Stan Winston

Jurassic Park

After building a theme park populated by dinosaurs, eccentric old billionaire John Hammond invites two top dino-scientists, a rock star chaos theory expert, and his grandchildren to come check it out. Fortunately for everyone involved, a horrible security breach unleashes the dinosaurs, and their lives are all terribly threatened.

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Tom Woodruff Costume Performance

How do you tell a story from inside 80 pounds of rubber and plastic? This video might simply be a teaser for a larger lesson plan from The Stan Winston school, but Tom Woodruff, Jr. has some keen things to say about the art of performing when you’ll be hidden by a suit that will probably become more famous than you. Woodruff has done special effects for major motion pictures for three decades, and his career has taken him inside Gillman in The Monster Squad, the alien of Alien 3 and many more. Now we’re all gonna go watch Creature from the Black Lagoon, right?

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Jurassic Park Raptor Suit Winston

How does a human fit inside a raptor? The standard way would probably be as bite-sized chunks, but if you’re Stan Winston and the effects team behind Jurassic Park, you’d want the human being to be in one piece. This amazing behind-the-scenes video takes the raptor from a “garbage bag” test in foam to the terrifying final product. The actor inside the suit, John Rosengrant narrates and explains the process (as well as the challenges). The video is part of a larger blog post from the Stan Winston School which features even more information and still photos, but the video itself is remarkable (if only to watch a raptor ripping up a towel in front of The Terminator). There’s no doubt that this movie had a profound impact on audiences, and that scene in the kitchen is one of the keystones that made raptors a household name more frightening than T-Rex. It’s priceless to be able to see the ingredients that went into it, partially because seeing how the trick was done only manages to make the magic more impressive. More like this, please.  

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge, so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy! Synopsis: Hell hath no fury like a slighted, backwoods widower with access to a witch. I mean, right? After country store owner Ed Harley’s (Lance Henriksen) simple life is shattered by the accidental death of his son under the wheels of a careless city slicker’s dirt-bike, he helps resurrect vengeance incarnate. The demon Pumpkinhead proceeds to stalk those Harley holds responsible for his son’s death, killing them more often than not by unnecessarily climbing on top of stuff and grabbing their faces. When Harley sees the error of his actions, it’s showdown time between he and the hell-beast he summoned.

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We packed the truck that would travel to location in Palenque, Mexico a few days before we traveled via airplane. The set crew: Steve Wang, Matt Rose, Shane Mahan, Brian Simpson, Richard Landon and me. Stan Winston would be with us, supervising the set work, understanding that we would only be gone for two weeks. At least that is what our work visas indicated. Palenque, Mexico was not a location easily reached. It required one flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City, another to Villa Hermosa, and finally a long ride in a Volkswagen bus through miles of rough country until we reached our hotel that was, from what we were told, the best in the area. It sat in a large clearing, surrounded by trees; two wings of rooms branched out from a central building that housed a restaurant/bar. Later, we discovered that Arnold Schwarzenegger had taken over the entire upper conference room and had turned it into a gymnasium that was open to anyone on the crew. As we settled into our rooms we were told that there would be screening of the film the next day for the cast and crew. My understanding was that this was for the benefit of the new crew members to get a chance to catch up and understand the shots needed to complete the film. A screen and projectors were set up in Arnold’s gym.

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By now, most fans credit Steve Wang and Matt Rose for the creation of the Predator. However, in my conversations with Steve, in particular, he feels that an unfair amount of credit has been given to him; it was a team effort bringing the Predator to life, and he couldn’t be more correct. During Monster Squad, Matt and Steve, who had been responsible for the Gillman, had worked through the weekend, grabbing precious few hours of sleep, while they established and painted the final suit. On Monday morning, it stood in the middle of Stan Winston’s satellite shop in all of its amphibian beauty. Stan saw it and his jaw bounced onto his chest. He had NEVER seen anything like it. It impressed him so much, that he, literally, stopped the work in the studio, gathered all of his employees around it and heaped praise upon these two kids (Matt was roughly 21 and Steve 20…maybe?). He said it was the best thing he had seen in his career thus far. Probably not the best strategy in the world. Months earlier, he was in England with his crew working on the Queen Alien, and now he was recognizing these two studio newcomers as the best. Where most of us in the shop agreed with Stan, there was some dissension.

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There are events that define one’s existence that go beyond being learning or growing experiences. They become scars. Battle scars. They may fade in time, but they don’t go away. They persist. The memories of the events may become blurry, but every now and then, you run your fingertips along the raised, healed wound and remember. It all comes back like a punch in the nose. I had been on movie sets before and believed that I had been trained. The snarky ADs , the disinterested teamsters, the hustling, the waiting, they were all nearly second-nature to me, especially with the close of my on-set involvement with Monster Squad. However, nothing could prepare me for what I was going to face. My first location experience. My first time out of the country. My first time working set on a big budget film. My first time supervising a team. Predator would be all of those things and it would change my life forever.

