World Wide Interweb’s “The Worst Movie SFX Ever Compilation”: We found three more

By on July 24, 2015

The funny folks at World Wide Interweb, who consistently offer up a variety of clever supercuts (although frankly some of them are so puerile and obnoxious that we don’t always feel like sharing them), have recently compiled their “The Worst Movie Special Effects Ever” video and we have to admit this time it’s a good one.

We’re not just talking about bad CG here, but we have to say, nothing takes us out of the moment like a bad CG special effect, particularly when its clear the filmmakers have settled for second rate and unfinished looking effects. Sometimes, we’ll admit, the bad CG seems to be part of the fun and the filmmakers and the studio and everyone involved seems to be in on the gag, but sometimes, well… we’ll see a clip from a bad movie online (we stopped paying to see this crap in the theaters a long time ago) and we’ll think, “they have no idea how bad this looks, do they?”

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Sometimes it’s just one SFX in one scene in an otherwise high-quality project, like Ridley Scott’s 1979 movie Alien , like that scene when the audience (along with Ripley and the crew) finds out that science officer Ash, portrayed by actor Ian Holm, was actually an android all along. Fucking robots. The revelation follows a really intense fight scene, which was great, but we were so taken out of the movie during Ash’s death scene that it kinda ruined it for us. Instead of blood, we see this being’s circulatory fluid is some kind of synthetic liquid latex, but basically it just looks like milk. Which is what it was.

The whole death scene is just ridiculous in an otherwise great movie, but did you know that a puppet was made of the actor’s torso while someone underneath would operate it. An animatronic head was made using a face cast of Ian Holm, but apparently the latex head had “shrunk” while it was drying and they had no time left in the production schedule or money in the budget to go back and fix it. It didn’t look realistic enough so the actor kneeled under the table with his head emerging from a hole. To create the android’s insides, milk, caviar, pasta and marbles were used to give the effect that he was a robot. Shame, shame, shame.

Or, another example of how a fake head just never looks good — when Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) removes the fat lady mask in the 1990 movie Total Recall.

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We know a lot of you probably love this movie, and, hey, we known Total Recall is based on Philip K. Dick’s 1966 short story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” so you know the source material is great. It may have been one of the first attempts at digital rendering of real-life objects, and we’re sure special effects giant Rob Bottin, who created the hugely inventive prosthetic effects for it, tried his very best, but nothing about this particular scene looks like it is even possible, just a bad mix of computers and puppets and bad acting. Seriously, could Arnold’s head fit inside that fat lady contraption? Now we just can’t watch it anymore, and we don’t even laugh at it, it’s just beyond ridiculous. We see the actual actress Priscilla Allen as the fat lady, and then we some bad CG, and then we Arnold playing football with a rubber head. Dumb.

Finally, a final example of how bad CG ruins a movie, but we think this one was probably doomed to begin with. Still, if’ you’d heard Jon Voight was going to be in a movie like this, you’d think “how bad can it be?”. Well, it was, or is. Voight shows up a Paraguayan snake hunter named Paul Sarone in the 1997 film Anaconda, which features some mesmerizingly awful CG effects. We’ve just seen it once, but every now and then it comes up in a conversation (we’re going to have to stop having those kinds of conversations), and then we’re reminded all over again how bad it was. Even the sound of the snake growling — or whatever the hell that’s supposed to be — is ridiculous.

Animatronics special effects supervisor Walt Conti designed the animatronic anaconda, and apparently studied the movements and expressions of many real snakes and re-created them, via hydraulics, electronics and computers. He’d wanted to create a real looking anaconda, but at 40-feet long it’s about twice as long as the biggest anacondas can grow in the wild (the largest anaconda ever measured was almost 28 feet long with a girth of 44 inches). But that’s just the animatronic anaconda, which isn’t the main problem — that seems to lie with the Imageworks’ recently-formed Character Group, who were responsible for developing the computer-generated character of the snake. There were at least two people — Character Group’s animation director Eric Armstrong, and John McLaughlin, computer graphics supervisor — who were responsible for the ridiculous CG special effects that are still quite laughable.

Those are three of our least favorite SFX-laden movie scenes, what are some of yours?

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.