Movie Article

'Demolition Man': How They Did Those Special Effects

The story behind Sylvester Stallone's deep freeze

Suspended animation in the movies is usually a soothing, sleepy experience, says Demolition Man director Marco Brambilla. But, he says, when John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is unwillingly sealed into a water tank and frozen into an ice cube, ''I wanted to make it as violent and scary as possible.''

Getting the scene to look scary was deceptively simple: The crew just put Stallone in a clear plastic tank and filled it up. At first, the liquid was glycerin, a viscous fluid that looks already frozen. For subsequent shots, Stallone held his breath underwater, trying to match the pose of a mannequin built to represent him after the Big Chill. Computer graphics later supplied the aurora-borealis zap that quick-freezes Spartan.

The director says that the poses of the nude, muscular cryoprison inmates were inspired by the photos of Robert Mapplethorpe. With some exceptions: For the scene in which Stallone stands in the tank before his punishment, Brambilla used a mist machine to obscure the view. ''I wanted to show a lot of Sly almost naked,'' he says, ''but there were certain things I didn't want to see.''

Originally posted Oct 22, 1993 Published in issue #193 Oct 22, 1993 Order article reprints
Advertisement

Today's Most Popular

  1. Photo Gallery: American Music Awards 2014 American Music Awards 2014 style: What the stars wore
  2. Photo Gallery: American Music Awards 2014 American Music Awards '14: We grade the performances

From Our Partners