Note: Stan Winston passed away Sunday, June 16th, of cancer. He had been fighting it for seven years.
When I first started watching movies and loving them it was the mid-nineties, and what dazzled me were the effects. That drew me to a show called Movie Magic on the Discovery Channel, and one of the names most often uttered was Stan Winston. Other practitioners like Rob Bottin, Dick Smith, Phil Tippett, and, of course, Ray Harryhausen caught my attention, but Stan Winston was a personal favorite.
The man was responsible for two of my favorite characters in the movies: the Terminator and the Rex from Jurassic Park. Much of the twos success came from other artisans at Stan Winston Studios, but that only excited me more. The man had his own studio?! He must be amazing.
He was. By all accounts one of the great good guys of Hollywood, Winston wasnt limited to fantasy fare. His work on television drama landed him two Emmys, and he provided makeup effects for movies as diverse as Pearl Harbor and Tideland. And his work ethic was insane he died with seven projects in various stages of development, and the current release Iron Man featured a wearable suit designed by Winston.
His involvement with the horror genre is limited, but remarkable. He reworked the Alien species into a hive group with thick carapaces and panther-like movement. He resurrected corpses in Dead and Buried. His directorial debut was a creature feature with Lance Henriksen called Pumpkinhead, notable chiefly for its successfully disgusting monster. I could continue, but listmaking dilutes the message after a while.
Effects technicians rarely get the front page in the news, since their job is to essentially be invisible. Winston, however, deserves our gratitude for turning in work that at worst was competent, and, at best, made us believe in the impossible, if only for a moment. Sometimes, a moment is all you need.