Mike Elizalde and Spectral Motion have been known for their ability to create some truly unbelievably cool characters over the years—from Hellboy to X-Men: The Last Stand to Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and countless others. One landmark effort Elizalde and his team were involved with was Joe Cornish’s 2011 sci-fi action comedy, Attack the Block, which introduced audiences to their brilliant take on invading aliens with a creature design devoid of color and detail, adorned with only glowing and snarling fangs.

There have been hundreds of aliens that have graced the silver screen throughout the history of cinema, but none quite like the unknown alien attackers Cornish and Elizalde collaborated on for Attack the Block, and for this installment of Practical-ly Perfect, I thought it was time to give these badass otherworldly creatures, and the folks behind them, their due. According to Elizalde:

“Joe was a director who was very keen on having as many practical effects in his film, with as little CG as possible, to give the aliens a sense of tangibility. The look of those creatures, and the design of those creatures, was very much driven by Joe, too. He had very specific ideas, and a very specific notion about what these things would be like as they moved around, too.”  

“When we first started designing the creature suits, we would go off to a shooting stage and film the shadows of the creatures so that we could study what that looked like in various lights. Joe’s conceit with his approach was that these things come from another planet, or even another dimension, and they should completely absorb all of the light around them. He thought that would make these creatures so weird and so mysterious, especially since they don't have eyes, and their teeth glow. They're almost like apes, more like these weird 'baboon' creatures.”  

“So, what we did is we created the creatures out of fur suits and put in the electronic elements and so on. When they shot (the film), they rotoscoped out every single aspect of those creatures so there's no contour to them whenever they’re in the darkness. If you watch the movie again and you watch carefully, there isn't any reflected quality to the aliens at all, so all you see are those ferocious glowing choppers. It's a pretty great idea that he came up with.” 

“We were really happy to work on that film with Joe. It was filmed in London, and the production was very modest. They had a very small research team, but Cornish did an amazing job with what he did have, and he created a masterpiece. It's really amazing.”

Images courtesy of Mike Elizalde:

Next: Practical-ly Perfect: Pennywise, Past and Present with Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr., and Bart Mixon
  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.