lundi 3 novembre 2008


The Marsupials like the Kangaroos are Mammals caring in a maternal pouch (called marsupium ) their babies, born at a very early, nearly embryonic, stade; only Monotremes laying eggs, like the Platypus, are more primitive Mammals.
Appeared on Earth at the end of Dinosaurs' reign, at the same time as the ancestors of the more modern Mammals ( these latest ones known as Placenterians ), the Marsupials spreaded in worldwide before to be overhelmed by their
conccurents, excepted in the most isolated areas.

For this reason, they could maintain on the top of the food chain in South America until the invasion of the Saber-toothed tigers. In the New world today are still living some species of little Marsupials, like the Opossum. In Indonesia, some other species can be also found, like the Cuscus. But it's in Oceania, in spite of the presence at first of a long time extinct more modern Mammal, a little beast called Tingamarra, than Marsupials could really prospere.

When first humans came in Australia few dozens of thousand years ago, Marsupials were dominant lifeforms, with some big carnivorous Reptiles. One of these Marsupials was probably a terrific predator, and a vegetarian one could weigh 3 tons. These different creatures vanished after the installation of Australia aboriginal people.

Very more recently, European people changed the australian environnement too, and, after the Dingo, an asian Dog brought by Aboriginal people, they put with them new domestic animals, cause to new extinctions, this time among little Marsupial species. The
latest big carnivorous Marsupial, the Thylacine also known as Marsupial Wolf, that was already in concurrence with the Dingo, was completely exterminated in the middle of 1930 years by settlers because it hunted sheeps.

Nowdays, some Australian citizens become conscious that their debt is to protect the relict of this unique fauna, but a mysterious illness kills the Tasmania Devils, the biggest Marsupial alive, beast of dog-size, surviving only on Tasmania island. The members of this species, equivalent of the North America's Wolverine in the food chain, suffer and dy of big cancerous tumors, bearing some likeness with the poor mutant bearse of the movie PROPHECY, indirectly inspired by the mercury contamination of Minamata catastroph. It appears than the problem could come from some malevolent cells, transmitted by bites between Tamania devils, the population being rather restricted in a limited space to become so homogenic than there is anymore immunate differences. Even it can happen, as showed by the drama of the mad cow disease, than abnormal components of an organism would be able to infect not only other individuals, but also to travel across the genetic barrier between species, the risk upon the Tasmanian Devil recalls the difficulties to try to preserve an endangerous species when it survives only within a rather few number of animals in some protected areas, and as result there would be no more diversity in the genetic pool, able to produce some specific immunate answers versus attacking germs. This is very discouraging if you think than a lot of animal species in the world exist only at a very light quantity : there would be only a thousand and half of giant pandas, and a few hundred of Gavials ( indian fish-eater Crocodilian with a very thin snout ), and of soft-water long-beak Dolphins ( in India and Amazonia ), after the extinction of the chinese genus Lipotes in 2006 because Yangtse Kyang barrage's edification.

Without an appropriate vaccin, the Tasmania Devils, become rather famous across a Warner Bros cartoon character, could be survive only in zoos, and we would have to hope than these ones would do a best job with this species than it was done with the Marsupial Wolf : in 75 years, 18 Thylacines lived in the London zoo, but this creature extincted simultanly in captivity and in the nature.

More, the Koalas, already endangerous because their very specific food, some Eucalyptus leaves, a tree victim of human developpement and also of dryness, caused by local traditional climate and by global warming too, are attacked like Tasmania Devils by a mysterious Virus giving cancer. It seems that this Virus was became active recently, coming in the worst moment to strike this species menaced by natural space reduction.

These two dramatic events could be the final episode of the Marsupials story, and it's a cruel irony than for one time, humans seems to have nothing to do with them. It's like if, after to have to let their place to Placentarian Mammals excepted in Oceania, the latest alive Marsupials were claimed by the evolution march, as Faust waited by the Devil when his time is passed away. These two facts, even it could be a simple coincidence, are surprising for people - I think like them - who are not convincing by Pandemic theory ( even I wrote long time ago a very short story on this theme ) trying to explain the extinction of the most big Mammals after the late ice age by a very powerful epidemy. When the Nature gives a hand to human destruction, how do not be anxious about the survival of the diversity of life on our planet?

vendredi 26 septembre 2008


In the movie THE ABYSS directed by James CAMERON, an alien intelligence tries to contact humanity, creating for it a giant pseudopod able to mimic human expressions. It's a rare if not the only good CGI trick about an unknown creature, because this one is said to be made just of a nearly immaterial substance produced from water.

