Zombies Get a Fresh New Look on ‘Fear the Walking Dead’

Walker - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

As the early days of the zombie apocalypse set in, Fear the Walking Dead producers turned to special effects guru Greg Nicotero to craft a distinct yet familiar look to the early “infected.” While the walkers in the original series have evolved over the last five seasons into atrophied, rotten corpses, Fear’s zombies had to be much more understated. Nicotero focused his attention specifically on the eyes, which he darkened to appear sunken against the zombie’s pale face, and he made the fresh bite marks a bit bloodier.

“In this society, if you saw an infected person out of the corner of your eye, you wouldn’t necessarily notice that there was something wrong with them,” Nicotero says. “There really should not be a tremendous amount of difference between what a junkie looks like and what one of these people looks like, except for the eyes.”

Nicotero took cues from original Walking Dead character Amy (Emma Bell), the younger sister of Andrea (Laurie Holden) who turned in the first season. “We paled her out, added thin, spidery veins along her face and applied those cataract, dead-looking eyes,” Nicotero says. “The [undead] are much more trauma-based than decomposition-based in the first couple of episodes.”

Executive producer Dave Erickson describes the importance of a “soulfulness” in the zombie’s appearance that causes the living to question the morality of killing these creatures. “It becomes a bit of a mind f— if you want to do away with someone,” Erickson says. “We couldn’t suddenly have our walkers be faster, hipper and more ‘citified,’ but they’re definitely leaning as much toward human as possible.”

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