Getting Practical: Creating the World of Hellboy II

Guillermo Del Toro on the Set of Hellboy 2

Hellboy: the towering red demon and reluctant hero of creator Mike Mignola’s imagination first came to life more than a decade ago in 1993. Hellboy began as a comic book character for Dark Horse Comics, but in 2004 found new life on the big screen with the wild imagination of director Guillermo del Toro.  The title character is portrayed by actor Ron Perlman.

Ron Perlman as HellboyDel Toro is best known for his work on Blade II and his personal creative projects, Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone. Del Toro is one of the most creative minds in Hollywood right now. His visual imagery is stunning, with otherworldly creatures and sets taking place in spooky, abandoned places that also seem familiar. Most impressive however, is del Toro’s use of practicality in his films.

Comic book movie adaptations have been abundant lately, with Hellboy being unique in its lack of computer generated images, and its substitution of prosthetics, puppetry, makeup, and costuming. The use of physical tools instead of animated ones assists in making the world of Hellboy seem real.

Upon re-watching Hellboy and its special features, I have a profound respect for both Mike Mignola and Guillermo del Toro. I noticed that the characters of Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and Sammael all remained barely touched by computer effects. A real creepy treat is the torso of Ivan, whom Hellboy slings over his back by a noose.

As for the multi-talented Doug Jones, check out this quote from Universal’s official production information:

“Tasked to not play only Abe, a process that took up to five hours a day in the makeup chair, Jones agreed to portray both the fleshy court Chamberlain…as well as the multiwinged Angel of Death…”

Doug Jones in Hellboy 2

Jones himself was quoted as saying, “I always play characters under gobs of makeup and obstacles…sometimes they’re heavy; sometimes they’re hot; sometimes they’re glued on…but my job is to look as if I wake up this way every day, and the design work is so beautiful that it becomes something really fun for me to give motion to.”

Proving his dedication to staying realistic:  “Del Toro knew he again needed to infuse CGI to step in when practical effects were not possible. Double Negative Visual Effects came on board to execute his vision of the merciless robotic Golden Army…as well as the unstoppable Elemental creature and other fantasy effects.”

With the premier of Hellboy II: The Golden Army just days away (July 11th), I’m sure we can see a lot more of the classic del Toro methods and imagery.

Do you want to see more CGI or more realism?

Ashley Demma is a self-proclaimed geek and legal midget. At a towering 4'11'', she hails from her native New Lenox, Illinois, a town not located on most maps. She is an English and Creative Writing major at the University of Chicago. She loves Chinese food and horror movies, especially anything with vampires. Favorite directors include: Baz Lurhmann, Sofia Coppola, Tim Burton, Edgar Wright, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino to name a few. Known for being a compendium of pop-culture, Demma loves watching movies and quoting them to high heaven. She has also been known to burst into various showtunes for no apparent reason, other than her own amusement.

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