In Nature, there are really some beings having the same general appearence than the ABYSS' pseudopod. One of them can be seen on the famous video site, You tube :

Another specimen filmed in wide ocean can be seen on this video : and one more is showed swimming in the deep sea :*

This marine creature is a Pyrosoma. Someones can reach ten meters as on the second photography below. It's actually a colony of tiny marine critters forming some long chains like their parents the Salps. More surprising, these animals, although very light and nearly translucent, are not closed to the Jellyfishes, but, like their far parents, the Sea squirts, bearing some similarities with the Sponges inhaling the water beneath the siphons, they have more affinities with the Vertebrates, because their like-tadpole larva bears a notochord, a primitive model of the vertebrate colomn.

An other giant animal, a giant worm, brought a lot of comments :

This one is undoubtfullly a Nemertan or Ribbon worm, the most primitive animal with a complete tractus ( unlike sea anemons, Jellyfishes and the Flatworms having a single orifice serving both to eat and to expulse ). The not identified creature looks like to some Nemertans like Cerebratulus ( below ). Some Ribbon worms are very long : Lineus longissimus is very thin but has a length of 30 meters, so than the biggest blue Whales ( second photography below ).

I have a bit pride to be the first to have found on You tube the identity of the strangest animal seen on the videos, a swimming creature between a swimming Duck and a pulsing hearth :

At first, I was abused by the colour of the water, thinking it would be soft water. After to think to the problem, I talk to myself it couldn' be anything than a marine Mollusc of Gastropoda class, more or less parent of the colourful Nudibranch, dubbed sea slugs. It's in fact a very distant relative of them, a parent of the Aplysia ( Sea Hare ), called Akera bullata, with its tiny shell below the mantle. Drawings from a scientific paper shows the dance of the creature.

(*click to open the link to the video )

jeudi 4 septembre 2008


Benoît LESTANG committed suicide the 27 th july 2008.

He was one of the french artists with Jacques GASTINEAU and his brother ( animatronics ), Pascal PINTEAU ( miniature sets and makeup ) and Jean-Manuel COSTA ( stop motion ) who tried in the eighties to put fantastic and science-fiction on the screens although french producers have ever disliked these subjects.

He worked for his first movie when he was seventeen years old, on Jean ROLLIN's LA MORTE-VIVANTE. He succeeds to obtain his place in french movie makeup system, working on some famous french movies like the comedy LES RIPOUX or LA CITE DES ENFANTS PERDUS. Because there are very few of french fantastic films, he still made scars and bloody effects, but however, he created some imaginary beings.

He did three creations for Spring gum french publicities, a robot, a zombie and an alien monster, from the comic artist GOTLIB's designs, creatures that explose at the end of the spot.

He made the "Night Monster"of Raphael DELPARD's oniric movie CLASH, starring Catherine ALRIC and Bernard FRESSON. He argued the siliconed costume of the creature, seeming to be a player covered of red clay, was disappointing because of lack of time and money.

In 1987, he worked with the makeup artist Gabe BARTALOS ( THE DEADLY SPAWN ) on BRAIN DAMAGE, by Frank HENENLOTTER, the director of BASKET CASE, a rather famous movie about two murderous brothers, one abnormal ( litteraly an half-brother ). In BRAIN DAMAGE, the creature, a worm with a big brain, is like a seringue, because it gives to its host a substance doing him so euphoric than he becomes able to kill to bring the human brain material neccesary to the physiology of his companion. Although very bloody like all the "gore" films, BRAIN DAMAGE is not completely gratuitous, because it's undubtuffly a metaphor about drug and addiction; more, the movie has a dark humour.

In 1989, Benoît LESTANG made another evil worm, very well animated, for a french film, Alain ROBAK's BABY BLOOD ( known in the USA as THE EVIL WITHIN ). The creature layed by a Panther ( that look alike to some real Carnivorous' parasites, Pentastomida like Armillifer ) uses a woman to breed. As soon, the woman becomes ready to kill to feed his baby with people's fresh blood. The movie is crude, because there is less humour than in BRAIN DAMAGE, only stupid or bad men killed by a criminal woman in fury, like in the feminist THELMA AND LOUISE or MONSTER. After a metamorphosis like in THE FLY 2 ( the baby's skin is just an envelop ), the new form of the baby monster recalls an ALIEN's face-hugger with tentacles instead legs and with a little insectoid head.

Benoît LESTANG made some bloody effects and also wrote the script of BROCELIANDE, a film of Doug HEADLINE, both began to work ( like the director of NECRONOMICON, Christophe GANS ) in french cinema newspapers.

The french makeup artist is gone away few time before the coming in theaters of the thriller MARTYRS, full-filthed of his work. He will be remembered as a fan who could become a respected professional, with a great disponibility to help the ones wishing to follow his example.

The Thermians who were sad after the dead of the great monsters creator Stan WINSTON in june 2008 have to deplore the disappearance of a second makeup artist this summer; bad time for creatures and for people who like them.

dimanche 31 août 2008


Here are some stills of Stan WINSTON's creations to follow the tribute to this great makeup artist of the 17th june 2008 ( translation on this blog of the 1st august below ).

The first monster made by Stan WINSTON is the voracious critter of Charles BAND's PARASITE, with Demi MOORE for her first role, and Robert GLAUDINI as a scientist running away after to have infected himself with the parasite created by him, in order to avoid than a totalitary government could use it. Stan was not particularly proud of his creation for this rather good B-movie, although it was absolutely not the most unconvincing monster of the movie history ( we can notice than the parasite is so mysterious than Mona LISA, because the number of its eyes seems to be never the same from a shot to another, depending of the light, but it carnivorous smile has nothing ambiguous ).

Among the various incarnations of the alien of John CARPENTER's THE THING, there is this rather inform hairless dog, made by Stan WINSTON, who was hired by Rob BOTTIN, overworked. The animation by hand of the puppeeter gives a very organic movement to this creature described in the scenario like dog-like but that isn't really a dog.

MANIMAL was a crime drama serie with Simon MacCORKINDALE ( also seen in JAWS 3 ) as a hero able to change by metempsychosis into different animals, to spy gansters. Stan WINSTON did nice metamorphosis into Panther, Falcon and Snake, limited mainly to the head because financial reason, but this was very impressive ( years later, he made also the frightening hybrids men-beasts of John FRANKENHEIMER' THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU ).

On the famousTERMINATOR by James CAMERON, Stan WINSTON made makeup for the Android losing his human appearance, and created the full-scale bionic semi-skeleton of the climatic struggle, and do the terrific scenes of the future for the sequels.

For the remake of INVADERS FROM MARS of Tobe Hopper, he brought to life, from the designs of the conceptual artist William STOUT, the awesome Supreme intelligence and its – deliberate – grotesque drones, put to life thanks to his ingeniosity, as explained in the first part of the Stan WINSTON tribute.

The man hunter alien of PREDATOR, with its insectoid head, is another well-known creation by Stan WINSTON. In the orginal movie, its face is seen briefly, but its's a strong moment, and it is very more terrific in the film than on simple photo.

Stan WINSTON directed himself a vengeful demon in PUMPINKHEAD.

He didn't work on ALIEN, but on the sequel ALIENS, full of terrific creatures.

Stan Winston studios created LEVIATHAN's trangenic monster, a big amount of work even if it is rather poorly seen in the final cut.

The RELIC monster, a mix of Vertebrate and Arachnid, bears some likeness with the Predator.

For the comedy GALAXY QUEST, Stan WINSTON did some little less frightened beings, like this bipedial one seemed very hungry character in regard to its huge wide mouth, that recalls some bizzare Wayne BARLOWE's paintings.

To give tribute to some B-movies of the fifthies, and avoid the obliged CGI effects demanded by major producers, Stan WINSTON made a film like DAY OF THE WORLD ENDED, starring Natassia KINSKI and Randy QUAID. Because he would drive attention to the psychological level, Stan almost hided his extraterrestrial, that, with its tentacular hair – excepted it has a single eye whereas three ones – could have been rather near of the alien of THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD faithfully inspired by the one of John CAMPBELL's WHO GOES THERE ? novella that would be put to screen, if the RKO producers, judging it too horrible, had not decide to destroy the the costume made and to cast at its place James ARNESS with a light touch of makeup - and so the first non humanoid movie monster vanished to ever.

Even if Stan WINSTON has also to his credit some other famous makeups, like EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE's ones, it's impossible to forget his Dinosaurs, huge mechanicals very far of the classic makeup he did at his beginning on TV. He was preceded by some people like the english Roger DICKEN ou the Italian Carlo RAMBALDI, but he obtained very subtile movements, even if the sophistication don't prevent some difficulties at crucial instant while all was fine during repetitions. Media spoke only of JURASSIC PARK's CGI Dinosaurs although the more impressive are the beasts ftom Stan Winston studios, like the sick Triceratops, the Velociraptors and the Tyrannosaurus ( in lot of shots ) of the first film, the crying baby Tyrannosaurus of the sequel THE LOST WORLD, and the colossal Spinosaurus of JURASSIC PARK 3.

So, even if his name was not particularly known by public outside the USA ( excepted for the fantastic lovers ), Stan WINSTON is a reference in his professional area, and the man behind a number of fabulous creatures seen in theaters.

vendredi 1 août 2008


I have learned, not without some emotion, the disappearance two days sooner, on Sunday the 15th june 2008, of Stan WINSTON, one of the shinest names in special effects, suffering since seven years of a form of bones' cancer.

Quiet father of a family, Stan WINSTON was also one of the most talentful and innovative artist. He lernt the makeup art in Disney's studios, and soon created his own shop. After to have worked for television, being able to do the best with a very modest budget ( the MANIMAL's transformations ), he became a great make-up artist in movies area in the same time than Rick BAKER ( AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, GORILLAS IN THE MIST ), and others like Rob BOTTIN ( THE HOWLING, TOTAL RECALL ), a generation of which the veteran of make-up practice Dick SMITH greets the inventivity. Stan WINSTON could be rather generous to demand for his work the lowest part in THE THING's titles, because he wouldn't take away from Rob BOTTIN, the main creator of the special effects of this masterpiece, too busy to achieve the all tricks needed with his crew.

Stan WINSTON could use very simple and ingenious ways to do, like the puppeteer Jim HENSON, MUPPETT SHOW's creator died very precocely ( who worked with some acrobats on a top of four stilts to play the stunning Landstriders in THE DARK CRYSTAL ), in order to hide the human shape : THE THING's hairless dog was a simple hand puppet, the big drones of INVADERS FROM MARS's remake were animated by a dwarf tied in the opposite on a tall man's shoulders, and ALIENS' Queen was moved by a puppeteer hang in the hair, holding sticks with paws on their edge. Nowdays, these very clever tricks are judged as primitive effects by the proselyts of the new technologies, but they are still among the best and most convincing special effects, because human animators did move them and not a computerizing process.

Like the british Christopher TUCKER ( QUEST OF FIRE and THE ELEPHANT MAN makeups ), who dreamed at first to be an opera singer, Stan WINSTON though makeup artwork would be only a first step before to become an actor, which never came. But his taste for characters and acting was a motivation to do his own movie, a little budget called PUMPINKHEAD.

Unlike other great makeup artists as Rob BOTTIN and Chris WALAS ( THE FLY ), who accepted to do more conventional work ( as hurts in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE for the previous one for example ), because special effects became over-helmed by the computer generated pictures – although less realistic – Stan WINSTON followed his way during years without use CGI monsters, but was still interested to take the best of new technical opportunities, with his animatronics : the dominant media say by ideological fascination for computer animation than JURASSIC PARK's Dinosaurs were virtual ones, but the more impressive or terrific beasts were the full-scale animals with complexe mechanics indeed made by the Winston studios ( the ill Triceratops with its painfull breath and the baby Tyrannosaurus rex of the sequel, animated from below the desk, are so realistic than any Reptiles seen in authentic documentaries ). Stan Winston had rather recently produced five B-movies, to propose some films without disappointing CGI effects like video-games' ones and to do tribute to real monsters movies of the fifties, that were able to create dream even with cheap tricks.

