Favorites: Special Effects & More


I took last week off and I don’t feel guilty about it. I’m learning when to just take time for myself and not push myself into doing something I don’t feel like doing. Plus, I didn’t really have much to say or post about here and get my head back on track.

It’s back on track and I’m still working on the list on my little dry erase board of horror topics to discuss here.

So today, I wanted to do something different. I’ve done a lot of reviews lately and if you missed them, I’ll link them BUT in the midst of the WGA on strike (I support them, pay them what they are worth), it had me thinking… there are other creatives that we need to acknowledge too. And as much as we’ve heard and seen publications about visual effects people and their studios being pushed and pushed and not getting their work seen or recognized, I wanted to also look at makeup and special effects in horror. I wanted to share some of my favorites in the genre and this was also inspired by the recent release of Five Nights at Freddy’s trailer and seeing the animatronics in their glory. A HUGE shout out to the Jim Henson Creature Workshop team for building them and it makes a big difference instead of CGI inserting them.

I cannot believe that movie is really a thing.

But let’s jump into this post of some of my favorite horror movies displaying talents of makeup and special effects (I’ll just include Jaws and Jurassic Park here because if I don’t, I’d feel like I didn’t give them the right respect but they aren’t in the official listing).


anightmareonelmstreet3A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) dir. Wes Craven – special effects (Jim Doyle) & makeup (Kathy Logan, David Miller, Louis Lazzara, RaMona, Mark Wilson, Mark Shostrom): With a 1.1 million dollar budget (to make $50+ mil at the box office), there are so many amazing scenes and effects done, practically, that we take for granted. Tina on the ceiling with the revolving room, Freddy pressing through the wall as Nancy sleeps, Glenn’s death in the bedroom, I can go on and on! It’s a magical movie, definitely influential on what could be done within horror. I just also think that Craven is just that guy of setting a tone in the genre and everyone kind of follows. I do miss him, his presence is missed in the genre.

Puppet Master (1989) dir. David Schmoeller – special effects (David W. Allen): I’ve seen the first one and I can see why there is a franchise and cult following behind it. It’s a different take on the “killer doll” idea and as much as I love dolls in general (please follow the blog on IG to see my shenanigans on horror dolls), puppets are a different breed to me. And the puppets here are creepy and have personalities which is hard to do. Blade, Tunneler, Leech Woman, Pinhead, Jester, Gengie, Shredder Khan, these are quite ironic faces of this franchise (Blade, especially) and more credit should be given to this. Just a little bit more.

childsplay_4Child’s Play (1988) dir. Tom Holland – special effects (Kevin Yagher, do you pronounce it like Eren Yeager/Jaeger?): Ohhh another movie with great groundbreaking animatronics and special effects. From the mind of Don Mancini (I cannot wait for the new of Chucky), seeing this doll, Chucky, come to life and he walks, he talks, he’s got a personality of someone who drinks and yells at movement but looking back, it was a simpler time. Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is in doll form and tries to use Andy’s body (Alex Vincent) to become human and now we have Tiffany, Glen/Glenda, the whole gang and I like that this world built on the first one is nothing but dolls. BUT CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE FACIAL MUSCLES AND EXPRESSIONS ON CHUCKY THOUGH??! It’s animatronic but it looks REALISTIC.

M3GAN (2022) dir. Gerard Johnstone – special effects (Adrien Morot and Kathy Tse of Morot FX Studios, Amie Donald, Weta Workshop): I mean what can we say about this movie? It’s a fun ride, she’s incredibly advanced and meme worthy (for all the good reasons). It is in the same vein as Child’s Play or even Puppet Master but the next evolution is M3GAN. I like the mix of both CGI and using the actress to also perform and combining to create a “friendly” machine. And considering the world we live in right now with technology and AI taking over, how perfect is the timing?

terrifier_2Terrifier (2016) dir. Damien Leone – special effects (Damien Leone): So as someone who hasn’t seen Terrifier 2 but just the first one and All Hallow’s Eve, the makeup for Art the Clown is probably one of my favorite things I’ve seen in a while when it comes to making a standout character. And Art is a standout but I think it goes up a notch in Terrifier. In All Hallow’s Eve, I did a review where I said that I saw a lot of the potential Leone has to take this character and make him into something bigger and the shift of makeup is what helps. I really like the look of Art now more than in All Hallow’s Eve, he kinda looked like a generic clown but now he looks like a demonic, psycho clown and we love that. Here’s to hoping I can see Terrifier 2 soon… sighs.

