- Movie: The Fly, 1986, 20th Century Fox
- Designer info: Chris Walas, Jonathan Horton (special makeup FX, Chris Walas Inc.)
David Cronenberg’s retelling of the 1958 movie features another metamorphosis, as Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) experiments with matter transportation, but fails to notice a fly in the booth with him. As fly and human DNA combine, Brundle begins his slow mutation process, gaining thick hairs and withered, vestigial limbs. Like a slow-motion car crash, the audience watch transfixed as Brundle at first begins to disintegrate, losing fingernails and teeth, and then eventually sheds all human form to make the tragic transformation into Brundlefly.
A short production schedule meant that designs were solicited from the whole team at Chris Walas Inc. “At one time the drawings tended to be very insectlike,” explained Walas, “which was too far in one specific direction. David [Cronenberg] insisted that the evolution was not human or insect but that the two entities were headed to some new reality.”
A book on diseases also informed the evolution of the design, leading to a fusion of the two themes, producing a sickly, deformed and ultimately doomed organism.
WATCH THIS! The making of The Fly: Part 1
WATCH THIS! The making of The Fly: Part 2
11. The Thing
- Movie: The Thing, 1982, Universal Pictures
- Designer info: Rob Bottin (special makeup FX), Michael Ploog (comic artist), Mentor Huebner (artist and illustrator), Stan Winston (special makeup FX, Stan Winston Studio)
The various versions of the metamophosing alien were the brainchild of a number of people, with the creatures becoming ever more complex as new VFX techniques were engineered and the script rewritten to accommodate them (the $750,000 effects budget had doubled by the end of production).
Comic artist Mike Ploog and conceptual artist Mentor Huebner were the visual driving force behind the ideas outlined in the script by Bill Lancaster (son of actor Burt). The extraterrestrial shape-shifter gave the pair free reign to envision all manner of grotesquely deformed and unnatural lifeforms, which they did under the guidance of makeup artist Rob Bottin and, latterly, Stan Winston, who was drafted in to undertake the transforming dog sequence.
The bizarre designs and brilliant effects were best summed up as Norris’ head sprouts legs and scuttles away much to Palmer’s dismay, who merely vocalises what the audience are thinking: “You gotta be fucking kidding.”
WATCH THIS! Chest Defibrillation. Warning: Extremely gory!
12. The Predator
- Movie: Predator, 1987, 20th Century Fox
- Designer info: Stan Winston
When the original ‘Hunter’ design (a more insectoid suit originally worn by Jean Claude van Damme) was scrapped, the Predator VFX team turned to the late, great Stan Winston, who was hired on the recommendation of Arnold Schwarzenegger, to create the trophy-seeking alien. Influenced by a painting of a Rastafarian warrior in Joel Silver’s office – and James Cameron’s desire to “see something with mandibles” – Winston rapidly created the iconic dreadlocked warrior with the vicious jaws.
“My feeling from reading the script was that the Predator had to be a real character, rather than a generic creature,” said Winston. “He needed to be a very specific character – and that's what we came up with.”
Despite the short development time, Winston managed to create a unique and enduring design that continues to fascinate.
WATCH THIS! The guy who played the Predator
13. The Alien
- Movie: Alien, 1979, 20th Century Fox
- Designer info: Hans Rudi Giger (artist, sculptor)
And topping our list of movie monster designs is probably the most unique, disturbing and iconic movie creature, conceived by H. R. Giger for Ridley Scott’s horror film, Alien. Scott was first introduced to the Swiss artist by Alien’s screenwriter Dan O’Bannon, who gave him a copy of Giger’s book, Necronomicon.
“I realised we had the ability to create a monster that would be superior to most of those from the past,” said Scott. “Initially, Giger wanted to design the creature from scratch. However, I was so impressed with his ‘Necronom IV’ and ‘V’ paintings… that I insisted he follow their form.”
Man in a suit!
Despite initial reservations, Scott decided to go with a man in a suit.
“Finally we decided to make a very elegant creature,” said Giger, “quick and like an insect. Ridley Scott had an old photo of Leni Riefenstahl with a very tall Nubian, and he was impressed with that so we decided to make a suit for a very tall, thin man.”
- Check out: The making of Alien on YouTube
Giger’s biomechanic aesthetic informed the design, producing a seemingly eyeless creature with an elongated phallic skull, prehensile tail, exoskeletal armour and of course, that incredible extruding tongue and secondary mouth.
WATCH THIS! Practising being the Alien
This horrific article was written by Steve Jarratt.
Did your favourite make the list? Let us know in the article comments section below.