Domo Arigato, Stan Winston (1946 – 2008)

by James Harleman

One of my Top 10 films is John Carpenter’s The Thing. One of my guilty pleasures as a ten-year old television viewer was the man-morphing “Manimal”. The only film that made me cry in high school was Edward Scissorhands, and The Terminator will always be one of my favorite James Cameron movies, despite that bloated boat movie he made years later.

What do all these have in common besides my childhood? Despite different actors, directors, and producers they, and many more films, have Stan Winston in common. The special effects GENIUS passed away June 15th after seven years of battling multiple myeloma.

If Ray Harryhausen owned the special effects world up until the 80s, the crown definitely passed to Stan Winston in the 80s and he owned it well into the 21st century. This man designed Schwarzenegger’s stiff metal skeleton, made me believe Sigourney Weaver could go head-to-head with an Alien queen, made me tremble that a Tyrannosaurus could walk and terrorize again. The man took home three Academy Awards and had more nominations than I can remember. In many ways, he WAS special effects, and even in our new world of studios vying to make their mark in the 21st century with digital effects, he still built the suit Iron Man wore to wow us this summer in the blockbuster of 2008. It’s apropos, as one of his early gigs was designing the Mr. Roboto facemask for Styx.

It is men like Stan Winston, with such a visionary eye, an overabundance of creativity and imagination, that help me more fully appreciate our place as image-bearers of the Creator. This man got to create new animals, aliens, recreate events at Pearl Harbor, and even do makeup for angels and demons (albeit fictional). The honor to be designed with that spark of creativity, that impulse and attribute of God, is truly a wonder to behold in someone so gifted. Did he understand the true extent of his talents and gifts? I hope to find out someday.

Domo Arigato, Mr. Winston. You will be missed.

Recommended films featuring Stan’s handiwork:

* The Thing (1982)
* The Terminator (1984)
* Aliens (1986)
* Predator (1987)
* Pumpkinhead (1989)
* Edward Scissorhands (1990)
* Batman Returns (1992)
* Jurassic Park (1993)
* Interview with the Vampire (1994)
* Galaxy Quest (1999)
* Iron Man (2008)

  1. Scott

    Very well said, and at only 62 years old, sad and untimely as well. He lent his talents to good movies and bad. To horror movies, action movies, and comedies. He entertained a lot of people and will be missed.

    My only point of contention is crying over Edward Scissorhands. Really? Edward Scissorhands?

  2. Webmaster Covi

    I was a high school geek with no girlfriend. I didn’t say it was warranted:)


    Wow, I didn’t realize how many movies he was a part of. Especially Iron Man. That’s pretty dang impressive!

  4. Diana

    Winston was a fellow Wahoo (UVA) and involved in some of my favorite movies. I’d sad that he’s gone.

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