When people walked into the World Trade Center’s cavernous hall for the AsiaPOP Comicon, they were immediately ambushed by frighteningly lifelike horrors straight out of film.
There was the titular “Predator,” ready to strike. There was a menacing Xenomorph from the “Alien” films. There was even a diorama of a Predator versus an Alien—and the scariest of all, an ugly “Newborn,” a human-Xenomorph hybrid from “Alien Resurrection.” The selection of “Alien” figures, in particular, seemed to be telling its own story following the evolution of the spaceborne monsters.
Luckily, they weren’t real—though they were detailed enough to pass for real life (one can imagine them all coming to life at night after Con hours). These exhibits were part of the display from Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. (ADI), the cutting-edge effects house that brings imagined creatures to life on a regular basis for Hollywood movies.
ADI’s magic was evident in the lifelike, life-size statues of the aforementioned creatures. There was even a full-body cast of the British actor Nicholas Hoult as the furry Beast in “X-Men: First Class.” ADI’s advancements in creature effects were even more evident in Bernie The Gorilla from the 2011 Kevin James comedy “Zookeeper.” Bernie’s animatronic head moved and seemingly spoke.
ADI was represented at AsiaPOP by its two founders, Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr., who won an Academy Award for their effects work for the dark 1992 Meryl Streep-Goldie Hawn comedy “Death Becomes Her.” But no one could have a more immediate impact on the event-goers as the menagerie of fantastic creatures.
If you ever thought Filipinos were an easily scared lot, you’d never know it from the crowd, which took selfie after selfie with ADI’s frozen figures. The con attendees’ wide smiles and kawaii hand signs contrasted sharply with the bloodthirsty visages behind them, but such is the mix of fright and fantasy one found at AsiaPOP Comicon.