Shelob

The conspicuous presence of spiders in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth imaginarium is rooted in Arachnophobia, an irrational fear Tolkien’s son, Michael, was affected by. In the universe of Arda, the spiders were originally spawned by a single being — Ungoliant, a massive demonic entity which entered Middle Earth before the First Age, perhaps one of the Maia corrupted by Melkor. The Sindarin (Elvish) word for spider is, in fact, ‘ungol’. The creature gave birth to innumerable progeny, among which was Shelob, “the last child of Ungoliant.”

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Special: Of Dragons and Wyverns – Part 2

 

The Hungarian Horntail in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

The overall idea we now have of the so-called “Western” dragon is the result of a stratified conflation of different traditions, and this process culminated in the Middle Ages, wherein traditional dragons, due to their innate serpentine quality, as well as common traits with the Leviathan of the Book of Job, began to be associated with the Biblical serpent — the one that tempted Eve to engage in the Original Sin.

Lo and Behold, dragons acquired some traits we now recognize them for, all associated with the iconography of the Devil: horns and bat-like wings, as well as the infamous dragon-fire, which is both an association to hell itself and an inheritance from the Biblical Leviathan.

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Special: Of Dragons and Wyverns – Part 1

Here be Dragons.

When a dragon in a fantasy work — be it a novel, a film, or a videogame — is depicted as having just two wings (often also locomotory limbs) and two legs, the argument is often made that “it is not a dragon; it has two wings and two legs, therefore it is a wyvern, and should not be called a dragon“. This belief of an absolute dragon-wyvern dichotomy is held by surprisingly many as a sort of dogmatic truth — one that is radically false, in the face of actual data, history, literature and classical art saying otherwise. Of course, in no way a completely arbitrary classification reflects the plasticity of the word dragon, as well as the concept(s) of dragon.

Allow me thus to take you readers into a flying journey through the fantastic and languages, and explain why dragons can have as many limbs and wings as they please and still be called dragons.

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Exclusive – Relic Kothoga pictures from Paul Taglianetti!

Paul Taglianetti is a film producer, photographer, and writer who has worked on many iconic films as visual effects producer and coordinator. He currently teaches digital media at Mission San Jose in Fremont, CA — one of the most prestigious highsSchools in California, with previous film classes held at Quinnipiac University and Idyllwild Arts Academy.
We recently had a conversation about Relic — which he worked on as visual effects coordinator at VIFX — and he kindly provided some previously unpublished behind-the-scenes photos from the movie, which you can see below.

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Monster Gallery: Ghostbusters (1984)

The Gatekeeper and the Keymaster

Among the vast array of creature effects that Entertainment Effects Group had to arrange for Ghostbusters, a rather large role had to be filled by the Terror Dogs: Gozer the Gozerian’s loyal servants, whose purpose is to open the portal that allows the travelling entity to set foot on a new world to conquer.

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Special: Monster Legacy’s Monstrous Hundred – Part 4

In the last part of the Monstrous Hundred, here’s a carousel of films from the 2000s onwards!

Pitch Black (2000)
This film packs a clever, outside-the-box narrative with an equally interesting subversive man as its main character, pitting him and an unlikely crew against swarms of truly outlandish alien creatures that are neither hammerhead sharks, nor bats, nor birds of prey.

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Special: Monster Legacy’s Monstrous Hundred – Part 3

The Monstrous Hundred continues with the 90s, a turning point in effects-making with the advent of CGI.

Tremors (1990)
Kicking off the 90s roster of creature features on a fabulous note, Tremors is one of the most brilliant, all-around engaging monster movies of all time. From the witty dialogue penned by S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock, to the colourful performances of the cast, to the absolutely brilliant creature designs and effects by none other than the team at Amalgamated Dynamics in their first solo outing, Tremors never once gets boring. A real classic.

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Special: Monster Legacy’s Monstrous Hundred – Part 2

We continue with the second part of the Monstrous Hundred. Now we dive in he 70s and the glorious 80s, which saw a renaissance of practical effects.

King Kong (1976)
Probably the weakest of all Kong films (not including the abhorrent Skull Island), and one with a remarkably extended and multi-limbed controversy behind it. Regardless, this 70s colossal doesn’t fail in portraying the lonely and tragic nature of its main character, whose death is particularly well-orchestrated and effective.

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Special: Monster Legacy’s Monstrous Hundred — Part 1

Back in 2002, I was a small kid watching Free Willie on a local channel. During an ad intermission, a trailer was broadcast for what was coming afterwards. It didn’t have a hard time selling it to my young eyes — “monsters from beneath the Earth! Now they’re back, badder and hungrier!” were all the words I needed to hear. The film was Tremors 2: Aftershocks and it may very well be the reason Monster Legacy has been and continues to be a thing since 2011.

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