When you read an impressive article from a colleague, you can either take to the social network of your choice and sing some praises, which is always nice, or you can do something truly flattering: you can steal the whole damn concept. For example, take this excellent essay from Den of Geek. It's called "Have CG Monsters Ever Been Frightening?" A simple, straightforward, well-written piece from a guy who clearly knows his stuff -- and now I've come along and slapped a different headline on it.
Jokes aside (aside from the Den of Geek plugs; it's my favorite UK-based movie site) and with all due kudos to author Simon Brew, I offer this quick passage and then a few notes of my own:
I put the question out onto Twitter, as to what movie creatures and aliens genuinely put the shivers up some of our followers. Pretty much every answer, with a few exceptions, was of a physical creation of sorts. So we had The Creature From The Black Lagoon. Lots of people citing The Thing and Alien. The Blob. The Incredible Shrinking Man. It. A quick shout for Candyman. The reavers from Serenity, and the zombie lepers from The Fog. The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth, too (fantastic call, that one).
At the heart of nearly every one of those? Someone in a costume, on a movie set.
Mr. Brew's piece does pay fair praise to CG creations found in Jurassic Park, Cloverfield, The Mist, Skyline, and Attack the Block, but he makes a great point: there are very few truly frightening CG monsters. I would also echo his sentiments regarding practical effects. The human eye recognizes things that are simply tactile. The way light bounces and how fabrics crease. The way humans move and monsters shouldn't. After two scenes of The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda is a living, breathing character. After 10scenes in the prequel trilogy, Yoda is little more than a nifty visual gimmick. (I don't make the rules!) That's not to say that CG is not a wonderfully cool weapon in a filmmaker's arsenal (it really is), but when it comes to presenting a truly frightening (or at least realistic) beast, go find some kid who kneels at the altar of Savini and Bottin and Winston -- and then use your CG magic to add a hundred subtle touches.
My two cents? Good examples of CG used in horror films: Silent Hill, Monsters, Planet Terror, Splinter... hmmm. Ooh, The Host, definitely. And it's pretty amazing how well the CG in Starship Troopers holds up. Those bugs are pretty freakin' creepy.
Which great CG monsters are Simon and I overlooking? Throw your answers in the comments section or hit me (Scott) and/or Den of Geek on the Twitter feeds.
PHOTOS: Check out our favorite CG movie monsters