[It Came From the ‘80s] Horror Classic ‘The Howling’ Transformed the Werewolf Sub-genre

With horror industry heavy hitters already in place from the 1970s, the 1980s built upon that with the rise of brilliant minds in makeup and effects artists, as well as advances in technology. Artists like Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr., Tom Savini, Stan Winston, and countless other artists that delivered groundbreaking, mind-blowing practical effects that ushered in the pre-CGI Golden Age of Cinema. Which meant a glorious glut of creatures in horror. More than just a technical marvel, the creatures on display in ‘80s horror meant tangible texture that still holds up decades laterGrotesque slimy skin to brutal transformation sequences, there wasn’t anything the artists couldn’t create. It Came From the ‘80s is a series that will pay homage to the monstrous, deadly, and often slimy creatures that made the ‘80s such a fantastic decade in horror.

1981 brought the theatrical release of not just one, but three horror movies centered around werewolves. Two of which set a new standard for special effects and werewolf transformation sequences; John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London and Joe Dante’s The Howling. Adapted from a novel of the same name by Gary Brandner, albeit with vast changes and a lot more humor added in, The Howling follows television newswoman Karen White (Dee Wallace) as she’s sent to a mountain resort after being targeted by a serial killer. The residents of the resort aren’t what they appear to be.

Originally, special makeup effects artist Rick Baker was to handle the makeup effects on The Howling, but he was pulled away by Landis, with whom he had previously worked with on Schlock. The job was then given to Baker’s protégé, Rob Bottin, only 21 at the time. Bottin was given creative freedom for the effects. Prior to this point, a lot major werewolf films employed lap dissolves to convey their transformation sequences. The actor would have to sit for hours on end, motionless, as scenes of the makeup transition was shot frame by frame, though this process did speed up a bit over the decades. Bottin wanted to create a transformation sequence from man to beast that was pure special effect wizardry without the reliance of camera tricks.

The film’s major transformation scene featured serial killing creeper Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo) turn into a monstrous anthropomorphic wolf right before Karen’s eyes. It’s a lengthy scene involving complex mechanisms, bladder effects, and an extensive makeup application that would see Picardo stuck in the makeup chair for upwards of ten hours. That he was such a decent sport about the makeup process meant that Picardo would be a favorite of Bottin’s in future projects, like Legend.

The Howling was made on a pretty low budget, though, and not all of the effects could receive the same level of detail and attention as Eddie Quist’s impressive transformation. Other tactics were used to create werewolf effects, too. Visual effects artist David Allen (Dolls, Willow, Freaked) was tapped to create stop-motion animation sequences, namely for the climactic scene that sees the barn full of werewolves trapped inside as it’s burned. But Dante realized that the lighting was way different than the rest of the film, and it didn’t quite mesh. All of Allen’s stop-motion work was cut from the final film, save for one brief transitional moment as Karen flees the resort.

Visual effects artist Peter Kuran (Robocop, Nightbreed) handled the animated sequences, both the main title animation and the werewolf transformation of Bill and Marsha mid-coital, further rounding out the wide array of effects used to stretch out the low budget and create one of horror’s most memorable werewolf features. Brilliant state of the art transformation sequences, puppetry, actors in werewolf suits, and various animation styles all came together to amplify Dante’s blend of humor and horror. It was a lengthy process, and included trial and error, but the final cut resulted in a film that still elicits debate on which 1981 werewolf feature is top dog. Both forever altered the werewolf sub-genre for the better.

[It Came From the ‘80s] Lovecraftian She-Beast ‘The Unnamable’

With horror industry heavy hitters already in place from the 1970s, the 1980s built upon that with the rise of brilliant minds in makeup and effects artists, as well as advances in technology. Artists like Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr., Tom Savini, Stan Winston, and countless other artists that delivered groundbreaking, mind-blowing practical effects that ushered in the pre-CGI Golden Age of Cinema. Which meant a glorious glut of creatures in horror. More than just a technical marvel, the creatures on display in ‘80s horror meant tangible texture that still holds up decades laterGrotesque slimy skin to brutal transformation sequences, there wasn’t anything the artists couldn’t create. It Came From the ‘80s is a series that will pay homage to the monstrous, deadly, and often slimy creatures that made the ‘80s such a fantastic decade in horror.

