Bright Lights Film Journal

Have a Blaisdell Halloween!

Paul Blaisdell (July 21, 1927 – July 10, 1983) was a science fiction illustrator (The Ant Men, above), a special effects artisan, and an inspired designer of imaginative costumes and props for a series of low-budget horror, monster, and sci-fi films released by American International Pictures and Allied Artists in the 1950s. He was the King of Rubber-Suit Monster Creators, making and often performing inside such creations as The Beast With a Million Eyes, the three-eyed scaly mutant in Roger Corman’s The Day the World Ended, The She-Creature, Voodoo Woman, the little saucermen in Invasion of the Saucer Men (with Blaisdell, left), the cave-dwelling Venusian in Corman’s It Conquered the World (below, right), the tree creature in From Hell it Came, the flying umbrella thing and other extraterrestrial organisms of Not of This Earth, the horror masks of How to Make a Monster, and – most memorably – the rampaging alien in the spaceship of Edward L. Cahn’s It! the Terror From Beyond Space (above), a film which many claim was the inspiration for Ridley Scott’s Alien.

You could always recognize a Blaisdell creation. There was something simultaneously comical and disturbing about Blaisdell’s monsters, something weirdly familiar that grabbed the viewer’s unconscious and wouldn’t let go. Something in that odd latex texture. Something in those alien eyes. Even Blaisdell’s props – like the tools used by the little saucermen to repair their spaceship – had a distinctive character.

In the 1960s, Blaisdell was a founder of, and occasional contributor to, Fantastic Monsters of the Films, a magazine which rivaled and sometimes surpassed the Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine created by Blaisdell’s former agent, Forrest J Ackerman. (Almost all the Fantastic Monsters covers were photos of Blaisdell monsters.)

The magazine failed. Blaisdell died prematurely. Had he lived longer, he would have seen himself lionized at horror and sci-fi conventions as the genuine star that he was. Read more about Blaisdell here.