Friday, August 19, 2011
(Stan Winston, 1972 made-for-tv movie "Gargoyles")
What does it take to create the ultimate movie monster? It's actually an excruciatingly tough art. A few men, like Stan Winston, had an uncanny ability to create a monster with latex and mechanical parts, while others believe that CGI effects are the way to go and some old-time fellows depended upon makeup and great acting, such as in "Nosferatu."
There have been dozens of Godzillas, King Kongs, werewolves, dinosaurs and vampires for movies. Some of them hit the mark, others missed it entirely.
Although it may seem a bit outdated now, "An American Werewolf in London" had an unprecedented approach of the use of makeup, prosthesis, and mechanisms to actually take and evolve the monster as we watch it stretch and change. With good acting and this "real" looking approach, it actually seemed feasible. Rick Baker did an amazing job and actually was an innovator in makeup special effects because of this technique.
Stan Winston was probably one of the greatest in this industry, working on
"Jurassic Park," "The Thing," "Terminator," "Alien," "Predator," "Iron Man," and "Edward Scissorhands" among many many more monster/scifi movies. What was so amazing about what Stan Winston did was that he combined many aspects without ever compromising the concept of monster as "real." It's not easy to get the viewer to believe this thing really exists.
Some movies have had hokey monsters that the moment you see them, you go "oh, damn! Why did they have to show full-frontal monster?" The movie "Signs" really did that for me at the very end with the alien holding the child. In that moment, everything I believed crumbled quickly. The movie "The Howling," one of my favorite werewolf movies, completely lost it when they had the infamous office scene with the werewolf encounter. I remember bursting into laughter at that moment.
When it comes to larger-than-life monsters like King Kong and Godzilla, most special effects folks resort to scale models in the past, but a King Kong head was constructed and mechanized to scale for the 1976 version with Jessica Lange. In fact, the huge mechanized head has been used on the Universal City Tour for decades. Once again, another fantastic Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London) design. Here's what IMDB says about the face: Seven different masks were created by Carlo Rambaldi, and molded by Rick Baker to convey various emotions. Separate masks were necessary as there were too many cables and mechanics required for all the expressions to fit in one single mask. The masks were comprised of a plastic skull over which were placed artificial muscle groups activated by cables which entered the costume through Kong's feet, with the outer latex skins molded by Baker were placed over the top. The masks used hydraulics to provide movement, so much like the mechanical Kong and hands, the facial expressions were controlled by the team of operators working off-set with the control boards. To complete the look of a gorilla, Baker wore contact lenses so his eyes would resemble that of a gorilla's.
I'm curious to find out what you believed to be a very real monster and a very not-so-real monster.
I admit that Predator was to me the ultimate and the worst one I ever saw was just about any werewolf movie or older Godzilla movie--awkward to say the least. I won't even comment on CGI. I just wish it would go away completely. It's like the Made-in-China solution for US movies and I'm really quite sick of it. In fact, if a movie comes out with too much dependence on CGI, I won't see it. Hence, I've not seen "Transformers" yet. I can only suspend my imagination so much before I begin to giggle rather than gasp.
**Hey, y'all, so far 30 participants for the virtual zombie walk event. The button is on the left if you are interested in the details and joining us. We will all be doing big pushes of publicity in September to get everyone hyped for the 30th!**
**Don't forget--tonight is Lonely on a Friday Night here. Come on and comment back and forth. I'll be in all evening, as usual.**
at 12:00 PM