Tag Archives: special effects

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Monster Makers: Rob Bottin

The Last KnockRob Bottin rocked the world with his phenomenal practical effects work in John Carpenter’s The Thing. But wait, there’s more – much more – and we explore the special effects artistry of one of cinema’s very best.

We’ll dive into his work in everything from Piranha and The Fog to The Howling and Se7en, and other films throughout Rob Bottin’s stellar career.

Rob Bottin is the latest in our “Monster Maker” series, so punch that title into the search engine and check them out!

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@Schwarzenegger @MachineMeanBlog @TheRickBaker @MelanieMcCurdie @THETomSavini @OwenMcCuenQuest @JaredLeto @joe_dante @ValeriePrucha @john_sayles @Israel_Finn @BarbaraALeigh @SiaraTyr @jamieleecurtis @HelenaBonhamCar @AFiendOnFilm @abarbeau @dixiefairy @TheHorrorMaster @dkarner @william_lustig @inthenightdoc @RogerCorman @lvfifo @Dee_Wallace @TTBOProductions @KathleenQuinlan4reeL @mariaolsen66 @TomCruise @DonRiemer @RealNancyAllen @patricia_eddy @tahitismith @RealJillyG @TheMarshallBell @VicsMovieDen @sharonstone @LoudGreenBird @TerryGilliam @RSBrzoska @EdwardNorton and Paul J. Williams

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Monster Makers: Tom Savini

The Last Knock

For many horror fans, George A. Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD is an untouchable zombie masterpiece. Yet, without the amazing, passionate, and detailed work of the incredible Tom Savini, one may wonder how well this horror would have been received. That film put Savini on the map, and launched his career as a special effects artist of extremely high caliber. We look at Savini’s life and craft, from horror to drama, as well as his acting, producing, directing, and stunt work. We’ll also discuss how his artistry brought many horror films to life, from THE BURNING and FRIDAY THE 13TH, and to MARTIN and CREEPSHOW.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@LaureneLandon @LoudGreenBird @FriscoKidTX @GuyRicketts @LianeMoonRaven @Tina_Scott95 @THENAMNATION @chitownjimmyxox @RonGizmo @Amber_F_Shaw @armygirl181 @SamesCarolyn @Illuminati322 @TheNakedPorch @leon_flemming @dixiefairy @chaos_4ever @DarkTwistedMeow @JillArmenante and Chris Messineo from the New Jersey Film School

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Monster Makers: Rick Baker

The Last KnockThe world renowned special effects makeup master, Rick Baker, began his career by creating masks in his parents’ kitchen. Now, the seven time Academy Award winner continues to bring us great films with his stellar work. We’ll look at his career, and his horror films, from SQUIRM and the INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, to VIDEODROME, THE RING, and so much more.

This episodes SCREAM OUTS: @xanderfilm, @CFAweiss, @theadman40, @JohnRosePutnam, @promotehorror, @badchopsuey2, @RonGizmo, @doubleagent73, @WGalaini, @RealJillyG, @Theladyphantom, @EmilieFlory, @Mel_McBoutin, and @johnnyveins.



Crash Discussion: Interview with Brian Stiver

The Last Knock

Indulge in this great interview with special effects artist, Brian Stiver, who not only worked on LAKE PLACID and JURASSIC PARK III, among others, but has excellent stories about special effects icons Stan Winston, Rick Baker, and make-up master Dick Smith. And if that isn’t cool enough, wait until you hear about Jim Carrey, Ron Howard, and even Steven Spielberg.


Crash Reports: Special Defects

Special Effects are truly something special. The makeup work from the amazing Lon snapshot20090425163256.jpgChaney in Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, or London After Midnight had audiences reeling as he set a high bar for makeup. But look at what movies like Nosferatu and Faust did for special visual effects, and especially the science fiction Metropolis. These films may have been made in the silent era, but they’re amazing to watch simply because of what they accomplished with but a handful of people and practical effects versus today’s studios and their mega-million dollar effects budgets.

The problem: Money does not equal quality.

If you watch John Carpenter’s The Thing, the practical effects work of Rob Bottin still proves mindblowing over thirty years later. Today, would a major Hollywood studio actually spend time and money on practical effects, or just go with CGI? In the end, CGI is not always cheaper than practical effects, but in the United States, we live in an era where one incident can lead to major lawsuits. Therefore, with insurance contracts and a bevy of lawyers, CGI may be the cheaper deal for Hollywood because there is less risk taking with cast of crew.

Even so, most independent horror filmmakers have no choice but to go the practical route because you do get what you pay for. Absentia is a decent film with great characters and a solid story, but watch for that CGI in the tunnel and you’ll probably guffaw at its cheesiness – a level of pungent Limburger to rival a SyFy production. Writer/director Mike Flanagan should have shelled out more money to a qualified digital artist to fix that mess, or he should have come up with a more practical solution.

Many horror fans know the work of Rick Bottin, Rick Baker, Tom Savini (who often draws upon his experiences in Vietnam to create accurate looking carnage), Ray Harryhausen, John Dykstra, and Stan Winston, but few know CGI effects masters, unless you mention District 9’s Neill Blomkamp. But that will change in time.

During the interim, however, independent horror filmmakers are certainly taking chances with CGI, but like Flanagan, they have to be careful. Within the first five minutes of The Howling Reborn, a computer generated explosion had me laughing – and pressing the fast forward button. Later, two characters jump out a window, and the shattering glass is clearly digital – painfully so. Even the wonderful Japanese horror, Phenomenon got this one wrong with a broken windshield. Yes, this detracted from the movie, but only for a moment. Still, one moment can be enough.

Special effects are not the movie (hear that Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich?), but should help tell the story. We don’t need awful distractions such as fake blood spatter, which is laughable in its own right. The sad part is that more and more low budget films seem to be going the CGI blood route – I guess it beats the muss and fuss of all that fake blood.

Fake blood was used in my short horror Too Many Predators, and it was a nightmare. The “blood” could stain anything permanently and it was hard to control. My script had called for a blood spattered room, but with the product, we could only afford one little spot of blood. Sigh.

Regardless, whether practical or digital, special effects need to work to keep audiences focused on the story. If the effects falter, then the audience is pulled out of the world the filmmakers worked so hard to create. For instance, the CGI work in The Devil’s Advocate is fairly solid. I’m not just talking about the demonic changes in some of the characters: the water outside Milton’s office on top of the building is digital. Yet, as for Blade, once I saw this on cable, I balked because much of the blades, blood, and impalements during a fight scene were clearly “painted on” and that was embarrassing.

What are your favorite special effects laden horror films? Whether practical or digital, let me know what’s impressed you – and what left you cringing.

(Photo for The Thing from All Latest Moviez.)