One of the most influential horror writers of all time is H.P. Lovecraft, and his expansive catalog of stories full of unknowable creatures and monsters. In the golden age of special effects, Lovecraft’s bestiary and the unbridled practical effect-driven creativity of the ‘80s made for a perfect marriage in horror. In the case of Lovecraft’s short story “The Unnamable,” the creature that haunts the dilapidated house on Meadow Hill in Arkham, Massachusetts is indescribable, save for its monstrous size and piercing shriek. The characters never fully see it; it attacks them in a flash and the story ends with their waking in the hospital. The vague description of the creature and the brief story itself meant a wide berth for interpretation when it came to the feature-length adaptation.

First-time feature director Jean-Paul Ouellette wrote the screenplay adapted from Lovecraft’s story, expanding the plot and setting it mostly in the present day. Right off the bat, the film gives far more backstory on the monster than Lovecraft’s original story. This iteration gives the Unnamable a name; Alyda Winthrop, demonic daughter of 18th-century warlock Joshua Winthrop. Cut to centuries later, where Miskatonic University pals spook each other with stories of Alyda. They do what any reasonable horror character does; decide to stay in her house and use it as a means of wooing the ladies. It doesn’t go well, clearly.

Makeup effects artist R. Christopher Biggs (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2), fresh off his role as special makeup effects supervisor on Critters 2, combined Ouellette’s expansion of the story with the descriptors of the creature from the source short story. The cloven-hooves, the horns, and the piercing shrieks with a not so titanic sized female demon. Though it takes much of the running time to get an actual full glimpse of the creature.

The creature, Alyda, was played by Katrin Alexandre in her only film credit to date. A demonic beast with hooved feet, clawed hands, horns, sharp-toothed maw, and bat-like wings, this creature is clearly female. Despite appearances, though, Alexandre isn’t nude on screen. She was lifecasted from head to toe, and endured a 9-hour makeup application as the rubber prosthetic pieces were glued to every part of her from the waist up. The hairy legs and hooved feet were custom made by Biggs, as a separate piece. There was no easy suite for Alexandre to slip into.

Also integral to the makeup effects team was Biggs’ assistant Camille Calvet, who he’d previously worked with on Critters 2 and Silent Night, Deadly Night 2. Calvet has since gone on to work on films like Kill Bill: Vol 2, Minority Report, and Drag Me to Hell, and won two Emmy Awards for her makeup work on The Stand and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but credits Biggs as a large reason for her success for hiring her in an age where few women were hired for makeup effects. Considering how up close and personal the makeup team needed to get with Alexandre in the creation of the demonic Alyda, hiring Calvet proved doubly invaluable.

While the seams on this creature design do occasionally show, what Biggs and team created is especially impressive considering the budgetary constraints they had to work with. The teams’ shop was literally Biggs’ apartment, and a three-car garage he talked his landlord into letting him use. The small space correlated with the small team Biggs had to work with, too. He even employed his mom in the creation of Alyda’s prosthetics, particularly in the punching of all that horse hair.

The Unnamable was released directly on VHS in June of 1988, and while it did well enough to earn a sequel, this is an ‘80s monster that’s not quite as well known.  It’s also a monster that hides in the shadows until the very end, not revealed in full until the climax. Alyda isn’t just an underseen Lovecraftian beast of the ‘80s, but a rare instance where the monster is female. The Unnamable isn’t perfect, but it is obvious in its reverence for Lovecraft’s works.

[It Came From the ’80s] The Traumatic Nightmare of Zelda in ‘Pet Sematary’

With horror industry heavy hitters already in place from the 1970s, the 1980s built upon that with the rise of brilliant minds in makeup and effects artists, as well as advances in technology. Artists like Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr., Tom Savini, Stan Winston, and countless other artists that delivered groundbreaking, mind-blowing practical effects that ushered in the pre-CGI Golden Age of Cinema. Which meant a glorious glut of creatures in horror. More than just a technical marvel, the creatures on display in ‘80s horror meant tangible texture that still holds up decades laterGrotesque slimy skin to brutal transformation sequences, there wasn’t anything the artists couldn’t create. It Came From the ‘80s is a series that will pay homage to the monstrous, deadly, and often slimy creatures that made the ‘80s such a fantastic decade in horror.

