Without the blood, gore or realistic demons and monsters to spring from under the proverbial bed, horror simply wouldn’t exist, but the heroes who provide the practical effects that make the genre great often remain in the shadows.
Below we give the unsung heroes of horror the moment in the spotlight that they deserve and run through some of their biggest achievements when it comes to things that go bump (or, indeed, squelch) in the night.
What Movies Has He Worked On? The Funhouse, An American Werewolf in London, Videodrome, Hellboy
Credentials: Rick Baker is veritable special effects royalty and he has won more academy awards than any other person in the field – a staggering seven to be precise). Best known for his truly wince-worthy transformation scenes in An American Werewolf in London, Baker has came a long way since he was making body parts at his kitchen table as a morbid teen.
Sadly Baker has now retired thanks, in part, to the rise of CGI, but his legacy will always live on, he explained:
“First of all, the CG stuff definitely took away the animatronics part of what I do. It’s also starting to take away the makeup part. The time is right, I am 64 years old, and the business is crazy right now. I like to do things right, and they wanted cheap and fast. That is not what I want to do, so I just decided it is basically time to get out. I would consider designing and consulting on something, but I don’t think I will have a huge working studio anymore.”
What Movies Has He Worked On?The Fog, The Howling, The Thing, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Seven
Credentials: Rob Bottin became Rick Baker’s apprentice when he was just 14 years old, so it’s so wonder that he went on to go great things. This gore prodigy founded his first studio at 18 and won an Oscar at 32, and his work on John Carpenter’s The Thing is remembered as a defining milestone in special effects.
Sure, the clip above might look almost comical now, but it was absolutely groundbreaking back in 1982.
What Movies Has He Worked On? The Exorcist, The Sentinel, Altered States, Scanners, The Hunger
Credentials: Not only did Dick Smith work on the groundbreaking The Exorcist, but he also wears the badge of honor of being completely self taught. Smith pioneered the technique of making facial prosthetics with various pieces of foam latex to enable more convincing expression.
If you pause just before the head explodes (it was filled with dog food and liver and shot with a shot gun to achieve the effect in the video above, you can see the latex sections in action. So ingenious! Dick Smith sadly died at the age of 92 in 2014.
Howard Berger, Robert Kurtzman and Gregory Nicotero
What Movies Have They Worked On? Army Of Darkness, John Carpenter’s Vampires, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Hostel, Splice, Hitchcock
Credentials: Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger and Robert Kurtzmann came together to found K.N.B. EFX group back in 1988, and have since risen to become one of the most highly regarded special effects make up studios in Hollywood. Although Kurtzmann left the group in 2002, Nicotero and Berger have carried on providing some of the best make up in the business.
In addition to the impressive and lengthy list of horror films on their resume, they’ve done six different Tarantino movies, and are the go-to make up guys for TV network AMC — including The Walking Dead, Fear of the Walking Dead, and Preacher. Nicotero has even directed 9 episodes of The Walking Dead himself!
What Movies Has He Worked On? The Terminator, Aliens, Predator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Jurassic Park
Signature Style: This big-daddy of Box Office smashes had an undeniable ability to breath life into terrifying imaginary creatures in a way that few other have achieved.
From the terrifying ‘chestbuster’ and 14 foot tall alien queen in Aliens to the incredible live action dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, Winston slayed and making larger than life monsters throughout his long career.
He sadly died of multiple myeloma at the age of 62 in 2008, but his work for the horror genre will never be forgotten.
Which unsung horror special effects hero do you admire the most