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Rest in peace Stan Winston

Iron Man
Many of us here at Scarecrow are still in shock about the recent passing of special effects genius Stan Winston, who was just 62 and far from retired. An innovator of makeup effects and animatronic puppetry, he managed to still thrive well into the age of computer generated imagery and was perhaps the best at integrating practical effects into digital ones. Maybe that's because he was one of the first to do it - he and his team made the dummies that morphed into animated liquid in the groundbreaking Terminator 2: Judgment Day as well as the Jurassic Park dinosaurs when they weren't computer generated. He performed similar duties as recently as this summer's Iron Man, creating the actual Iron Man suits that seamlessly turn into the flying animated ones. In fact it's so seamless I'm not even sure this picture is the suit - I found one that I was positive had to be the real thing until I noticed an Industrial Light and Magic copyright at the top. One of our goofy traditions at Scarecrow is to celebrate the birthdays of notable actors and filmmakers every day with the movies we play on the monitor. Of course, when an artist we admire dies we also pay them this small tribute. But for someone with this much classic work under their belt it's difficult to pick one or two to represent it. Is there a definitive Stan Winston movie? Some of the ones we considered were:
Alien Queen
ALIENS This was my first instinct. Winston and his team took the brilliant H.R. Giger monster from Alien and made it more animalistic, and in greater numbers. You could argue that they lost some of the elegance and exoticism of the original design, but I think they also look more like living creatures and less like a guy in a weird suit. But that's not even the reason to play the movie. Way more important is the Alien Queen, who to me is the greatest movie monster of all time. When I watch her on screen she doesn't seem like a special effect but a real animal - one that I don't want to go anywhere near. I did, though, because they have her at the Sci-Fi Museum. (It's hard to find good stills of her, though. If this one doesn't do it for you come in and rent the movie.)

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY In this other classic sequel from James Cameron, Winston's effects might be overshadowed by the pioneering digital effects on the T-1000. But Winston's actually hold up better - the Terminator endoskeletons and other robots in the future battles, the battle-damaged Schwarzenegger, etc. Of course, the original Terminator is also a good one, the beginning of the robot designs, some nice stop motion and a career breakthrough for both Winston and Cameron.
PREDATOR Yet another sci-fi action classic that Winston had a hand in, this one would've been a good choice since the main thing people remember about it is the Predator himself, a signature Winston creation. It's also worth noting that Winston came in late in the game to replace another studio's more insect-like creature (a suit to be worn by Jean-Claude Van Damme on stilts) that wasn't working. Judging from existing pictures of the earlier monster Winston's Predator is a far more original and convincing screen monster.

Jurassic Park
JURASSIC PARK Maybe too obvious of a choice, but it was one of the movies Winston was best known for, and one of the 4 that won him an Oscar. I remember that summer reading in Newsweek that the movie was going to change movies forever because of its use of computer effects on the dinosaurs. I couldn't even picture how that would work and like anyone was blown away when I actually saw it. But with all the hype about the CGI I'm not sure I realized how much of the dinosaurs were done with actual physical puppets. All of the effects in this one really hold up well and are probably still the definitive screen portrayal of dinosaurs. But it was checked out, so we couldn't play it.

The Island of Dr. Moreau
THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU Okay, this one was a dark horse candidate. Not many people appreciate John Frankenheimer's crazy mess of a movie with its mindblowingly far out performance by Marlon Brando as the title character. But can't we at least agree that Winston's menagerie of creepy animal people and mutants were impressive? There he is above with just a few of the extras.
Ultimately we decided on PUMPKINHEAD Like Predator, Pumpkinhead is an '80s movie remembered mainly for its cool monster. But we thought it seemed like a good choice for the purest expression of Stan Winston since he directed it and wrote the story. We also mistakenly assumed that Winston had designed the monster, but it turns out that credit actually goes to Tom Woodruff (also the guy wearing the suit). Woodruff is an effects artist who worked with Winston on movies like The Terminator, Aliens and Monster Squad before starting his own makeup company with Alec Gillis and taking over the effects (and suit-wearing) duties on the other Alien sequels. So although this wasn't our intention perhaps we paid tribute to Winston's other legacy besides the movies themselves: a whole generation of makeup artists who learned their craft under his wing and will continue to advance the arts he taught them long into the future. Winston's only other feature length directorial work was The Adventures of a Gnome Named Gnorm, a ridiculous cop/gnome buddy movie. He also directed the T2 3-D movie ride and a little-seen Michael Jackson short called Ghosts (a weird but effective showreel for Winston's makeup and Jackson's dancing). I'm kind of surprised he didn't do more, though, because going back and watching it again I found Pumpkinhead to be very effective, and a rare non-villainous role for Lance Henriksen (who Winston worked with on The Terminator and cut in half in Aliens). Other notable Winston work: A.I.,Interview With the Vampire, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, The Thing, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Some you might be surprised he was involved with: Tideland, Friday the 13th 3-D, Constantine, Heartbeeps, The Wiz, The Exterminator, Zoltan the Hound of Dracula, Mousehunt, Tank Girl.