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: 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.

“Now yous can’t leave” – Bikers vs. Gangsters on the set of A Bronx Tale (1993)

A Bronx Tale behind the scenes

Chazz Palminteri prepares to drag a camera operator across a bar room floor on a sound blanket in order to get a POV shot of Palminteri’s gangster character yanking a biker out of his bar in 1993’s A Bronx Tale. I first saw this one when I rented it from Video Village on VHS when I was 16. It’s still my favorite movie.

Here’s the full bikers vs. gangsters melee from the film.

Pic of the Day – Behind the scenes of Solo (2018)

Bradford Young on the set of Solo A Star Wars Story copy

Cinematographer Bradford Young (Arrival, Selma, A Most Violent Year) frames up a handheld shot of Chewbacca on the set of Solo: A Star Wars Story. That’s actor Warwick Davis behind Chewie. Davis first appeared as the Ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi and has since played various roles in The Phantom Menace, The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi.