Cheap Tricks and Class Acts

Special Effects, Makeup and Stunts from the Fantastic Fifties


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SKU: 9780786440580 Categories: , , , ,

About the Book

In the 1950s Hollywood unleashed a wave of monsters; everything from demon aliens and dinosaurs to blobs and bloated bugs infested theaters and drive-ins. Lost worlds were discovered, unnatural terrors shook the screen, gigantism ran rampant. Moviegoers were left with one question: How did they do that?
This work uncovers the cheap and challenging behind-the-scenes production secrets of the fantastic films of the 1950s. Special technical effects, visual effects, menacing makeup, stunts, fantastic sets and film locations are all covered in detail along with the many men and women who shared in these occasionally brilliant and usually outrageous efforts. Also included is a lengthy checklist of the prominent makeup, stunt, prop and effects artists of the era, with a listing of their fantastic film credits.

About the Author(s)

John “J.J.” Johnson lives in Keizer, Oregon.

Bibliographic Details

John “J.J.” Johnson
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 414
Bibliographic Info: 191 photos, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009 [1996]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4058-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0895-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii

Introduction     1

Part I: Special Technical Effects

1. Full Scale Live Action Monsters     3

2. Wire Propelled Props     21

3. Pyrotechnic Effects     28

4. Atmospheric Effects     34

5. Sound Effects     41

6. Hand Puppets     50

Part II: Special Visual Effects

7. Stop Motion Animation and Monster Models     55

8. Miraculous Mattes and Split Screen Techniques     77

9. Weird Optical Illusions     88

10. Stock Footage     105

Part III: Menacing Makeup

11. Rubber Suits and Masks      113

12. Fiendish Facial Makeovers      139

13. Ape Suits and Fur-Bearing Fiends      164

14. Costumes and Contact Lenses      175

15. Prosthetic Props (Heads, Hands & Body Parts)      186

16. Blood, Guts, and Globs      193

Part IV: Stunts

17. Incredible Stunts      202

18. Stunts Gone Awry      230

19. Performing Animals      239

20. Giants and Midgets      253

Part V: Fantastic Sets

21. Studios, Sound Stages, and Backlots      264

22. Cycloramas, Backdrops, and Alien Landscapes      285

23. Miniatures      291

24. Fantastic Set Props      307

Part VI: Film Locations

25. Exotic Locales      323

26. Low Budget Filming and Convenient Sites      331

Filmography     361

Checklist of Personnel     383

Selected Bibliography     393

Index     395

Book Reviews & Awards

“I enjoyed reading this book”—Classic Images; “hefty work…bit by bit, Johnson reveals dang near everything about genre flick of the 1950s”—Scarlet.