Tagged: stan winston

Must SEE Halloween: Spielberg’s Spooky 80s AMAZING STORIES!!

Of course, everybody’s looking for the ultimate Halloween viewing this year and it just so happens I’ve got a couple recommendations here that are a MUST see for anyone who’s a fan of those spooky “Amblin* films of the eighties! A lot of people seem to have forgotten about or never even heard of  Steven Spielberg’s 1980s anthology series ‘Amazing Stories’. That’s truly a shame because many of these episodes are classic “Spielbergian” gems that are indeed quite freakin’ amazing. Better yet, there are a handful of episodes that are absolutely perfect for the Halloween season. Today I’d like to mention two of my all time favorite episodes of the series that just so happen to be quite perfectly spooky and utterly charming.

Easily one of the best episodes of the series comes from the 1st season is called ‘Mummy Daddy’. It’s directed by William Dear who’s most well known for one of my all time favorites ‘Harry and Hendersons’. This features an actor on a creepy fog laden swamp of a movie set who’s dressed in an elaborate mummy costume that’s virtually unremovable. When he suddenly gets a phone call that his wife is about to give birth, he bursts frantically from the set to head off to the hospital, In full mummy garb. What he doesn’t realize is that the backwoods locals are restless as they fear the legend of an actual evil mummy rumored to roam the forest in search of innocents to prey upon is alive and well.

 There’s a lot of unique twists and turns in this half hour episode, the mummy fx look incredible and the sets and fog filled moonlit locales are top notch. One thing is clear Steven Spielberg had a movie level budget for the show and he was willing to put it all on the line. This episode features the perfect blend of spooky comedy & horror as well as some excellent supernatural action sequences.

Not to mention one of my favorites, Brion James in the role of the aggro head hillbilly, who’s hell bent on ridding their small town of the mummy’s curse forever! This one is a must see for the Halloween season! 

Next up is my absolute favorite episode of the entire series which comes from season 2 called ‘Go to the Head of the Class’. 

It’s directed by ‘Back to the Future’s’ own Robert Zemekis, features Mary Stuart Masterson and of course Christopher Lloyd! This one is slso a double length episode, it easily could have been made into an excellent horror flick and would have easily been one of the best episodes of ‘Tales from the Crypt’ if it’d been included in that series, where to be honest it feels like it belongs!  In a nutshell it’s a story of two teenagers who who plan an elaborate revenge scheme on their asinine school teacher. However this isn’t your average tale of revenge, they instead employ the powers of the supernatural playing a record backwards and performing a ritual in the cemetery late one night after school that will supposedly put an end to their least fave douchebag headmaster! 

Christopher Lloyd shines in the role of the evil teacher and like the last episode I mentioned, the special effects here are done by Stan Winston and all of the horror set pieces are utterly breathtaking in the spookiest way imaginable. It’s jam packed with the perfect blend of comedy, genuine scares and familiar faces of the eighties that are certain to put a smile on your face.

These two episodes will pack the perfect double duo punch and give you something different to check out this Halloween season. Yeah horror from a much simpler time from the golden era of horror! Do not snooze on these this year!

Stan Winston’s Incredible Forgotten Monster Creation in 1998’s ‘CREATURE’!!

So I really wasn’t expecting much at all when I came across this dvd in a bargain bin, but dammit 1998’s ‘Creature’ somehow delivered exactly what I love! With a run time of almost 3 hours long I really expected to be bored out of my gord, but with a solid cast of great actors like Craig T. Nelson, Giancarlo Esposito & Kim Cattrall it was off to a great start. Taking place on a beautiful breathtaking Caribbean island also sealed part of the deal as well, but really what immediately caught my eye in the opening credits was Stan Winston being credited with the creature fx! Still though a tv mini-series from 1998 would more than likely end up being a snoozer, quite the contrary!

 

We have two shark researchers, Craig T. Nelson and his ex-wife Kim Cattrall, as beautiful ever, along with their teenage son ready to get into some serious trouble in paradise. A rogue great white shark is killing people around the island, but this one’s ready to eat “Jaws” for breakfast. The secret weapon of what might have been a forgettable mini series if of course Stan’s mutant monster shark!

