The Essentials: Stan Winston’s greatest creations
Stan Winston is a savior to the action/horror/sci-fi community. He has done more for those genres and the success of some of the films made than most directors and actors that come to mind. His creations have literally saved movies from being run-of-the-mill monster crap fests and turned them into legendary films. I tend to think of the career he had and wonder if other artists in that industry looked up to him as a God. There aren’t many occupations where I can only name one person who does that job and this may be one of them. Winston’s work didn’t always mean that the film would be a success or even a good movie; but you could be damn sure that his work would be spectacular.
Aliens: The design and execution of the Alien Queen is absolute perfection! I would put this work against any of the CGI crap out there today and say that besides the Predator, it’s my favorite creature in all of film. Winston took the already badass Alien and made its mom even more killer.
Batman Returns: This one might not have jumped out at you when compared to the work he did on Aliens and some of the others on this list but Winston and his crew did a fantastic job of making Danny Devito look the part of the villain while still keeping enough of the actor to not look overly ridiculous.
Congo: A really cool idea and a chance to see my guy Ernie Hudson shooting at some crazy gorillas! I thought this movie was a big let down when it came out but even now the animatronics are pretty great and hold up well to the current crop of gorillas killing people movies.
Galaxy Quest: A great film starring Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver pitting a crew of aging TV space explorers versus some real alien bad guys. The movie is so good and well written that the creature design and the alien effects kinda take a back seat but pull it up on Netflix and you’ll appreciate it even more.
Jurassic Park: Everyone remembers the way the dinosaurs moved and acted but the shots with the actors interacting with them is the money shot for me. Winston built and controlled the gigantic T-Rex that was in the movie and it’s still the best film dinosaur I’ve ever seen.
Predator: My favorite movie of all time…I’ve gotten so much joy over the years watching this and God knows how shitty it could have been if they had used the original design. I know that Winston had gotten the idea for the mandibles from James Cameron and I guess he just wanted to see an alien with more of Rastafarian look so he slapped the mandibles on there and viola! True genius.
Small Soldiers: Here’s a movie that wouldn’t immediately jump out as you as having killer effects until you watch a bunch of toys try to murder people. We’re not talking Child’s Play Chucky dolls running around, these guys look and move much better and while the movie didn’t break much ground otherwise, the effects kicked ass.
The Terminator/Terminator 2: I don’t think I need to tell you how much I love these two films and we can all thank Stan Winston for working to bring the whole “cybernetic organism, living tissue over metal endoskeleton” come to fruition. I shudder to think of what the effect might have looked like without Winston there.
The Relic/Leviathon: These aren’t the type of movies that win multiple awards when the Oscars come around but the creature design will grab you by the balls and squeeze. I remember the first time I saw the poster for Leviathon and thinking to myself how cool it would be to see Robocop himself, Peter Weller, trying to kill that thing. It also had BPA favorite Meg Foster and her creepy eyes and The Relic paid for Tom Sizemore’s cocaine habit for probably two weeks. So there’s that.