Jason Collins is a man that knows how to kill his characters. He is a skilled special effects artist who never makes light of any task requiring him to split, splay, impale or otherwise eviscerate his subjects. Collins talks to me about his work on “I Spit on Your Grave”, “I Spit on Your Grave 2”. He also mentions “I Spit on Your Grave 3”, but that will cost me if I reveal too much, so I’ll let Collins enlighten us in his own words later on.
“I Spit on Your Grave” and “I Spit on Your Grave 2” are two very gruesome movies. The special effects in each call back a time when special make-up effects were done by hand. The artistry of creating a “kill” was first sketched out, then handed to the effects department to brainstorm a way to create it. However impossible the “kill” might have seemed, the effects department usually found a way to construct it.
Jason Collins seems to be a master at doing “kill” scenes. Both “Spit” movies are filled with creative kills done in real time, and each gets progressively more complicated. Collins, having been enamored with cinema splatter as a kid, is a craftsman and a visionary. A Southern California native, Collins grew up in Costa Mesa, California, an Orange County suburb. He explains how he first became interested in horror movies and special effects:
“I remember really vividly loving movies when I was around 12 years old…At first it was any movie.. Then I realized how much I loved horror movies. I watched everything I could get my hands on. There was a local video store where I could get my mitts on a ton of stuff…I was a fiend…Soon I realized that what I loved was watching the death scenes. It became one of those ‘how did they do that?’ things.”
Collins’ mother had her child’s best interest at heart. She saw that he had a talent for creating make-up applications that looked real enough to fool the untrained eye, so as any good mother, she took the next step and encouraged her son to pursue what was then just a hobby, “She decided to fan the flame and took me to a local magic store,” he said,”where they sold a small quantity of make up supplies. I bought scar material.. Liquid latex.. Etc.. The guy behind the counter showed me a couple of tricks and I was off! My mother didn’t know what she was getting into.. For the next year I tortured her non stop.”
Collins has stayed away from watching the original 1978 “I Spit on Your Grave”. Having been taught to respect women, Collins was unsure about the subject matter and how he would feel if he should watch it. He does however remember seeing one scene in particular:
“The original ‘I Spit on your Grave’ was a bit of a taboo for me when I was a kid. I grew up with a strong female influence so I felt as if that subject matter wouldn’t be favorable towards woman.. I think that I would of just felt guilty watching it. I do remember catching the bathtub scene when I was young and it just freaked me out. Something about the sexual natures of the crime. To this day believe it or not I still haven’t seen the original.”
Ironically, Collins would create his own images for the remake of that film in 2010. Possibly even more brutal than the original, “I Spit on Your Grave” and its sequel, follow women bent on revenge after being brutalized by men. In the first film, there is an effect involving eyes and fish hooks. Collins tells iHorror how he approached this effect:
“The fish hook in the eye gag was a fun one.. Albeit difficult. I can’t remember who came up with the idea of it.. I think it was in one of the original drafts of the scripts… I remember thinking how the hell or we going to do this. Steven Monroe (director) wanted to try to keep as much practical but was afraid we were going to have to do this digitally but we thought it through and came up with an idea. Elvis Jones (my collaborator) on ‘I Spit’ came up with the idea of sculpting another set of eye lids on top of the actors with a lash line a quarter of an inch below the actors lash line. This would give the actress an access point to pick up the lid and run the needle through it below his actual eye. On the day I applied it to the actor and walked Sarah Butler through the correct and safe way to run the needle through the lid. It was very daunting for her of course as she was terrified of blinding the actor.. But she really sold it. Luckily we didn’t need to keep the actor in the appliances for very long as it being blind isn’t fun for anybody!”
Along with eye torture, no “I Spit on Your Grave” movie would be complete without doing damage to the male reproductive organ. Both movies have scenes with male genitalia being turned into mulch while still being attached to the groin.
“No male likes penis torture I can tell you that.. Well maybe some do.. But I don’t hang out in those clubs.. It’s funny when it comes time to smash balls in vices or sever penis’ with garden shears how the jokes fly.. But I think that’s a mask for anything uncomfortable that we as males do.. Inherently, as I think we should all have, there is a deep disturbing fear of anyone cutting our unit off..”
In “I Spit on Your Grave 2”, our “heroine”, Katie (Jemma Dallender), has become a transient, living in the underground tunnels of Bulgaria. One-by-one she stalks her aggressors and exacts revenge upon them in many different ways. One man, Gregory, who Jennifer happens to lure underground, cutting him on various parts of his body, rubs rat feces into the wounds in order to nurture infection. These different stages of infection are very gruesome, and Collins says that the actor was willing to do whatever it took to complete the effect:
“Gregory’s death was a ton of work. There were multiple reasons for that. The first was that we were shooting in Bulgaria with a local actor. So getting life casts was out of the question. So I needed to design those make ups with that in mind. Another difficulty was that it needed to be done in stages as she keeps coming back to torture him. So we needed to do the small cut appliances in the first stage, then move to thicker silicone appliances as the wound was swelling and eventually to really big swollen foam appliances for the final infected bloated stage. The actor was a real trooper as we were shooting inside a Russian built dam in the below freezing temperatures. So all the death rattle shivering was really frigid teeth chattering as the poor guy was freezing! I had a lot of local help on those applications with a great local make up artist named Yana Stoyanova. We had worked with her on a couple of previous films there.”
For now Collins is working on a few things.“Mr. Beebee” is a project that is still in pre-production and “Tales of Halloween”, a horror anthology in which he created a special character:
“Mr. Beebee is a script my friend Shannon Shea wrote. It’s a fantastic story that has some really great twists in it.. Right now Ernie Hudson is signed on which is a heinous touch of casting. Currently it’s still in pre production as Shannon is still finalizing some details.
Recently I just wrapped an anthology film called ‘Tales of Halloween’ which is really fun.. A lot of great horror directors got together to make a bunch of movies about our favorite holiday.. Halloween. I did Neil Marshall’s film as well as Paul Solet. Both great directors with insane ideas.. For Neil I made a killer pumpkin that comes to life and kills. Everything was done old school animatronic puppet style… So look out for that one!”
Could a third film be in the works for the “I Spit” series? Well, Collins can’t tell me much, and maybe I shouldn’t either because I am rather accustomed to certain parts of my anatomy. When I asked him, this is what he said, ” As far as ‘I Spit on Your Grave 3’.. For now mums the word!! If I tell you I might have to kill you (or cut your dick off.. I think we know which is worse)!!!!”
Yes we do Jason. Yes we do, and you’re just the man to do it.