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Spooky Special EffectsTuesday, October 17, 2017


October is the time for pumpkins, Halloween,  and of course, for making horror films! And no great horror film would be complete without some spooky special effects to pump up the scare factor.

We've assembled a few tutorials for some basic special effects, and a behind the scenes look at how some famous horror film special effects were created. No CGI here--these are all "old school" practical visual effects that can be created for your own horror films, even if you don't have a million dollar budget.


Burnt Flesh Makeup

Whether you're mildly scorching the skin of going full out Freddy Kreuger, this burnt flesh effect is a staple for every horror filmmaker. This effect is actually very simple to create using some flesh gel and bruise makeup (check your local costume shop or Halloween store). You can make this more realistic by doing some research to model your makeup after real-life burns.




 Blood-Squirting Gunshot Effect

Indy Mogul created this video tutorial as a part of their Backyard FX series. In the video, they show you how to create a working bullet squib that squirts blood, using a two liter bottle, epoxy, and some plumbing parts.



Evil Dead Fake Blood

Anyone who's seen Sam Raimi's classic Evil Dead knows that it's not for the squeamish. There's blood...a LOT of blood. And now you can recreate that signature Evil Dead blood look by following this easy and inexpensive receipe, as revealed by Bruce Campbell himself in his autobiography If Chins Could Kill.



Behind the scenes of the Alien Chestburster scene

One of the most memorable and terrifying moments in horror and sci-fi film history was the famous Chestburster scene in Ridley Scott's original 1979 film, Alien. One of the unsuspecting astronauts was secretly impregnated with an alien larva, and this scene depicts the alien's bloody...birth. Watch it in the clip above (but definitely not at work!). 

This landmark special effect was a shock not just to moviegoers, but also to the seven actors in the scene, who had no idea what was about to happen when they started filming. The secret special effect was so disturbing to the cast that one actress actually passed out on set, and another actor locked himself in his room and refused to speak to anyone after the shoot!

Alien Art Director Roger Christian reveals the story behind how they created this scene in the article below.


How they made the exploding head scene from Scanners

The signature scene from David Cronenberg's film Scanners (and one of the goriest practical special effects in cinematic history) was the famous exploding head scene. In this featurette, the film's visual effects team recount the problems they encountered trying to pull off this effect (Hint: it involves gelatin and leftover hamburgers and hotdogs). 

One of the most interesting parts of this short film is the discussion of how they tried unsuccessfully to use pyrotechnics to make the head explode, and what they ultimately used to capture the big bang on film.

And in case the eploding heads references weren't enough, this is another scene that's probably not appropriate for work :)


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