Watching Critters last night reminded me how much I enjoy the old, practical effects that were in movies before we had the technology to do everything in CG. The Thing is one that always stands out in my mind for having great makeup and practical effects. It’s awesome when you can make something so scary with puppets and an RC car. The chest-bursting scene from Alien is also one of the best ever.
My love of real makeup and practical effects is probably why I like watching Face Off so much. It takes talent to work in a computer and make things look good, but I think it takes more to do it all with real things rather than in a digital environment. There’s really something special about making things believable using just makeup and props. It takes a lot of creativity to make a scene believable without any computer intervention.
Of course, I love the new special effects too. I’m a thinker, so I sometimes sit in awe of things I see on the screen wondering how they pulled it off. How do they create monsters and aliens in those computers and make them so lifelike? How do they get blood to splash dramatically and hover in mid air? How do they make fictional worlds that look so real? It’s pretty mind blowing when you stop to think about it.
Most people don’t even think about the effects though. They’ve come to expect every movie to outdo the last, but they don’t really appreciate the skill and effort that goes into both practical and digital effects. Practical effects really get the short end of the stick these days because everyone thinks anything not CG is junk. It’s so not junk folks! Some of the best scenes and creatures, like the iconic Jabba The Hutt and the werewolf from An American Werewolf in London were done the old-fashioned way.
The next time you’re watching a movie, no matter what era it’s from, take some time to really pay attention to the makeup and effects. Don’t just soak it in blindly, really look and think about what you’re seeing. Think about all the skill and talent that it took from all those makeup and effects artists to make that scene something you’ll never forget. You can develop a real appreciation for the artists behind the films, and for the movies themselves.
Image: Public Domain, Pixabay