Raptors and Joe Mazzello hang out in the kitchen in ‘Jurassic Park’ (Universal)
As anyone who’s seen the Jurassic World trailers already knows, velociraptors will be making a big return to the action in Friday’s adventure sequel. The vicious dinos first tore through the bigscreen in Steven Spielberg’s original 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park, where they were the smartest, scariest beasts around. Nowhere were they more terrifying than in that movie’s famed kitchen scene.
The sequence, which took two weeks to shoot, happens late in the film when the imperiled kids Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello) are alone in the park’s visitor’s center and being hunted by a pack of raptors. Spielberg wanted the kids “in the world of the familiar,” he explained in one of the featurettes on the Blu-ray disc, to make the sequence even scarier. “It was very important to me that there were little iconic references to things we can see in our own homes in that sequence,” said the director, who terrorized suburbia with Poltergeist a decade earlier.
Hoping to escape their predators, Lex and Tim hustle into the empty kitchen and hide behind a counter. As Sam Neill’s paleobotanist Dr. Alan Grant quips before he leaves them to find the others, they should be safe for the time being, as long as the raptors don’t learn how to open doors. The obvious bad news: Raptors are much wilier and good with their hands than Grant gives them credit for.
Watch the scene below:
In Jurassic World, the raptors are completely digital, created by effects shop Industrial Light & Magic. It’s stunning work that was actually pioneered during the production of Jurassic Park. The kitchen scene combined the impressive new computer-generated imagery with the best of more old-fashioned movie magic: puppetry and costumes.
The hungry raptors in the scene were actually played by special-effects designers inside elaborate costumes made at the famed Stan Winston effects studio. As described in the video below, the suits were developed using what the shop called “garbage bag” models, a process that began when they built an entire queen Xenomorph prototype out of a garbage bag during the pre-production of 1986′s Aliens.
Watch a video of the suit’s creation below:
The eyes and arms of the raptors were radio-controlled, but the head was maneuvered by a rod inside the costume’s head. John Rosengrant, one of the two effects supervisors to actually wear the raptor costume, notes in the video that Spielberg almost always framed the moving raptors from above the knees, so it gave the illusion of speed. In the kitchen scene, that meant shooting at angles that allowed the chrome counters to obscure the bottom halves of their legs.
Certain movements required creatures more nimble than men in suits so heavy that they had to be suspended in the air in between takes to rest. ILM was able to insert digital dinosaurs into the empty spaces left in the frame, paving the way for the trained and weaponized raptors you’ll see in Jurassic World.
The production also used digital technology for a more simple, but equally vital task: removing the reflections of the crew from all those shiny metal counters. The scene actually makes great use of the reflective surfaces when Lex struggles to shut the door of a small cubby she’s hiding in as a raptor is charging her way. Luckily, while the dinosaur has adapted to door handles, it hasn’t yet learned about mirrors, and it winds up smashing head-first into the shiny cabinet opposite Lex’s hide-out.
Raptors enjoying the foliage in ‘Jurassic Park’ (Everett)
Years later, Ariana Richards still got creeped out by the sequence of events. “One of the standout moments for me was filming the kitchen scene with the raptors,” she told GamesRadar.com in 2011. “It was probably one of my favorite scenes because it has so much intrigue and suspense in it. I’ll never forget that. And to watch it, after the film was complete — it still gave me chills.”
Mazzello also remembered the scene fondly — though he actually ended up more scratched up than his character did during its production. “That was the one injury I had on set, where I’m going into the freezer and being chased — it went the wrong way and the claw of the dinosaur hit me in the head,” he told HeyUGuys.com, also in 2011. “And that was my birthday! So, that’s hard to forget — having the whole crew singing Happy Birthday while you’re lying on the ground with a bump on your head.”
Nowadays, there’d be no risk of that at all, thanks to the advances in CGI. But then again, the truly fearful look in Tim’s eyes help make the scene one of the movie’s most memorable, even 22 years later.