Paul Blaisdell

By Michael Corvin


      He was the Rick Baker of the 1950’s and the go to guy when it
came to crafting movie monsters. Paul Blaisdell was born near the
end of Hollywood’s Silent Era in 1927 in Newport, Rhode Island. At
a young age, he enjoyed the science fiction pulp magazines of the
time and later as an adult, he started as an illustrator for some of the
magazines he grew up with. His skill with a paintbrush along with his
love of sculpting would serve him well when he was brought into the
world of Hollywood thanks to his friend Forest J. Ackerman of
Famous Monsters of Film Land. Ackerman told Paul that B movie
master Roger Corman was looking for someone to build a monster for the movie, The Beast with a Million
Eyes, 1955. Even though the young artist never designed a physical creature before, he took on the
project.

      For his very first Monster Movie, Paul Blaisdell created a creature that to keep to the tiny budget that
comes with a Corman film, Paul crafted a hand puppet to be the Beast With A Million Eyes. Although
somewhat crude, the little creature worked well enough to pull the magic trick of making the two-foot tall
little monster seem like a giant. Blaisdell would again team up with Corman for the movie The Day The
World Ended, creating the film's creature that he called off stage Marty the Mutant. Here Paul went for a full-
size creature costume that he himself wore in the film. The creature was built over a pair of old Long-Johns
that he glued strips of foam rubber too. He would overlay the foam strips until they bulked up the Long-
Johns to the shape he wanted.

      For the movie, It Conquered the World, 1956, Paul came up with a very different and unusual look for
his next monster. Using a wooden skeleton frame, he crafted foam rubber over the wooden base to create
the monster for the film. Looking like an evil carrot, the from outer space with fangs and long arms and lots
of little feet, the monster looked…….well a little silly even for a 50’s movie. Paul, however, made up for it in
his next feature, The She-Creature also in 1956. Here again for The She-Creature, Paul played the
monster in the costume himself as his She-Beast hunted her next victim. Paul’s She-Creature is probably
Paul Blaisdell’s best-known monster and even though she only appeared in one film, when you see this
creature you know who she is in a moment’s time.

      Blaisdell’s skin with foam landed him the effects job for the 1957 movie Invasion of the Saucer Men.
Here Paul built huge alien heads for the creatures from space with immense bulging eyes and wicked
grins. They looked unlike anything seen before and were a much better step up from his creature from It
Conquered the World a year before. But maybe his best creature suit came in 1958 with the release of
It…The Terror from Beyond Space. Since this movie had a real budget to work with unlike most of his
previous films, Paul was able to use new ideas in building his new creature. Crafting a mask out of rubber
that was more form fitting, the Creature known as (It) looked more realistic then any of his preceding
creations.

      Sadly though, even though the creature’s mask looked better than anything his other beasts, the actor
who was to play the monster in the film would not make himself available to cast the mask to his head and
so Paul had to cast the mask hoping for the best. In the end, although the creature looks great, the actor's
chin can be seen poking out of the monster's mouth. Paul did what he could to make the chin look like the
creatures tongue and for the most part, it works unless like me you know the truth.

      Since at the time Monster Movies of the 50’s were thought of as nothing more than low budget B flicks
made for a fast buck. With the talent that Paul Blaisdell had, he could have really created something
wonderful for each of his films had he been given more like today’s Hollywood studios give their special
effects departments. As a result, Paul became disillusioned with the movie biz and walked away. In 1962
together with his friend and right-hand man Bob Burns, he tried something new. Taking a cue from his
friend Forrest J. Ackerman editor of Famous Monsters of Film Land, the two went into the horror magazine
biz themselves and released Fantastic Monsters of the Films.

      Many of Paul’s own creature creations graced the covers of the issues and he also wrote featured
special effects article each issue called The Devil’s Workshop. While publishing the magazine, Paul and
Bob decided to make their own little movie and sell it through the magazine as a mail-order. Called the
Cliff Monster, an idea Paul had in mind for years, the film featured a giant creature that was, in reality, a
puppet that Paul crafted. For the magazine, Paul and Bob started a Monster Club membership for the fans
of the magazine. With each signup, the fan would get a color picture of one of Paul’s movie monsters and
a membership card.  

      The magazine ran for seven issues with an eighth in the work when sadly a fire ended its production
run. In the wake of the magazine’s death, Paul became withdrawn from the horror game and walked away
from the genre altogether. After time, he would use his skills for the creation and become a carpenter
never again looking back. In 1983 Paul Blaisdell died of stomach cancer, he was only 55 years old.

      Although Paul chose to walk away from Hollywood and the horror and sci/fi genres, his everlasting
work lives on in the films his creatures inhabited. He was long just as new horror movie make-up artists
like Rick Baker, Stan Winston and others who were just getting well known when Paul passed on. I’m sure
he would have liked to have seen what the next generation of horror effects craftsman could have achieved
in the years following his monsters. He may be gone but his creatures live on in the creature features they
his creatures starred in.
Making Monsters:
Spotlight on Hollywood's
Makeup Artists