David W. Allen

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This article is about the film and television animator. For other people with the same name, see David Allen (disambiguation).
David W. Allen
Born October 22, 1944
Los Angeles, California, United States
Died August 16, 1999(1999-08-16) (aged 54)
Burbank, California, United States
Occupation Stop motion model animator

David W. Allen (October 22, 1944 – August 16, 1999) was a film and television stop motion model (puppet) animator.

Considered among the finest stop motion model animators, Dave Allen has contributed some of the best stop motion sequences to many feature films, rivaling the work of other premier model animators Ray Harryhausen and Jim Danforth.


Some of Allen's earliest animation work can be seen in the 1970 16mm student film, Equinox expanded from a short film to a feature-length film by Jack H. Harris, later re-titled The Beast for VHS video release in the 80s.

Although he had been working for years in animation, mostly doing commercials like the Pillsbury Doughboy, Allen made a splash on movie viewers when he animated the "Nesuahyrrah" monster who appears at the climax of the semi-porn low-brow parody comedy, Flesh Gordon, produced by Howard Ziehm in 1974. The film also featured an impressive animation sequence from long-time Allen friend Jim Danforth.

Allen's ground-breaking model animation opus contribution was a legendary Volkswagen commercial made in 1972 in which King Kong spots a giant version of the car from his Empire State Building perch in New York. Climbing down from the building, Kong puts his human "date" into the passenger seat, gets in the car, and drives down Fifth Avenue out of sight. The spot aired only once on network TV, and in spite of favorable public response, was pulled because VW executives decided that they did not like the image of an ape driving their car.

Allen joined with Jim Danforth, a long-time friend, to provide model animation for the low-budget horror film, The Crater Lake Monster (1977), and animated the aliens in another low-budget science fiction film, Laserblast, (1978).

With Danforth, Ray Harryhausen, a host of other model animators, visual effects artists, film producers and directors, Allen helped organize an event in March 1983 at Mann's Chinese Theater commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the release of King Kong, loaning his VW Kong model for display at the Roosevelt Hotel across the street from the theater.

Allen was also hired to animate the little flying saucers for the hit feature-length theatrical film Batteries Not Included (1987), a story that was originally intended to be an episode of Spielberg's Amazing Stories TV series. Allen and his crew animated the hallucinations and creatures in Barry Levinson's Young Sherlock Holmes earning an Academy Award Nomination in 1985.[1]

His production company, David Allen Productions, also did visual effects and model animation for the bizarre monster movie, Freaked in 1992.

Up until his death from cancer in 1999, Allen was intermittently working on the stop motion effects for the film "The Primevals", his own production. The film dates from early in his career, in the late sixties, when he pitched an epic fantasy to Hammer film executives. He developed the idea over the years, and in 1978 he began production with producer Charles Band. The film was the subject of a cover story in Cinefantastique Magazine that year, but despite the interest, the production was shut down, then briefly revived twice more, then shut down again. An Allen protégé, Chris Endicott, has done some further animation work on the film and is currently seeking to acquire the rights from Charles Band and funds to complete the film.

David Allen and his production company associates continued to nurture a long-term association with Charles Band, producing animation and other effects for a series of Band produced and/or directed fantasy films released either theatrically and direct to video markets by Paramount Pictures during the 1980s and 90s. Some of the films in this series are the ""Puppetmaster" films, the "Prehysteria" series, the "Demonic Toys" films, and various impressive one-shot productions such as the skeletons of dinosaurs that come to life and do battle in the film "Doctor Mordrid".

Allen's production company, now helmed by Chris Endicott, continues to do effects work on various films.

Personal life[edit]

In 1995, Allen was married to Donita Woodruff, whom he met in 1990. Woodruff learned that Allen had previously dated a woman named Valerie Taylor intermittently starting in 1985, which led to a dispute between Woodruff and Taylor. Woodruff suspected Taylor had a criminal past, and found enough evidence to persuade the police to arrest her in 1996 for a 1979 murder in South Carolina. Taylor pleaded self-defense and served two years. Allen and Woodruff were divorced in 1998.[2]

Visual effects[edit]


  1. ^ Young Sherlock Holmes Credits and Crew at IMDb.
  2. ^ Donita Woodruff, Deadly Masquerade: A True Story of Illicit Passion, Buried Secrets, and Murder, Far Hills, N.J.: New Horizon Press, 2005. New York: St Martin’s Paperbacks 2007.

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