Blog Archives

Monster Gallery: Independence Day (1996)

Invaders on the Fourth of July


The question of
whether or not
we are alone
in the universe
has been answered

The Alien invaders of Independence Day are not seen up close in the film until Hiller knocks one down after its craft crashed. The creature is subsequently seen within a laboratory where the film recreates a key sequence concept common to science-fiction classics it homages — a close encounter with one of the invaders. Patrick Tatopoulos, production designer of the film, designed the entirety of the extraterrestrial elements of Independence Day, including the Aliens themselves.

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Monster Gallery: Outlander (2008)



The development of Outlander and its alien monster, the Moorwen, stemmed from director Howard McCain’s interest in Old English folklore — and particularly, the epic poem Beowulf. The would-be director discovered the story in 1992, and immediately began to envision a film version of the poem. In a time when The Lord of the Rings had yet to be released, McCain did not think that a purely fantasy film would resonate with audiences. He thus wanted to convert Beowulf into a science-fiction film, since the genre had experienced a new rise in popularity in the precedent decade. With this intention in mind, McCain had to find a manner to represent its main antagonist — Grendel, a creature deeply rooted in folklore and mythology — without having to resort to the supernatural. Working with writer Dirk Blackman, McCain found the solution in turning Grendel into an extraterrestrial entity — an approach that he found more convincing than a magical beast. “We said, ‘what if an alien creature landed on Earth [at the time of] the Vikings?’We believe that if Beowulf was based on the slightest grain of truth, that would be the most plausible explanation — the only possible source of the myth.”

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Monster Gallery: Pitch Black (2000)

Chimera of the Night


Though mentioned often in the script, the creatures in PITCH BLACK are seldom seen at length; rather, they are glimpsed, they are heard, they are felt. They are, really, the embodiment of your nocturnal fears: a howling coyote that jars you awake; the painting on the wall that comes to life when stared at too long… the sway of your bed just before the earthquake hits. Chimera of the night.
-David Twohy, Pitch Black script, 1998

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Marcus Corvinus


Markus, bitten by bat, became the blood leader of the vampires.

For the first Underworld film, the most extensive Vampire make-up had been applied to Bill Nighy to portray the regenerating Viktor after his awakening. Otherwise, the Vampire make-ups in the film consisted in prosthetic teeth and bright blue contact lenses — showing their heritage from Marcus Corvinus. Interestingly enough, Tony Curran — who portrays Marcus in the second film — has red hair and blue eyes, both traits associated with vampires in Romanian folklore (specifically, the strigoi).

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Lycans of the Underworld — Underworld: Awakening


Patrick Tatopoulos and his special effects Studios did not return to provide effects for the fourth chapter of the series, Underworld: Awakening. Although the french artist was attached to the production of the 2012 Total Recall film, he managed to create designs for two of the new Lycan ‘types’ introduced in the film — the ‘Tunnel’ Lycan and the ‘Uber’ Lycan. MastersFX replaced Tatopoulos Studios in creating the new practical effects for the film; Todd Masters, the founder of the company, had precedent experiences with Werewolves in the production of Howling VI: The Freaks.

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Lycans of the Underworld — Underworld: Rise of the Lycans


Tatopoulos Studios and Luma Pictures once again returned to bring to life the Lycans for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Set in ancient times, the film also marks the new appearance of the first generation of Lycans — the original, feral strain of Werewolves. Seven ‘first generation’ Werewolf suits and only one hero animatronic head were used for the film. They were based on the moulds used for the creation of the William suit, with the single hero head actually being the William suit’s head used in the precedent film — appropriately repainted with the new Werewolf colour scheme.

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Lycans of the Underworld — Underworld: Evolution


The success of Underworld quickly led to the production of a sequel. Len Wiseman returned as the director of the new film, and with him Tatopoulos Studios to bring the Lycans to the screen again. The same basic design for the creatures was used, and most of the moulds were actually reused. An innovation in the design was represented by the greater quantity of hair on the bodies of the Werewolves. This aesthetic modification was implemented to portray the first generation Lycans of the prologue scene, as well as the climax of the film. “We changed up the Werewolves a little bit, made minor alterations to them,” Wiseman said, “because a lot of the Werewolves in this one were in some flashbacks that show the past, and we wanted them to look a little less evolved.” For issues of time and budget, the same suits were used to portray both the newly mutated first generation Lycans as well as the second generation Lycans.

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