By: Susan Jessup
I’m four, and I’m terrified. A man is melting. His head is a mess of sloppy flesh, and bits of loose skin slide slowly down his face to drip off the tip of his nose. His ear, missing. His eyelids, liquified and shed. It’s 1977’s The Incredible Melting Man, a movie with creature effects by Rick Baker. I’ve caught only a TV commercial, but in the dark after bedtime, for months afterward, I lie frozen in bed. Every creak, every pop, every rattle- it has to be the melting man- hovering, I know, inches above my frozen face- drip, drip, dripping onto the blanket over my silently screaming mouth. I didn’t know it then, but that’s when I first fell in love.
Here at Undead Labs, there are some of us who share a moment like this. Something horrible, something wonderful, which pervades our days with the horror we felt when we first fell in love with monsters. We’re compelled to look, and compelled to create that which terrifies us most. Today I’d like to share some of the monsters you’ll find from our very own character team.
The Saddest Plague Wall
You may not know this, but our character team is composed of two people. Me, who makes mostly player clothing, and he-who-wishes-not-to-be-named (we will call him Bob), who makes the rest of the character assets. All of our zombies – created by Bob. The humans too; including 88 faces all of which Bob can identify instantly by number. And sometimes, Bob, makes props, like the disgusting plague hearts. When I turned around and saw one on his computer for the very first time, my stomach lurched. Pulsating, glowing, bubbling meat piles of fusing zombies? … No. Go away. Please no thank you, no. But then, the saddest scene ever as I gazed closer into the goop…
The day I realized the 3rd plague wall is just a gooey mom cradle. I call him little Bloatie.
I see something you don’t get to see. I get to see our zombies in their full and glorious detail. I can open their high res source files and squint at the holes in ravaged flesh. I can click inside their mouths to isolate their hideous teeth and study the rot. I can zoom in on a degloved hand and pan around the exposed tendons. How lucky can a girl get? Lucky enough to share my private joy with you now…
A blood plague juggernaut in his tighty whities. Now he’ll tiptoe through the tulips of your dreams, too.
Bloaters, I see them everywhere since I’ve started working here. That stop sign? A Bloater. That gnarled tree? A Bloater. That skinny guy with the huge backpack? Yup, a Bloater. That Bloater? Oh sh….
Sometimes, I get to make a critter. If I’m lucky, I get to make a dead critter. For these particular dead critters, I made the skeletons and bodies separately then brought them together in our clothing creation program. Turning the skins into garments allowed me to shrink them over their bones, resulting in mummified critter corpses. Yes, when I look at you I see only a skeleton in a human suit. Do you still need your bones?
Church, meet Church.
Old Bess, your milk seems to have dried up.
The Swine and Bovine Slasher
The first slasher I ever saw was a woman. So why are most of the iconic slashers men? When we recently formed the outfits team, the artists were asked to come up with a Halloween costume. Naturally, I wanted our first costume to calm my burning envy. Now all of our SOD2 women can become the Swine and Bovine Slasher (or the equally disturbing Jugg Head Slasher.) This one’s for you, Mrs. Voorhees.
Little pig, little pig, let me in… your head.
The completed female S&B costume. That’ll do.
The Mask that Wasn’t
The scariest monster that keeps me up at night is failure. By now I hope you’ve seen the trailer for our Halloween costume. (If you haven’t- watch it!) When Alan, our Visual Brand Manager, told me he and Doug (our Art Director) planned to do a live-action trailer and needed a Swine and Bovine mask, I instantly wanted to recreate our game model in real life. Plan B was to take two cheap store-bought masks and staple them together. What you saw in the trailer was Plan B. Thank goodness everyone else did such a stellar job! Turns out making a mask is very, very hard. But sometimes you want to emulate your heroes, and that leads me back to the very beginning…
My real life Swine and Bovine mask, finally finished two weeks too late. Special thanks to Dan Cole for the lovely photo- it finally brought joy to an endless slog of soul-crushing defeats. (Special bonus: see it modeled by our kick-ass producer Erin during the outfit reveal live-stream... even though the paint was still fresh and stinky from a sleepless night of frenzied painting. Sorry, Erin!)
The Monster Maker
Because of the Melting Man, I found monsters and I followed them here. Making monsters on previous projects, and admiring monsters on this one, I’m very lucky to be surrounded by them every day. I’m glad I got to share some with you. If you see one and it scares you, chase it and see where it leads you. You might fall in love, too.
My childhood hero, monster maker Rick Baker, who I finally met at this year’s Son of Monsterpalooza. Oh Rick, the lifetime of horrific nightmares you gave me. Bless you.