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Norwegian Ridgeback

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All at once there was a scraping noise and the egg split open. The baby dragon flopped on to the table. It wasn’t exactly pretty; Harry thought it looked like a crumpled, black umbrella. Its spiny wings were huge compared to its skinny jet body and it had a long snout with wide nostrils, stubs of horns and bulging, orange eyes.

It sneezed. A couple of sparks flew out of its snout.

‘Isn’t he beautiful?’ Hagrid murmured. He reached out a hand to stroke the dragon’s head. It snapped at his fingers, showing pointed fangs.

‘Bless him, look, he knows his mummy!’ said Hagrid.
-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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Monster Gallery: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Monster Gallery: Reign of Fire (2002)

Sovereigns of Fire

What do we do when we see them?

Dig hard, dig deep, go for shelter, and never look back.

In early 1996, writing duo Gregg Chabot and Kevin Peterka conceived a post-apocalyptic story depicting the last stand of humanity against monstrous dragons; aptly titled Reign of Fire, the script would have to wait several years before becoming a motion picture. Although this first draft would later evolve upon acquisition by Spyglass pictures, the driving force behind the project remained consistently the same: the desire to create the ultimate cinematic dragons. Fast, lethal — and first of all organic and real monsters. “There was [an] agreement between Roger Birnbaum, my producer, and me,” said Rob Bowman, director of the film, “that ‘let’s not set up to do this if we don’t make a new benchmark for dragons’, and I was gonna make sure they were going to be as realistic as I could make them.” The duty to give life to about 130 shots of the fire-breathing reptiles was given to The Secret Lab, Disney’s in-house visual effects company — which was disbanded shortly after production of Reign of Fire was completed.

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Monster Gallery: Dragonslayer (1981)

Vermithrax Pejorative

Vermithraxfire

By the early 80s, spanning from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad to The Brothers Lionheart, there was an ostensible lack of iconic dragon villains in motion pictures. Audiences had yet to see a fire-breathing beast that would terrify them — and this was the objective Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins set for themselves: they wanted to create a memorable, formidable dragon using the most advanced among the available technologies. The duo thus embarked in what would become a quest to bring to the silver screen a monster audiences would never forget.

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Monster Gallery: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

The Hungarian Horntail

And there was the Horntail, at the other end of the enclosure, crouched low over her clutch of eggs, her wings half-furled, her evil, yellow eyes upon him, a monstrous, scaly, black lizard, thrashing her spiked tail, heaving yard-long gouge marks in the hard ground.

-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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