Category Archives: Movie Monsters
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.
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.
“Maybe it was just a gut instinct,” said David Bruckner, director of The Ritual, “but we always knew — maybe it had something to do with the fact that it’s about masculinity in crisis — it’s sort of this old Norse Viking nightmare that these modern men have wandered into; that the movie should always go for it, in the end. Whatever that means. So we always knew that we wanted to reveal, in one way or another, what it was. There are many movies that I admire that are withholding until the end, and like I said, we just felt that wasn’t this film.”
To convince the neuralyzed Kay that what he is saying is true, Jay shows Kay that most of the workers at the postal office are actually aliens. Dozens of concepts were devised, and ultimately nailed down to four.
Rick Baker and Cinovation Studio returned to design and give life to the creatures for Men In Black II, accompanied on the visual effects front by Industrial Light & Magic. Like its predecessor, the film posed an ambitious challenge of bringing to the screen a vast array of practical and digital creatures; and yet, Sony Pictures demanded completion of the project in a fraction of the time the same teams had been given to produce the first film.
Responsible for the design of Serleena’s various forms throughout Men In Black II were Rick Baker himself and ILM art director David Nakabayashi. “The trick,” recalled Nakabayashi, “was to give Serleena creature continuity, even though it would be seen in many different forms. There had to be visual cues telling the audience that Serleena was one creature.”
From a tropical jungle to one moulded in concrete, the new hunter in Predator 2 chooses Los Angeles as its hunting ground. “The fantasy I always had was to put the Predator in another kind of jungle,” said writer Jim Thomas. “An urban jungle.” The Thomas brothers returned to craft the story of the sequel. Many of their ideas and concepts for the first film could ultimately not be brought on screen. With Predator 2, the Thomas brothers had the chance to implement them into a new story, with the reassurance that — given a more appropriate budget and production schedule — they could actually be brought to life. “Because of the nature of the first film, we had a lot of detail and backstory about the Predator that we had to leave out,” said Jim, “but we’re including all those missing elements in this one.”
“No one understands the lonely perfection of my dreams. I found perfection here. I’ve created it. A perfect organism.”
“They want Aliens, I’ll give them fucking Aliens,” said Ridley Scott of the eponymous creature’s return in Alien: Covenant. Previously, the director had said that “the beast is done. Cooked,” something that resulted in the complete excision of the Alien from the final script for Prometheus. However, the lack of actual Aliens in the prequel film backfired and became a widespread complaint among enthusiasts of the series; as such, Twentieth Century Fox pushed for the inclusion of the original creature in the sequel. “It went straight up there, and we discovered from it that [the fans] were really frustrated,” Scott said. “They wanted to see more of the original [Alien] and I thought he was definitely cooked, with an orange in his mouth. So I thought: ‘Wow, OK, I’m wrong.'”
From the start of Alien: Covenant‘s production, it was known that the monsters in the film would be mostly digital effects. “We knew from the outset that we were going to do fully CG versions of all the creatures,” said visual effects supervisor Charles Henley, “but Ridley also wanted to have something there on set that he could frame on and direct, and that could interact with the actors. We started with the idea of reference puppets; later, this evolved into high-quality creature suits.” Scott said: “sometimes the physicality of an actor doing something odd that you haven’t thought of or you don’t want to do digitally, is useful; so whenever you can, always shoot the monster.”