10 Memorable Stop Motion Movie Characters

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Stop motion is an animation technique that dates as far back as 1898.  An object (often made of clay) is is photgraphed and moved slightly in each separate frame, and the illusion of movement is created when the individually photographed frames are played continuously.  Before the CGI special effect of modern movies, many filmmakers had to rely on stop motion photography.  Even with boundaries, some of the results were very impressive.  Stop motion doesn’t really hold up over time, though, and with just a few exceptions, it seems to be an obsolete visual effect.  At any rate, here are ten memorable stop motion movie characters:

ED-209 – Robocop

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Robocop was played by Peter Weller, but the menacing ED-209 was created using stop motion.  COBRA assault rifles and stairs were its weaknesses.

The Terminator – The Terminator

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Terminator 2 introduced groundbreaking visual effects, but its predecessor relied on good ol’ stop motion.  Even without modern technology, the Terminator still looked pretty scary.

Medusa – Clash of the Titans

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Rather than put an actor in a ridiculous suit, the effects team on Clash of the Titans opted for an animated Medusa.  This probably made her beheading at the hands of Perseus more practical, too.

King Kong – King Kong

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Kong’s battles with dinosaurs in the 1933 version of King Kong are a far cry from the visuals created via Andy Serkis and motion ball capture.

Tyrannosaurus Rex – Caveman

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The Tyrannosaur in Caveman is as memorable as its co-stars Shelly Long and Ringo Star.  My favorite scene – besides when the cavemen mistakedly play in dinosaur sh*t – is when the Tyrannosaur is fed fruit with psychadelic properties.

Dark Overlord – Howard the Duck

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I remember just two things about Howard the Duck: 1) the duck’s boobs in the very beginning; and 2) the stop motion Dark Overlords.  I always thought they were a bright spot in an otherwise abyssmal movie.

Skeletons – Jason and the Argonauts

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Perhaps the most famous stop motion scene, the skeleton battle in Jason and the Argonauts featured battles with animated undead long before Army of Darkness.

Large Marge – Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

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Large Marge is my favorite stop motion character.  It’s not often that a simple animation can scare the living piss out of you.

Tauntauns – The Empire Strikes Back

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In addition to an epic story, visual effects helped make the Star Wars films some of the most memorable in movie history.  The Empire Strikes back featured several stop motion animated creatures and machines, such as the tauntauns and AT-AT walkers.

Jack Skellington – The Nightmare Before Christmas

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The Nightmare Before Christmas was made entirely using stop motion photography, and a similar style – both in tone and design – was used for Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride.


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  • Mr Jim

    Hey what about Wallace and Gromit? The most iconic stop motion characters there are. They even count as stop motion movie characters as they do have a film.

  • Madison

    @ Mr Jim

    You’re totally right. I wonder why I didn’t include them; I know exactly who they are. Maybe because I’ve never actually seen any of their movies. Still, they are iconic enough that even without seeing the movies, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Good call.

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  • @*!

    wallace & gromit: a grand day out

  • Jesus

    Everything in evil dead 2 was really memorable: the stripping corpse, the big giant head thing at the end, and everything in between. Even the trees.

    Plus that giant big tit thing at the end of Dead Alive!

  • Timmy93

    You forgot Beetlejuice! That movie featured a variety of stop motion effects, such as the giant sand worm.

  • keithsingleton@cox.net

    Chicken Run by Kelly Asbury, head writer. Adorable. Precious. He also designed the storyboards for Disney’s Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, list goes on and on.