This creature is one of his best creations too and luckily it doesn’t just stay hidden until the very end. We get plenty of monster mayhem to behold and also a great performance from Giancarlo Esposito, of recent Mandalorian fame to up the ante here even more.

Even with its rather hefty run time it never drags, likely due in part to its charming cast of characters, bad Caribbean accents and of course some gooey creature craziness make this an entertaining little adventure. It’s also got decent production value, sweet cinematography, the lush setting of St. Lucia in the 90’s along with some pretty well done action and genuinely thrilling moments of horror. It’s stunning too that somehow one of Stan Winston’s coolest creatures made it into this forgotten gem. All practical fx too! I didn’t see a lick of CGI here.

If you dig his work this is simply a must watch. I did it in two sittings and after the first half I was hungry to finish the second half. This actually already has a blu ray that’s quite easy to get, I also think it’d be pretty sweet if someone trimmed it down with a lean edit to an hour and a half or so. There’s a pretty rad monster “movie” that could be crafted from the miniseries. Still tho at its current length even, it’s a fun, creepy, carribean vacation that monster flick fanatics should embark on!

Stranger Things: Please Use Practical Monster Effects!!

Stranger Things Season 2 finally dropped this Halloween and damn was it good! So much fun and such a total and complete trip down memory lane. The show plays off of the wonder filled nostalgia of the 80’s and almost perfectly captures the magic of movies like Poltergeist, E.T., The Goonies and The Lost Boys to name a few.

This show couldn’t possibly get any better at delivering the ever so sweet 1980’s cinematic magic could it?  Well I say it could do the job way better, after watching the second season it was apparent once again that this show could really up it’s game by ditching a lot of the shoddy CGI effects it uses for it’s monsters.

 

 

The show sure looks and feels like an 80’s Amblin flick, that is until they introduce us to the other worldly monsters. Then it quickly becomes very apparent it’s 2017 and that some questionable CG has entered my 80’s fantasy! So for season 3 of the show, I think they could do better, to really recreate that magic of old, it’s time for the show to incorporate practical creature effects! Puppetry, makeup, animatronics!

 

 

Imagine the creatures on the show if they had the feel of E.T., The Gremlins or Pumpkinhead?! The CG takes me out of the moment, the realism fades quickly and I imagine how much more effective the experience would really be if it just gave this tweak to say 75% of it’s fx work. That alone would give us the ultimate nostalgia trip, let’s face it, fans would go nuts for this and especially those who are real fans of the genre the show’s replicating. So help me spread this idea #strangerthings80sfx & Let’s demand that 80’s special effects magic be utilized for the next season!!!  They’ve come a long way with practical fx work and blending with CG or using CG to eliminate wires & puppeteers would take the show to a whole next level of 1980’s love….

 

Jurassic World’s Special Effects Don’t Look So Special!

I just watched the latest trailer to the heavily anticipated Jurassic World, the fourth film of the franchise. I’m a huge fan of the first movie, it completely blew me away back in 1993. It was the first time I truly felt like I was seeing a real living breathing dinosaur on film.

I was blown away and much of the reason for that was the film’s special effects, which at the time were groundbreaking as CG was taken to a whole new level. But it really wasn’t all because of the CG, it was the way it was used along with incredible practical effects from Stan Winston. Winston actually built giant animatronic dinosaurs to use for many of the shots, they used CG only when needed and blended it together seamlessly. Check this out, it’s pretty  mind blowing…

This is why the dinos were so damn believable. Then the second and third movies followed, and though  not nearly as excellent as the first, I enjoyed them both. Now it’s 2014 and you might expect that over 20 years after the original we’d be more than amazed by the dinosaurs of Jurassic World, however after watching the trailer this certainly is not the case. Thus far this movie looks like pretty much any glossy blockbuster with the standard lazy CG we’ve grown used to over the years. I’m hoping there’s some magic here in Jurassic Park, I can’t help but wonder if it’s really missing Stan Winston’s genius…what do you think?

 

Stan Winston Fans Rejoice for ‘A Gnome Named Gnorm’?!

