The People Behind the Monsters: Photos of 1980s Horror Movie FX Artists in Action

Pulled from the pages of Fangoria magazines from the early eighties, are some brilliant behind-the-scenes photos of special effects artists at work.

An American Werewolf in London (1981) – Rick Baker

Rick Baker applies the makeup for the undead Griffin Dunne. Below, Baker (in the center) shows his time the internal mechanism of the wolf.


When it comes to horror movie effects, two names stand out among them all: Baker and Tom Savini.  Another great name in the realm of horror special effects is the elder statesman of FX, Dick Smith…


Spasms (1983) – Dick Smith

Who can forget the head explosions in the film Spasms?  Before CGI (which IMHO looks so much worse), this was quite the complicated process…


The exploding head involved a network of tubes and a mechanical substructure underneath a lifelike wax dummy.


Spasms also featured a giant snake creature which was created via robotics.  Mechanics expert Lew Gluck (pictured above) prepares the complex equipment for the scene.


Metal Storm (1983) – Makeup Effects Lab

In the early eighties there was a short resurgence in 3-D films, which included Charles Band’s Metal Storm, a Jaws and Amityville Horror sequel and the Molly Ringwald post-apocalypse adventure, Space Hunter.

The Makeup Effects Lab was headed up by three partners: Doug White, Allan Apone, and Frank Carriosa


Creating some of the monsters for Metal Storm (1983)


Jaws 3-D (1983) – Joe Alves

A mechanized tentacle on the set of Jaws 3-D.


Deathstalker (1983) – John Buechler

Buechler stands in front his creations for the Roger Corman flick, Deathstalker (1983).


Deadly Spawn (1983) – John Dods and Tim Hildebrandt

Dods sprays a shiny coat of lacquer over a creature molded from dental acrylic.

If you read fantasy books in the eighties, then you know the name of Hildebrandt, who illustrated the covers of some of the best known novels of the day.   Here, he works on the set of his own design for Deadly Spawn.


The Burning (1981) – Tom Savini

The great Tom Savini poses by his creation, Cropsy, for the underrated slasher film, The Burning (1981)


The Hunger (1983) – Dick Smith

We meet the great Dick Smith again, standing beside his model for an aged David Bowie for the film, The Hunger (1983).  Below, a younger Smith poses in front of his face cast collection.


Poltergeist (1982) – ILM

The Industrial Light and Magic crew on the set of Poltergeist (1982)


ILM team members, Craig Reardon and Mike McCracken, preparing effects for the film.


The Thing (1982) – Rob Bottin

Bottin (bottom right) and John Carpenter preparing a major effects sequence for the film, The Thing (1982).


Bottin applying an attention to detail on the set of The Thing; an art form that is slowly going bye-bye thanks to CGI.  Thankfully, newer big-budget films such as Star Wars have recognized that CGI alone doesn’t cut it.  Practical effects are still required if you want your effects realistic.


The Howling (1981) – Greg Cannom

Rick Baker protege, Greg Cannom, applies makeup to The Howling character, Eddie Quist.


Cat People (1982) – Tom Burman

Malcolm McDowell underwent a grueling makeup procedure by Tom Burman for his role in Cat People.

The Exterminator (1980) – Stan Winston

A list of 1980’s effects artists wouldn’t be complete without including Stan Winston, who would go on do Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and Aliens.


Cujo (1983) – Peter Knowlton

Knowlton (third from right) and his crew for the Stephen King adaptation, Cujo.


Caveman (1981) – Chris Walas

Chris Walas may not have the name recognition of Savini, Rick Baker, or Dick Smith, but he was on many of the big projects of the eighties, including Caveman (above) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (below).


The Boogens (1981) – Bill Munns

Anyone remember The Boogens from 1981?  So many of these horror flicks came and went; so much work went into their practical effects, they don’t deserve to be forgotten.  Thus, the reason for this post.

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