Monster Squad by Heather A. Wixson

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Monster SquadIt’s the monsters from movies that stick with us. In some cases they become icons for the horror and science fiction genres, and even become familiar in popular culture. Monster Squad looks at the men and women behind the monsters who brought them to life as we know them. Wixson’s book gives twenty special effects artists the opportunity to discuss their most pivotal work and careers through extensive interviews. These artists did everything from creature design to animatronics to make up. The legendary artists interviewed include Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff, Jr., Bob Keen, and Bart Mixon. You may not know all their names, but you will know the monsters of Aliens, Pumpkinhead, Hellraiser, and IT.

During the interviews we learn where these artists got their start and what their inspirations were growing up. They take us through their journeys to the special effects world and talk about the movies that shaped their careers. What comes through is that these are passionate artists who love what they create. They offer some amazing anecdotes from the variety of people they have worked with and for.

It’s really fascinating to see where the ideas for pivotal monsters came from, what the original inspirations were, and how they changed before becoming the final creation brought to life for the screen. My favorite interview was probably Bob Keen. I loved hearing about his work on Clive Barker’s projects – Hellraiser, Nightbreed, and Candyman. It was also really interesting to hear these masters of practical effects, all built from the ground up, discuss the industry transition to what is now mostly digital effects.

The amount of innovation, quick thinking, and problem solving these artists have to do is unreal, yet they make it work. If you enjoy behind the scenes stories, you’ll enjoy the interviews in this book. All the artists have really absorbing stories to tell about a huge variety of movies.

8/10

Monster Squad Book Cover Blurb:

For Monster Squad: Celebrating the Artists Behind Cinema’s Most Memorable Creatures, journalist Heather Wixson turns the spotlight on twenty special effects pioneers and artists who helped shape the landscape of modern horror and sci-fi cinema throughout the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and beyond. Featuring in-depth interviews with the legendary and visionary creators who share their personal journeys through Hollywood, Monster Squad is a tribute to those who toiled endlessly to help make the impossible possible in so many of our favorite movies, and to all the “Monster Kids” out there who still believe in the magic of practical effects in film to this very day.

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