Ed Driscoll

The Eighth Wonder of the World

There aren’t many blogs that only post a single entry about once a month, and yet still remain must-visits. However, the Matte Shot Blog, run by a New Zealand fan of classic movies with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of how their special effects were produced is just such a blog. Each month, the blog’s author “NZ Pete” produces a lengthy, massively illustrated post on the matte paintings and other special effects that made a classic film possible, or a profile of a veteran matte artist who produced the special effects for dozens of classic Hollywood films.

This month, Matte Shot looks at the special effects – stop motion, rear projection, miniatures, and of course, matte paintings – that made the original 1933 King Kong possible. Sure, some of the effects look crude today, but that’s only because there has been 80 years of advancement in the craft. Somebody had to get there first, and Kong put the art of stop motion miniature photography on the map. But so many other special effects were involved in the production of the film, which Matte Shot breaks down in detail. The Imperial Walkers of The Empire Strikes Back would be unthinkable without the techniques pioneered by RKO nearly half a century earlier. If you love classic movies, or want to see how the effects we take for granted today were pioneered, don’t miss this. (And then scroll through the blog’s archives for loads more posts filled with eye-popping special effects from Hollywood’s golden age.)