It might not have been as monumental as the new opening credits or the (long-overdue) death of a recurring character, but the creepiest scene in Sunday’s season nine premiere of The Walking Dead, “A New Beginning,” was during the Washington D.C. scene, when spiders crawled out of a walker’s mouth.
First off, it’s about time the actual Walking Dead owns the Google search result for “walking dead spiders” (the honor previously belonged to a New York Times story with the headline, “A Wasp That Turns a Spider Into the Walking Dead,” which NOPE). Also, someone else found the arachnid-heavy scene disturbing: the episode’s director, Greg Nicotero. It takes a lot to creep that guy out, considering he’s been working on horror projects since the 1980s (including Evil Dead II and The Hills Have Eyes remake), but he draws the line at spiders.
Even if they weren’t real.
“[Showrunner Angela Kang] put that in there as a little nod to me… so when the script came out, the e-mail came, and two minutes later, I got five phone calls,” Nicotero told UPROXX during a recent set visit. ‘Oh my god, have you gotten to page eight yet?’ ‘Oh my god, wait until you get to page eight.’ And when I got to page eight, and it’s like, ‘Spiders come out of the face!’ And I went, ‘Aww f*ck.’”
Thankfully for Nicotero and Avi Nash, the actor who plays Siddiq (who’s also afraid of eight-legged freaks), the spiders were computer-generated. “Of course, I was at one point like, ‘Hey, there was this one movie called The Believers, where they had the spiders coming out of Helen Shaver’s face,’ remember that gag? Terrified me,” Nicotero said. “But this girl gets touched in the face by this voodoo priest and she gets a big boil. And at one point, the boil explodes and they had a prosthetic with a tube and the make-up guys had a funnel and they were putting spiders in. And my friend did it, he took the funnel off and blew in the tube and the spiders went all over her face. So for a split second I’m like, ‘I’m going to f*cking face my fears and do spiders. And then they’re like, ‘Yeah, no, it costs too much money.’ I went, ‘Oh thank god!'”
In the original execution of the shot, the plan was for the spiders to only come out of the walker’s eye. But working against the “less is more” credo, Nicotero contended that they needed to “come out of the nose, come out of the mouth, and then you’ve got to have, like, the mama spider come out. So not only is it the little ones, but then out of the mouth — which is very Wes Craven, my Deadly Blessing homage, the part where the spider comes out of the mouth.”
For more on our The Walking Dead set visit, click here.