I love Stan Winston, he made soooo many amazing movie monsters come to life with his genius special effects wizardry! From the Predator, to the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park to the incredible Pumpkinhead! Yes Pumpkinhead is one of my fave monster movies of the 1980’s hands down, and it was also directed by good ol’ Stan! Now let it be known that he really didn’t direct much, The Terminator 2 mini-film for the Universal Studios theme park and the Michael Jackson movie/video “Ghosts” in 1997 I thought was it for him. But I just found out today that he did indeed direct another full length feature film besides Pumpkinhead, so naturally I was pumped to check out his follow-up he did back in 1990!   Well it just so happens to be a flick titled “A Gnome Named Norm” starring Anthony Michael Hall and a horny ass Gnome who’s lookin’ too impress the ladies!

Check out the trailer:

Well, now isn’t that something?! It looks like perhaps Winston was the inspiration behind flicks like “Munchie”?

Not quite what I was expecting after motherfuckin’ Pumpkinhead, but hey I gotta say that ‘A Gnome Named Gnorm’ looks like a damn good time!! So this one will go on my list of must watch movies-however this one I may need to view with a gang of friends and a few too many drinks!

You can watch the full feature on youtube too! This movie also went by the name ‘Upworld’, it’s crazy to find movies like this that somehow slipped under the radar!

Harbinger Down: The Real Prequel to “The Thing”!!

I just checked out the long awaited trailer for a movie I’ve been pumped about for quite some time time now, Harbinger Down! If you follow my blog at all you’ve probably heard me complaining a lot about CGI and how there aren’t nearly enough movies these days that utilize rad practical monster effects like they used to back in the 1980’s. Well Alec Gillis at Studio ADI announced a while back that he planned on making a full on monster movie utilizing all practical effects only using CG to eliminate things like rods or wires.

You see a while back they made a prequel to the classic John Carpenter Monster flick “The Thing” and Gillis and his crew were hired to do the special effects, they were told to use all practical monster effects to keep the same vibe as the 1982 classic. They went hard to work and filmed much of the movie with the effects but at the last minute the studio changed their mind, and CG’d over all of there work, claiming that people these days like their movies to look more like modern video games. The movie was bashed by fans of the original and did little at the box office. So here is Alec Gillis’ response to what happened to them, a movie that bears some resemblance to the premise of The Thing, as if him and his crew is giving the fans the movie that they were hoping for in The Thing prequel. So take a look at the trailer, this one is on the top of my list!!

ADI: Wizards of Special FX!

I just wanted to post a couple videos from ADI, they are an effects studio that specializes in hands on practical effects. Their work never ceases to amaze me. Today they are still pushing the bar with their makeup and animatronics, which I hope more people take notice of. I’ve heard recently that most movies today are made to look like video games, as so many kids expect their movies to look that way and that glossy shiny video gamey look may actually be intentional. There’s a time and a place for both styles of fx, practical and CG and when they are used together it’s often times has created the best moments in cinema.

goro

But for movies today ADI is pretty much the best at what they do. They’ve done a ton of work on some great films, the biggest controversy was all of the special effects they did for the prequel to “The Thing” which ended up a box office flop. The work they did for the film was replaced with shoddy CGI and this outraged the real fans of the iconic 1982 masterpeice. Had they used the ADI versions the prequel would have been the perfect companion piece to that movie. I just watched a great mini episode of Fangoria’s Blood & Guts with Anthrax’s own Scott Ian and it was worth posting again here.

It just goes to show you that these type of effects aren’t dead and in many cases to this day are better than CG. It also reminded me of how rad the monster design was for Goro from the campy  Mortal Kombat. Seeing stuff like that done over fifteen years ago makes me wonder why they chose to go fully CG on characters like The Incredible Hulk. Well I guess I am going to have to at least watch Mortal Kombat again! I recommend subscribing to their Youtube channel, there;s some amazing stuff on there!!!

Also any chance I get I love to show this Green Goblin they were working on for the Raimi Spider-man movie. A total shame they didn’t go with it, however my bet is that in the newest reboot of The Amazing Spider-man, The Green Goblin will most likely appear in the third movie-Hollywood don’t blow it get ADI to design his look!!!

