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Press Release: Ready to Pop: Imagining the Deados


The Deados are essentially hell-bound souls who refuse to walk toward the light and cross over to the other side, and choose instead to hide out in the real world as long as they possibly can. 

They serve as the main villains in the upcoming 3D supernatural action-adventure R.I.P.D. and the targets of Veteran sheriff Roy Pulsifer (Bridges) and his partner Nick Walker (Reynolds)—the newest recruit in the afterlife police force.

The concept of Deados is one that is new to the R.I.P.D. mythology.  Devised by director by Robert Schwentke (Red) and writers PHIL HAY & MATT MANFREDI, the idea introduces a new type of threat to humanity— aside from the hideous demons featured in the graphic novels—one that would allow crossover between our worlds.  The writers and directors felt as if this conceit would add another layer to the film’s apocalyptic showdown. 

Explains Manfredi: “We wanted to keep the Deados, our villains, as humans for a while and then expose them.  We had this concept of someone who dies and doesn’t want to go to the afterlife and thought it was more appropriate for our story to show what happens if you’re supposed to die and you don’t: Your soul could manifest itself in this bizarre fashion.”

Although Deados are able to conceal themselves in human form and hide in plain sight, their souls begin to decay and emit a “soul stank,” a phrase that originated with Schwentke.  The longer a tortured soul remains on Earth, the more its evil metaphysical mojo begins to pervade its surroundings and affect the cosmic balance. 

Enter the R.I.P.D. to round them up to face Judgment.

By ostensibly correcting any shifts and ensuring the (super)natural order between the living and the dead remains neutral, the universe remains harmonious.   But once Roy and Nick realize the Deados have banded together with a diabolical plan that could topple the delicate balance between the two planes, the two cops realize that the fine agents of the R.I.P.D. are the only ones who can stop the universe from collapsing.

It would be up to production designer Alec Hammond, creature designers CRASH McCREERY and EDDIE YANG and VFX producer JULIETTE YAGER to design the looks for dozens of Deados once they “popped,” or had their true nature revealed.  Given unlimited opportunities via digital imagery, they dreamed of creating a multitude of menacing, evil and often humorous-looking creatures.  However, there was one simple rule to follow: A “popped” Deado had to be reminiscent of its real-life counterpart, and it would outwardly appear as an exaggerated manifestation of its crime against humanity.   For example, if he was a thief as a human, the monstrous Deado would appear with giant hands once his true nature was revealed.  

Even when it came to creating an environment for the Deados, regardless of which plane they existed on, Hammond wanted to be specific about his approach: “It was important to contrast the Deado world with where they come from because Deados come from our own existence.  They can be the mailman who delivers the mail or the person who gives you the coffee on the corner.  It has to feel like it could be anybody.  There might be something slightly off, but really they’re hiding in plain sight.” 

Look Sharp, Partner: Costume Design Costume designer Susan Lyall worked with Schwentke on two of his previous films, Red and Flightplan, and had the enjoyable task of not only dressing the film’s contemporary characters but also Roy’s Old West sheriff and a multitude of R.I.P.D. cops—officers from almost every period within the past few centuries.  Considering that whatever era an officer dies in marks the era of clothing he or she wears for eternity, the producers and writers took great pleasure in adding their suggestions to incorporate some iconic cop references into the mix.    

Lyall welcomed the process, which surprisingly invited considerable research.  She states: “Every member of the R.I.P.D. has a visual reference attached to him or her.  Some, audiences will pick out right away [i.e., Serpico, Popeye Doyle and Cagney & Lacey], but the rest of the looks came from real research.  

“It was actually liberating because it didn’t have to be Boston-police specific,” she adds.  “We could choose a police uniform from any state or decade.  We had to create a universe and create rules of R.I.P.D., just in order to function for ourselves.  They’re not rules that are necessarily apparent to the audience, but the rules existed for us to limit our universe and find a way to kind of make sense of what was a very open concept.”

While Nick would remain dressed in 2013-appropriate Boston Police Department gear, Roy was a bit trickier.  For the grizzled cop, Lyall brought in hints of rock-and-roll imagery—from the wraparound sunglasses to the cut of his vest and long sheriff’s duster.  The rogue sensibility offers a visual link to the graphic novel’s aesthetic as well as indicates that Roy is the longest-serving officer there (to Proctor’s alternate annoyance/enjoyment).  Indeed, his multiple infractions during his tour of duty just keeps extending his time with the R.I.P.D.


“RIPD” opens August 21, 2013 in theaters nationwide is released and distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corporation.

Credits: Photo and press release provided by Solar Entertainment Corporation

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