to post?
MURRAY: In the pre-production for each episode we do a full roundtable meeting with all the other departments and go through the script and break out the larger elements needed. In this stage we talk about the best approach with the producers and director for what they want to see and what can be achieved collectively. The elements needed on set during the shoot is supervised by an on-set VFX supervisor. He is responsible for making sure all the different shots will be able to be used in the post-production stage.
Have you designed other monsters for the show? Can you tease any?
MURRAY: We have quite a few monsters on the show. I can’t give too much away apart from a few words: BURNING, BIRTHING and BOOK. Hope that’s enough to get you thinking!
Are there any limitations to what you can create, maybe due to budget or making something too grotesque?
MURRAY: Everything we make has to fit into the schedule for a fast turnaround TV show. That’s the limitation because it has a set budget and timeframe. That also is the art of it, to get something fun, horrific and new for each episode. We haven’t been told that anything is too grotesque yet. Maybe in Season 2, but I very much doubt it! Starz has a pretty high ceiling for letting us go to the extremes.
How has your experience working on Ash vs. Evil Dead differed from working on the Evil Dead remake?
MURRAY: Doing fast turnaround TV is much different from film. I come from a TV background and the pre-production time is much quicker, but the results are also quicker as we are shooting an episode every few weeks. The TV experience means you can hone the look of design over a longer period of time during the 10 episodes. We have made over 7 hours of content for the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead. The Evil Dead remake was Fede Alvarez’s baby. He had a lot of visual ideas from the start outlined in the script, which was fantastic. Ash vs. Evil Dead has a lot more scope for me to be creative and design interesting practical effects and creatures.
If you could keep any prop from set, which one would it be?
MURRAY: Definitely the Necronomicon.