Never-Before-Seen Footage of the Alien Puppets in James Cameron's The Abyss

We've got an exclusive video clip from FX legend Steve Johnson's archives featuring the angelic underwater alien puppets of James Cameron's The Abyss. Listen as Johnson describes with disbelief how Gale Anne Hurd and Cameron decided to hire a "23-year-old-moron" to design the alien puppet that the entire feature hinged upon. And watch the practical creatures swim across your screen.

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You may have seen Johnson's past work (such as Ang Lee's animatronic Hulk and Nic Cage's Superman suit) floating around the internet lately. This is because Eon Entertainment and Johnson have decided to preserve all 30 years of Johnson's FX movie and TV work on DVD, and the result is a treasure trove of VFX greatness. The latest DVD coming out is Back Into The Abyss — a two-disc DVD with over 250 behind the scenes photographs, bonus footage and completely retooled interviews with Johnson (so it's different from what you may have already seen on the internet).

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Johnson narrates the entire DVD, explaining all the ups and downs with designing The Abyss' and recalls that blindly saying that yes, he would create Cameron's clear, beautiful, light-up and fully functional underwater aliens was the single most asinine decision he's ever made. But we have to hand it to the film-makers: everything looks better when it's practical. Look at the tiny clear alien lungs inflating and deflating — it's just better when it's real. Oh and the overall cost to create such creatures? Around $300,000, but that was over two decades ago.

You can pre-order Into The Abyss now (on sale) over at Eon Entertainment

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DISCUSSION

I have seen my share of gawd awful rubber creatures in my short stay on this planet...that said, I have never seen a CG beasty that could match - frame for frame - what animatronic or creature effects artists can create.

Even Avatar - as GORGEOUS as the creatures were - was not photo real to my eyes. The rubber T-Rex completely sold me on the CG T-Rex when it ran. The Rubber forward half of the creature from Relic completely upstaged the CG six legged full body. The rubber creatures from Hellboy I and II were far more palpable to my cinematic fingers than the CG versions they often shared screen time with. Rubber just looks 'alive' to me. I've been impressed by CG monsters but to date, I've never been completely sold.

I know that inevitably it will happen - and likely soon - but so far, I haven't bought the illusion of CG.