Looking for a fun treat in the run up to Halloween? Take a look at Hulu’s Into the Dark: The Body, currently streaming. Hailing from Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Television, Into the Dark is a new monthly horror anthology series with each segment inspired by a prominent holiday during the month of its release. The Body‘s Halloween night setting easily lends itself to creatively memorable set design, and production designer Cecil Gentry relished the experience.
“It is a pretty wild ride. A fun ride, and a very entertaining ride,” Gentry said of The Body. “Plus, I love Halloween, so why not do this? The Halloween realm allows you to put forth a really great blend of horror and comedy.”
The Body follows in the vein of Blumhouse productions such as Get Out, Happy Death Day, or The Purge with its modern, urban settings and hip cast. Its main story involves an extremely efficient hitman carting (and eventually pursuing) a body across Los Angeles on Halloween night. From a thumping rave to a tricked-out panic room to a creepy crematorium, the episode boasts an extremely cinematic visual flair.
It’s an experience and challenge that well-suited Gentry’s sensibilities, allowing him to draw from a menagerie of photography, modern art and architecture to create a memorable kick-off to the new series.
“What attracted me to this particular series is the shift in content to limited series events like Big Little Lies, Sharp Objects, and Black Mirror. I liked the idea of a limited series anthology that would span the course of a year. Sort of like 12 mini movies.”
When Into the Dark finishes airing next September, Gentry will have designed 10 of the 12 entries, and its holiday-centered theming offers an incredible variety of design opportunities. Next up for him is the Christmas entry, Pooka. But first, Halloween, The Body, and the most abused corpse since Weekend at Bernie’s.
Putting the Body in The Body
One of Gentry’s bigger challenges over the 15-day shoot was creating the actual body. The prop had to achieve several feats. First, it had to look incredibly real. Not even the most desperate extra in Hollywood would allow themselves to be wrapped in plastic and dragged around L.A. Next, thanks to the several twists and turns in the script, Gentry’s design for the titular body had to sustain kicks to the head, ooze gallons of blood, and make the occasional twitch here and there. That’s before (spoiler alert!) the inevitable, comic, dismemberment.
Amazingly enough, the team relied on a single prop body.
“The legs were custom and had hair growing. It really was almost life-like,” Gentry gushes. “The rest of it was rigged with hoses so that blood could flow to the surface. It also needed to be something the actors could carry because the actors naturally couldn’t carry a human around. You kind of have to minimize the wear and tear other than in the scene because continuity is very important too. It always had to look good because it’s called ‘The Body’ for a reason, right?”
And Gentry’s – ahem – body of work never disappoints.
Casu Marzu or Why Is That Cheese Moving
For my money, set aside all of the human-based gore. The most traumatic prop in the film isn’t human at all. It’s an expensive and rare block of cheese. Maggot-filled cheese.
Yup, look it up. Casu marzu is a thing, albeit a thing that makes you question humanity itself.
Maggot larvae are introduced to assist in breaking down cheese fats. The process apparently makes the cheese incredibly soft and creamy but filled with potentially thousands of maggots. Still, people eat this stuff, worms and all, including The Body‘s anti-hero hitman. Since it’s illegal in the United States, Gentry had to recreate the cheese in a believable and safe-to-consume manner.
“We had an actual cheese wheel with real maggots in it – we manufactured our own version of the cheese here – but we had to cut to the actor eating the cheese which was visual effects. You can get these things that wiggle and move like maggots, but really all they are is candy. My prop master put that together and did an excellent job. It’s really seamless. Because of course he wasn’t eating maggots due to safety and OSHA all that.”
The result? An incredibly realistic and entirely stomach-churning start to a fun Halloween treat.
Into the Dark: The Body is now streaming on Hulu.