From Evil Dead to Middle Earth.

KNB effects group is a make up effects group that has a long history and is connected to a lot more hollywood history then you would think. They got started in 1988 when Sam Raimi’s friend Scott Spiegel needed makeup effects for his low budget slasher the intruder (1989). Raimi and Spiegel have been friends since childhood. Spiegel also worked on the original Evil Dead from 1981 as an actor. He played one of the fake shemps. Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nictero and Howard Berger had met Spiegel on the set of Evil Dead 2. Spiegel was one of the writers on Evil Dead 2.

They were part of Mark Shostrom crew who did the make-up effects on Evil Dead 2. By the end of the 80s the trio were tired of working for others after having done that for five years. They wanted to start something of their own. This became their opportunity and they took it. That is how knb got started. Later on they become responsible for getting Tarantino’s foot in the Hollywood door.

Robert Kurtzman who is the K in KNB efx group was the first person to pay Tarantino to write a screenplay. He met Tarantino through Scott Spiegel. Thanks to Kurtzman paying Tarantino to write his screenplay which later on became Dusk Till Dawn Tarantino could quit his job at the video store and fully commit to his film career. That commitment led later on to reservoir dogs. But helping jumpstart Tarantino’s career isn’t the only thing they have done. They are also had a hand in creating the effects team for Lord of the rings.

In the early days of Weta Workshop, which is the effects studio that did the practical effects for the Lord of the Rings movies, the founders of the company visited effects studios in LA. Weta was at this point a small and new effects studio so they needed all the input they could get on how to best run their studio.

One studio they visited a lot was KNB and after a while they had a good connection with KNB. One time they had a horror movie screening together with KNB in LA of dead alive from 1992 directed by Peter Jackson with makeup effects by Weta Workshop. At this movie screening was there a mix of KNB crew members, weta crew members and new line executes. The people from Weta and KNB are your regular horror fans which means they cheered at every graphic gore scene while the studio executes looked on in horror as these people cheered at the brutality on the screen.

By the end of the 90s they had established a good connection with knb. When Peter Jackson started Lord of the rings in 1999 Weta needed a bigger crew because they had never tackled such a big project before. They got in contact with their good friends with KNB and asked if they could hire some of their crew. KNB was currently in a period where they were getting very little work so a large portion of the crew went down to Ny Zeeland.

A notable example of a part of this crew was gino acevedo who worked first as a prosthetic make up artist on gimli and some of the orcs and then got recruited by weta digital to oversee the texture creation on gollum. weta Digital is the digital effects sister company to Weta Workshop. He later on became one of the creative art directors for weta digital. A lot of the KNB crew members even stayed there and became a permanent part of weta workshop.

That was the brief history of KNB during the 90s. Yes there is a lot more to the KNB history of the 90s because they have worked on so much throughout the years. I think it is an interesting story about how the movie world is connected.  A direct connection to from Evil Dead to lord of the rings through make up effects. 

Written by A Swedish Horror Nerd ( Elis Helmersson)