Carlo Rambaldi, Who Created 'E.T.' And 'Alien' Effects, Has Died At 86

Steven Spielberg's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is coming out on Blu-ray soon, and when it arrives I recommend that everyone watch it with an eye for the incredible brass balls it took for Spielberg to shoot the title alien like he would a human actor.

The reason he was able to do that is due in great part to the work of Italian effects maestro Carlo Rambaldi, who died today at the age of 86. Rambaldi's days as a working cinematic craftsman were behind him, and he passes leaving behind a great body of work that contains effects for early giallo films like A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, Deep Red, and Twitch of the Death Nerve; the wacky Warhol/Morrissey takes on Frankenstein and Dracula; and Alien, Dune, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and E.T.

Rambaldi's death comes after a long illness, says the Washington Post.

I love many of the films Rambaldi contributed to (even Silver Bullet, which does feature some not-so-hot werewolf suits) but his E.T. effects are over the top. The rule was always to have the camera avoid the creature, but Rambaldi built a strange, ugly little thing, and did so in such a way that Spielberg could shoot it like a person. The result is that E.T. is one of the most emotionally powerful effects-based movies ever made.

Rambaldi's effects had another great test of realistic effectiveness when mutilated dogs created for A Lizard in a Woman's Skin were realistic enough to get  director Lucio Fulci hauled into court on animal cruelty charges. As weird as that would be, it must have made both Fulci and Rambaldi happy to find their work has such a convincing effect.

Watch a great video of some of Rambaldi's best work, via Badass Digest.