 

What’s With This Real Life Mermaid Video?!!

I’m sure everyone has seen or heard about the supposed real life Mermaid video that Animal Planet showed on their documentary “Mermaids: The Body Found”. I just watched it for the first time, only the video of the kids on the beach and yeah it scared the shit out of me!! Mainly because I wasn’t expecting it to play out like a horror film.

From what I have heard thus far it’s being hyped as a possible real video, but I am certain it’s just a “show” as AP has already says the show is for pure entertainment. It sure would be cool if the video of the kids on the beach turned out to be authentic, at least for a moment here we can believe in their existence. The only real problem here is that to me this “Mermaid” looks a bit on the CG side.

Still you can’t help but wonder if there really were mermaids they probably wouldn’t look like Daryl Hanna from “SPLASH” and yeah that’s too bad they’d probably look like a strange sea creature.

So if you really have the Mermaids on the brain and liked the found footage from Animal Planet’s documentary then you need to check out She Creature, the remake by Stan Winston, easily the BEST monster mermaid movie ever made!! Check it!

The Evolution of the CG Hulk….

Yesterday there was a brand spankin’ new image of The Hulk released to the public for the upcoming Avengers movie. I must admit it’s the best most realistic looking one yet but to really be certain it’s perfect we’ll have to see this once again entirely computer generated character in the flesh or um…pixels or whatever it is on screen moving around with living breathing real human beings. Lets face it the last two Hulks were pretty piss poor and personally I rather see Lou Ferrigno back with the ripped jeans and green paint than more of this poorly done cg. However this still shot of the Hulk does look pretty dang nice and I am willing to keep an open optimistic mind about ol’ Jade Jaws until I see it for real. Lets though take a look at all three of these cg fakers and see if the new image actually holds up…

First the Ang Lee CG “dumb jock football player” Hulk…

Verdict: Wow this one looks even worse than I remember! What is that live action Shrek doing onscreen with Jennifer Connelly?! Did George Lucas do this cg version of The Hulk on his lunch break?! This one has GOT to be one of the worst cg charcters of all time!!

Second we have the Ed Norton “totally ripped” Hulk…

The verdict: This one actually looked pretty good….as long as there weren’t any real human beings on screen with him! This one at least got the look and spirit of The Hulk correct. Plus he wasn’t twenty five feet tall like the “Jolly Green Giant” Hulk that Ang Lee gave us. Still this version of The Hulk was to me quite a disappontment.

Lastly we’ve got a newly released shot of the “Joss Whedon can do no wrong” Hulk…

Verdict: This one is hands down the most realistic looking one yet but that don’t mean squat til we see him standing next to Robert Downey Jr. I am willing to bet this one could win the prize, but if it doesn’t well three strikes and you’re out CG Hulk!! With that said we still have the Guillermo De Toro Hulk to look forward to and I am sure that one will deliver the goods…

The Top 10 Monster Movies of the…..90’s?!

Simple fact, the 1990’s weren’t the best years for the monster movie, and when you think of monster movies it’s almost always a topic of the 1980’s. So I decided to make a list of the top 10 most bad ass monster flicks of the 90’s figuring there MUST be some gems during that era right? I didn’t add any Vampire movies because well they’re just not “monster enough” though “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” probably should have been at the top of the list. That being said, believe me folks the pickins’ were pretty damn slim for a monster fanatic like myself in the 90’s-most of the best ones came in 1990 it seemed but still there are a few worth your time if you’ve already tapped out the 70’s and 80’s for your monster fix. Here’s what I came up with, if you think I have left out any gems please by all means enlighten me here…

10. Castle Freak (1995):

Here’s a rad more obscure monster flick from the mid 90’s from Re-animator director Stuart Gordan. Yeah the title speaks for itself as the monster in this movie is truly a perverted freak that hangs out in an old castle!

This one also stars the awesome Jeffery Combs and features a sick twisted monster that bites a lady’s boob off! Gross!! Old school 80’s horror in the 90’s! Continue reading