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How Disney Channel’s ‘Zombies 2’ Production Team Made Monsters Kid-Friendly

Variety — Zoe Hewitt

Traditionally spooky creatures like zombies and werewolves get the Disney treatment in “Zombies 2,” the follow-up to the 2018 hit TV-movie musical of the same name. While the undead have now assimilated into the community of Seabrook, they’re confronted by a new set of outsiders: werewolves. Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly return as Zed and Addison, respectively, in the Disney Channel and DisneyNow sequel.

Makeup department head Julia Valente and costume designer Trysha Bakker were tasked with crafting characters that blend kid-friendly Disney styling with creepy creature looks. The teams took six weeks of prep to come up with the right balance. Discussion about the amount of fur, facial prosthetics and even nail length were all important as the department heads determined how far they could go before the creatures became too scary for the audience.

“If you want them to be appealing and beautiful and Disneyesque,” says Valente, “the more natural the look, the better it was.” While the creatures aren’t meant to be human, audiences still needed to identify with the movie’s stars.

The purples and golds in the werewolves costumes were chosen to reflect regalness. But makeup tints for other characters presented more of a challenge, particularly to achieve uniformity in the zombies’ gray faces and other body parts. Colors show up differently on every skin tone, so multiple layers of makeup were needed to cover and color-match.

Since the cast members were doing a lot of singing and dancing, the makeup also had to withstand a full day’s physical activity.

Part of the discussion also concerned the right number of markings on the werewolves, since too many could quickly become distracting. They settled on a couple of looks, with a slight variation between the leads and the pack. “The markings represent that idea of something a little more tribal,” says Valente of the adornments of the lupine stars. “It became more of a symbol of
a group.”

Bakker’s work, too, had to withstand the same level of scrutiny, combining the perfect blend of edgy, wild and cool. She kept the werewolves’ forest home in mind when creating her designs. “The leafy canopy was represented in the tops for Willa [Chandler Kinney] in the form of a crocheted lace, which was dyed indigo (the color of the midnight sky), or golden yellow (the color of the sun),” Bakker noted. “I used leather and suede for Wyatt [Pearce Joza]. The color palette and the textures were inspired by nature.”

And while the zombies are now well-enough integrated into the Seabrook community to been seen shopping in stores, their garb still reflects their changeling heritage. “Their clothes are ripped a certain way,” Bakker notes. “They’ve sewn all sorts of weird found objects on them, which makes them each unique.”

The human inhabitants of Seabrook look generally the same, but they, too, get some costume updates. Explains Bakker: “I used stronger colors and a little more sparkle. After all, this is Disney.” 

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