30 Days of Night (2007) dir. David Slade – special effects (Weta Workshop): First off, on a random note, there were credits for snow supervisor and somehow, that sounds really cool. Why I chose this movie over Fright Night, The Lost Boys, Vamp, very similar looking vampires, is that the vampires in this movie are very human looking but their faces are slanted up so slightly, to create an uncanny valley about them. I believe Danny Huston is the only one that looks relatively human out of the vampires but there is something ominous and sinister about the makeup and special effects used to create unique looking vampires. 

creepshow_3Creepshow (1982) dir. George A Romero – special effects (Tom Savini): What can I say about an anthology, comic-book movie where the longest segment is The Crate with Fluffy and the shortest is Stephen King playing a character named Jordy Verrill and he touched something he shouldn’t have… but the makeup and special effects are great in this movie. I’ve done A Color Story and cinematography post(s) about this so if you’re interested, please click those links but there’s something really, really cool about Creepshow and a lot of it is just the special effects. And the effects make the movie (not to discredit the actors, the script, directing, etc), each segment is special and unique on its own.

Ginger Snaps (2000) dir. John Fawcett – special effects (about 19 people such as Fifi Dananka, Shaun Harrison, Paul Jones, Kate Hill, Scott Patton, and so many others): I think this movie has one of the best werewolf scenes and transformations in a good while. If you don’t know the plot of Ginger Snaps, it follows the story of two sisters (Ginger and Brigette) who are outsiders in high school but things changed when a) they encounter a creature that attacks them, Ginger gets most of the after effects AFTER b) Ginger’s menstrual cycle starts for the very first time. The movie, in a way, is a metaphor for puberty and how just weird those changes are. BUT you know, we’re not turning into werewolves. At least not now. 

theevildead_5The Evil Dead (1981) dir. Sam Raimi – special effects (Tom Sullivan): Digging deep into this movie, I learned that Sullivan also designed the Book of the Dead (the necronomicon) and its interior and symbols, which I found pretty cool. I know the budget was really limited, you see the gritty, grimy edge in this movie and being innovative (similar to ANOES) but if you have a limited budget, you’ll get creative! The claymation breakdown scene(s) towards the end of the film, the looks of the different possessed friends/Deadites, the camera angles and explicit gore… muah.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) dir. Stephen Chiodo – special effects (Charles Chiodo, plus plethora of talented artists): Oh I have a thing for certain clowns (hi Pennywise) and they are what horror monsters or villains should be: personality, colorful and dangerous. Don’t let their playful antics fool you, they will capture you in these cotton candy spheres. Put up your dukes! The looks of the clowns, the bloody cotton candy spheres, miniature but alive popcorn, it’s great creativity and unique in a sea of late 80s horror (The Lost Boys, Hellraiser, Beetlejuice, The Gate, They Live, Evil Dead 2, The Blob).

Before we end this, there are a handful of movies that did not make the cut but are worth acknowledging! They are honorable mentions…

And they (go to):
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
John Carpenter’s Christine (1983)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Pumpkinhead (1988)
Chopping Mall (1986)
Hellraiser (1987)
An American Werewolf in London (1981) & The Howling (1981)
Lake Placid (1999)  & Anaconda (1997)

What are some of your favorite movies that special effects and/or makeup really takes the movie to the next level? Leave a comment below and we’ll talk!

See you guys next week!

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