Workshop spreads some festive terror

You better watch out because Krampus is here, and you can thank Weta Workshop for summoning him up from the depths of the workshop floor, along with a cavalcade of bloodthirsty Christmas beasties.

This black comedy horror from Legendary Pictures was written and directed by Michael Dougherty and features a cast that includes Adam Scott and Toni Collette. The production was principally filmed in Wellington, at Stone Street Studios. The film showcases visual effects from Weta Digital and practical effects and concept design from Weta Workshop. All three companies are situated just a stone’s throw from each other on the Miramar Peninsula.

Krampus takes its cue from fun and festive 1980s fight fests like Gremlins, with puppetry, animatronics and a cavalcade of other practical effects taking centre stage. The crew at Weta Workshop embraced the task enthusiastically, providing physical effects for makeup, speciality costume, speciality props and creatures. The crew helped to design, refine and handled the complete manufacture of items including Krampus’ ornate 21-foot-long sleigh, festooned with bells, chains and human remains.

The crew also helped to craft and manufacture the horrific array of creatures that terrorise the dysfunctional families throughout the film. Included in this monstrous line-up are dark Christmas elves, gingerbread and snowmen, a teddy bear with beastly fangs, a cherub who is anything but, and a jack in the box with a most unpleasant surprise waiting inside. And most terrifying of them all? Krampus himself. Standing upright on two cloven hooves, this towering interpretation of Saint Nicholas’ shadow was large enough to have a grown man controlling it from the inside, and Weta Workshop’s own technician turned actor, Luke Hawker, was the man for the job.

“Performing a seven-foot demon was not without its challenges. With leg, arm and finger extensions under a suit that weighed over half my body weight, seeing the world through nothing more than a tiny camera hidden in the head, created some hurdles in terms of performance and balance. But with an amazingly supportive stunt team and my infinitely awesome colleagues at Weta Workshop, we were able to create a pretty awesome and frighteningly believable creature.

- Luke Hawker, Technician turned Actor, Weta Workshop

Weta Workshop CEO and co-founder Richard Taylor is thrilled to have been involved in the production, which takes him back to his horror movie roots.

This is a classic 80s monster movie, this is fantastic stuff! It’s what we live for and what gets us up in the morning! It’s still hand operated, rod-controlled puppetry. It throws you straight back to the early days of making movies, and that is just a special place to be.

- Richard Taylor, CEO and Co-founder, Weta Workshop

Up in Weta Workshop’s Consumer Products department, the crew have been as busy as Christmas elves. They’ve been crafting a range of beastly statues of the creatures in the film including the cherub, a dark elf in an unsettling plague mask, and Krampus himself. These quality collectibles, made by the filmmakers, are now available for preview and pre-order at www.wetaworkshop.com/shop.

The Weta Workshop crew was also charged with directing, story producing and shooting the behind the scenes and electronic press kit for Krampus. 

The festive horror opened strongly in US, drawing in 16 million in its opening weekend. Wellington audiences will have to wait an extra week to be thrilled by the Christmas demon, with the film opening on selected screens, including Miramar’s iconic Roxy Cinema, on December 10.

Copyright 2017 Weta Workshop