Extreme makeover: Movie edition

Charles Solomon is the author of many books, including "Enchanted Drawings: The History of Animation."

OVER the last 35 years, Stan Winston has helped create some of the most memorable creatures and effects in film and television history. His work as a makeup artist included designing the prostheses that turned Cicely Tyson into the 110-year-old Miss Jane Pittman. Expanding his range and scope, he moved from elaborate prosthetics to creature suits, miniatures, animatronic puppets and computer-generated images. Winston and his artists built "The Terminator's" steel skeleton, the blade fingers that earned "Edward Scissorhands" his name and the dinosaurs that went from attractions to terrors in the "Jurassic Park" movies.

In Jody Duncan's "The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio" (Titan: 336 pp., $49.95), we see how Winston's approach to effects remains eclectic and pragmatic: If a man in a monster suit works better in a shot than an animatronic puppet or a computer-generated image, use the man in the suit. Just make sure he doesn't look like a man in a monster suit on the screen.

The extraordinary behind-the-scenes photographs include preliminary sketches, alternate versions of designs and maquettes. Winston and his talented crews are shown sculpting models, trying on beast suits, building the enormous bodies of dinosaurs, assembling the hydraulic rigs for animatronic puppets, and casting the face and body of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even though Duncan's maladroit mixture of fanzine-ese, Variety-speak and press release gush could make the Terminator wince, the images in this lavish volume will delight fans of fantasy, horror and sci-fi movies.


-- Charles Solomon

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World