31 Days of Horror – A breakdown of a signature effect from The Blob (1988)

Like John Carpenter’s The Thing, the 1988 remake of The Blob surpassed its 1950s sci-fi progenitor with the assistance of then-cutting-edge special effects. Many of the film’s most memorable gags were courtesy of effects designer Tony Gardner – including a misdirect that finds the ostensible hero, the clean-cut high school jock Paul (played by Donovan Leitch), pulling a Janet Leigh and getting devoured in the first act.

Gardner and his L.A. based company Alterian have provided effects for a host of classic genre films – Return of the Living Dead, Army of Darkness, Zombieland, multiple Chucky flicks – and Alterian’s Facebook page offers up a treasure trove of behind the scenes pics from those projects. Below are a few photos from the aforementioned Paul-melting scene in The Blob, which employed a practical rig for the actor, animatronics, and quarter-scale puppets.

Continue on past the photos to read a detailed description of the effect from Gardner and to watch a clip of the scene.

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31 Days of Horror – On the set of Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Drag Me to Hell behind the scenes photo by melissa moseley

Protective plastic blankets the crew in preparation for a messy effects shot on Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell (2009), which marked the Evil Dead filmmaker’s return to horror after toiling on his trilogy of Spider-Man films. Photo by unit stills photographer Melissa Moseley.

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31 Days of Horror – On the set of Phantasm II (1988)

Back in July, special make-up effects artist Mark Shostrom posted a series of photos on his Twitter feed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of director Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm II. Below you’ll find a few of those photos, which document the process behind one of the film’s climactic gags.

I’m also posting this to highlight the fact that Coscarelli (Phantasm, The Beastmaster, Bubba Ho-Tep) has a memoir out this week titled True Indie: Life and Death in Filmmaking. Don was the first filmmaker I ever interviewed when he took time, nearly twenty years ago, to do a story for the student paper at the University of Kentucky. I got the chance to talk to him again a few years ago for Filmmaker Magazine to dig into the making of the original Phantasm.

And if you continue beyond the photos, you’ll find a pair of videos in which effects legend Greg Nicotero talks about the making of Phantasm II.

31 Days of Horror – Behind the scenes of Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

Behind the scenes Insidious Chapter 2 by Matt Kennedy

A set pic from one of my favorite unit stills photographers Matt Kennedy, from the making of James Wan’s Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013). For more of Matt’s work visit his official site or his Instagram feed.

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The Shot Behind the Shot – Jaws 2 (1978)

Behind the scenes Jaws 2 ending

(Above) The set up for the shark’s fiery demise at the conclusion of Jaws 2 (1978). The production still comes from a collection of 180 set photos recently unearthed and published by the Northwest Florida Daily News. The sequel was shot on Florida’s Emerald Coast as opposed to the Martha’s Vineyard locations of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 original. Check out all of the set stills here.

The Shot Behind the Shot: On the set of Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987)

(Above) Al Capone henchman Frank Nitti plummets to his death in this scene from Brian De Palma’s 1987 film The Untouchables. (Photo by unit stills photographer Zade Rosenthal)

The pic above – along with the one below from De Palma’s Battleship Potemkin homage shot at Chicago Union Station – comes from a recently republished article on The Untouchables from American Cinematographer magazine.

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The Shot Behind the Shot – Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

Behind the scenes of HBO's Fahrenheit 451

Behind the scenes of the HBO retelling of Ray Bradbury’s classic sci-fi cautionary tale Fahrenheit 451. Shot by cinematographer Kramer Morganthau on Panasonic’s 4K VariCam 35 with Panavision Super Speed and Ultra Speed legacy primes. The lighting units you see on frame right – both sitting on the ground and perched on the stand – are Arri SkyPanels.

The set pic on the left comes from American Cinematographer magazine’s feature on the film from the June issue, which you can read here.