Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Roar Power
Jurassic World unleashed on iTunes
Halo 5 Guardians
The Master Chief returns
Movie News

LFF 2015: A Bigger Splash Gala
Everyone having a Fiennes old time?
LFF 2015: Empire's High-Rise Gala
We present Ben Wheatley's latest triumph. You're welcome!
More Movie News

08 September 2015
Luca Guadagnino Discusses Suspiria Remake
Bigger Splash director on his Argento appropriation
More Movie News

Alien (2003)
Empire Star Rating
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: 20th Anniversary Special Edition (2002)
Empire Star Rating
Bits And Pieces
Empire Star Rating
The Stendhal Syndrome
Empire Star Rating
Empire Star Rating
More new cinemas releases
DVD & Blu-ray releases

Carlo Rambaldi 1925-2012
Special effects legend dies aged 86

12 August 2012  |  Written by Owen Williams  

submit to reddit

Carlo Rambaldi 1925-2012

One of the great pioneers of movie special effects, Carlo Rambaldi has died at his home in Italy after a long illness. He was 86.

Rambaldi had recently been living in the southern Italian city of Lemezia Terme, but was born in the north, in the village of Vigarano Mainarda, in Emilia-Romagna. He attended Bologna's Academy of Fine Arts as a teenager, and had intentions of becoming a painter. But an offer from Italian director Giacomo Gentilomo to create a dragon for the film Sigfredo proved life-changing.

Rambaldi's work immediately became a staple of Italian horror and fantasy cinema. He worked with the maverick likes of Mario Bava (Planet Of The Vampires, Twitch Of The Death Nerve) and Damiano Damiani (The Witch In Love), and had the dubious honour of having to legally prove that his work was pure artifice, when some unpleasantness with a dog in Lucio Fulci's A Lizard In A Woman's Skin saw the director facing a two-year jail sentence. Rambaldi was able to demonstrate his animatronic creature work in court, and Fulci was exhonerated.

After Dario Argento's Deep Red, Rambaldi caught the eye of super-producer Dino De Laurentiis, who gave him the immense task of reinventing King Kong for the ambitious 1976 remake. While the film itself may not have been flawless, the creature work was effective and Rambaldi and his team won an Oscar for their efforts. Rambaldi worked on a further spate of Laurentiis films in the 1980s, including Dune, Conan The Destroyer, and the Stephen King adaptations Cat's Eye and Silver Bullet. For the latter he created the werewolf, completing a trimumverate of his own versions of the classic monsters that he'd begun with Andy Warhol's Dracula and Frankenstein.

Working with De Laurentiis kept him with one foot in Italy, but it's for his work with Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott - to the tune of further Oscars - that Rambaldi will perhaps best be remembered. It was Rambaldi and his team who brought HR Giger's extraordinary Alien to life. And following a fruitful collaboration on Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Spielberg entrusted Rambaldi with the design and creation of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. All those '80s kids clutching plush E.T.s could thank the man behind Dagoth and the Guild Navigator.

His final credits were all on projects directed by his son, Vittorio Rambaldi: Primal Rage, Decoy, and A Friend From Space. The last was made in 2006, but Rambaldi always stuck to practical effects, and never embraced CGI. "E.T. cost a million dollars and we created it in three months," he told La Repubblica. "If we wanted to do the same thing with computers it would take at least 200 people a minimum of five months!"

"Carlo Rambaldi was E.T.'s Geppetto," said Spielberg at the weekend. "All of us who marvelled and wondered at his craft and artistry are deeply saddened at his passing."

Have Your Say
To comment on this, and all articles, register for free or login now.

Bourne Legacy Scores At US Box Office
The Campaign wins second place
Hugh Laurie May Be Robocop's Villain
UPDATE: He's no longer in talks

Your Comments

Sad,Sad News.
Gosh I only just heard! Rest In Peace. A true innovator and dream catcher. Thanks for all the ingenuity Carlos! Alien was a truly magical piece of invention that changed cinema and design forever. I hope he's with Stan Winston somewhere kicking back having a good laugh at us mere mortals. More

Posted by Rich Empire at 22:11 on 13 August 2012 | Report This Post

Riposa in pace
Sadly but inevitably the 'practical' craftsmen are leaving… More

Posted by olirog at 17:38 on 13 August 2012 | Report This Post

Such sad news. I grew up with the work of Winston, Walas, Baker and Rambaldi. Such imagintation and unforgettable designs. I loved Rambaldi's design for the Guild Navigator in Dune. Rest in peace sir. More

Posted by woodgob at 13:31 on 13 August 2012 | Report This Post

Such sad news. I grew up with the work of Winston, Walas, Baker and Rambaldi. Such imagintation and unforgettable designs. I loved Rambaldi's design for the Guild Navigator in Dune. Rest in peace sir. More

Posted by woodgob at 12:56 on 13 August 2012 | Report This Post

Empire's Best Horror Films For Halloween
An unlucky thirteen triple-bills

Emily Blunt Talks Sicario
On the five-star thriller, puke acting and taking Tom Cruise to The Box

Denis Villeneuve Talks Sicario
On his cartel thriller and the upcoming Blade Runner sequel

Tomorrowland: The Viewing Guide
Brad Bird talks through his sci-fi adventure, scene by scene

Empire Meets Ridley Scott
The great director on The Martian, Blade Runner 2 and the Prometheus sequels

Life On Mars: Trips To The Red Planet
A dozen of cinema's Martian misadventures

10 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Toys You’ll Want To Own
Falcon quad copter? BB-8 Sphero? We’re already asking for pay raises…

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)