Formerly titled The Bride, the Dracula-inspired horror movie The Invitation sinks its fangs into theaters on August 26, 2022.
Jessica M. Thompson directed the contemporary horror movie that reimagines classic literary characters from the world of Bram Stoker. Ahead of The Invitation‘s release in theaters, Bloody Disgusting spoke with Thompson and SFX makeup and prosthetic designer Iván Pohárnok (“The Witcher,” “The Terror”) about the film’s vampires.
Pohárnok said of the design process, “On films like this, which are slightly smaller, we still have some creativity and some creative input that we can add to the project, which is very nice. That’s how it started. We got some designs we developed, enhanced, and sent pictures to Jessica. Then we sent pictures of makeup tests.”
Pohárnok took a unique approach to a pivotal scene involving an extensive prosthetic process.
“What was interesting was that we didn’t sculpt the makeup, but we started with a 3D print,” he explained. “We scanned the actor’s head, digitally sculpted the old age on his face, and 3D printed it. That’s how we generated the molds to create this prosthetic makeup. It was a very high-tech method to do as a prosthetic makeup. I think we got the actors late. The good thing about doing stuff digital is that without having the final actors, I can still digitally sculpt something. Once they cast the actor, I can put his head into it and change my design, alter and distort it a bit to his face. I can save time because I don’t have to start from scratch. So, there’s the advantage of it.
“We did a lot of stuff digitally. I think I sculpted all the nails digitally and the veining because we weren’t sure about the pattern, the size, and how thick it had to be. When we do it digitally, it’s very easy to change the depth and heights, and we kept printing different sizes of veins that we made the mold of. That’s how we created prosthetic makeups of those molds.”
It wasn’t the fangs that proved trickiest for Pohárnok and his team, but the vampires’ claws.
The artist explained, “The biggest issue through the entire shoot was the nails because it seems very easy to do. But the problem is that, especially when it is several days with several characters, if you think practical, whenever we put these on, they cannot eat, they cannot drink. They cannot go to the toilet. So, these have to be removable. The problem is that if they’re removable, it’s not like going on a fake nail because that’s on permanently, and they have to live with it. We didn’t want to do that.
“Also, if it’s a very strong glue that has to be taken off every day, or not every day, but literally every hour. Because whenever she wants to go somewhere, dress, put a coat on, take a coat off, these are long. It was a big issue to figure out how to do it. We ended up using these little finger cups with the nails on. That could slide onto the end of the fingers. Whenever they wanted to have a break, we just pulled these off. They had a break, and then we pulled them back.
He continued, “We had three different lengths. Some had toenails as well. We had to have spares, and we had to have some for stunts. We had boxes and boxes of these. They all had to be custom-fitted because they had to be tight, but they couldn’t be too tight. Literally, we’ve made hundreds of these, and all fingers were individually fitted to each finger.
Thompson explained her vision for the film’s vampires, a new twist on a classic design.
“I wanted them to look grounded. I wanted them to look similar to us but just slightly heightened. I didn’t want to do the classic two fangs. I thought of making it a bit more animalistic and adding four fangs,” she told us. “We originally had four on the top and four on the bottom, but it became impossible for the actors to speak. It’s hard when you get used to speaking with your teeth, and then you change them. Everyone had a lisp, and I was like, ‘well, we’re not doing that.’ So then we settled on the four on the top. The idea that when they transform when they’re angry, when they’re heightened, they have these veins that come up.”
She added, “They’re not always in that state, but it’s just something they make when their blood is surging. But also, this idea that what is keeping [Dracula] young is having these three brides and being able to feast on them whenever… that’s the departure from the original text and the original ideas. Then we see him get injured, not to give it away, but that was when Ivan really came into play incredibly because obviously, that transition is where Ivan got to shine in terms of the prosthetics. That took four hours to put on every morning.”
The Invitation opens only in theaters this weekend.