A Visit to the Little Shop Where Hollywood Buys Its Dead Bodies
Jun 25 2014
On the face of it, Dapper Cadaver is a shop with an unassuming, windowless storefront underneath the landing pattern of Burbank Airport, just outside LA. Its sign advertises "Props Rentals, Sales, Halloween," and something called "Casualty Simulation." Google Maps helpfully tags it "Death Related," and "Horror Movie," in case that's what you're shopping for.
If it's not Halloween, the people shopping are the prop departments of your favorite movies and TV shows. Sure, as a highly-paid art director, you could make your own corpses from scratch, and many art departments do. But when there's a shop that offers medically realistic dead bodies, not just of humans, but of all creatures great and small, you may as well go retail.
Law and Order is a frequent shopper, as were Breaking Bad and Dexter. Think Game of Thrones' top shelf gore is too classy to be store-bought? Think again. The severed heads of many GOT characters were ordered here, then their faces were composited on in post.
The place does booming business around Halloween, when the cheesier plastic skulls and zombie costumes go like hotcakes. But on an average weekday, like the day I visited, the vibe is of a place just doing business as usual, stacking up torsos and severed limbs on the floor to complete a large order, and adding the requisite blood and guts to a modified corpse.
"Casuality simulation" also turns out to be corpses specially made for police departments and forensic units. Something a real-life Dexter might learn on in training.
While shopping for a film project of my own, I photographed the highlights.
See more of Nate Miller's work here.
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