Farewell, Stan Winston

FX guru dies, and a nation reaches fondly for its Pumpkinhead DVD.

In a strange way, how we'll best remember him: A scene from Stan Winston's She Creature.
In a strange way, how we'll best remember him: A scene from Stan Winston's She Creature. (Image courtesy of Stan Winston Productions)

"Is he cutting out his own eye?"

Just about every film fan has their favorite Stan Winston moment. For me, it was the bit in The Terminator when the T100 does some impromptu plastic self-surgery in a sleazy hotel with a scalpel. For others it's a decapitation here or a subtle wrinkle there or a psychotic killer knee-deep in someone's gizzards all over the killing floor. But there shall be no more such moments, because one of the special effects greats died yesterday.

From 1972's Gargoyles to Iron Man, as a make-up artist, effects co-ordinator and designer, director and producer, Winston spent decades creating wonders and robbing audiences of a good night's sleep. It was Winston that aged the cast of Roots, that took the alien out of the shadows in Aliens, carved the scars into Edward Scissorhands' face, hid raptors in the weeds of Jurassic Park, and earned four Oscars, four Saturns, three BAFTAS, and two Emmys along the way.

But amongst many horror fans, there will always be a soft, squishy place in their gooey, blood-filled hearts for his own films: like Creature Features, the short series of B-Movies he produced for HBO in 2001, remaking Samuel Arkoff classics like She-Creature and Earth vs. The Spider. And, of course, no movie summed up the vengeance-fueled demon genre like his directorial debut, Pumpkinhead.

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