Like the great composer Jerry GOLDSMITH, Stan WINSTON declined to do distinction between «respectable» works and commercial ones, because he argued each project could bring interest if some quality included ( and it's a true fact than even the Quattrocento's paintings were often just some orders by important people to have nicest portrait to serve their own glory of their living ). Cinema, a modern art, brings new Michael-Angelo and others RODIN, and even if the elites don't like artworks of imagination, a perfectionnist like Stan WINSTON was a real inheritor of the brightest artists from the past trying to give feeling of life to their creations.

Unlike Jerry GOLDSMITH, too often forgotten, particularly in France when he disappeared ( but now there is many tributes on You tube and even a french site to honour the maestro ), Stan WINSTON had the satisfaction to obtain a great consecration by the professionnal area, with several Oscars received and with his inscription on the Hollywwood boulevard's Hall of fame.

Stan WINSTON made to dream all people wishing to do a creative job, but in the same time, he put so high the standards of technical achievement than someones who hoped to follow his example could have become a bit discouraged by the perpspective to compete with his creations. Even if the artisanal way was lost when success changed his little studio to a real enterprise, the Winston studios gave opportunities to young makeup artists to prove their quality and be hired on big movies, before to do their own creations, like Alec GILLIS and Tom WOODRUFF ( ALIEN IV, TREMORS).

Few years after Jerry GOLDSMITH, who gave a soul to so many movies, another giant of the movies universe left the scene victim of cancer. It's really a kind of cinema that vanishes with them.

How far seem the eighties, now than two of the greatest names of the imagination world of these years are gone. They have probably not changed the world, but they gave to lot of ours the chance to cope with it more easily. People keeping some ability to dream since the childhood know that they owe to them for it and are probably not ready to forgot them.

( original french text edited the 17th june 2008 )

mardi 29 juillet 2008


Welcome to this new site. This is an english translation from a french blog. At the beginning, there was an intention to pay homage to the makeup artist Stan WINSTON, as soon as I learned by stroke his disappearance two day sooner and I felt this as a certain emptiness, because he was a reference in the special effects area and I had interest for his career since 24 years ( and the greatest movie composer Jerry GOLDSMITH's tribute was completely and scandalously ignored few years ago in my country, so, this time, I would to give my contribution to someone who made us to dream ). Also, I wrote in a very few time a little text from my memories. I could see than my work was very complete, because the main french newspaper, "Le Monde", did a tribute more than two weeks after me and it dealed about exactly the same summary than I did. The day I made the article, I created a blog, without to think than a famous canadian site, the Club des monstres*, would be interested to publish it. I am grateful to his creator, Mario GIGUERE, who demanded to me to put it on line on his site. Of course, I agreed, but I had alreadly made my own site, also, I though to the possibility to use this one to present other texts about the creatures, real and fictional.
Although living creatures themself, humans have very often a few interest for other lifeforms - and a lot of species disappear, because intensive hunting and human expansion. Most of people don't know the main taxons of animal systematics, although each one of them includes very well-known species ( and it's a fact than there is any place for zoology in general culture ). This blog deals about creatures, not only the real ones, but also fictional beings created by all people fascinated by the diversity of life ( in the style of the great french astronom Camille FLAMMARION who did in the XIX th century a book about planets and stars, LES MONDES REELS ET LES MONDES IMAGINAIRES, dealing of real and fictional worlds, both in astronomy and in literary works since antiquity ). I do this english version, even if my english practice is poor, because I think that many more people interested by these subjects spoke english rather french. Of course, there is already a very lot of fabulous english sites on internet - and a very big amount of very nice pictures; the future will show if this new one can bring something to international readers or not.

Completely independent from any institution or group, this blog searches too to defend an original, or at least a traditional, point of view, about our interest domains, against the conformisms. Biology is since 15 years reduced at some mathematical abstraction, and the complexity of life is forgotten in favour of biochemical equations, as noticed by the paleontologist Stephen Jay GOULD. In the cinema's domain, there is anymore respect for the genious creators, able to make viewers to believe to anything, because only the bad and quickly computered engineering effects have the favour of producers nowadays. Conformists people have a lot of sites to expose their conceptions; now, there is at least this one for all the others.