In an era of fantastic practical effect driven horror that unleashed many memorable movie monsters, few instilled as many nightmares as Pet Sematary’s Zelda Goldman. An adaptation of one of Stephen King’s most beloved novels, there’s no shortage of monstrous horror in Pet Sematary thanks to a cursed Micmac burial ground that renders those buried in it undead and murderous. Yet, it’s the haunted memories of Rachel Creed (Denise Crosby), forced in childhood to care for her dying sister that struck the biggest chord with audiences. Zelda was a horrifying scene stealer, and considering the gore effects on display, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Relegated mostly to flashbacks, Zelda was the Goldstein family’s 13-year-old dirty little secret. Older sister to then 8-year-old Rachel, Zelda suffered from spinal meningitis, a disease that caused Zelda’s spine to painfully deform as she wasted away in the back bedroom physically and mentally. It was the reason that Rachel had such deep-seated issues about death; she was the one forced to care for her sister the fateful day Zelda finally succumbed to her illness. Fearful of contracting Zelda’s disease as much as death itself, Zelda’s memory terrifies Rachel even through her adulthood, and ours.

In the 1989 adaptation, Zelda was designed by special makeup effects designer Lance Anderson (The Serpent and the Rainbow, Shocker). Anderson researched meningitis and the effects on the body when creating the makeup design for the character, ensuring the spine was contorted and the face emaciated. But Zelda is a character that proves it takes two major components to creating a memorable movie monster; great makeup design and an actor that breathes life into it.

Originally, the role was envisioned to be played by a female; the character was a young girl after all. But director Mary Lambert wasn’t happy with the auditions for the part, the girls auditioning were simply too sweet and not creepy enough. So she decided to cast a wider net. Enter actor Andrew Hubastek, who was in his twenties at the time and had strong convictions of who he wanted this character to be. The voice, the physicality, and Anderson’s design all culminated in a character so off-putting and horrifying that it didn’t matter how small the character was to the plot; Zelda was pure nightmare fuel.

Casting Hubastek turned out to be more than just fortuitous on screen. The makeup process for the character was much more laborious than a child would likely have been able to handle. The process took at least 8 hours of application of the back and upper chest pieces, as well as the face and hands, that had been glued on by two makeup artists. Never mind that this was shot in Maine during the fall, so it was already chilly during the application process. Or that Hubstek filmed his scenes for upwards of 18 hours before having to endure a 6-8-hour makeup removal process. It was an exhaustive process that left him ready to rip the prosthetics off his skin, and likely contributed to an effectively chilling performance.

Anderson’s work on Pet Sematary is amazing. It was his idea to up the ante on Jud’s demise; the script called for Gage to simply slice Jud’s leg, so Anderson instead pushed for the brutal Achilles’ tendon severing. His work on Rachel’s oozing eye socket is also cringe-worthy in the best possible way. But for all of the gore and creepy undead on screen, it’s Zelda that’s most fondly remembered. There’s an irony in that, both in how small Zelda’s role is in the story and that this movie monster was birthed from a very real disease. It’s easy to see why this iteration of Zelda left such a lasting mark, though. Between Anderson’s design and Hubastek’s unnerving performance, Zelda is a monster for the ages.

[It Came From the ‘80s] The Enduring Legacy of John Landis, Rick Baker, and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”

With horror industry heavy hitters already in place from the 1970s, the 1980s built upon that with the rise of brilliant minds in makeup and effects artists, as well as advances in technology. Artists like Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr., Tom Savini, Stan Winston, and countless other artists that delivered groundbreaking, mind-blowing practical effects that ushered in the pre-CGI Golden Age of Cinema. Which meant a glorious glut of creatures in horror. More than just a technical marvel, the creatures on display in ‘80s horror meant tangible texture that still holds up decades laterGrotesque slimy skin to brutal transformation sequences, there wasn’t anything the artists couldn’t create. It Came From the ‘80s is a series that will pay homage to the monstrous, deadly, and often slimy creatures that made the ‘80s such a fantastic decade in horror.

In the era where MTV was dedicated to playing music videos for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it was the most common form of self-promotion for a music artist. But for all the memorable music videos that filled MTV’s programming throughout the decades since its inception, none are as famous or as culturally transformative as that of Michael Jackson’s 14-minute long music video of “Thriller”. When sales had begun to decline for Michael Jackson’s Thriller album in the summer of 1983, Jackson wanted to brainstorm ways to boost those sales. After seeing An American Werewolf in London, he contacted John Landis to direct a video, something outside the norm at the time. He agreed to do it so long as it was a short film. Landis, in turn, contacted Rick Baker to handle the video’s special effects once Jackson told him that he wanted to transform into a monster.

