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HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Ed’s first job in the field of monster making came in the mid 1970s. He was hired by Party Palace, a local novelty shop, to repaint masks that were purchased from Japan and arrived poorly painted. HB005

Ed also experimented with make-up effects and sculpted his own prosthetics. To do that, he had a lifecast of himself made by Dr. Sajbels, his neighbor who was also his dentist. He thought highly of Ed’s work and called Ed one day, asking if he could bring his monsters over to show them to his brother. While Ed did not know it at the time, the brother happened to be the head of the art department at Southern Colorado State College. Then and there, he offered Ed a scholarship to come to SCSC and make monsters. Ed declined, thinking there was no way he could ever make a living at it. Ed graduated from high school in 1974, and two years later married his first wife, Jodi. She attended the University of Northern Colorado, so Ed enrolled as an art major to be (left) Masks repainted by Ed Edmunds for Party Palace (right) Jim Foss, owner of Party Palace and Distortions Unlimited’s first customer

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closer to her. On Halloween of 1978, Ed entered a costume contest wearing a Don Post Studios Bloody Werewolf mask and hands. He was hopeful of winning the $300 stereo that was offered as the prize. He ended up finishing second, with the winner wearing a Frankenstein mask that Ed had painted for Party Palace. Ed decided he wanted to won the contest the following year, so he set out to create his own costume. With his love for aliens and science-fiction, he decided to create an alien costume. One night in November of 1978, Ed set up an armature on the kitchen table of the one bedroom apartment he shared with his wife, Jodi, and began sculpting the head which was the first version of the mask later released as Andromeda. When Jim Foss, the owner of Party Palace, saw the Andromeda mask, he asked Ed if he could make more to sell. Although Ed didn’t realize it at the time, this was the beginning of his career as a professional monster-maker and also the beginning of Distortions Unlimited.

In 1978, Ed started Distortions Unlimited in the one bedroom apartment the couple shared, with a second version of Andromeda (which had a longer neck) being the first mask produced. Given Ed’s love of The Outer Limits and the monsters in the show, which were made by a company called Projects Unlimited, it makes sense to guess that this was the inspiration behind the name Distortions Unlimited. The funny thing is that would be wrong. It was nothing more than a coincidence as Ed just pulled the name Distortions Unlimited out of thin air and only heard about Projects Unlimited years later. (left) Original Andromeda sculpture (right) First Andromeda mask

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Shortly after, they briefly moved to a 2 bedroom apartment and Ed lined one of the bedrooms with plastic and it became Distortions’ paint room. At the time, Ed was using Roma oil based clay which was very slow to work with. He just took his time and would get a mask to the point where he thought it looked good enough to sell. Unlike later years, there was never a set plan to produce a certain number of masks for the year’s line-up. As Distortions was getting off the ground, Ed left UNC only one semester short of graduating. He had every intention of returning to complete his degree however he never did. It was while Distortions Unlimited was based out of this apartment that the first line up was developed. In addition to Andromeda, the line up consisted of Neutron Alien, Werejaguar, and Mutation 1.

(top) The Willows apartments, where Distortions Unlimited was born (right) The two bedroom apartment, which was the second location of Distortions 4


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Distortions only stayed in the apartment until 1979 when Ed and Jodi bought their first house. There was a bomb shelter on the property which became the paint room, with the rest of the production being done in the garage. While in this house, masks such as Humanocerous, Time Traveler, Human Error, Tusk Alien, and Nightmare 1 were sculpted in the garage.

They only kept the house for approximately 9 months then moved into a larger house with Distortions being based out of the garage and the lower level of the house. Distortions remained in this house until 1982 and it was in this period when Distortions truly began to take off and enter its golden age. The growing success of Distortions made life at home rather difficult. It was not at all uncommon for Ed to be relaxing in front of the television in the evening when there would be a knock on the door from someone wanting to tour Distortions. It became quite apparent that Distortions had grown to the point where it needed its own facility.

