RIP: Stan Winston

(This is the first in a series of people who changed the horror genre forever and who are eternally thanked for their contributions.))

This amazingly talented man passed away in 2008 and the industry seems a bit confused what to do next. He was the go-to man to make horror images become reality. Stan Winston did makeup, special effects and directing. He was a man of many talents and remembered most for the “Terminator” series, “Jurassic Park,” “Aliens,” “Predator,” “Iron Man,” and “Edward Scissorhands.”

Stan worked alongside James Cameron a good deal. He was an expert in makeup, puppets, and effects including digital. Not many people know this, but he actually went to Hollywood to become an actor and ended up an apprentice for Disney Studios in makeup artistry. He won four well-deserved Academy awards. As he was working on “Terminator Salvation” upon his death from multiple myeloma, the movie credits him. He had plans to work on “Avatar” for his good friend James Cameron, as well (admittedly, I might have watched it if he had).

He did leave the earth much too soon at 62, but what he did while he was here forever changed the genre that I love best. His vision for fictional creatures was so realistic, it was hard to imagine during movies like “Predator” that we weren’t witnessing a feasible and menacing killer from another planet. I would give anything to just have been inside his head for a couple days, rolling around ideas for how to tackle a new monster.

For the movie “Aliens,” Winston helped work with James Cameron on how he envisioned this 14-foot tall monster. Using black plastic bags and foam core, Stan built a mockup that was the same size for testing. This creature won him an Oscar. More importantly, he changed forever the technology and methods by which Hollywood could create feasible monsters. His work makes computer-generated monsters seem cartoonish. Having a real true interactive and life-sized creature to engage with actors even brings out the best in the actors who no longer have to stare a green wall and imagine such as Will Smith in many of his movies like "I Am Legend" and "I-Robot." (horrible!)

He left behind a philosophy that is very zen-like. Whenever life starts you in one direction and you take another, remember that you could very well be on a path that leads to your true talent. Stan started out wanting to be an actor and ended up learning how to do makeup. Decades later he was the master of puppetry and monster creations. When he packed his car to take off across country to California, he had visions in his head of making a career in the industry, maybe even winning an Academy award some day. It was a combination of finding his true talent and a hunger to succeed in whatever his career was that made him history-changing.

To learn more about him, go to his studios online—very awesome.

Rest in Peace


  1. Yeah, Stan, I truly mourned his lost. Watching his movies growing up--even as a little kid I loved horror--his creativity was such an inspiration and is still a serious influence on my interests now. Now that he's gone there just feels like there's a big empty hole in the horror-film industry that I doubt we'll ever get back. He also worked on one of my favorite horror games back in the day helping create the monsters of "The Suffering". Absolutely awesome game for it's time that was rumored to be brought to the big screen but after MTV bought the rights to it, the project appears to be on permanent hiatus. Such an epic loss. Godspeed, Mr. Winston. You are sorely missed.

  2. He certainly made our lives quite different than they would have been if he hadn't realized his potential. By him living up to his talents and being ambitious, we fell even further in love with horror. What a thing to know you've done with your life! I think designing movie monsters would be so wickedly awesome. Unfortunately, it looks like crapola CGI will win out and that's our loss. We'll have more godawful movies like "2012" and "I Robot." Yikes!

  3. "I, Robot" wasn't that bad. "I Am Legend" is what suffered. The book was AMAZING and terrifying but the CGI in the movie completely slaughtered any of the same notions I felt from the text. Too bad too. It would've been absolutely killer if it would've remained true to the plot and Winston had done the makeup. Why ruin a good thing?

  4. I-Robot was just a bit to slick and CGI for me. I wanted to feel the robot was real and a threat. I was so disappointed with I Am Legend, but I shoulda known that if Will was going to do the movie, it was going to be just BO (box office, and yeah, it'd stink too). I love that guy--why can't he step away from box office??? I have to admit that Vincent Price's "Last Man on Earth" did it most true to the original.

  5. I wasn't familiar with this guy until your blog entry but wow....very much respect...what a shame he is gone--death seems to take those who most often should still be here....

  6. Pam;
    It seems that way, but then if someone concentrates their life enough--a short time can leave quite an impression.

  7. I didn't know much about this very talented man. You don't hear much about the creative people behind your favorite movies. I'm glad you did a post on him. He deserved the recognition.


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