Master of the Macabre
A self-taught special effects guru, A.S. Hamilton has crafted everything from severed heads to exploded organs with chilling perfection. But his greatest big-screen challenge was bringing one of human history’s most gruesome chapters back to life.
The bodies were everywhere: piled in charred heaps on the side of the road, clustered in shallow water under bridges and sprawled across lush fields and dusty city streets. Above the carnage, flocks of crows flew in dizzying patterns, their raucous cawing and insistent beating wings searing the stillness of the African sky. Occasionally, some of the birds would swoop down towards the bodies, near the faces of the dead, who wore expressions that told a tale of something vast and incomprehensible, something that many would later refer to only as “pure evil.” As the camera panned out and more images of shattered bodies appeared on the screen in Roger Spottiswoode’s film Shake Hands with the Devil, most of the audience was probably not thinking that these bodies were rubber cadavers. That fact matters only to a handful of people. A.S. Hamilton, the artisan behind crafting many of the bodies and body parts, is chief among them.
At forty-four, Hamilton is a slend…