Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak is a stunning, visually arresting gothic tale where the past comes quite literally returns to warn the innocent and haunt the guilty. And beginning today, the haunted house horror-romance can be taken into your home with the DVD/Blu-ray.
From Northern New York State to Cumbria in Northern England, Crimson Peak revolves around ingénue Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska). The daughter of a wealthy American industrialist, Edith is wooed by the dashing Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), an Englishman whose family has fallen into ruin. Following the tragic death of her father, Edith joins Thomas and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) at their estate, Allerdale Hall, where she faces threats both human and spectral.
Guillermo del Toro’s aesthetic is fully realized in this valentine to Gothic literature, and one of the elements that stands out the most are the gruesome ghosts who stalk Allerdale’s halls. Locked in a partial state of decay, their skin – muddy and red, like the grounds surrounding the manor -- appears to be melting from their bones, drooping away from their jaws and forcing the eyes to bulge out. One, in particular, even sports a meat cleaver lodged her skull.
But behind the horrors of Crimson Peak is a team of humans. And this feature from the new home entertainment release, debuting exclusively on Blastr, explores the visual development behind these red-clay ghosts. Hiddleston, del Toro, Wasikowska and actor Charlie Hunnam also weigh on the look of the spirits.
As an added bonus, you might recognize our old friend, actor Doug Jones, being transformed in the clip. Renowned for his creature work, Jones appears as the black-clad ghost of Edith’s mother, as well as the red ghost of Lady Sharpe. Jones is a frequent GDT collaborator, and he joins us below for a brief chat about taking on the ghosts of Crimson Peak.
The red ghost Lady Sharpe is striking, and immediately unforgettable. But what was the process in bringing her to life?
The bathtub ghost was a full-body, slip-on, skintight body suit that re-shaped me into a saggy woman. You know, every man’s dream! The body itself went on rather quickly, but it was the glue-down of the neck piece that connected the face to the body, and they had to texture the edges so you couldn’t find them. There were hands, gloves glued on to me all day. The facial mask headpiece had a separate wig with that glamorous updo I had. The eyes were these glassy, marble things, so I could not see through those, and I was kind of looking through tear ducts carved out around the eyeballs. They glued a second jaw onto my own chin with a bottom row of teeth off to one side. Oh, goodness gracious, it was took somewhere in the five-hour range.
What direction did Guillermo give you for these ghosts to make them unique?
Funny story about that. For Edith’s mother, in the black dress, I was on a track floating down the hallway. I didn’t even have to walk. That was a ghostly float and he wanted what he calls “piano fingers.” They were moving constantly so, when I reached her shoulder, it made it all the more spidery. But she wasn’t scary, but there to heed a warning. That was more gentle, nurturing, but spindly. With spindly, you don’t know if that’s how a nice ghost moves, or it’s a creepy thing that wants to get into your ears. You’re never sure, and Guillermo loves playing that card of you don’t know if it’s good or evil.
For the bathtub ghost, Lady Beatrice … what Guillermo will do is, he may not give a whole lot of direction right away, or will let me figure it out. So, my first take: standing up, stepping out of the bathtub, and taking a couple steps forward, about to walk down a hallway, naked, dripping wet. I am thinking to myself, I have got to sell this. I am a tall, skinny guy and have to sell I am a battered, sad, woman warning her newest visitor. How do I sell the lady parts? Take one, I go through the motions, I get up, take a step out of the bathtub, I start walking – and Guillermo yells “Cut.” [Imitating GDT’s voice] “Doug, can you push it up? It’s too sexy!” I was too damn sexy! I was giving her a bit too much sexy hip in her walk than perhaps she needed. That was note number one. Plus, he told me to give a bit more of a jitter, an unexplained quick, sort of fluid movement. She had a contorted body, so I wanted to carry that contortion through the rest of the body. The shoulders were often off-kilter, the knees might be knocking together funny as I walked. He coached me to throw those jitters in to make it something otherworldy about that thing.
