ComingSoon.net goes behind the scenes to hang with monsters and masters on the set of El Rey’s From Dusk Till Dawn
One afternoon I got an invite to fly from Toronto to Albuquerque, New Mexico to check out a KNB monster on the set of El Rey’s third season shoot of its acclaimed series From Dusk Till Dawn and then fly back 12 hours later.
So of course, I accepted. Wouldn’t you?
I won’t bore you with details about the flight itself. But it was nice. I ate some stuff. Had a drink. Chatted up my seat mate. And brushed up on my From Dusk Till Dawn knowledge, to get a sense of where this third round — which is currently rolling out Tuesday nights at 9pm on El Rey — would be heading.
The series — on offshoot of El Rey honcho and visionary genre filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s 1995 Quentin Tarantino-penned horror/action classic — further details the exploits of the anti-heroic (though more heroic in the show than they were in the film) Gecko brothers Seth and Richie (D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz) who are lost in the blood-spattered hell of the culebras, the reptile vampire race that hold court over secret societies in Mexico and parts of Texas. In the first season, we loosely followed the events of the film, with the Gecko’s on the lam and ending up in the berserk bar run by the culebras, including the sultry ghoul goddess Santanico Pandemonium (Eiza González) .
In this third season, the Gecko’s and culebras are faced with even more monsters and creatures that sprout up and threaten to release a literal “Hell on Earth.” Here… watch the official Season Three trailer:
Looks pretty great, doesn’t it?
Back to my adventure earlier this summer.
The El Rey folks are absolutely lovely. Truly. And so is Albuquerque, a scenic, hot and serene city that, as my driver informed me, is populated primarily by retirees. So it’s relatively peaceful, which is not to say there isn’t a hell raising side. More on that later. El Rey put myself and my colleague, Bloody Disgusting‘s Kalyn Corrigan (who also writes for this site) up at this incredible little historic hotel, whose lobby consists of a series of individual lounges, each one decorated and lit, each one a micro-universe unto itself. After a quick change and a cocktail, we were whisked away to the FDTD set, outside of town in the desert. Said warehouse was a labyrinth and we got a bit lost; even our gorgeous El Rey guides were disoriented.
But then we heard the screams.
We followed the yelling and commotion to a corner of the warehouse where the action was and I literally walked right into the frame as the Gecko’s were having a choreographed battle with some sort of baddie, their stunt doubles standing by to do the the heavier hitting. Once I apologetically stepped out of the shot, we witnessed more of the staged scrap, fists flying and tons of laughs and the odd fist made more contact than it should have.
It’s always amusing to see characters you’d only seen in the fantasy confines of the small screen suddenly standing before you, mortal and normal but the novelty was wearing off after a while. We needed to see more. And more we saw…
The purpose of this visit was for us to see KNB’s Season Three creature in full-blown action. This monstrous, xenomorphic horror will premiere on tonight’s episode at 9pm, so we won’t spoil much about its origins. But suffice to say we were blown away. Here, guest director Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project) shook our hands and brought us to the slime-dripping corner of the set where the monster lurked. Pipes blasted steam in what was meant to be a sewer set and this deluxe subterranean dragon was being controlled by a pair of green spandex wearing KNB puppeteers. The beast was an amalgam of a C.H.U.D. and some sort of Giger-esque Alien, its talons grasping for prey and its massive sharp teeth jutting out of its head, its green lips pulling back to reveal its hungry jaws. Every so often, a KNB artist would come out with a literal bucket of KY slime and saturate the monster with the goo. When Sanchez called action, the monster would shake and spray its splooge everywhere. I got KY on my jacket. It was not the first time…
From over my shoulder I heard a voice.
“Practical FX… that’s the only way…”
I looked to see the legendary Tom Savini standing there in full biker-man gear, the same outfit he wore in George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and later, as “Sex Machine” in From Dusk Till Dawn. Savini — as you saw in the trailer above — is in the show, playing one of the Gecko’s pals, demon-hunter Burt, out to help batter down the nastier entities. Savini as usual looked great and you could tell he was proud to be here. Savini, as you all know, is one of the founding fathers of baroque and gory special FX. A hero to generations of horror fans. But he’s also an actor and these days, that’s what he wants to do. When Savini gets a role — a good role — he’s over the moon. And this is a good role. He was warm, excited and full or mirth, like a kid. It was as exciting to see Tom in his element as it was to see the monstrous lube-beast shake its ass.
After watching Sanchez set and reset the multiple shots of the creature, we hung out with Tom for a bit and chatted about the show. Then it was time to leave. Kalyn and I were energized. We were dragged into the center of the show’s money shots. We saw one of the best damned movie monsters I’ve ever seen and we observed its wrath with one of the Gods of practical FX, who was dressed in his iconic black leather costume.
Life was good. Life is good.
Tune in to From Dusk Till Dawn tonight to see that monster move around. And watch out for the KY jelly.