How to make a movie monster

What does it take to really scare people? Two creature designers tell Emma Tucker how they tap into deep fears and the dark spots of human psychology to make convincing movie monsters

“Hieronymus took the early version of my job,” says character designer Carlos Huante. “Him and Goya.” For Huante, who’s been making monsters for over three decades, there’s little difference between his images of bizarre creatures and disturbing depictions of hell or witches in paintings from centuries ago.

“There are iconic fears,” explains the ­designer, who’s worked on films including It, Prometheus and Arrival. “Things ­written down, or cartoons of classic things, like the devil with the pitchfork and the pointed horns – these are things you have to know instinctively. You know exactly what they are and how they’re all carved out, and how to apply those to what you do. I know them instinctively because I’ve been looking at classic sculpture, and most of this stuff is my application of that form. It’s classic art, but for me, the only avenue I have is not the church, it’s Hollywood and the film industry.”

DESIGNER

London