Category Archives: Monster Legacy Specials
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.
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.
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.
The Monstrous Hundred continues with the 90s, a turning point in effects-making with the advent of CGI.
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.
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.
“Three years ago, when I was here for King Kong,” humbly said Carlo Rambaldi at the 1980 Academy Awards, “I don’t know English, and I said ‘Thank you’. Now I learn very well English, and I say, ‘Thank you very much!'”. Carlo Rambaldi (September 15, 1925 – August 10, 2012) was an Italian special effects artist, and in many ways, a pioneer of the craft. In his 30-year-long career, Rambaldi collaborated on a great many films, some more well-known and others more obscure, with directors such as Mario Bava, Federico Fellini, Dario Argento, Ridley Scott, and Steven Spielberg.
Monster Legacy had the privilege and honour to interview Adam Johansen, head of Odd Studio, about their work on Alien: Covenant. For the film, Odd Studio merged with Conor O’Sullivan’s Creatures Inc. to create a series of practical creatures that would serve both as onscreen effects and as reference for the digital effects.
As Kate Lloyd enters the ancient spaceship — in the climax of Matthijs van Heijningen’s The Thing — she discovers a luminous, shapeshifting tower. Hologram pieces continuously assemble and disassemble, moving geometrically. It is here that she is attacked by the assimilated Sander, who has taken the form of a distorted creature. The final cut of the film indeed was a distortion of the director’s original idea surrounding what was hidden in the ancient spacecraft.
Amalgamated Dynamics was tasked with designing and constructing all of the Thing’s gruesome transformations, as well as additional alien creatures. Several full-sized models were built, ranging from rod puppets to suits. Due to a studio interference, it was decided late in production to replace most of the practical work with digitally-rendered effects, as the film “felt too 80s.” An exception is represented by a creature, labeled by the filmmakers as ‘the Pilot’.
In the final film, said Pilot was replaced by the hologram tower (labeled as “the Tetris version” by the film’s own director). As a result, the Thing manifests itself in the form of a mutated Sander; the Sander-Thing was designed in a fairly quick time period, brought on the screen directly as a digital effect. “We created the Sander-Thing the last minute,” the director said, “and it shows, unfortunately.” The replacement was established after test screenings, and as such the Pilot-Thing can be still briefly seen in the film — hidden by the shadows and camouflaged among the machinery. This is in all probability unintentional, and the question comes up:
Why was the Pilot Creature fired from The Thing?