Category Archives: Movie Monsters

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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Exclusive: “The Mechanics of Monsters: From Carlo Rambaldi to Makinarium”

“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.

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The Angel of Death

 

It is all the same to me, my heart is filled with dust and sand.

As with many other key characters of Hellboy II, the Angel of Death was first envisioned by Guillermo Del Toro as a notebook sketch. From there, the character went through different iterations at the hands of concept artists like Wayne Barlowe, and ended up being art-directed by Norman Cabrera at Spectral Motion.

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The Last Elemental

It is an elemental. A giver of life and a destroyer. A forest god.

Mister Wink’s demise enrages Prince Nuada, to the point where the elf royalty, in retaliation, unleashes a Forest Elemental to kill Hellboy. The creature first appears in a small, bean-like shape; upon contact with water, it grows into an immense, 100-foot tall tentacular plant-like monster.

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Wonders of the Troll Market and Beyond – Part 2

A Hungarian mine cave housed the gigantic Troll Market set, one of the biggest built for Hellboy II — a vibrant, busy environment filled with practical and digital creatures — which Del Toro wanted to deviate from usual design standards. “Each artist was free to bring forth as many sketches of creatures as they wanted,” Del Toro explained. “The only condition was to veer away from ‘movie monsters’ and make the creatures more surreal and exotic, reference things other than film: engravings from the middle ages, Hieronymus Bosch, the arabian tales, etc, etc. Barlowe had the best batting average… 8 out of 10 of his designs made it to the screen. But we treated these creatures like extras. We seldom, if ever showcased them — I felt this was crucial to treat the market like you would any other location… to make it real.”

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Mister Wink

Mister Wink — Prince Nuada’s musclebound henchman troll — was born as a drawing in one of director Guillermo Del Toro’s notebooks: an ape-like humanoid with a large prosthetic mechanical hand that could be deployed from the arm through a chain and then retracted. As defined by concept artist Wayne Barlowe, “his huge artificial arm and hand seem like a direct counterpoint to Hellboy’s Right Hand of Doom.” The mechanical arm and hand also served the purpose of making Mr. Wink visually belong to Hellboy’s world.

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Wonders of the Troll Market and Beyond – Part 1

 

 

Although the first Hellboy film was rich in creature effects — both practical and digital — its sequel increased the workload with an ambitious roster of monstrous characters. To design the creatures and bring them to the screen, work was split between Spectral Motion, Solution Studios, Creature FX and DDT Efectos Speciales. Creature designs started from sketches by director Guillermo del Toro or Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, and then passed over at the companies for further refinement and selection of effects methods that could portray them effectively. Certain creatures were entirely practical or digital, whereas others employed both effects systems. Certain expedients used in Pan’s Labyrinth — such as the use of green screen creature suit portions that would be erased in post-production — were also recycled for the project.

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