ALIENS PREDATOR TERMINATOR (Stan Winston dead at 62)

As a kid I spent hours watching and re-watching a VHS tape crammed with 6+ hours of classic 80’s action fare; labeled “ALIENS PREDATOR TERMINATOR” in my step dad’s stark handwriting, this amusingly lo-fidelity tape was a relic of his days as a bachelor, and a staple of my own development as a hopeless movie nerd.

At the end of Aliens, as the eerie Goldsmith theme plays and the credits start to roll, I would be *just* about to turn off the TV (perhaps to go play outside or read a book) — when suddenly Predator is on! That movie rocks! Gotta watch.

Alright, alright. The Predator has blown himself up with a final gesture of extraterrestrial bravado, Arnold is scratched up and dusty but otherwise miraculously unscathed by the explosion and sitting safely in his evac chopper, and all is well in the jungle.  Time to get up, stretch out, maybe get a glass of water. Then BAM! It’s Brad Fiedel’s Terminator theme, with its military rhythm and beautifully simple 80’s-tastic synth melody, and I’m right back in.  Yeah dude! The Terminator!

I don’t care to reveal how much of my early adolescence was spent in this fashion.

One time (in the days before IMDB) I tried to think of some of the different intersections that those three classic movies share:

James Cameron directed two of them.

Lance Henricksen featured prominently in two of them.

Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in two of them.

Michael Bien starred in two of them.

Bill Paxton had roles in two of them.

And Stan Winston did the visual effects for all three of them!! Unbelievable.

On the one hand, this means that I can’t think of any one person more responsible for gluing me to the television and wasting my precious youth (except for my step dad of course!)

On the other hand, Winston’s contribution to special effects in the movies we all love is unparalleled. Like Syd Mead, he is an  unsung hero of mis en scene, especially in sci-fi films that would fall flat without that element of sheer, eye-popping spectacle.  What an amazing body of work, what a brilliant mind, what an untimely death.

I want to send my sincere condolences to his family and friends.


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