(top) The Edmunds’ first house. The garage and bomb shelter in the back yard were used for production (below) The Edmunds’ second house, photographed in the early 1980s and now. This is where Distortions really began to take off. Production was in the garage and the lower level of the house 5


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Andromeda was based on the alien from the ‘Keeper of the Purple Twilight’ episode of The Outer Limits. Ed sculpted the original Andromeda using Roma oil-based clay. Ed recalls that the head of Andromeda wasn’t as round as the Keeper of the Purple Twilight for one simple reason...he ran out of clay. Looking back, Ed remembers Andromeda as the mask that got things going for him and launched his career as a professional monster maker. 6


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(top) Ed had given his original Andromeda mask to Jim Foss, but regretted it after the company began to take off. Ed’s wife, Jodi, agreed to do a large typing project for Foss and took the mask as payment for the work. This photo shows Ed getting the mask back as a birthday gift. 7


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The second version of Andromeda. This version featured an identical head, however it had a longer neck which could be tucked into the collar of a shirt or costume 8


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Mutation was a free form sculpture that Ed recalls he never liked. Ed described free form sculpting as drawing in clay and points out that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. 10


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Ed recalls Neutron Alien as one of his favorite designs. While not absolutely certain, ED believes it is his own design. He points to both the color and angular features as what makes the mask a favorite of his. 11


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(top) Copies of Were-Jaguar and Neutron Alien in production (right) Production copy of Were-Jaguar 12


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At the time Were-Jaguar was sculpted, Ed believed there had to be a wolf-type character to round out the product line. Ed wanted to get away from the typical Wolf Man type character and go with something that had a longer snout. Were-Jaguar came out the same year as An American Werewolf in London and The Howling, but Ed doesn’t remember if they influenced his design at all. In hindsight, Ed remembers this as the sculpture where he learned how to deal with sculpting undercuts in mass production. 13


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Ed recalls Humanocerous was a design he got from an artist in Fort Collins, Colorado. Unfortunately, Ed had forgotten the name of this artist over the years. It actually sold quite well and, as a result, it was this mask that taught Ed that plaster molds wore out and he needed to have more than one for production. At the time, Ed’s molds were made from dental stone that he bought from his dentist. Looking back, Ed recalls the mask was a good design and it was also easy to build a costume around. His exact words when looking back on Humanocerous were “It didn;t light me on fire or anything. I just liked it and it did well.� 15


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Ed doesn’t recall where he originally had the idea for the nightmare series, however he suspects it came from seeing Alien. He had the idea to do a limited edition, thinking if he sold 250 copies at $100 each, it would make him a substantial profit. The first mask sold less than 100 copies, so the future editions in the Nightmare series were limited to 100 copies. In hindsight, Ed sees the Nightmare series as putting Distortions on the map. The mask was even endorsed by makeup effects legend Rick Baker who said, according to Rick Stratton, “The mask looks great, but the seam line looks like shit.” Ed recalls the assessment as quite fair as he hadn’t learned to properly finish seam lines at the time 19


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Ed sculpted Human Error while he was an art student at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. One of his professors offered to give him drawing credit for sculpting monsters. Ed was quite pleased with the design and attempted to enter it in the Art Show at UNC. The mask was rejected and the school refused to allow it to be entered. Ed was absolutely furious about it at the time and he still finds it frustrating to think about. Looking back, Ed sees that it filled a role as he wanted something gory in the product line and he still likes the design. 22


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Ed doesn’t recall the particular origin of the Tusk Alien, nor does he have any particular memories of this mask. Looking back, he can see the mask was created at a time when he was getting into the routine of commercial production. Ed was clearly starting to cross the line from artist to artisan, considering factors such as making a mask easy to get out of the mold and easy paint schemes. 25


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Ed recalls Time Traveler was a free form sculpt that he did for one reason. He really wanted to use hoses in a mask. He just liked the idea and was determined to do a design where he could use them. In hindsight, Ed looks at the design and sees it as one of the first designs where he took advantage of being able to hide the human eyes. This is a technique he still uses to this day. 27


