Mention the names Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger or Robert Kurtzman to a non-horror fan and they might give you a puzzled look, but for horror aficionados and fans of movie makeup fx in general, they’re the names of Gods. NIGHTMARE FACTORY, the recent documentary directed by Donna Davies gives an inside look into the studio and legacy built by Nicotero, Berger and Kurtzman (also known as KNB EFX Group) with everything from home videos, set footage and plenty of great interviews with filmmakers who have worked with them.
The documentary mostly focuses on Nicotero and his journey from being a young kid obsessed with monsters and movies, to leaving medical school in order to pursue a career in special makeup fx. The filmmakers were given over two hundred hours of footage from Nicotero’s collection to go through and the home videos of Greg shooting 8mm shorts with his brother is some of the funniest home video footage around. It’s obvious what Nicotero’s calling was, as you can tell throughout the documentary how excited it still makes him to create monsters like the ones he adored as a kid.
Another great thing about the documentary is how much on set footage it has. Everything from the early days of DAY OF THE DEAD & EVIL DEAD 2 all the way up to INGLORIOUS BASTERDS & THE WALKING DEAD, it’s all covered here. Full of really enduring/comical anecdotes about the different productions and the troubles, successes and weird experiences they went through during the various films make NIGHTMARE FACTORY thoroughly entertaining the whole time. It’s full of really insightful and interesting stories like how Tarantino yelled at Howard Berger on the set of KILL BILL for an effect not working and how Berger turned it quickly into a success, or when Kurtzman decided to leave the company to move away and start his own path. Moments such as John Carpenter basically calling all makeup fx artists Prima Donnas or the KNB guys laughing at the back cover of PUMPKINHEAD 2 accidentally showing the monster wearing sneakers are hilarious and there quite a few moments like that in the film.
Whether you’re a fan of makeup fx or just really great documentaries in general, NIGHTMARE FACTORYis a nonstop fun and insightful look at what is one of, if not THE most successful FX companies around and the well-deserved legacy they’ve created. It’s without a dull moment and definitely worth a look.
NIGHTMARE FACTORY was directed by Donna Davies and will screening on October 20th at SCREAMFEST LA.
For more info, visit SCREAMFEST LA