Gore Engineer Ryan Oliver is one of our returning collaborators from WildClaw’s original production of The Revenants. We’ll be talking today about fates worse than death, hungering for quality kids’ programming, and What Scares Him.
1) What was your introduction to horror?
It’s hard to accurately pinpoint a specific moment but, I remember watching some random kid’s show where a performer in a ‘monster costume’ came out and ate another character whole. I thought it was dynamite, from there on I’d watch Sesame Street and pine for the puppets to start cannibalizing each other. ‘The Muppet Show’ too- ‘Sweetums’ and ‘Gorgon Heap‘ were my favorites.
2) How would you define horror as a genre? What, to you, is the perfect horror story, & why?
I took a Robert McKee (Brian Cox played him in ‘Adaptation’) horror screenwriting seminar. In class, he defined horror as a genre in which the characters of a story were dealt a fate worse than death. I tend to agree with that. As in, you’re not just getting killed by an alien, it’s going to lay an egg inside of you and eventually when it hatches the offspring will violently explode from your body cavity. The Exorcist will probably never be topped. When you’re at your most heightened state of white-knuckled fear, humans call out for one of two things, God or Mother. The Exorcist demolishes the institutions of motherhood and religion in a pretty thorough fashion. In the end, the viewer isn’t left with much to hold onto. It’s magnificent.
3) Zombies: Fast or Slow?
Zombies are slow, anything faster belongs in ‘outbreak’ territory. I kind of stopped giving a shit, really.
4) In re-visitng The Revenants, what challenge surprised you the most this time around? What lessons have you learned from this project that you’re excited to use in the future?
Well, if I go into that too much I’ll ruin a surprise or two. My job is to make actors bleed on cue in a live setting and the challenge is always the best part of it. Generally speaking, I have to hide ‘this and that’ in the set or on an actor, it’s different every time. I just come in on tech week, make a decision and install my gear. I was lucky enough in both runs of the play to have kick-ass blood operators in Coye Vega and Norine McGrath (respectively) It’s in the timing and skill of the operator that makes or breaks the believability of effect.
5) What Scares You?
I’d hate to be a hostage by religious fanatics or narco kidnappers, that would fucking suck. Being videotaped while some asshole chops you up on liveleak.com would be the worst way to go, it’s not only a loss of life but dignity to boot. Other than that, being eaten alive by a shark or a lion sounds pretty shitty, or maybe by some giant razor-toothed muppet.
Come enjoy our fine culinary fare & fear in The Revenants at The Athenaeum Theater through February 22nd!