That move proved pivotal, not just in terms of great special effects but also in terms of making the music video marketable. Showtime and MTV footed the half million dollar budget to make the video in return for the rights to air the making of documentary feature Landis and Baker made in tandem with the video. That documentary became a huge seller upon home release.

Based on Jackson’s simple direction that he wanted to transform, Landis wrote a script that was a loose parody of I was a Teenage Werewolf. For Baker, he wasn’t interested in creating another werewolf. He’d already done that with great success in An American Werewolf in London. To keep it different, he opted to transform Michael Jackson into a more cat-like were-creature, though using a lot of the same techniques for the transformation sequence. It was Jackson’s suggestion that zombies be included, as well.

Baker also had to adjust to the lightning-fast pace of music videos. The dancers were hired three days prior to shooting, giving Baker no time to prepare for the customized zombie makeup. To adjust, and to save on time, he enlisted his crew (and Baker himself) to be the more customized, close-up zombies seen in the video. They pretty much all had life casts done already, so it was easy to create the zombie makeups from there. The dancers would then get more generic makeups. Baker created generic eye appliances that could be fitted on any of the dancers to give them the appearance of sunken eyes. Though this was a result of time constraints, it kickstarted a trend that would ensue in subsequent zombie films by others.

Once completed, “Thriller” very nearly didn’t survive to be unleashed upon the public. Jackson was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness at the time, and when they caught wind that he was doing a werewolf video, they threatened excommunication for creating a video that promoted demonology. He then became vehemently opposed to the video’s release. To assuage his worry, Landis offered to put in a disclaimer that “Thriller” didn’t reflect Jackson’s personal views.

Between Jackson’s catchy earworm song, Vincent Price’s narration, Landis’ sense of humor, and Baker’s fantastic special makeup effects, “Thriller” revolutionized the music video. It was the first music video to ever be inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, in 2009, and remains the most famous music video of all time. A Halloween staple and an important pop cultural moment, “Thriller” is an enduring collaboration between music royalty and horror royalty.

[It Came From the ’80s] Stuart Gordon’s Killer ‘Dolls’

With horror industry heavy hitters already in place from the 1970s, the 1980s built upon that with the rise of brilliant minds in makeup and effects artists, as well as advances in technology. Artists like Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr., Tom Savini, Stan Winston, and countless other artists that delivered groundbreaking, mind-blowing practical effects that ushered in the pre-CGI Golden Age of Cinema. Which meant a glorious glut of creatures in horror. More than just a technical marvel, the creatures on display in ‘80s horror meant tangible texture that still holds up decades laterGrotesque slimy skin to brutal transformation sequences, there wasn’t anything the artists couldn’t create. It Came From the ‘80s is a series that will pay homage to the monstrous, deadly, and often slimy creatures that made the ‘80s such a fantastic decade in horror.

Dolls is what happens when you combine the writer of Troll and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Ed Naha, with the horror sensibilities of Re-Animator director, Stuart Gordon. A fairytale horror movie with teeth, Dolls follows a group of people seeking shelter at a secluded mansion from a storm, and it happens to be owned by a pair of elderly toy makers and their collection of magical, haunted dolls. It was a complete tonal shift from Gordon’s gory, gooey previously released horror films, but the irony is that Gordon worked on Dolls between Re-Animator and From Beyond. The lengthy, time consuming special effects required for Dolls meant that it didn’t see release until a year after From Beyond.

Planning and pre-production on From Beyond was already well underway when producer Charles Band handed Gordon the script, with the expectation that the small scope of the story meant Gordon would be able to knock the film out in the couple of weeks before shooting began on his current project. Gordon wanted as much actual puppetry as possible, which meant a lot of the marionette work required innovative ways to hide the puppet strings. But it was the stop-motion animation, created by David Allen, that caused the biggest strain on the production both in time and money.

Inspiration for the porcelain Victorian style dolls in the film came from Gordon’s own terrifying personal encounter. He visited the doll collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society building on campus of the University of Wisconsin, and was accidentally locked in. After a period of being in confined space, he started to get freaked out at the possibility that the dolls’ eyes were moving and watching him.