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After working with both Mark Shostrom and Sonny Burman on Evil Dead II, I had ended up back at Stan Winston’s studio. Stan and his permanent crew of John Rosengrant, Shane Mahan, Tom Woodruff, Jr., and Richard Landon were back in the shop from England and Aliens, and had just completed the Robert Zemekis episode of Amazing Stories, “Go to the Head of the Class.” The next assignment was a mechanical boar for the Debra Winger/Theresa Russell vehicle Black Widow. No, you didn’t miss anything. The sequence was cut just as we finished the puppet. Alec Gillis returned to the studio in time for the next Amazing Stories episode “Miss Stardust” for which we created three intergalactic beauty contestants. Ironically, it was during the shooting at Universal Studios, that Stan told us what the next assignment was going to be: A cross between The Goonies and Ghostbusters entitled The Monster Squad. Okay, confession time here. I do like the original Universal films Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolfman; I’m not a huge fan of The Mummy. Yes, my brother and I saw all of the films and collected the Aurora model kits (so good) but my love of monsters truthfully was for giant monsters: King Kong, Godzilla, Ray Harryhausen pictures, dinosaurs – those were the monsters that really ignited my imagination. I was partial to The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but technically, this was a 50s monster and not a 30s monster like its cousins. So when Stan told us […]

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I was fortunate to meet and work with artists who, unlike me, had already began their nomadic careers moving from shop to shop like a herd of dinosaurs in search of water. I would either call or get a call from a fellow make-up artist and the gossip and rumors would begin. There was no Internet and no cell phones so the only way to hear about upcoming work was through word of mouth. In 1985, make-up effects was still on the rise, so there appeared to be a lot of projects happening around town. Of all of the opportunities, however, the best one was presented to me by Bill Sturgeon. For those unfamiliar with Bill, not only did he do incredible mechanisms on House and Strange Invaders for James Cummins, but he was also one of Rick Baker’s original six staff artists who had created the effects for An American Werewolf in London. Bill called me from Stan Winston Studios. In the wake of the success of The Teminator, Stan was re-teamed with director James Cameron on Aliens. However, a few months prior to this announcement, Stan had committed the studio to work on Tobe Hooper’s remake of Invaders From Mars, so now his team was taxed with two films that both required a large amount of work.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with stuntman legend Vic Armstrong (who brought to life Indiana Jones, Superman and James Bond). We also chat with camera operator/cinematographer Peter Simonite (Skateland, Tree of Life), and we dig deeper into the monster-making world of effects master Shannon Shea. Plus, Matt Razak from Flixist spars off with Mike Smith from Examiner.com for our Movie News Pop Quiz, and we all learn an important lesson. By that, I mean a lesson about re-imaginings, reboots and re-re-re-makes. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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In the year 1984 a cybernetic organism is sent back from the future on a mission to kill a present-day diner waitress named Sarah Connor who will play a major role in the development of a war between man and machines in a post-apocalyptic future, because her son leads a rebellion of soldiers on the cusp of destroying the machines once and for all. The mentality is that in order for the machines to save their existence they must erase Sarah’s son John Connor from ever having existed and so they send back one of their own in order to kill Sarah before she can give birth to John.

Sent back by John to protect his mother from the cyborg is Kyle Reese who stands as Sarah’s only hope for survival against a tireless killing machine that will not stop until she’s dead and the future of mankind along with her.

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; if you meant to read Culture Warrior, please log off and try again.  But if, like me, you find intellectually-stimulating, expertly-written lectures on film and society require way too much of you, let me be the first to welcome you to the alternative.  Every week I reach behind the front-facing movies on the shelf to find the dusty, long-abandoned misfits hiding deliberately out of sight. These movies are not what you might call quality, given your definition of quality is the actual definition of quality, but that doesn’t stop them from tickling a very specific part of me. I will document the badness of these films to maintain some guise of credibility before squandering all your faith in me by then lovingly rubbing their schlocky goodness all over myself. And if that doesn’t whet your appetite, I will also pair the film with an apt snack food item to assert the so-bad-it’s-good concept. This week, I bid you subject yourselves to: The Vindicator.

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Stan Winston

The legendary Stan Winston has passed. You may not know it, but you are very familiar with his work. He will be missed.

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Officially Cool: Iron Man Week

It is Iron Man week here at Film School Rejects. So just in case you haven’t yet seen enough Iron Man stuff on this or every other site on the web, we are going to give you five straight days of awesome gear that will appeal to your geeky side.

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Check out this post to learn the loving story of a man and his goal of being encased in armor, as well as a wicked cool behind-the-scenes video from the upcoming flick Iron Man.

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wondercon-favreau.jpg

Jon Favreau is a funny guy.

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