In an age where fans are force-fed a steady diet of suffocating CGI effects, it's refreshing to see a film like Harbinger Down embrace the old-fashioned method of cinematic monster manifestations. A lot can be accomplished with a little imagination, puppets, plastic and foam latex, as Amalgamated Dynamics' Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis pitched to potential investors.
The Kickstarter project proposed by the creature creators of AVP and Starship Troopers was crowdfunded on the appeal of its tentacled FX terrors being done without the use of CGI, utilizing only animatronics and practical makeup magic to manifest their monster. The plot is essentially The Thing meets Most Dangerous Catch, with nasty Bering Sea space beasts stalking scientists and students aboard a fishing trawler, but the special-effects crew they've assembled for the production, including Pat McClung (Armageddon, True Lies) and Robert and Dennis Skotak (The Abyss, Aliens, Terminator 2) has some impressive, Oscar-winning credentials. Gillis and his studioADI team was hired to do the practical creature designs for Universal's 2011 The Thing remake, but their creations were scrapped and replaced by CGI effects for the finished film.
Here's Harbinger's official synopsis:
A group of grad students have booked passage on the fishing trawler Harbinger to study the effects of global warming on a pod of Orcas in the Bering Sea. When the ship’s crew dredges up a recently thawed piece of old Soviet space wreckage, things get downright deadly. It seems that the Russians experimented with tardigrades, tiny resilient animals able to withstand the extremes of space radiation. The creatures survived, but not without mutation. Now the crew is exposed to aggressively mutating organisms. And after being locked in ice for three decades, the creatures aren’t about to give up the warmth of human companionship.
Directed by Alec Gillis, Harbinger Down will open sometime in 2014 and stars Lance Henriksen, Camille Balsamo, Reid Collums and Matt Winston.
(Via Comic Book Movie)