The special makeup effects were designed by John Carl Buechler (Prison, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood), but Gabe Bartalos (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, the Basket Case series) did a lot of heavy lifting on set as the chief makeup artist and onset supervisor. Like Gordon, both Buechler and Bartalos had already been hard at work prepping for From Beyond before shifting gears to hop into work on Dolls.

Just what type of horror movie Dolls was evolved a lot during production, especially in tone. It was an originally a much darker, gorier film. The death of Rosemary (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon) initially involved a doll pulling out her intestines via pitchfork but was cut when Gordon realized this was much darker fairytale that encapsulated a childlike innocence than straightforward horror-drenched in blood. Bartalos and special makeup artist John Vulich were also tasked with creating inner zombie-like skeletons of the dolls, as the process and backstory of how the Dollmaker transformed humans into dolls became more fleshed out.

Dolls tends to be more overlooked on Gordon’s roster in favor of his gorier efforts, and it’s a shame. There’s an inherent innocence and sweetness at the core of the story, and the doll designs and effects are far different from most in this sub-genre. The film also boasts a high pedigree of horror talent, with names like Guy Rolfe (Mr. Sardonicus) as the dollmaker Gabriel Hartwicke and Hilary Mason (Don’t Look Now) as his wife Hilary. Gordon at one point had ideas for a sequel that would have seen little Judy (Carrie Lorraine) receive a package from England containing the dolls of Gabriel and Hilary, but Dolls holds up well on its own as it is.

[It Came From the ‘80s] The Evolution of the ‘Predator,’ One of Horror’s Most Iconic Monsters

With horror industry heavy hitters already in place from the 1970s, the 1980s built upon that with the rise of brilliant minds in makeup and effects artists, as well as advances in technology. Artists like Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr., Tom Savini, Stan Winston, and countless other artists that delivered groundbreaking, mind-blowing practical effects that ushered in the pre-CGI Golden Age of Cinema. Which meant a glorious glut of creatures in horror. More than just a technical marvel, the creatures on display in ‘80s horror meant tangible texture that still holds up decades laterGrotesque slimy skin to brutal transformation sequences, there wasn’t anything the artists couldn’t create. It Came From the ‘80s is a series that will pay homage to the monstrous, deadly, and often slimy creatures that made the ‘80s such a fantastic decade in horror.

Throughout most of 1987’s Predator, the title creature hunts the elite military rescue team in stealth, using its tech and the jungle as camouflage. It isn’t until his final battle against Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) that the alien’s true face is revealed, and it’s glorious. That design became iconic, and Predator spawned three sequels and two crossover films. But when development and production began on Predator, the bloodthirsty hunter had a very different look.

Originally, visual effects company Boss Films Studios was tapped to create the creature effects. In an early meeting between the team and the film’s executives, Boss Films was presented with designs that had already been handled by a production designer, with the instruction by director John McTiernan that this was the alien he wanted the effects team to create. Reptilian with backward bending legs, tall, and gaunt, but with a much, much different head that was almost canine in its shape. The design of the head was awful, but it was the backward legs that the effects team was concerned about considering this was to be filmed in the actual jungle.

By now, the story is well told about the first actor to fill the Predator’s shoes; Jean-Claude Van Damme, eager to show off his martial arts prowess. The only problem is that he had no idea what he’d actually signed up for. His first day on set had him gearing up in the creature’s suit, a matte red version to offset the greenery of the jungle so the effects team could render the invisibility effect later. Van Damme didn’t know this aspect about the creature and believed the red suit was the actual design. He also didn’t know that his face would never be revealed. Needless to say, he wasn’t a fan in the slightest.

More importantly, it quickly became apparent that this iteration of the character simply wasn’t working. Logistical issues aside, the smaller, leaner creature going up against a team of heavyweight bodybuilders just wasn’t very scary. Schwarzenegger recommended his friend Stan Winston to design and create a new Predator. Winston had a good feeling about the longevity of the character and didn’t want to let his friend down, so he accepted. But it was by no means an easy road for his team; production was stalled and waiting on the new iteration of the creature and time was extremely short.

