I, for one, love those who do the best work yet receive the littlest fanfare, and in Hollywood, one of the best examples of this is Stan Winston. While far from anonymous to those who stay for a film's credits, he's solely responsible for some of the greatest, most innovative, and for me personally, life changing images ever put on silver screens. Unfortunately, however, the reason why I'm pointing him out at this moment is to pay tributeâ€”this past Sunday, Winston died at age 62 from an ongoing battle with the disease myeloma.
A master of groundbreaking special effects and pristine make-up work, Winston is without a doubt a legend and an icon, one I fear will go too largely unheralded. If an actor such as Brad Pitt or even an elder like Dustin Hoffman passed away, it'd be front-page news. Not that I don't understand whyâ€”actors are the faces and personalities of the film industry, thus largely connected with fansâ€”but I just hope that Winston isn't forgotten.
Enough general rambling, thoughâ€”on to the facts, to help illustrate why the man was, and will remain, such a huge deal. Did the insane creature designs and animatronic designs seen in 1986's classic sequel Aliens scare the shit out of you? Blame Winston, who won an Oscar for his effects work. How about the medium-changing special effects seen in 1992's Terminator 2: Judgment Day, scenes that practically reinvented cinema? Impressive, right? Good ol' Stan again, also winning an Oscar here. And then there's â€˜93's Jurassic Park, one of the crowning theater-going experiences of my life and a prime reason why I'm such a movie-lover. As a kid who grew up worshipping dinosaurs, J-Park blew me away, and it's thanks to Winston's effects work again (and yes, he won an Academy Award here, tooâ€¦that's three, count â€˜em).
The list of Winston's genius work goes on and onâ€”the crystal skeletons in this summer's smash Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; the city-crushing villain (Iron Monger) of your favorite movie of 2008, Iron Man; the utterly badass title slayer of 1987's Predator; and so on and so on. Just go to IMDB and check his resume out, it's never ending.
For my money, though, I'll always be thankful to Mr. Winston for 1987's The Monster Squad. I'm sure in the minority of people on KING-Mag.com who've seen this slept-on gem of a B-movie, but I advise anybody who appreciates old school monsters (i.e., Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy) to rent it. Winston's monster designs transformed what should've been a shitty Goonies-meets-horror cheesefest into a genuinely effective dose of kiddie thrills. I must've watched it on VHS five times a week while in grade school. It kills.
So here's to Stan Winston, a true giant of cinema. Without talents like his, I'd be stuck channeling all of my energy into hip-hop these days, and if you've turned on the radio any time within the past 12 months, you'll realize how scary of a thought that is.
Side Note: Oh, and I recently realized that most of my entries on this blog so far have been positive ones, praising films I like. So, expect some angry lash outs, being that I'm set to see a few movies in the next couple of weeks that, odds are, will suck. But let me just sayâ€”The Happening was one of the worst movies I've seen in a LONG time. Simply awful, down to the asinine script, Mark Wahlberg's unbelievably terrible performance, the putrid dialogue, and the no-actual-conclusion of an ending. If I see a worse film that The Happening any time soon, I'm going to vomit. You may have not even noticed, but there were two new Abominations in theaters this past weekendâ€”Hulk's kick-ass nemesis, and this shit-show of a flick.
That's all I have to say. I don't even want to give it more attention than I already have. Deleted from memory, so now I can move on with my life.