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Creeton remains a special mask to Ed. Where Ed normally looked at a mask and saw the flaws in it, Creeton was the one he would take upstairs, look at it, and think “Wow! This is cool.” Ed’s impression hasn’t changed as he still really likes the design. Creeton was another mask inspired by The Outer Limits. One specific memory has regarding Creeton is an accident in the demolding process. Normally, the back half would come off of the sculpture first due to the lack of detail. When demolding Creeton, the front half came off first. As he was moving the front half of the mold, the back half fell off and broke into three pieces. When looking at copies of Creeton, you can faintly see on the back where the mold had to be repaired. 29


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Exorian was not Ed’s original design. He doesn’t recall who originally came up with the design for Exorian, but suspects it was the same artist in Fort Collins who designed Humanocerous. When Ed got the designs, they were simple line drawings so the two stage color design was Ed’s. Looking back at the mask, Ed describes it as “subtly nice”. 31


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“Ears, purple, and blue. That’s what Silarian is to me.” is how Ed remembers his Silarian mask. Like Tusk Alien, it was designed with production efficiency in mind. Ed also wanted to round out the color palate in his product line. 33


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Rotted Corpse may have its fans, however Ed Edmunds is not among them. “To me, it’s a crummy little mask” he recalls. “It’s so clichéd with the one eye. I don’t know why people like it.” In hindsight, he maintains that he never really liked the design and still has trouble understanding the popularity of the mask. 35


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Krem started out as just another free form alien sculpture until Ed had the groundbreaking idea of using glass eyes. He resculpted the eye sockets to hold 22mm elk eye blanks that he bought from a taxidermy supplier and painted the inside black. 37


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Ed freely admits to stealing the Gorilla design from Rick Baker after reading an article in a magazine. At the time he didn’t think anything of it, believing you can’t copyright a design found in nature. Several years later, Ed had the opportunity to meet Baker in Los Angeles and told him about using his design. That was when Baker informed him that it was actually his design as Hollywood gorillas are all stylized creations. Fortunately, Baker was good about it and forgave Ed for stealing his design. 39


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Gleep and Caiman Lizard were both designed and sculpted by Rick Stratton. Gleep (top left) was a half mask whose claim to fame was being included in a background crowd scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Ed added the hood and the rope. The mask never sold well and very few were made. Ed sums it up best when he recalls “Nobody cared about Gleep” Caiman Lizard (top and left) was the opposite in terms of success. It was a very popular mask and Distortions sold a lot of copies. In hindsight, Ed refers to it as “a brilliant sculpture”. 41


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This mask often pops up in old publicity photos and confuses collectors. This Alien Monkey costume was a personal project of Ed’s that was never commercially released. 43


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Another mask often seen in publicity photos is this Jack Nicholson Shining mask. This was a private commission and not a licensed design. There were a total of three copies made, with two going to the collector who commissioned the mask and Ed keeping one which was later donated to the Stanley Hotel which inspired The Shining. All three copies had glass eyes. Copies had both dentures and sculpted latex teeth, but Ed can’t remember which there were two of. The copy in the photos on both this and the next page have dentures. 44


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The copy of the Shining mask in these photos has the latex teeth. 46


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A publicity photo of Ed taken at his house for an article in Cinefantastique magazine. The photos on the following page are the rejected poses. 47


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Early Preview of REMEMBER THE FUTURE: The Distortions Unlimited Story by Lee Lambert  

We are excited to present for preview this early draft of the chapter, "Humble Beginnings," of Remember the Future: The Distortions Unlimite...

Early Preview of REMEMBER THE FUTURE: The Distortions Unlimited Story by Lee Lambert  

We are excited to present for preview this early draft of the chapter, "Humble Beginnings," of Remember the Future: The Distortions Unlimite...

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