Untold Tales of Hollywood #38

Film #11: Monster in the Closet (1981)
Directed by Bob Dahlin

Monster in the Closet was a low budget horror flick directed by Bob Dahlin, a protegé of Robert Altman‘s, I believe. Dahlin and his coterie came to me to design the guy-in-a-suit title monster. Bob called in a lot of favors for his little film and ended up with Howard Duff, Claude Akins, Henry Gibson, Donald Moffat, Paul Dooley, John Carradine, Stella Stevens and many other Hollywood luminaries in his cast.

During our discussion of the film I suggested that the monster shouldn’t just be a monster —- but a monster with a big surprise. How about having the real monster living inside of the big monster?

Bob loved that concept. I briefly boarded the idea:

Then, the heavy lifting began.

Dahlin had no idea as to what he wanted either of the two monsters to look like, so I began shooting in the dark. I nailed the big monster design fairly quickly:

But Bob couldn’t decide upon the inner creature. I pitched him lots of designs, well after the time we had negotiated for my services ran out. Each time he came back to me, he had to pay me more. Ron Bakal, my attorney back then, did a great job of negotiating for the extra work. Eventually, this low budget film had no more money in the budget left for further designs, so Ron negotiated a deferred payment — and profit participation — for subsequent designs. He also negotiated that when any of film’s profits began to come in, that I would be the first to be paid — ahead of everyone else, including the director and producers. Good deal!

Here are all of my inner creature designs (not in order):

I’m not sure (I haven’t watched this movie since it came out), but I think they went with the following:

Note the notes. I always write lots of note regarding my creatures and their design.

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