Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Practical Gore FX as an Artform

Every horror fan has their one special gross-out moment. Maybe it's that scene you hate to watch, but can't look away from. Or maybe it's a scene from your favorite flick that is so over-the-top in its ultra violence that becomes comical and you can enjoy watching it over and over again.

My favorite for certain is the "dirt bike escape" scene from Lamberto Bava's schlock masterpiece Demons. As a kid, it melded together everything that was awesome (dirt bikes, heavy metal, scary monsters, katanas, and torrents of spraying blood) into one amazing climax that still stands the test of time in cult cinema. If it were my choice, Demons would win an Oscar in the category of "Most Amazing Movie Ever", with a nod to The Thing as runner up.

Whatever you feel the pinnacle of splatter is, I bet no one reading this has a favorite "gore moment" that is all CGI. Why? Because practical effects are an art form.

I don't want to diminish the efforts computer effects teams put into their work. I'm just saying they'll never be as good as that dude from Robocop imploding in a decompression chamber, or that time Gary Busey fought a werewolf. There's a certain level of realism that can only be attained by using makeup and effects that exist in the movie, rather than being digitally inserted into it. It's the reason Quint's death in Jaws is considered cinematic history, and Samuel L. Jackson getting eaten by a shark in Deep Blue Sea is just something people look up as ironic comedy on Youtube.

Try to imagine a world where all the Saw films used only CGI, or Eli Roth thought that computers were a good way to save some budget on Cabin Fever. Scary right? I'm certainly glad that wasn't the case, because they'd have been totally different movies without the nasty gore effects. The level of detail that quality practical effects artists can put into their work just elevates things to a whole different level of disgusting. Even decades later, a movie like Dead Alive (yeah I took the easy route) while it may not look as "real" as it once did, still fares better in the long run and has a higher splatter factor than anything the SyFy channel has dreamed up in the last 5 years. It's that organic sloppiness only practical effects and theatrical blood can bring to a movie that gives them longevity.

I'll leave you with this to ponder if I haven't convinced you. Would Zombi still make all those "Best of" horror lists if they had used a fake eyeball and a computer generated spike?

Love gore and old school special effects? Hit us up in the comments section with some of your favorite gross out moments and squeamish screen selections!

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