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Main Article: Gojira
“When we encounter Calvin in the beginning, he’s not maleficent,” said Daniel Espinosa, director of Life. “I think that in the other sci-fi movies, the unknown is always a threat. In my movie, the unknown is created somewhat by us. It’s not a question of what unknown does to us, but what do we do to the unknown.”
The central pitch for Calvin is, thus, that of an animal isolated from its original context. This creature finds itself in a new, alien environment where it simply tries to survive. “I loved that how we relate to it, is how it relates to us,” said Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays the main character in the film. “I mean, imagine what it would feel like to be taken from your home, put into a strange space station in a box, and then poked, prodded, and electrocuted, like how would you try to survive?”
“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.”
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.”
“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?”
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 cranium.
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.
Bringing to life the fair of the bizarre that would have 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.
Watchin’ Norris in there gave me the idea that… maybe every part of him was a whole, every little piece was an individual animal with a built-in desire to protect its own life. Ya see, when a man bleeds, it’s just tissue; but blood from one of you Things won’t obey when it’s attacked. It’ll try and survive… crawl away from a hot needle, say.
Before Palmer’s gruesome transformation, Carpenter and Cundey discussed about giving the audience subtle hints on who might be the Thing during the centerpiece of the film — the blood test scene — and eventually settled upon a subtle eye gleam. “We were looking for some kind of a subtle way, to say which one of these [men] might be human,” Cundey revealed. “You’ll notice there’s always an eye light, we call it, a little gleam in the eye of the actor. It gives life.” Palmer is devoid of the ‘eye-gleam’ moments before the transformation. “There is no eye light [on Palmer’s eyes]. Let’s make it look subtle like he’s different and the audience won’t know until later. So he has dead eyes.”
The Thing is first seen imitating a
Swedish Norwegian dog. The part was played by a trained animal actor — a half wolf, half Alaskan malamute dog named Jed, trained by his owner Clint Rowe. He performed in most sequences with the exception of the beginning chase scene, where another dog, painted to be indistinguishable from Jed, was filmed.