Stan Winston: In Memory of a Legend


I was deeply saddened today to hear the news that one of horror's greatest icons has died. Stan Winston was not only extremely influential in the horror industry that we all love, but his dedication to his craft was seen across the genres.

I would like to take a moment to celebrate and discuss some of his greatest accomplishments. Stan Winston was born in Richmond, VA in 1946. During his 62 years, he was responsible for many of our favorite horror milestones. While his special effects and make up talents were well known, spanning films of all categories, he was also a director as well as a producer.

He established his own company, Stan Winston Studio in 1972. His most notable films are the ones that we as fans know well and frequently cite as points of reference . A short list of some of his most beloved films include The Terminator, Starman, Aliens, Predator, The Monster Squad, Friday the 13th Part 3, Leviathan, Jurassic Park, Lake Placid, Interview with the Vampire, and most recently Iron Man. This is in no way a complete list of his works, but these are some of the ones that immediately jump to my mind when his name comes up in conversation.  Apart from all others we are aware of, you can add to this list the many, many films in which his work went uncredited.

Winston also won Oscars for Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park as well as being nominated for several more. He was nominated for countless other awards, taking a great number of those home with him. In 2001 he was only the second special effects artist to be granted a well deserved star on the Walk of Fame.

His directorial debut was one of my favorite fun films, Pumpkinhead in 1989 earning him Best First Time Director at the Paris Film Festival. He then went on to direct A Gnome Named Gnorm in 1990 which, oddly enough, I was discussing last night. What are the odds?

In a world of films being made with more and digital imagery, the craft of practical effects is one that appears to be on its way to becoming obsolete. Stan Winston is a name that is synonymous with all things special about effects. From his magnificent creatures to his carefully designed make up, his work has reared its heads (often ugly ones) in films as far back as I can recall. Any horror fan of the past few decades has not only seen his films but more likely owns several as favorites. I always considered him to be one of the greatest in his field with talent and heartfelt dedication that saw no equal. Few artists of his caliber are still making films today. His is a dying breed.

It only further drives home just how much he loved his chosen career when you realize that he had been suffering for the last seven years, battling his illness while never ceasing to work. He has several upcoming films that will be released posthumously. Those films will continue to add to his impressive legacy.

I ask you to join me please in a celebration. Being a horror fan for over thirty years, I owe many of my most enjoyable experiences to this man. Hollywood as well as the entire film world will be mourning his loss now and for years to come. I am sincerely having difficulty typing through my tears at the moment for he was a shining example of everything that films should strive to be. But I am now beginning to look forward to how I will remember him. Each time I watch one of the numerous films that bears his mark, I will smile. I know that he is partly responsible for creating the horror fan in me and many others. I know that as long as I continue to enjoy his work, he will never truly die. I know that if we as fans continue to support those who use practical effects and wish to uphold the standards with which he always expressed his own creativity, the craft will remain.

I wish to extend my deepest condolences to his family and to all of those who loved him. It is unfortunate for me that I was never given the opportunity to thank him personally for all he has done, but I sincerely hope he knew how revered he was. I would like to think that it would be impossible for one to have such an impact and not be aware. Rest well, Stan. You deserve it.

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