Winston found inspiration from a painting in producer Joel Silver’s office of a Rastafarian warrior. While working on a sketch of the creature on a flight to Japan for Aliens, director James Cameron suggested adding mandibles. It was this great concept and design that allowed for the rest of the creature to have a humanoid appearance. The last piece of the puzzle? Seven-foot-four-inch actor Kevin Peter Hall to portray this version of the Predator. Now Dutch and team had a serious reason to fear for their lives. A great design, a fully animatronic face, and a giant of an actor all came together within a span of 6 weeks with Stan Winston Studio crews working around the clock, seven days a week, to deliver one of horror and sci-fi’s most iconic characters of all time.

[It Came From the ‘80s] Vampires, Werewolves, and Flaming Death in ‘Fright Night Part 2’

With horror industry heavy hitters already in place from the 1970s, the 1980s built upon that with the rise of brilliant minds in makeup and effects artists, as well as advances in technology. Artists like Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr., Tom Savini, Stan Winston, and countless other artists that delivered groundbreaking, mind-blowing practical effects that ushered in the pre-CGI Golden Age of Cinema. Which meant a glorious glut of creatures in horror. More than just a technical marvel, the creatures on display in ‘80s horror meant tangible texture that still holds up decades laterGrotesque slimy skin to brutal transformation sequences, there wasn’t anything the artists couldn’t create. It Came From the ‘80s is a series that will pay homage to the monstrous, deadly, and often slimy creatures that made the ‘80s such a fantastic decade in horror.

One of the ‘80s most beloved vampire films is the Tom Holland’s directorial debut Fright Night. The horror comedy followed teen horror fan Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), who discovers his new neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire responsible for the disappearances of multiple people. When no one believes him, he turns to local horror host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) for help. Throw in werewolves, monstrous bats, and melting, oozing deaths in the midge of the golden era of practical effects, and Fright Night became a hit. The inevitable sequel that followed four years later saw Jerry’s vampiric sister out for revenge against Charley and Peter, except Charley has since stopped believing in vampires. Though the plot structure is closely aligned with its predecessor, the special makeup and creature effects has a much bigger role to play.

The biggest change for this sequel is the gender swapping. With Charley now the skeptic, it’s his girlfriend Alex (Traci Lind) that teams up with Peter Vincent to save him from the big bad vampire’s clutches. That vampire is Regine (In the Mouth of MadnessJulie Carmen), an eccentric performance artist turned new horror host of Fright Night. Regine is dead set on a slow revenge upon Charley for killing her brother, Jerry, and she comes with a bigger entourage. There’s the roller skating right-hand vampire Belle (Russell Clark), bug-eating enforcer Bozworth (Brian Thompson), and flirtatious werewolf Louie (Jon Gries).

Between the larger cast of monsters and the performance artist aspect of Regine’s character, that meant a lot more room to play for the special makeup effects team. The large scope of work was a big undertaking for special makeup and creature effects artist Bart Mixon (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), stepping into the supervisor role for a major effects-driven film for the first time. He enlisted a core team of artists made up of key sculptor Brian Wade, key painter Aaron Sims, Norman Cabrera, and moldmaker Jim McLoughlin. He was also able to pull in artists Gabe Bartalos, Barney Burman, Matt Rose, and more for periods of time to work on the film.

The crew had a lot of effects to handle, from the decapitation of the bowling alley owner, Bozworth’s chest getting sliced open, Belle’s melting demise, and even Louie’s transformation sequences. It paled in comparison to the epic final battle between Regine and our plucky heroes. Pissed off, Regine transforms into a monstrous bat creature and attacks. What was originally designed to only feature a stop motion puppet eventually evolved into a full-sized bat crashing through the floor. The epic bat attack became a splicing of both stop-motion animation of the miniature bat and a massive bat puppet secured on a rod and pushed through the elevator floor.

From there, the movie has Regine transforming back to her original form to finish off Charley before suffering a gruesome death by sunlight. Mixon’s original designs for this death proved much too disgusting for director Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III: Season of the Witch), so Mixon and team scaled back to a more traditional gelatin burn makeup application. For the spectacular flaming death scene, it was actress Dinah Cancer in makeup and prosthetics, undergoing three hours of makeup application to look somewhere halfway between giant bat and human.

Despite how successful the original film was, the sequel only saw a limited release in the U.S. and didn’t fare as well as a result. From a narrative standpoint, Fright Night Part 2 most sticks to the same story beats of its predecessor. It’s the visual element that makes this underseen sequel shine, though. Mixon and his crew made a fun effects-heavy sequel that’s an improvement over the original, and Carmen is a compelling villain as Regine.