Crimson Peak - Exclusive Clip: Physically There by dreadcentral
This film seems to be particularly personal for Guillermo, and a story and genre close to his heart. Did that set a tone on set, and was it something he exuded during filming?
First of all, yes. As I often experience working with him, whether it’s a smaller budget film like Pan’s Labyrinth or a bigger budget like the Hellboy series, they all feel like indie films when you have Guillermo directing you. He is such an artist. It is not about marketing, or polling the audience, it’s not about product placement. It is about the story, the art of it. Every prop, every configuration of hallway had a purpose and a reason he could explain to you for hours. Every little bit of that movie was personal for him. That makes whatever sacrifices I’m making -- going through five hours of makeup, or sitting in water, or trying to take on being a woman, or not being able to see, and having a crooked face all day – make perfect sense. It is not a sacrifice at all when you have a loyalty to someone who is that much a visionary, that much an artist, and you want to help him make that art. You see the finished version, and go, “Yes, there is the beauty we were making.”
And what else do you have on your plate?
I left the genre for a minute and did a Hallmark Movies and Mysteries movie called The Ultimate Legacy (airing again Feb. 11 and 14), and I play Raquel Welch’s butler in the story. And I was wearing a bowtie and three-piece suit, and had lots of witty dialogue! It was wonderful! I just also complete a movie called The Bye Bye Man, in which I play The Bye Bye Man. That will be coming out October 14, 2016. The week after that, I have a couple significant cameos in Ouija 2. I also filmed my dream role of Count Orlok in a remake of Nosferatu. It was done indie style with the same director, David Lee Fisher, who did a silent-to-talkie film remake with me called The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. He films us actors in black-and-white on a green screen, and plops us into original footage. It is going to be so beautiful, and I am really excited about it. And the object of my desire in the movie, Ellen, is played by Sarah Carter who was Maggie with me on Falling Skies.
Crimson Peak Synopsis:
When her heart is stolen by a seductive stranger, a young woman is swept away to a house atop a mountain of blood-red clay— a place filled with secrets that will haunt her forever. Between desire and darkness, between mystery and madness, lies the truth behind Crimson Peak. From the imagination of director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) comes a terrifying, Gothic romance masterpiece starring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, and Charlie Hunnam.
Special Features Exclusively on Blu-ray:
I Remember Crimson Peak: A series of interviews with director Guillermo del Toro and his standout cast: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain.
A Living Thing: An army of artisans was amassed to construct the Sharpe mansion on North America’s largest soundstage. Witness first-hand and in great detail the construction of Del Toro’s most elaborate set to date.
A Primer on Gothic Romance: Employing his encyclopedic knowledge and passion for the genre, Guillermo del Toro traces the lineage of Gothic romance in cinema. Using Crimson Peak as the basis, Del Toro outlines the history of cinematic terror and illuminates the differences between traditional scares and elevated horror.
Crimson Phantoms: Del Toro’s approach to make-up effects is discussed by award-winning effects house DDT. In this piece they offer an exclusive look inside their workshop, where they deconstruct the creation of the film’s most disturbing prosthetic effects. The discussion delves into the mythology of these elegant creatures and how Del Toro’s belief in the supernatural informed the design and narrative of the ghosts.
Hand Tailored Gothic: Costume designer Kate Hawley unravels her collaboration with Del Toro and reveals the symbolism constantly at play in the wardrobe’s design.
Blu-ray and DVD Special Features:
The Light and Dark of Crimson Peak offers a stylized turn of the century with carefully crafted visuals that provide the perfect backdrop for Del Toro’s brand of psychological horror. Follow the phases of production to discover a booming America and a dark and removed England portrayed with a multi-layered sophistication unlike any seen in recent cinema.
Beware of Crimson Peak: Tom Hiddleston (Sir Thomas Sharpe) offers a walking tour of the many secret spaces in Allerdale Hall.
Feature Commentary with co-writer and director Guillermo Del Toro