Thursday, September 29, 2011

40 Days of Night(mares) Day 37: Best Special Effects in a Horror Movie

I want to apologize for not posting yesterday. Between trying to keep my energy up for the first SlasherCast podcast and feeling pretty terrible for the last four days, I just couldn't get it done. Having said that, I was terribly excited to write about this issue, because I feel very passionately about it.
Jack and David just
 saw a glittery vampire.
CGI effects can be used to great effect, but in cases where practical effects can be done, it makes no sense to go the computer route. It always rings a little false and looks a little off, such as The Wolfman's CGI werewolf running across the rooftops of London. It looks fake and pulls you out of the movie almost as much as Benicio Del Toros's bored line delivery.
The werewolf transformation scene is probably one of the clearest examples to show. An American Werewolf in London came out in 1981, 30 years ago, and no one has yet to top this scene:
30 years later, we get this:

Uhh... yeah... so that happened. It loses the impact and just plain looks shitty in comparison. Some of the best special effects ever are done in a practical manner, and they almost always (unless you're trying to make 8 foot tall blue cats play basketball) work better. Aside from the amazing Rick Baker led transformation scene, there's loads of fantastic makeup work as Jack starts to decay and David's victims start appearing in his visions. And to top it all off, there's a brilliant pseudo-nazi-werewolf-stormtrooper (not the Star Wars kind) sequence that is one of the most disturbing things put on film.
American Werewolf in London would earn its 10 out of 10 rating on the effects alone, but even without that, John Landis makes a damn good movie.

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