Italian special effects maestro Carlo Rimbaldi died today at the age of 86 after a long illness. He leaves behind an impressive body of work on some of the greatest effects films in cinema.

Starting in Italian cinema, he worked with such filmmakers as Mario Bava on 'Planet of the Vampires' and 'Twitch of the Death Nerve,' Lucio Fulci's 'A Lizard in a Woman's Skin' and Dario Argento's seminal giallo 'Deep Red.' It got the attention of producer Dino De Laurentiis, who hired him to work on the 1976 remake of 'King Kong,' which led him to Hollywood.

And he came at the right time, when studios wanted more and more creature effects. And so he worked on Steven Spielberg's 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind,' Ridley Scott's 'Alien' and David Lynch's 'Dune.'

But - unarguably - his greatest creation was helping to design the aliens in 'E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial.' It was the work that won him his second Academy award (his first was for 'Alien.') That proved to be the pinnacle of his career, as much of his work that followed was for lesser movies (that's no knock against 'Silver Bullet,' but it might be against 'Conan the Destroyer' and is definitely a knock against 'King Kong Lives.'). After the 1980's his career waned, but being a part of a handful of great films is enough to make a career.