Gregory Nicotero may not possess the industry’s most recognizable face, but chances are, if you fancy yourself a devoted genre follower, the man’s special effects and make-up work have delighted you for years. Anyone with the talent to cut his teeth on a project as monumental as Day of the Dead has an obvious t; I’m just overjoyed we, the public, are subject to witness the man’s skills.
Nicotero learned to hone his craft under the tutelage of iconic effects man Tom Savini in the 1980’s. By 1985 Gregory had sealed a deal to work on an episode of the popular televion show Tales from the Darkde, and leapt right into the make-up fold of George Romero’s third Dead feature, Day of the Dead.
Career advancements soon bombarded Nicotero, as the young up-and-coming effects practitioner earned plenty of notice from Hollywood brass.
By the time 1987 had come to close, Nicotero had already been a part of some legendary pictures. Evil Dead II (that severed hand just so happened to be Nicotero’s!), Creepshow 2 and Predator joined the company of Day of the Dead on Nicotero’s résumé, and the young Pennsylvanian was on the verge of changing his career course, and the history of visual effects.
The following year, in 1988, Nicotero formed the KNB Efx Group with Howard Berger (whom he met on the set of Day of the Dead) and another proming young upstart (and extremely cool chap, may I add) Robert Kurtzman.
As a functioning entity, KNB never missed a beat; the crew of talented effects specialists continued to carve gashes in prosthetics as well the industry. The follow-up to Phantasm arrived in 1988, and there on hand for the shoot, was Nicotero. A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Child soon followed, as did contracts to work on Bride of Re-Animator, the fifth Halloween feature and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.
By 1990 KNB and Nicotero himself were dominating the world of special effects, and adding incredible films to a résumé that seemed to be growing at the rate of the Blob.
Between 1990 and 1995 Nicotero lent his talents to some landmark films such as, Misery, The People Under the Stairs, Army of Darkness, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and In the Mouth of Madness. With a decade of work and over a dozen genre defining films under his belt, Gregory was perched near the effects summit, and buness wasn’t even remotely near slowing down.
The next ten years afforded Nicotero more work, money and notoriety. Long gone was the impreson (if it ever truly existed) that Gregory was living in the shadows of noted mentor Tom Savini; Gregory Nicotero was a known commodity, and he earned that reputation on his own.
Lord of Illuons, From Dusk Till Dawn (keep an eye out once Seth and company vit the Titty Twister, you’ll notice Greg hanging out in the club with Savini… excuse me, Sex Machine), Scream, The Night Flier, Vampires, The Faculty, House on Haunted Hill, The Cell, Unbreakable, Identity and Hostel were just a few of the memorable features Gregory worked leading up to 2005.
Long time relationships with some of Hollywood’s finest filmmakers has ensured Nicotero remain an unbelievably busy man. You’ll note frequent collaborations with Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, Quentin Tarantino and John Carpenter; there’s a reason behind these frequent profesonal reunions and it’s called (quite mply) reliable, quality work.
Today, Gregory’s reputation is as strong as it’s ever been. KNB Efx has reportedly worked more than 400 features nce the company’s inception, and Mr. Nicotero is not only a bona fide effects superstar, he still appears to be just as hungry today as he was some 26 years ago. You can find his fine work in some great contemporary genre flicks such as Grindhouse, The Hills Have Eyes, The Mist, The Last House on the Left, Drag Me to Hell and Predators, and you can get a look at his magic in the incredibly popular AMC series, The Walking Dead.
If you’re a fan of special effects, I recommend you do a little research on Gregory Nicotero, as I’ve really only scratched the surface with this brief piece. The man is two steps beyond prolific and just as ambitious today as he was in 1985.