When makeup designer Katt Philipps sat down to create the look of the vampires that make up the Dark Commandos, she knew right from the start what she DIDN'T want to do.
"My motivation for the face changes in the vampires is that I'm tired of seeing the big foamy forehead kind of things," she explains. "I wanted to really emphasize what happens to a vampire when they undergo such major physical changes through the teeth and the jaw. I went with the idea that the tendons around the mouth are more stressed from the transformation of the teeth."
Katt elaborates that she's always loved the concept of vampires and had come up with her own ideas for one some time ago, on the chance that she might actually one day design members of the undead. "When I talked to [Dark Commandos co-creator] Tom Sanders about it, he was really excited about the idea because so many people do vampires now and they've been stereotyped from movies like The Lost Boys and TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Pretty much the quintessential vampire look came from Lost Boys and everybody has stuck with that. Basically, that look is a very pronounced forehead and no eyebrows. I specifically didn't want to take away the eyebrows, because eyebrows say so much about a personality and help to frame the face.I just thought if you were going to make something that was fierce, to take the eyebrows out of it makes it look less fierce to me.Then it's more alien-like and I didn't want them to be aliens. I wanted them to be very organic creatures."
"Our vampire characters," adds Sanders, "are shown doing some pretty fantastic things, so we have to work extra hard to make sure they're believable as physical and emotional beings. We have to believe in both the power and the pain of their supernatural states."
Fans of "Dark Commandos" will notice two different levels of transformation (or vamping out) between the first two episodes of the series. In episode one, Dreyfuss (Bradley Upton) is shot at and catches a bullet in his hand, revealing one degree of change. In episode two, Non (Justin Neil Thompson) is clinging to the roof of a moving fan, when he's shot from within the vehicle. His resulting change is considerably more pronounced.
Ed Gross (co-creator of the series) reveals a tantalizing tidbit: "When we go back to explore a pivotal moment in Non's history (in the upcoming "Dark Commandos: Deadly Dawn" comic) we'll witness an even more dramatic physical change, unleashed after more than a century in the ground."
"As far as our vampires are concerned," says Katt, "They get more grotesque as they get older."
It follows then, that the youngest vampire on the team, Ed Torin (Christopher Boicelli), undergoes a relatively subtle transformation.
"It may sound strange," Katt explains, "But in some ways it's like having a baby that leaves stretch marks behind. The next time you're pregnant, those marks will stretch out again. The longer they've been (vampires) and gone through this transformation -- the more some of the effects of the muscular skeletal structure will stay behind. The more they feed -- the more they have lived this life of a vampire -- the more significant their change."