Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Delusion Of A Disordered Mind

Call me crazy (or slow on the draw) but I noticed something new while recently rewatching Phantasm II. While Reggie and Mike are driving through a Tall Man-ravaged small town, one shot of the debris-strewn streets and boarded up store fronts suddenly jumped out at me as being not an actual location, as I always assumed it to be, but in fact a miniature set.

This detail has probably been completely obvious to everyone all along but it's taken me I don't know how many viewings for my eye to detect telltale signs of artifice in this shot.

But rather than ruin the moment, spying the fakery instead put a big smile on my face. This is the kind of unexpected discovery that the digital age has robbed us of now that moviemakers no longer have to use a variety of practical methods to pull off their illusions.

This moment amounts to just a brief few seconds of screen time and it's not any kind of pivotal scene - it's just there to give a sense of the Tall Man's path of destruction. But yet it required some craftsman on the crew (perhaps Ken Tarallo, credited as model maker in the film's credits) to spend what was likely weeks to construct a cool little miniature full of finely acheived detail which then had to be lit and photographed just right to make it convincing. Or...perhaps I'm just seeing things.

Either way, Phantasm II continues to be damn cool.


Franco Macabro said...

I hadnt noticed that either, but yeah, miniature work is awesome. Terry Gilliam loved using them to great effect, unfortunately, even he has given in to CGI as evidenced in Dr. Parnassus, which was still good anyways.

AGreed man, Phantasm II is awesome, quite possibly the best in the series!

Timmy Crabcakes said...

Cool stuff!
I'd never noticed it. Even those stills don't look like miniatures to me. I'll have to go watch the movie again.

Jeff Allard said...

FC, PHANTASM II is #1 with me too. I love the whole series but II is just so damn cool all around.

Knob, I could be totally wrong about that shot being a miniature but for some reason it suddenly jumped out at me as being one.

Unknown said...

Wow, I never noticed that at all. Interesting! PHANTASM II is my fave of the series as well, if only for the kickass 2 double-barrled shotguns fused together weapon!

Mummbles said...

That is really cool. I know Star Wars used a ton of minatures to make that movie and that seemed to work out well. Movies have moved from a craftsmen business to a computer one, too bad.

Jeff Allard said...

J.D., you can't go wrong with a quadruple barreled shotgun!

Mummbles, maybe the old methods will start to make a comeback of sorts. I find a show like SyFy's Face Off heartening because it celebrates old school prosthetic makeup FX.