By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
As someone who is an avid viewer of all things horror, and in theme with this week’s horror movie feature, I’ve always wondered why the art of practical effects has declined over the years. I think it’s unfortunate that more and more movies are opting to use computer-generated imagery (CGI) effects over practical ones. Especially in the horror movie genre, where these effects are more impactful. In truth, CGI just doesn’t do anything for me.
I can totally appreciate what CGI can do; Jurassic Park is a great example how impressive visual effects can be in film, and it has had a huge impression on the film industry. Movies like Godzilla, Star Wars, Blade Runner and the like all have their place in movie history as fantastic showcases of how impressive special effects are. I just wish movies used practical effects more often, instead of relying solely on computer generated effects—which is often where some movies suffer. They get boring after awhile, and I find that it just isn’t as impressive to me anymore since almost all movies use them to the point of overkill.
I’m a big fan of old classic horror movies that relied mostly on practical effects. I think movies like An American Werewolf in London, The Fly, and The Evil Dead have all stood the test of time because of their incredible effects and the gruesome imagery that is created by it. They’re also more stunning—sticking with you because of how lifelike they are. The effects are made from real-life materials, and because of that, look more natural.
CGI is more expensive, it’s less impressive, and it’s not as influential. For instance, are you more terrified by the shark from Jaws, or the computer-generated shark from the many modern shark horror flicks? Personally, the shark from Jaws still freaks me out, and when I was young it was the reason I never went into the deep end of the pool—which speaks to how much more practical effects can imprint on you.
I think it’s so much more interesting to see how people can replicate gore, violence, or terrifying images with the limited resources they have. Computer effects can make literally anything and as the old Shania Twain adage goes, “that don’t impress me much.”
When it comes down to it, practical effects are just more fun. Personally, I find computer gore effects lazy and it can look pretty goofy sometimes if not done correctly. For example, the troll from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. CGI effects try so hard to look real and focus so much on that aspect that it often looks goofy and undermines the impact. It loses the flare and the charm that practical effects have, which comes from people creating it with their own two hands. Not to say that practical effects can’t also be pretty outlandish sometimes, but I’m more impressed and convinced by effects people have created from organic materials.