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MicroBudget Monster Madness!! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Written by Joe Sherlock   
Aug 14, 2005 at 02:00 AM
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MicroBudget Monster Madness!!
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I've been making movie monsters on the cheap for years now, starting way back in 1995 with my microcinema effort DIMENSION OF BLOOD. For that one, I created a head and torso body prop out of paper mache. In the movie a girl turns to green goo, so after a few shots of her spitting green pudding out of her mouth, we cut to the body prop (with the girl's sweatshirt and wig on) falling on the floor with pudding coming out of the mouth and eye sockets. It was cheesy, but quick cuts and gross sound effects have made the scene effective to many a viewer.

For MONSTER IN THE GARAGE, I made a couple of paper mache skeleton puppets for a nightmare sequence as well as a paper mache alligator-like puppet for the title character. VAMPIRISA'S VELVET VAULT OF HORROR and WE NEED EARTH WOMEN featured the "Eyeball of Fear" character, again created with paper mache. Hey - how much cheaper can you get than some old newspapers, flour, water and some paint!?

I created some large paper mache statues (with framing made from empty soda bottles & cans wand duct tape) for John Bowker's debut feature, DREAMWALKERS, as well as a body prop and a "critter" creature for his HOUSEBOUND movie.

As of late I've been working on a few monster heads and outfits for an in-production project called DR. PUDDING'S MONSTER FILES. Here are a few photos:

Here's my son holding up the "UnderBug," a paper mache monster we created together. He picked out the inspiration (some sort of beetle) from a book about African animals, helped with the paper mache and painting and even operates the moving mandibles in the movie! The base was created from bent sheets of cardboard, some cardboard tubes leftover from paper towels and duct tapes. The mandibles are fashioned over empty soda bottles which I punched pencils through to allow them to swivel. The eyes are large taxidermy eyes from Archie McPhee!

Here is my son wearing the "Tree Spirit" head. Another paper mache creation, this will be the title character in a segment that is kind of like Pumpkinhead, if Pumpkinhead had been made from a tree. Again, I began with strips of cardboard (mostly from cereal boxes) and tape, making a framework around my own head. This included a moving jaw attached with some bent paper clips. Next I stuffed a couple of balloons inside for support and applied several layers of paper mache. I tapd on some scrunched-up rolls of newspapers to create the brow, cheeks, etc., then added more paper mache.

Here's the "Tree Spirit" head after it's been painted, red plastic has been put behind the eyes and black fabric has been attached around the neck. Subsequent to this photo I attached several fake leafy vines (picked up at the local dollar store!) to the sides. In the final movie the actor will wear this along with a burlap tunic and tan rubber monster hand gloves.

Not sure if this guy will show up in the movie or not - this is my son modelling my first attempt at building a "pool monster," kind of a poor man's Creature from the Black Lagoon. Unlike my past creatures that had all been built from paper mache, cardboard and fabric, I intended this one to go underwater so had to keep everything waterproof. It has been quite a challenge. It's made of carved styrofoam, staples, duct tape, a couple of rubber balls for eyes, several types of glue and 3 plastic tarps, hence the name. The pink things hanging down are intended to be tube-like tongues - they're made from plastic jump ropes I got at the dollar store (where I also got the rubber balls!).

Here is the beginnings of a new and improved "Pool Monster" head. I started with a "skulls of cut-up milk jugs and duct tape (here seen temporarily using the Tree Spirit head as a base).

These are some teeth sculpted out of clay and baked for use in the pool monster's mouth. Unfortunately, the clay was a little too think and/or I didn't bake it long enough so these have snapped apart. I plan to create a new set, with smaller teeth and all pointy fangs.

Here's my son wearing the pool monster "skull" after a few more pieces have been added, including the basis for a "fin" on top of it's head.

I created a stand from an oscilating fan, piling a few old towels over the top and then covering it with plastic trash bags. This allowed me to work up in the air without having the head on a table or me having to crouch down to work on the floor. Here's the "skull" on the stand and the next two ingredients: spray foam insulation and green spray paint.

Here's a whole can of the spray foam covering the 'skull.' Next up - wait a day for it to cure and start carving away stuff that doesn't look good.

The monster and the monster-maker!

In the world of DIY (Do It Yourself) microbudget moviemaking, it makes sense to make your own monsters. With a sense of humor, some creative lighting and editing I've been able to make the best of my b-movie creature features!


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