Monday, June 6, 2016

What Happened to the Wonder

Going along with my previous post about movies in our ever-constant CGI era, I was happy to browse on Pumpkin Rot's blog: What's Brewing, to find a recent and relative post discussing  practical special effects. Couldn't agree more with his point of view too! 

    As I mentioned before, I think CGI can be great when combined with practical special effects, but these days the industry relies only on CGI and it's a real shame. There's something to practical effects in that they give us, as children, as viewers, and as horror/Halloween fanatics, a sense of wonder. We wonder how these effects were done, and when we watch them enough, study them enough, learn about them enough, we feel a sense of hope that one day we can be creators too. That we can envision our own monsters, manifest them, and present them to our viwers, whether they are a theatrical audience or our dear trick or treaters on the block.

    The complaint I hear from people my age is that "old" movies have special effects that look "fake." In my opinion, it is that fakery that is the magic. That stage craft and artistry that made me curious as a kid. I suppose the first movie that made me wonder was Nightmare Before Christmas. I was eager to know how stop-animation was done from every angle, literally, and years later I too made a few stop-animated shorts which I have shared here on the blog several times. In fact the older I get, the more I appreciate and admire practical effects.

    I watch Beetlejuice, for example, and again am taken by the bizarre and out-there stop-animated "sandworms," everything behind the brick wall, and of course "the wedding clothes" scene. Sometimes I just appreciate the fact that Edward Scissorhands' had actual scissor-hands. Or how about the blood spilling from the elevator in the Overlook Hotel? Or Regan crawling backwards down the stairs? Church's guts and glowing eyes. Just the fact that Michael Myers' mask was originally a William Shatner mask - and you'd hardly know it. Johnathon Brewster's face in Arsenic and Old Lace. The chocolate syrup in Psycho! The corn syrup in Carrie (as opposed to computer blood in the remake)! The fin, alone, in Jaws... the list goes on. And it can only keep going on, if the industry could just incorporate more practical effects alongside their CGI obsession. All we can do is be creators ourselves.

For more on the set photos, view my board: On the Set!