"The Walking Dead" special FX makeup artist and co-executive producer Greg Nicotero recently talked about how the zombie makeup is transforming over time and how the new setting, an abandoned prison, will impact the show next season.
Returning to AMC on Oct. 14, the series will feature 16 episodes for Season 3.
Nicotero is directing one episode, and he quickly found that weather has a significant impact on zombie life.
"Well one thing I always think about and the rest of the crew can attest to is just how grueling the weather is in Georgia," Nicotero said in an interview with AMC. "The sun literally will bake you if you stand out in the sun too long. And one day I'm thinking about it and I'm like, 'OK, what would happen to these creatures that have no actual ability to protect themselves from the elements?' So you can only imagine how horrible the smell would be, and what we felt it was important to play up is the idea that these things are becoming dried up and disintegrated and leathery."
Another change Nicotero spearheaded was the use of more full-body prosthetics.
"One thing that I wanted to allow for in Season 3 was, you know, rotted chests and rotted backs," he said. "So we sculpted male and female rotted torsos that get glued directly to the performers.
"And one of the ideas we like playing up was that the walkers, because they are rotting and decomposed, is that they're sort of putrefying -- so if you come in contact with any of them and you slash at them, parts of them might sort of liquefy and come off."
Like the zombies' accelerating state of decay, the survivors' new home at a prison will also bring a new dimension to the series.
"The prison is certainly the beacon for things to come," Nicotero explained. "When you reach that milestone, we know we've turned a corner and now we know that different and bigger things are coming.
"It's like watching 'Jaws' and seeing the little yellow barrel and saying, 'OK, that's the yellow barrel, so I know the shark is somewhere around here.' It's just a question of when he's going to surface."
"The Walking Dead" follows police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) as he leads his family and a group of survivors across the country in search of a safe home as zombie hordes threaten their every move.
The show's sophomore season broke a basic cable record when it pulled in 9 million viewers for its action-packed finale, "Beside the Dying Fire." That episode was directed by Ernest R. Dickerson ("Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight," "Dexter"), who returns to helm the Season 3 premiere.
In 2011, the series earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Television Series - Drama and won the 2011 Emmy Award for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup. And this year, Lincoln ("Love, Actually," "Teachers") was nominated for an Airlock Alpha Portal Award for Best Actor/Television.
"The Walking Dead" also stars Steven Yeun, Sarah Wayne Callies ("Prison Break"), Chandler Riggs ("Get Low") and Laurie Holden ("Shield").
See more of Nicotero's interview at AMC.
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