Monster Gallery: Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

Quetzalcoatl

“The Empire State building had their monster,” Larry Cohen, director of Q: The Winged Serpent, recalled, “but I thought the Chrysler Building was a better-looking building, so I thought, ‘well, they should have their own monster!’ And if you’re going to have a monster that’s a bird, what better place to have it nest than up at the top of the Chrysler Building? It’s kind of designed with a bird-like motif: It’s got gargoyles that look like giant bird-like creatures around the sides of it, and the whole top of it is kind of centered. If I was a giant bird and I was going to pick a nesting place, that’s where I’d go.”

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Monster Gallery: Godzilla (1954)

Gojira

The detonation of the nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not instantly kill all their victims. While those closest to the blast radius were instantly vaporized, many had to succumb to their wounds in the following hours. Among the horrors witnessed by the survivors, the most poignant ones have to be the so-called ‘ant-walking alligators’, people deformed to an extreme by the exposure to the explosion. Bombing survivor Tsutomu Yamaguchi described them as men and women who “were now eyeless and faceless — with their heads transformed into blackened alligator hides displaying red holes, indicating mouths. The alligator people did not scream. Their mouths could not form the sounds. The noise they made was worse than screaming. They uttered a continuous murmur — like locusts on a midsummer night.”

The idea of Godzilla was first conceived by producer of the film Tomoyuki Tanaka in early 1954, one year after the release of The Beast from 20.000 Fathoms. The film had not yet opened in Japan, but Tanaka was at the very least familiar with its story — and the concept of a giant monster linked with nuclear weaponry resonated with him. The core idea of the project was thus that of a creature that represented a physical manifestation of the atomic bomb — a ghost of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Tanaka recalled in retrospect: “the theme of the film, from the beginning, was the terror of the bomb. Mankind had created the bomb, and now nature was going to take revenge on mankind.”

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Monster Gallery: The Thing (1982)

Monster Gallery: Men in Black (1997)

Scum of the Universe — Men in Black, the Bug

“And what, we don’t like bugs?”
“Bugs thrive on carnage, tiger. They consume, infest, destroy, live off the death and destruction of other species.”
“You were stung as a child, weren’t you?”
“Imagine a giant cockroach, with unlimited strength, a massive inferiority complex, and a real short temper, is tear-assing around Manhattan Island in a brand-new Edgar suit. That sound like fun?”

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Scum of the Universe – Men in Black, Part 3

Rosenberg is revealed to be a mechanical human disguise that houses a small, green humanoid alien — dubbed ‘Chucky’ or ‘Mr. Gentle’ by the crew — designed directly after classic depictions of grey aliens with large eyes and craniums.

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Scum of the Universe – Men in Black, Part 2

It was during production that both Sonnenfeld and the producers realized that the MIB headquarters looked empty — as in they lacked a consistent alien presence. As originally envisioned, the headquarters had to represent a 60s airport or way station, and yet the footage shot up to that point only displayed few alien characters. The producers thus decided to introduce more exotic creatures into the scene — in the style of the iconic Star Wars cantina sequence — and commissioned additional creature effects.

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Scum of the Universe – Men In Black, Part 1

“When I first went in and talked to Barry Sonnenfeld about Men in Black,” said special effects wizard Rick Baker, “I said it would really be hard to do an alien that does not look like something you’ve seen 40,000 times on TV. That was one of the challenges — to do something that doesn’t look like something which has been done before. I don’t know if we totally succeeded in that, but some of them are original-looking.”

Bringing to life the fair of the bizarre to be at display in Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black was a long process that involved a wide diversity of artists. Before Rick Baker’s Cinovation Studio became attached to the project, various concept artists and illustrators had begun devising creature designs based on Ed Solomon’s script — which also changed its plot and story beats as production progressed. Artists involved in this early phase included Yasushi Nirasawa and Ricardo Delgado, as well as Carlos Huante — who would eventually have the most influence on the design and aesthetic of the aliens. The Men in Black creatures would go on to become characterized by their whimsical, bizarre aesthetic combined with organic, life-like texture.

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