Stan Winston: 1946-2008

Make-up and effects pioneer is dead at age 62.

by | June 16, 2008 | Comments

Special effects and make-up maestro
Stan Winston
has died at the age of 62. He was surrounded by family at home when he succumbed
to multiple myeloma, a condition he lived with for seven years, on Sunday.

No self-accredited cineaste can get far without knowing
Winston’s work by heart. Casual filmgoers need only to glance at his filmography
to understand his impact on the movies.
Batman Returns
Artificial Intelligence
. The
Jurassic Parks
The Predators.
The Thing
. His
creations made lasting impressions when we were young, and today his works stand
out even more for their realism in a business currently awash in computer
generated theatrics.

But arguably, Winston did his best work working alongside
CG. He won an Oscar for Jurassic Park, which had the colossal
tyrannosaurus strutting alongside galloping gallimimus, and another for
Teminator 2
, pitting the squishy T-1000 against Arnold Schwarzenegger,
peeling flesh and exposed exoskeleton and all. And as recently as
Iron Man
, which was
supervised by his effects studio, he demonstrated he know how to get prosthetics
and computer artwork (the frenemies of modern cinema) to co-exist.

Let me mention I think of The Thing with particular
fondness. Needless to say, it’s a movie of monumental stature and hype. I admit
I first saw it late in the game: a few years back, in a seedy hotel while
covering E3. The scuttling alien, the pissed-off canines, and especially the
surprise chest-caving scene — to my absolute joy, The Thing looked and
felt like something that just came out in multiplexes last week. Part of it was
the gripping story. Part of it was John Carpenter’s innate sense on how to pace
an action movie. The rest is all about artists like Winston, the people who can
figure out how to inject personalities to robots and a touch of humanity to
their monsters — all the more to terrify and inspire.

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