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It’s Alive!

The Science of B-Movie Monsters

The B-movie monster—be it gap-toothed gorilla, ripped-from-time dinosaur, overstretched arachnid, or another outrageous anthropomorphic fantasy—has thrilled moviegoers for decades, and firmly sunk its claws into popular culture. In It’s Alive!, Michael LaBarbera delves into the science behind these characters’ construction, from the biology surrounding tyrannosaurid postures in Jurassic Park and King Kong to the questionable physics employed by The Incredible Shrinking Man. Accompanied by a treasure trove of images from old movie posters and stills, and ranging from the 1930s to such recent films as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the latest installments of the Alien franchise, It’s Alive! cleverly uses science to remind us that the best parts of moviemaking might indeed be magic–for all creatures, great and small.

33 pages | 22 figures | 6 x 9 | © 2003, 2013

Chicago Shorts

Biological Sciences: Physiology, Biomechanics, and Morphology

Film Studies

Table of Contents

The Fantastic World of Mr. Spielberg

Biology and Geometry Collide!

A World Distorted Beyond Your Imagination

The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall

Terrors of the Deep

Giant Ants Attack!

Unexpected Biology: Parallel Universes and Alien Worlds


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