I believe we have more than demonstrated our love of The Monster Squad here on The Retroist. From numerous posts featuring artwork by the likes of Traivs Falligant to epic apparel by Fright-Rags. Naturally there was also the 70th Retroist Podcast episode – all about The Monster Squad of course!
However we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to share vintage behinds the scenes photos from the movie. Furthermore photos supplied by none other than the Stan Winston School of Character Arts.
All Images courtesy of the Stan Winston School of Character Arts
It turns out that right after the Stan Winston Studio finished the effects work on 1986’s Aliens. The team finished up on Amazing Stories and then took on the job for The Monster Squad. A project that as you can understand caused quite a bit of excitement for the artists. A chance to play with the designs of the classic Universal Monsters. Having said that though, it seems that also initially caused some gritted teeth. As Shane Mahan explains on the Stan Winston school blog:
“The challenge was to suggest those classic creatures, without really copying them,” explained Shane Mahan, “because we didn’t have permission or the license to use those specific images. So we could do a ‘Gillman’, for example, but it couldn’t look too much like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. It was frustrating for us at first, because, of course, we wanted to do the original designs! But we couldn’t. We could only suggest those designs. So the Frankenstein monster looks a bit like the Karloff creature; but instead of bolts in the neck, he has bolts in the forehead. There was a certain percentage of changes we had to make to get away from any legal copyright infringement.”
Of all of the wonderful monster designs and I truly believe each and every one of them is great. The Gillman is still my favorite, hands down.
In August of this year it will mark the 30th anniversary of Monster Squad. I have no doubt that something must be in the works to celebrate this film. Having said that it would be hard to top the 20th Anniversary Blu-Ray.
Who knows though? Perhaps we might be lucky enough to get a comprehensive coffee table book? One in which even more of these great on the set photos might be shared. If I learn anything about such a special tome – I’ll be sure to share it with you all. Follow the link to the Stan Winston School up top – for additional photos and information from behind the scenes.
Did you enjoy the behind the scenes look at The Monster Squad? Don’t forget that well put together trailer!
Meet Rick Baker. Rick is one of the most famous men ever in the history of movie special effects. He’s worked on hundreds of films, starting out making the masks for the original Star Wars Cantina and continuing to create creepy creatures even today.
Baker has always been fascinated with gorillas, and has both created and played some of the most infamous apes to have appeared on screen over the past forty years. A few of the ones he created included King Kong (both the 1976 and 2005 versions), Sidney in The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Mighty Joe Young, all the masks in the 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes, and the gorilla’s close cousin, Harry from Harry and the Hendersons.
Some of the most iconic things my wife and I saw at the Special Effects 2 exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry back in 1996 were the movie matte paintings. Long before CGI was affordable, movie special effect wizards used matte paintings to fool audiences. Matte paintings are highly detailed paintings typically done on glass with spots cut out of them. Cameras then shoot through the matte paintings with the actors behind them to give the illusion of depths, or placed in front of them either using a projector or a green screen for sets that were too expensive of impossible to build.
I’m sure you all recognize this one from the Wizard of Oz. As you can see, there is a section missing in the middle where the actors actually walked down a yellow brick road. Everything else in that shot is actually a painting.
Here’s another iconic location that only existed on glass.
That is, of course, the reactor shaft that Darth Vader ultimately throws the Emperor in to at the end of Return of the Jedi.
Matte paintings are still used today, although by and large they have been replaced by computer graphics.
As I previously stated, one of my personal highlights of the Special Effects 2 exhibit at the Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry back in 1996 were all the Star Wars-related props and models. Here are two that you might recognize from the Battle of Hoth.
The first is, of course, an AT-AT — aka a “snow walker” — which was used by the Empire to launch a ground attack against the rebel base on Hoth. Depending on the scale of the other models in the shot, AT-AT models of all different sizes were used. Some of them were small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. This one is one of the larger models used. In the land before CGI, all the models in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back were animated using traditional stop motion techniques.
In the case next to the AT-AT was another Hoth ship, a Rebel Snowspeeder. If you look real hard — okay, you don’t have to look that hard — you’ll see me and my camcorder being reflected in the glass.
One of the cool things I saw while vising the “Special Effects 2” exhibit back in 1996 at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry was this alien craft model from Independence Day 4.
My wife here is making a gesture to show how small the model was in real life, compared to how big it looked on screen. After commenting that the ship was roughly the same shape as her hair-do … well, let’s just say it was a long, quiet ride home from Chicago the following weekend.