The first episode of HBO’s Lovecraft Country is now available to watch for free on YouTube, telling the story of survival and family amid the horrors of Jim Crow-era segregation. But the monsters in this story aren’t always human. In a new interview, the VFX designer behind the premiere’s creatures shares how creator Misha Green brought her horrifying vision to the woods.
“I’d never worked with Misha before, and the first time I stepped on set, she just had that confidence. But she also the confidence to trust people and listen. I’ve been on sets before where directors have their way of doing things. They’re not collaborative, and they’re not often the right way of doing things. I felt confident with Misha steering the ship and leading everyone,” VFX designer Grant Walker told Bloody Disgusting. “It’s all about the story, if the story is good then your work sings.”
HBO has made Lovecraft Country’s series premiere, “Sundown,” available to check out on YouTube (embedded below). It’s definitely worth checking out for its equally horrific portrayals of Lovecraftian creatures and the grim reality of anti-Black racism. Things definitely take a turn in the final 15 minutes. More info on that below, but be sure to watch first so you’re not spoiled before experiencing the violent delights...and violent entrails.
The literal monsters of mythos and legend finally made their gore-tastic debut toward the end as the Shoggoth, well-known creatures from H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, emerge from the woods. In that story, they’re described as “formless protoplasm,” kind of like giant shapeless, amorphous blobs. That’s very different than the monsters we get in Lovecraft Country, which are tangible and terrifying. However, as Walker explained to Bloody Disgusting, that’s for a good reason.
“There’s no reason why it couldn’t have been a big blob with tentacles and eyes, but its character in Lovecraft Country is a guard dog,” Walker said. “We decided to make it a bit more anatomical, muscular, and powerful. There are a few things in the description from Misha; its function is the ultimate guard dog. It’s supposed to be absolutely terrifying whenever it’s onscreen, and it can claw people to bits.”
Walker is head of CG for Framestore, the creative studio brought on as a partner for the Lovecraft Country creature designs (the studio has also worked on a few other things you might be familiar with). He said Green was an active participant in building the monsters she yearned to see in the show but was also extremely collaborative and open to suggestions. The design of the Shoggoth, the otherworldly guards for the Braithwhite estate, changed quite a bit over the course of the production—mainly as Walker and Green moved through different designs, evolving the creature as they came up with new ways for it to interact with the world.
Green wanted to make sure it didn’t look like an alien creature because “it’s a fantasy, surreal monster.” This meant doing things like giving it strange tail and tongue moves, and incorporating mole designs once they figured out it would primarily travel underground and munch on dirt to clear room for itself. Eventually, this led to giving the Shoggoth the ability to bite people’s heads off and expel their blood “through their gills.” Walker said he was thrilled about how disgusting audiences would find it, knowing they’d be thrilled. But even this gruesome scene had limits.
“For me, it was a dream come true. I’m going to create a terrifying monster, it’s going to rampage, and no one is going to tell me I’ve gone too far,” he said. “Although, there was one occasion where Misha told me there was too much blood. In the beginning, she said that you can’t put too much blood in there, that it can’t be too gory, and I told her that she’d probably live to regret that. I promised her that she’d tell me to turn down the blood at some point, and it did happen on one occasion.”
Walker noted that fans should look forward to episode eight, which has a lot more going on in the Shoggoth horrors department. You can head to Bloody Disgusting for concept art and other behind-the-scenes info. Lovecraft Country airs Sundays on HBO.
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