words wilson fok
FakingIt How does a filmmaker cause us to lose our dinner in a bloodfest of guts and gore?
Most of us want to own our own home. For some people it doesn’t matter much whether it is a little apartment up several flights of stairs but for others space and a view of the sea are mandatory. But who can afford a glitzy apartment overlooking Victoria Harbour? And if you can’t pay for it, would you kill for it? That was the question that gave Pan Ho Cheung the inspiration for his latest film. Josie Ho stars in Dream Home, a woman so obsessed with her dream apartment that when its owners ask for more money than she can afford, she devises a novel – and gruesome – way to devalue local property prices. Pang Ho Cheung sends his leading lady into the neighbours’ apartments with murder in mind. Andrew Lin, he of boy band ALIVE with Conroy Chan, heads the visual effects and make-up team in this local horror story and he brought one of the actors, Phat from rap sensation 24 Herbs, to meet bc to discuss the blood, the gore and the special effects in Pang’s film. If anything represents horror in the movies, it is blood – and the colour of blood. A tinge of red creeping out from under a door can make audiences shiver, even though they have no idea what or whose body it comes from. What can you say then about the flood that splashes out of the elevators in The Shining? Dream Home doesn’t stint on the red stuff either and, as Andrew Lin explains, the filmmakers got the best effects with some good quality control. ‘We use three types of blood in Dream Home,’ he says. ‘There is a lighter red colour, a medium, and a deep red. Each is divided into two consistencies – a thin, watery type that can be used to spray, and a thicker one with more substance that the actors bleed out. We bought the primary ingredients from abroad but mix each of them ourselves, so that we control the quality of the blood used in each scene. Usually local films use only one shade of red, that’s why when someone is shot you only see one big patch of bright red. It doesn’t look natural, and certainly doesn’t look real either. We’re putting in the extra detail considering the important role blood plays in the film.’ In Dream Home, blood is not the only thing to make your hair stand on end – your bile may well rise when, for instance, a person’s stomach is slashed open and their guts pour out. It happens to Phat and in the film, the bloody mess certainly looks like the real thing – one only hopes the props dept were being clever once again. ‘At first we wanted to use fake organs,’ says Lin, ‘but director Pang wanted some of the intestines to fall out onto the floor. In that case the intestines could not be made with plastic because fake plastic ones don’t have a substantial feeling. We considered the possibilities of using real organs and intestines, and then the idea of using pig organs came to mind. It works, but just barely, because the guts from a pig are larger than those of a human being. So to maximize the effect we needed to make sure the organs were trimmed so that on screen everything would look proportional. We also needed to
use one set of pig organs in the day and one set at night, and they all had to be cleaned and soaked thoroughly before shooting. Lin says it was certainly not easy ‘The smell was pretty gruesome.’ For three days they had to put up with it as they went through eight sets of intestines. But that wasn’t all. ‘We needed to know the arrangements of organs within the human system, like where and how the intestines are bent, and figure out how the organs will fall from an exposed wound,’ explains Lin. ‘It’s not just a ‘splat’ moment and everything falls out bloody and hanging. We needed to do it with style, so that it looks real. That’s the most important.’ Phat, from 24 Herbs, plays the guy whose stomach is slashed. Wasn’t he a bit horrified – even terrified? No – rather than being sickened, he says, he was excited about the scene. ‘The crew tailormade a fake stomach bag for me to wear. Inside this bag were the organs. Since the bag was worn with some weight in the front, when it was violently slashed across, not only did the organs and intestines fall out, the fake stomach also trembled a little, dramatically resembling a real bloody slash into my body.’ But for the actor, even more shiver-inducing was the following scene. ‘I was sitting on the ground, and Josie (Ho) was supposed to check on me to see if I had died. Although I was about to, as someone who loved to get high, I needed a fix even on the verge of death. I was supposed to smoke the last few puffs of a joint, yet when shooting began, the joint had burnt out. I tried to light it again, but it didn’t catch at all. ‘Since the camera was still rolling and director Pang didn’t call ‘Cut’ to stop filming, the only thing I could do was stay in character, and that’s what I did. I looked at the burnt-out joint. I couldn’t get it to light up, and in the end I had to shoot without it, making up reactions as I went on. Even when the scene was supposed to have finished, filming continued, so I kept my cool and also continued for about two more minutes until I couldn’t take it any longer. That’s when director Pang called ‘Cut’. ‘That extra two minutes of acting in agony was a breakthrough for me – by the time the camera stopped rolling, the entire crew in the room was applauding, and that gave me satisfaction for the next three days!’ says Phat.