The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is one of the most iconic images from Ghostbusters (1984), but it turns out he almost didn’t make the cut. In the short video above, Cinefix tells the story of Mr. Stay Puft from his original conceptualization by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis to his laborious creation by a team of special effects masters.
Unlike the CGI-heavy movies of today, Mr. Stay Puft is all practical effects. Shooting the climax of Ghostbusters—in which the giant, sinister marshmallow galumphs down Manhattan’s Central Park West, climbs a skyscraper, and ultimately explodes—took four puppeteers, multiple marshmallow suits, and almost 100 pounds of shaving cream. Creating the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, according to the video, was both a struggle and a labor of love—one which paid off when audiences went wild for the creepy, gooey marshmallow monster.
Filmmaking presented a unique set of challenges prior to the computer age. Most practical effects in early films didn't make use of marshmallow suits or shaving cream, but they did require creative props, sets, and camera work. After watching the video above, you can see examples of how special effects artists made movie magic in the silent film era here.
A version of this story ran in 2016; it has been updated for 2023.