This (left) is what I have been up to this Sunday.
I was hanging around at a particular university in Osaka when on a stairwell I came across a row of faces that were unattached to any head or body, and what may have been the bottom of the alien from Alien mounted on a stick (see photo at end). An odd thing to find on a Sunday morning, even in Osaka.
Adjacent to the faces was a workshop-cum-classroom which was full of … well see the photos.
Photographing a large and fascinating mechanical head of a sabre tooth tiger I was approached by the creator of the same, who engaged me in conversation. A gentleman of slightly more years than me with long grey-blue hair, a t-shirt of a George Romero film, combats and boots. He was the teacher of this university class, a class specialising in making scary things (see photos). Nice work if you can get it.
It turned out that the gentleman was Screaming Mad George. That’s his name. A Japanese guy, born in Osaka and with a remarkable career in special effects and making scary things for films.
Screaming Mad George has worked on more films than I can hold in my head — both Hollywood and Japanese films — won awards and has his own IMDB page. Just a few of the films he has worked on are Progeny, Space Truckers, the Children of the Corn series, Re-Animator 2, the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, Predator, The Abyss, and Poltergeist. (He’s done some Japanese films you would know but whose titles I don’t.)
Apparently, he’s particularly well known for some Dali-inspired effects at the end of a film called Society, which I haven’t seen but now must. Laughing, he told me that the director of Society had an ending that was all blood and guts and wanted something a bit different. Screaming Mad George suggested Dali, stretched out bodies and melting stuff — and also, in memory of the gore in the original draft, a person being pulled inside out through his own bottom. As I say, nice work if you can get it.
On top of the robots, make-up, masks and special effects he has writing and directing credits. And he has worked on loads of music videos and his CV includes Ozzy Osborne, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Korn, Slipknot, and Marilyn Manson. And he has been performing in bands going back quite a way and has put out a number of CDs in his own name.
I’m getting tired listing all this stuff — how does he actually do it all?
For a guy who has spent his career scaring the pants off people, he is terribly nice. Screaming Mad George took it on himself to give me a personal explanation of how his models work, about materials he uses, and pulled books off the shelf to illustrate his inspirations and his own career. He also speaks impeccable English, a product of a US university education and many years of Hollywood work.
Incidentally, his film work hasn’t ended with the university gig. He flips back and forth between Hollywood and the university where he does short courses. E and I did wonder how his students address him: George-sensei? Screaming-sensei? Mad-sensei?
Whatever, I was pleased this charming man brought a big dose of horror into my Sunday.