‘Inglourious Basterds’ and the art of scalping
SCENE STEALER BY PATRICK KEVIN DAY
To play up the grisly spectacle of scalping Nazi soldiers in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” required some sleight of hand as well as the makeup skill of Gregory Nicotero and the rest of the effects crew at KNB EFX.
“The way the gag works, the scalp and the actor’s head are separate,” Nicotero said. “To sell the gag, you have to pretend like you’re really putting effort into the cutting, like the knife is really slicing through skin.”
The team made a mold of make-up effects artist Jake Garber’s head and used that as the model to sculpt the scalps to be affixed to the extras’ heads.
Then they hand-painted the bloody details onto the piece and covered the whole area in a patented concoction called Ultraslime.
But to guarantee the realism of the bit, Nicotero taught the assembled “Basterds” (minus Brad Pitt) the fine art of scalping.
“It was a little overwhelming for them, because they’d all just flown into Berlin,” Nicotero said. “But they got really enthusiastic and excited. I think at one point Gedeon [Burkhard] forgot there was an actor under there. He was just going to town.”
–Patrick Kevin Day
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Photo: KNB EFX Group