Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Good Corpse/Bad Corpse - Jack Goodman

When I started this topic, it actually went by the snappy title of 'Good Zombie, Crap Zombie' but it took me a grand total of one post to realise that if I were to post about one of my favourite members of Undead society, Mr Jack Goodman, I may actually be entering into a world of pain amongst the hardcore Zombie fraternity. Therefore it was with great pleasure that I was able to go all George 'Let me just fix that' Lucas and re-name the original post to the wonderfully, painfully pun-tastic 'Good Corpse, Bad Corpse'. Of course now I may have to face the wrath of the hardcore necrophilliac fraternity, but truth be told they tend to be somewhat less vocal than your average Romero fan.

So, after the wonderfully inept zombie stylings of Steve Coogan, we move onto perhaps the greatest undead makeup EVER to be committed to film. Yes, yes, David Naughton transformed into an actual werewolf, yes Brian Glover tells his 'Yoonighted Nay-shuns' joke and yes Jenny Agutter is deflowered by a Yank. But for me the most underrated aspect of 1981's 'An American Werewolf in London' has to be the dearly departed Jack Goodman, as played by Fear on Friday regular Griffin Dunne. The genius that is Rick Baker gave us not one, not two, but THREE of the best 'zombie' make ups out there today.
There's Fresh JackStinky Jack Rotten Jack and each one delivers the goods big time. when Dunne met with John Landis for the role, Landis would repeatedly question whether Dunne was at all claustrophobic, obviously envisaging the length of time he would be spending with his face in plaster. Presumably Dunne had not seen Tourist Trap at this point in his life.

It took five hours to apply the make up, and Dunne says that at the end of every day when he tore it from his face Baker would look on in horror as his amazing work was destroyed. Though he wasn't claustrophobic, Dunne did have some trouble adjusting to the makeup. He said he felt terribly depressed when confronted with what his face would no doubt resemble had he met some terrible fate.While not great for Dunne this speaks highly indeed of the work Baker was performing. Griffins performance however never once hinted at his inner feelings as Jack has to be the most upbeat member of the undead ever, except for these two of course"hello!'

and it his ever chipper performance which lends to the pitch black tone of the films humour as well as adding some humanity to the proceedings. Look at these scenes for example, where despite being one of the undead and despite David being a werewolf, his main concern seems to be not upsetting his best bud too much. What a guy!

In a deleted scene Jack asks David to pull his finger

As with alot of the actual movie, it's the little touches that reinforce our belief in Jack as a talking cadaver. The flapping chunk of flesh which wobbles throughout his first appearance in the hospital, which had everyone in my school playground swearing blind they had seen the toast. slide down his throat. The rotten dentures Baker created for Stinky Jack. You never really see them, but the absence of bright pearly whites just sells the effect more (I'm looking at you smooth tummy zombie!). And when David meets Jack for the last time, Jack has just one thin chunk of flesh left over his teeth, yet when that flesh rises at one point, you know he's smiling.

Jack Goodman - dead, stinking and cursed. Yet still takes the time to stop and smell the flowers.

He's always smiling.

Lets sit back now and enjoy some of the Goodman boy's finer moments.


Will Errickson said...

You're right, this is an underrated zombie! But I recall it being one of the more striking aspects of the movie the first time I saw it.

Nik Holmes said...

You're right Will, I should have chosen my words more carefully I think as I'm pretty sure most people actually do appreciate the Jack effect. In fact as one of the first big effects on the movie he probably blew alot of people away back in 1981, especially those not expecting such blatant supernatural elements as the undead.

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