John Landis and Rick Baker on the set of Schlock (1973)

(Above) A monkey-masked John Landis guides the action on the set of his directorial debut Schlock (1973). Landis, who also wrote the script and played the simian lead, was only 21-years-old at the time the monster movie spoof was shot in 1971. Makeup effects master Rick Baker, seen standing to the left of Landis, was only 20. Baker had the budget for just one ape suit, part of which was constructed by gluing hair and a rubber chest piece onto a pair of long johns worn by Landis.

Here’s Baker’s recollection of Schlock, from Anthony Timpone’s book Men, Makeup & Monsters: Hollywood’s Masters of Illusion and FX.

“We shot in Agoura during a heat wave, like a hundred and twenty degrees. And John was sweating like mad – the hair was dripping wet and just kept falling off. We lost about half the hair on the first day! And it took a while to lay all that hair on there. So we started taking the suit off him between takes if we could, and fortunately it cooled down some. It was an experience.” – Rick Baker

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Behind the Scenes: The Films of Tim Burton

“Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else’s dreams?” – Orson Welles (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) in Ed Wood (1994)

“We don’t have permits. Run!” – Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) in the same film

Box office prosperity has never had a great deal of correlation to artistic quality when it comes to movies, but few directors have a filmmography where that relationship is as inversely proportional as Tim Burton’s. Which is a wordy way of saying that the more money a Burton film seems to make (i.e. Planet of the Apes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland), the less likely I seem to be to enjoy it. That equation is summed up by the fact that my favorite Burton outing (1994’s Ed Wood) was by far his least attended. Ed Wood put so few butts in seats upon release that the same year’s Monkey Trouble, Lightning Jack and House Party 3 all more than doubled its box office take.

Below is a look back at Burton’s paradoxical career through a series of Behind the Scenes pics detailing the making of all 17 of the director’s feature films. I like to think that on each of them, Burton channeled Bela Lugosi (or at least Martin Landau’s incarnation of him) with the call to arms, “Let’s shoot this fucker.”

 

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Behind the Scenes: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

American Werewolf in London (Rick Baker twitter)

Photo courtesy of Rick Baker’s Twitter feed.

(Above) Director John Landis prepares to push effects artist Rick Baker and his lycanthropic pal into the Piccadilly Circus-set finale of An American Werewolf in London (1981). Landis first gave the script to Baker in 1971 when the pair were working on Landis’ directorial debut Schlock! Baker, in turn, told Landis about the Change-O heads he was developing, which would ultimately make An American Werewolf in London’s transformation scenes a new benchmark in special effects. Continue Reading ›