Graphic of a two-headed lizard from eXistenZ

Transcript: Naked Lunch: Creatures

PETER SUSCHITZKY: I guess I’ve done a few films which have been heavy in special effects, so I’ve had to pay attention to that side. I’ve seen that way of filmmaking alter over the years. But I try to avoid films which are driven by those needs. I always prefer a human story with real acting, rather than a film which demands that the machinery around me dominates the way of making the film.

RONALD SANDERS: Well, the fantasy movies – the creature movies, as I tend to think of them – are quite easy to cut, because most of that stuff was done practically on the set. You know, if you saw a creature moving, it was moving. It might be a puppet, it might be... you know, any number of things, but it actually existed on the set and was shot as an element.

Naked Lunch - it was, you know, makeup effects, creatures built. So for me cutting it, it’s quite easy. I mean you have to sell it. You have to cut it in such a way that you can’t see the gears and the levers. You have to get the right moments where the thing looks like it’s supposed to. You have to sell the effect. But they’re practical, they’re on the film, it’s rushes. So... I just treat it as performance. You know, you look at the... at the typewriter doing things, and you just look at it as performance and pick the best parts of the performance of the typewriter... and cut it that way. Because they’re all really there. When you’re doing CG it’s a lot... more difficult. You still have to cut the performance and make the CG fit, but with David’s pictures like that, it was practical, they were there on the set. They were real. So I just picked the typewriter’s best performance or the other creature’s best performance and... and used it. And we combed through it, you know. We took a lot of time finding just the right bits when you didn’t see the... the thing jerking or twitching or doing something mechanical. So it was a technical exercise, but really it was just performance. Just the creature’s performance.

STEPHAN DUPUIS: What I did on Naked Lunch was – basically my main creation on that was the mugwump. There were several designs for it. And finally it looked kind of like... a bird-like sort of thing that resembled, vaguely, Burroughs. With his... You know, "With his voice." "When it talked with the cigarette," and all that stuff. And, so, of course I made it, like, thin, which drove the mechanical department crazy. Because, you know, “Where are we going to put the cables and stuff?"

Well, you know, I said, “This is the way it’s supposed to look. It’s not everything that has to look about as thick as an elephant’s trunk." You know? So, "That’s the way it’s going to look. We’ll have to figure something... ."

And those guys are really great, anyway. It looked fantastic in the film. There was a bunch of people who were working on that crazy typewriter that had, like, all these appendages sticking out. And I was working on the appliances that Dr. Benway is wearing as that lady. And so there was like this split thing, and he goes like, “Benway!”.

He rips it up, you know, and it’s him underneath.

CAROL SPIER: All of the bug typewriters started as real typewriters. So I researched typewriters a lot. I found the most interesting, bizarre-looking typewriters that I could find. And David looked at them and he picked the ones he liked. And some of them had to look real, and some of them we wanted to... Had to then change into really bizarre shapes. After we had found them, then basically that became Chris Walas’ and Jim [sic] Isaacs’... They took those typewriters and then they had fun with them. That’s where they have fun. And then I come back in afterwards... and figure out how we’re going to make them work on set.

PETER SUSCHITZKY: What did it take to get the result? That's... There was little discussion about it, really. I knew that I wanted to make the interiors look strange and as expressionistic as I could without distorting reality. I knew that I wanted a certain visual style to the light. And I knew that I had these creatures, typewriters, to photograph. But I didn’t know how I was going to do that until I had them in front of the camera. The challenge was to make them look real and not to show the fact that they were mechanical models. But I loved all that.