It's Iconic Creatures Week here at Badass Digest, and Rick Baker's incredible work on the title beast of John Landis' An American Werewolf in London is about as iconic as it gets.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to attend a screening of American Werewolf at Fantastic Fest with Baker himself in attendance, and he charmed all of us with his chagrin, saying that watching some of those effects these 30 years later made him cringe. He talked about all of the things he'd do differently now, as everyone in the audience sat in stunned denial: how could anyone, even Rick Baker, improve on Rick Baker's werewolf? But I guess that's what makes a true master: in an artist's eye, no work is ever really complete.
To the rest of us, however, the transformation in An American Werewolf in London is a magical thing, a scene burned eternally into my consciousness, the kind of scene that changes everything. At the end of David's transformation, he's not the only one who is different - we all are, and cinema itself was changed. For the first time, we see the agony inherent in such a metamorphosis, the pain David must endure before he carries that pain out into the world. Rick Baker made that real for all of us, and three decades later, it's no less real.
After the screening, April Swartz scored an exclusive of some never-before-seen storyboards of that transformation for BAD: check out a couple below and the entire series here.