Archive for Pete Peterson

Las Vegas Monster

Posted in STOP-MOTION with tags , , on January 29, 2023 by MONSTERMINIONS

While visiting the “King Kong at Ninety” exhibit at Eastern Michigan University’s art gallery I took some pictures of the “Las Vegas Monster” rendered by Willis O’Brien. There was a lot of reflection on the protective glass panes so I touched up a few of the images. Compare the O’B conceptual renders to Pete Peterson’s short test reel of the creature. The first thing I noticed was two barbels (tentacles?) on Pete’s version —probably as a cost saving much like Ray Harryhausen scaling back the cephalopod’s arms in “It Came from Beneath the Sea”.


Black Scorpion’s Trapdoor “Spider”

Posted in STOP-MOTION with tags , , , on August 2, 2011 by MONSTERMINIONS

Due to superb animation largely executed by Pete Peterson, The Black Scorpion (1957) remains one of my favorite films of all-time. Next to THEM! (1954) it’s my favorite giant “bug” film. I like it a lot better than Tarantula (1955), which seems dull to me now (I wish it had been animated).

The Black Scorpion offers plenty of action, voluptuous Mara Corday, a volcano, and a chasm full of cannibalistic scorpions, an odd articulated clawed worm, and a “trapdoor spider” —ah, but this blogger doesn’t believe Willis O’Brien meant the arthropod (joint-footed organisms) to be a trapdoor spider. Ok, it lives in a tunnel with a trap-door, and it springs out of its lair like a trapdoor spider. The scene is so effective it startled the liver out of me as a kid —I jumped clean out of my pajamas and an afghan blanket.

The stop-motion animated arthropod that pursues young Juanito looks nothing like a trapdoor spider, which are powerful and stout burrowing spiders with short stubby legs. They are the bulldogs of the Order Araneae. Let’s take a look at the scene and the trapdoor arthropod. This occurs approximately 56.30 into the movie. Juanito stumbles upon a large circular object that is ever-so-slightly moving. He lifts it up!

Out pops a hairy, tear-drop shaped beast. In the image below you can see it has extended pincers. Trapdoor spiders don’t have outstretched pincers. Hmmmn.

Run Juanito! So, what was Willis O’Brien showing here? I think he based the design of the trapdoor arthropod on the look of a pseudo-scorpion. They’re tailless, bulb-shaped arthropods with extended pincers. Except pseudo-scorpions have 8 legs and palpal chelae (the pedipalps or pincers). O’Brien’s creation has 6 legs like an insect, plus the pincers. Maybe it was cheaper to animate! In any event, O’Brien certainly based his creations on known animals. Ray Harryhausen has remarked that O’B certainly understood animal locomotion and anatomy.

This scene from The Black Scorpion also offers us a glimpse how some of the footage and creatures from “The Lost Spider Pit Sequence” (King Kong, 1933) may have looked. The 6-legged trapdoor pseudo-scorpion is definitely creepy and a memorable stop-motion creation. I like it better than the title creature!

Modern pseudo-scorpion, below, approximately 1mm long (about the size of a grain of rice).

Images from Pete Peterson’s Trunk:

The Black Scorpion (1957) Goof

Posted in Miscellania, Sci-Fi with tags , , on February 3, 2011 by MONSTERMINIONS

Pete Peterson performed the majority of stop-motion animation on The Black Scorpion. Wah Chang created the gruesome slobbering live-action puppet-head thing. I scrolled through the film on my iPad the other day and scrutinized some of the animation. I noticed a film flub. If you look close at approximately 1:15, there is a steam engine passenger train tooling along down the tracks infested with giant scorpions. Someone (Pete Peterson perhaps) has scratched or inked over the label on the side of the coal tender (see yellow arrow, below).

Later, when the scorpion attacks the train we see the origin of the model!

They don’t make ’em like they used to!

Neil Pettigrew, 1999. The Stop-Motion Filmography, Vol. 1. McFarland & Company, Inc.