ITALIAN SPECIAL EFFECTS MASTER CARLO RAMBALDI DEAD AT 86

MILAN — Carlo Rambaldi, a special effects master and three-time Oscar winner known as the father of E.T.: THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL, died Friday in southern Italy after a long illness, Italian news media reported. He was 86.

Rambaldi, a wizard of a discipline known as mechatronics — which combines disciplines including mechanical, electronic and system design engineering — did not hide a disdain for computerized effects.

“Digital costs around eight times as much as mechatronics,” Rambaldi was quoted by the Rome daily La Repubblica as having once said. “E.T. cost a million dollars and we created it in three months. If we wanted to do the same thing with computers, it would take at least 200 people a minimum of five months.”

Rambaldi won visual effects Oscars for Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster E.T., Ridley Scott’s film ALIEN in 1979, and John Guillermin’s KING KONG in 1976. Rambaldi was born in 1925 in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna in 1951. While he dreamed of becoming an artist, he was drawn into the world of cinema when he was asked to create a dragon for a low-budget science fiction movie in 1956.

He’ll be forever known to the entire world as the man who fathered the alien in Steven Spielberg’s E.T., but we horror fans will also remember him for creating the Alien head in ALIEN, creating the werewolf suit in Stephen King’s SILVER BULLET, the gooey demon from 1982’s POSSESSION, the aliens from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, the gore effects for Argento’s DEEP RED, the hand from THE HAND. His credits are many and varied, and he will be missed…

CHAS. BALUN DEAD AT 61

Chas Balun

It’s so strange that Chas. Balun and Dan O’Bannon should pass within a day of each other…From Shock Till You Drop:

Fangoria reports Chas. Balun passed away on December 18 at the age of 61. He was battling cancer.

Chas. (Charlie) was a multi-hyphenate in the horror biz. An artist, a journalist and a fiction writer, he contributed to the likes of “Fangoria” and “Gorezone” magazines as well as the t-shirt company Rotten Cotton. His books on genre films enlightened readers, steering us clear from the detritus that polluted the horror landscape and pointing us to the meaty, more satisfying entries that, more often than not, shed the red, so to speak.

“Horror Holocaust,” “Beyond Horror Holocaust,” “The Gore Score,” and “More Gore Score” featured his acerbic wit and scathing criticism. The man told it like it is and we loved him for it.

Chas. was a cool cat; I grew up reading his articles and, later, got to know him when I first met the man at a horror convention here in Los Angeles. We didn’t see eye to eye on some films, however, we shared a mutual love for Lucio Fulci’s Zombie. I got quite a thrill when he e-mailed me enthusiastically one day in response to my review of “Beyond Horror Holocaust” when it was first published. Someone I looked up to as a writer was telling me he was a fan of my work.

A bold voice in horror has been taken from us and he will be missed.