A huge loss to the genre family today as THR reports that Richard Alan Greenberg, the Oscar-nominated effects artist who took main titles for movies to another level, has died. He was 71.
Greenberg died Saturday in New York City after a bout with appendicitis, his family announced.
Greenberg’s Oscar nomination was for best visual effects (shared with Stan Winston, Joel Hynek and his brother, Robert Greenberg) for John McTiernan’s Predator (1987). He also collaborated with the director on another Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer, Last Action Hero (1993).
In 1977, the Chicago native and his brother launched R/Greenberg Associates, and they worked (and lived) out of tight quarters in a brownstone in midtown Manhattan. While their first gig was Superman (1978), directed by Richard Donner, their second job was to create the main titles for Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). The duo employed, as described by Art of the Title, a “disjointed version of the Futura typeface to instill a sense of foreboding, the letters broken into pieces, the space between them unsettling.”
Said Greenberg: “It’s disturbing to people to see those little bits of type coming on. … We wanted to set up tension, and as these little bits come in, they seem very mechanical. We wanted to break the type apart using that letter-spaced sans serif, which really hadn’t been done in film before.”
Greenberg’s genre roots go even deeper as his main title work also can be seen on Altered States (1980) and Death Becomes Her (1992), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Independence Day (1996), and The Matrix (1999).
In addition to Predator, Greenberg did VFX work on The Devil’s Advocate (1997) and Phantoms (1998).
Greenberg also directed the 1989 feature Little Monsters (1989), starring Fred Savage and Howie Mandel, and a 1990 episode of HBO’s “Tales From the Crypt”.
We send our condolences to all of his friends and family. He will be remembered forever among us horror fans.