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“The dark side of the future world is the world of the Morlocks,” said Simon Wells, director of The Time Machine. Early script drafts for The Time Machine portray the Morlocks underground humanoids with mole-like claws. As the creative process progressed, they became more brutish and ape-like. To bring the creatures to life, Wells hired Stan Winston Studio under the supervision of Greg Figiel.
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.”
“I wanted a monster movie for so long,” said Cloverfield producer J.J. Abrams during a speech at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. “I was in Japan over a year ago with my son, who’s eight; and all he wanted to do was go to toy stores. We went to all these stores and there were still all these Godzillas everywhere. What’s better than Godzilla? And I thought, we need out own monster, like we need a monster movie — not like King Kong. I love King Kong. King Kong is adorable. And Godzilla is a charming monster. We love Godzilla; but I wanted something that was just insane, and intense.”
Preliminary drafts of Evolution by Don Jakoby elaborated the premise of the story with a much more serious tone compared to the final film. Upon being hired for the project, director Ivan Reitman requested screenwriters David Diamond and David Weissman to shift the script into a comedic adventure sci-fi story, in the same vein as Reitman’s Ghostbusters films. With only a full year before the film’s intended release and a whole alien ecology to bring to life for it, Reitman immediately began seeking the right effects craftsmen for the project. “This wasn’t about one dinosaur,” Reitman said, “or even a bunch of dinosaurs. It was about creating a whole new world.”
Director Jon Favreau wanted to maintain a generally physical vibe for Zathura‘s special effects — aesthetically, they would also have to homage pulp science fiction from the 1950s and 1960s. The Zorgons — the reptilian creatures that invade the children’s house — were no exception. As with other character effects for the film, they brought to the screen by Stan Winston Studio. Based on vague references in the script of “green scaly space pirates”, concept artists at Winston Studio — including lead artist Joey Orosco — extrapolated an organic creature design that combined humanoid characteristics with anatomical traits and textures from various species of reptiles.
“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.”