I have to say that when I read the news earlier tonight that Stan Winston had died at the all-too-young age of 62, I was shocked. Literally shocked. I must’ve looked like an idiot as I sat in P.F. Chang’s, reading the news on my cellphone, with my mouth hanging wide open. Stan Winston? Dead? It couldn’t be.
Unfortunately, it was true.
Just earlier this week, I was watching one of Winston’s earlier efforts, Dead & Buried, and was amazed by his work in that, even more so once I watched the (pretty lengthy) interview with the man in which he talked about the ol’ hypo-in-the-eyeball scene which was filmed entirely using a puppet. The fact that I never knew that a puppet was in the scene tells you how good this man’s work was, even that early in his career.
A lot of folks grew up amazed by the work of folks like Lon Chaney and Tom Savini and while I do and always will appreciate the work of those guys, I didn’t grow up in the era of their groundbreaking films. It was Stan Winston who first caught my imagination.
Terminator 2 was the first movie that I ever saw that made me wonder “How did they do that?” I was nine-years-old and my obsession with movies — especially those involving the fantastic — has steadily grown ever since. Two years after T2, Jurassic Park was unleashed on 11-year-old me. What could be cooler to an 11-year-old boy than to see real, breathing dinosaurs brought to life? Nothing, that’s what. And I have Stan Winston to thank for that.
In addition to T2 and Jurassic Park, Winston had a hand in some of my all-time favorite movies. Aliens. The Monster Squad. Predator. The Thing. Edward Scissorhands. This guy, really, is responsible for my love of cinema more than just about any other person on the planet, and it’s a shame we won’t be getting any more Stan Winston magic in the future.