In 1975, William Shatner starred in a little-seen film horror film alongside John Travolta called The Devil’s Rain. It’s not a good movie. Roger Ebert hated it, saying that it was “painfully dull,” while The New York Times said it was as “horrible as watching an egg fry.” It was only released in Los Angeles and New York and probably would have been lost in the bowels of cinematic history, had it not been for one footnote.
In the film, all the actors had casts of their faces made, because in the movie, the characters’ faces melt, and they needed to make masks for the melting scenes. In the film, the prosthetic for Shatner’s melting face looked like this:
The Devil’s Rain was produced by Bryanston Distributing Company, the same production company that released the very first John Carpenter film, 1974’s Dark Star, as well as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Meanwhile, the original cast mold of William Shatner’s face from The Devil’s Rain was later used to by Don Post Studios to create Halloween (the holiday) masks of Shatner’s Star Trek character, Captain Kirk, which could be bought in stores.
One of the people who bought one of those Captain Kirk masks was John Carpenter, who would widen the eye holes and paint it white. It would become the Michael Myers mask in Halloween (the movie).
Forty years (and several sequels and a reboot) later, the Michael Myers’ mask based on a Captain Kirk mask made of William Shatner’s face in a little-known movie called The Devil’s Rain would become the inspiration for the masks worn by The Whisperers on AMC’s The Walking Dead, according to Greg Nicotero, producer, director and special-effects supervisor on the series. From TV Guide:
The Whisperers have a very different design than usual walkers — they’re masks rather than makeup, which gives them a terrifying blank affect he likens to Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise. “The face doesn’t move, so you cannot judge any kind of emotion,” Nicotero continued. “So every time we shoot with a group of them, I look at them like, ‘that’s f—in’ weird, man.'”
In fact, Nicotero specifically opted against masks more akin those those in another Bryanston Distributing Company film. He “didn’t want them to look like Leatherface from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, who’s wearing a primitive mask made of flayed skin. So instead, he gave the masks a bone structure. The masks have deep eye sockets so that the brow sticks out enough to create a shadow over the eyes “so that when you look at the faces… you get nothing there.”
In other words, while the Whisperers’ mask on The Walking Dead are obviously not modeled after William Shatner’s face, the masks do borrow the same deep-set dead eyes popular from the Meyers’ mask.
A crucial difference between the mask worn in Halloween and The Walking Dead, however, is that Halloween was filmed in California, while The Walking Dead is filmed in the 90-degree heat of Georgia. “It’s challenging,” Nicotero told TV Guide. “It’s pushing them to this whole new place of like, you gotta act, but it’s 110 degrees in your head, and you’re sweating. But they all love it.”
The results, anyway, look great, as evidenced in the latest trailer for season 9B of The Walking Dead.
(Via TV Guide)