Monsters Inc.: Local special effects studio specializes in the gory and grotesque – Keith Roach, Bloomington Herald Times, 7/8/12

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UNIONVILLE — The monsters are born in a pole barn at the end of a long gravel driveway, surrounded by trees that keep their deadly secret.

They take many forms. Werewolves. Serial killers. Alien deities. Goat-headed demons.

They are the shadow outside the window, the bump in the night.

They are your nightmares when you sleep, and the sweat on your brow when you wake.

And they come from Clockwerk Creature Company.

Monster masters

The special effects studio, based in a barn outside Unionville, creates monsters and gory effects for independent filmmakers and other clients in the Midwest.

Arthur Cullipher owns the studio and Clockwerk Pictures, which makes horror films. He founded Clockwerk Pictures in 2007, and its spin-off, the Clockwerk Creature Company, in 2009.

Cullipher works at the businesses part time with Shane Beasley, Kirk Chastain, Leya Taylor and David Pruett.

All of them are hardcore horror fans. They help organize Bloomington’s annual Dark Carnival Film Festival, which was founded by Cullipher and Pruett and screens independent horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy films. And they produce an online show called Atomic Age Cinema, in which costumed characters lampoon old horror movies.

At Clockwerk Creature Company, they specialize in creating realistic effects — everything from simple makeup, props and prosthetics to full-body creature suits and animatronics — no matter how difficult the challenge.

“When somebody says, ‘I need a 9-foot demon with a moving jaw, horns and the whole deal,’ you say yes,” says Cullipher, an alum of the Joe Blasco makeup school in Orlando, Fla. “And then you have to figure out how to do it.”

Recycling and realism

“Latex, gelatin and makeup — we can basically do any effect with those three items,” Beasley says. “A gallon of blood always helps.”

In fact, anything helps Clockwerk, which uses existing materials for its effects whenever possible.

Want a winged monster? A trash can, couch foam and PVC pipe are a good start.

Need a severed limb? They’ve got gelatin body parts they can melt down and recast.

Wish that wound were gorier? They’ll grab lasagna from the catering table.

Shane Beasley of the Clockwerk Creature Company

Shane Beasley as the ‘Headless’ Killer in “Found.”

Clockwerk’s relish for recycling comes in part from a sense of environmental responsibility — the studio uses mostly nontoxic chemicals — but it’s also cost effective.

That pleases local independent filmmaker Scott Schirmer. “It’s a godsend for a low-budget filmmaker,” says Schirmer, who managed the Von Lee Theater from 1996 to 2000. “Especially a horror filmmaker.”

Whatever the budget, the studio strives for realism.

In the Clockwerk Pictures movie “Roses,” which Cullipher directed, a killer hacks away at a woman’s foot — a foot that was made of gelatin and rigged with blood tubing.

The scene was so unsettling that when Dark Carnival screened the movie in 2010, Cullipher says, two people passed out and one threw up.

“It’s always good to get to the casual viewer,” he says, “but when you get to the horror fan, that’s the good stuff.”

Feast your eyes on ‘Found’

Clockwerk has more good stuff planned for horror fans. Clockwerk Pictures hopes to release two new anthologies in 2013, and Clockwerk Creature Company is making large, hairy beasts for a Krampus parade — a tradition in parts of Europe — in December on the B-Line Trail.

This week the Clockwerk crew is celebrating Schirmer’s latest film, “Found,” which premieres Saturday at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. It’s a coming-of-age tale about a young boy who discovers his older brother is a serial killer.

The film has many Clockwerk effects, especially in the two horror movies-within-the-horror movie.

In one, Cullipher wears a latex full-body suit to play a lake-dwelling monster.

Arthur Cullipher plays the monster he designed and created, a ‘Deep Dweller’ featured in a movie within the movie “Found.”

The other features a killer who cuts off people’s heads. At one point, he takes one of the heads, scoops out an eyeball with a spoon and eats it, its jellylike vitreous humor squirting out of his mouth.

At least that’s how it appears. Like much of Clockwerk’s oeuvre, the scene, which stars Beasley as the killer, will make audiences wonder how the studio did it.

Schirmer is thrilled with the results.

“We were blown away by that scene,” he says. “The eyeball eating is pretty nasty. And awesome.”

Calling all horror fans

See Clockwerk Creature Company’s work on the big screen at the premiere of the horror flick “Found,” 8 p.m. Saturday at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington.

General admission is $7. See for tickets.

“Found” was shot in Indiana, and features an all-Hoosier cast and crew. The movie will be followed by a Q&A panel with members of the production.

“Found” contains profanity, nudity, violence and disturbing subject matter, and is not intended for children younger than 17.

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Learn more about Clockwerk Creature Company online at

Arthur Cullipher of the Clockwerk Creature Company suits up as a lake monster for the filming of “Found” in July, 2012.

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