Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Pyrotechnics wizard Joe Viskocil in 1976/77, with the Blockade Runner model from the original STAR WARS.

Another of the all-time great STAR WARS visual effects wizards has passed into the Force, with last night's sad news that the always in demand freelance pyrotechnics supervisor, and all-round nice guy, Joe Viskocil has died at the young age of 63. A fan of visual effects since childhood, and a particular enthusiast growing up on the exciting, colourful and always spectacularly explosive Gerry Anderson UK Supermarionation puppet action/adventure series of the mid to late sixties, Viskocil would vigorously enter the seventies quickly rising up the small but building new US behind the scenes SPFX ladder, journeying to the forefront of modern day pyrotechnics use in visual and practical effects filming, not just in blockbuster space epics but all other types of drama and entertainment that required his unique services. Going into the eighties and nineties he helped see-in the return of Batman with Tim Burton, and engineer world destruction in Independence Day, and beyond, as the man with the fingers on the explosive detonator! But it will be the first two Classic Trilogy STAR WARS movies for which he'll always be remembered by fans, assisting John Dykstra and the newly formed ILM from around 1975 to 1980. Any classic miniature explosion, large or small, the bigger the better, from the later re-titled A New Hope and its superb first sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, notably the first Death Star battle and the Imperial Walkers attack on Hoth, were realised to the highest standards by Viskocil - a talent whose like will be much missed in Hollywood and the entertainment industry at large...

Viskocil, helped by Joe Johnston, prepares to plant an explosive inside a doomed model X-wing, for STAR WARS.
A bearded Viskocil and a colleague prepare a charge inside an AT-AT, for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
Another great image of Viskocil planning destruction on an impressive Walker model.

Some of Viskocil's exemplary work for the classic TIE fighter sentry attack on the Falcon, from A New HopeSTAR WARS: A NEW HOPE - TIE Fighter Attack - YouTube

Viskocil's favourite explosion: the final TIE fighter sentry is destroyed, from the original STAR WARS.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Joe was a friend of mine. Last saw him about 10 days ago or so. He didn't look so good. We knew he was ill, but he refused to see a doctor. We'll miss him at his favorite hangout El Coyote in Los Angeles. Rest in peace, Joe. ~ Terrence