Press your spaceface close to mine

On An Otherwise Lovely Summer Day

Posted by Sunday on Jun 16, 2008 at 2:41 pm in Daily Space, Things That Make Sunday Cry

I’m in a little bit of shock right now. I’ve been staring at this WordPress draft page trying to decide between some long-ass dedication and a short-n-sweet send off. Neither is particularly satisfactory when one of your heroes has died.


Stan Winston, easily the greatest special effects artists ever to live, has died at the young age of 62.

Stan – can I call you Stan, Stan?- won his first Oscar for creating one of the most complicated puppets ever constructed, the alien Queen of the seminal Aliens. Busting out pretty much every single great movie monster over the next 20+ years (right up until Iron Man‘s scene-stealing suit, which you’ve surely seen by now).

When I was a kid, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I guess I still don’t. On any given day I wanted to be a storm chaser, an astronaut, an epidemiologist, a horse trainer, a comic book artist, a pagan priestess, a writer, a movie star and a special effects artist. As my 30′s approach with gaining speed, I find that the one career I think most often about is the special effects artist – namely, practical effects. Monster masks, elf-ears and bloody intestines. Any DVD watched at my home means watching the special features hoping for behind-the-scenes peeks. The giant Alien box set I own (thanks dad!) gets play time as much for the voluminous documentaries as it does for the films – and in particular, my favorite part: Stan Winston and his crew, mocking up a giant, absurd, nearly-impossible puppet parts while seeing the possibilities behind the cruddy black-painted foam and the rubber tubing – the Queen. Who cares if someone is standing by with an industrial-size tube of KY Jelly to string from the Queen’s jaws? Me, that’s who! I want to be that someone!


Of course he had other achievements, undoubtedly ones he was more proud of. His stories of trying to keep the damn tyrannosaurus rex in Jurassic Park from shaking as though plagued with some kind of palsy would crack me up (the rain would soak into the latex and overload the motors, which would then violently shudder). You know, another frustrating day at work.

Anyway, thanks Stan. I’m getting choked up thinking about you fighting cancer for 7 years, and I wish I’d had a chance to meet you. Lightspeed.

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June 16th, 2008 | Daily Space, Things That Make Sunday Cry

One Response to “On An Otherwise Lovely Summer Day”

  1. Leesa Says:

    Aw crap, I hadn’t heard.
    I love this breed of effects guys. Old ILM, Harryhausen, Tippett, Winston among others. When we were kids me and Atton used to sit around watching whatever behind-the-scenes tapes we could find on them. Its so sad to see the practical effects guys going.

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