Holy shit, CGI has changed the way we look at the world around us. Back in the 70’s if you were waiting for the movie to start and the bucket of popcorn grew eyes and started dancing around the counter top assisted by a reanimated bag of Skittles you’d puke in your hat and call a ventriloquist, a priest, and a burly cop six weeks from retirement to come deal with it. Now we can’t flip through the channels without seeing a seemingly living 2,000 foot robot whipping up a lather in his 17,000 foot shower or a muffin writhing out of some bitch’s grasp as she does a walk-and-talk about menopause being a real pisser. Superman made us believe a man could fly but it wasn’t until The Revenge of the Sith that we could believe that Christopher Lee had both Jedi Powers and Phase-Shift Parkinsons.

CGI is an amazing tool that many filmmakers wield like a digital Mjolnir, creating worlds and creatures that take our breath away. Unfortunately through the years some have used it as a scythe, slashing our dreams and severing that muscle that connects our sexual pleasure organs to the muscle that tells our mind we’re really good at using our sexual pleasure organs. The result is oblivion.

So with that we bring you CHUD’s latest glorious list. The twenty worst instances of CGI in movie history. In no order. Well, except the order we decide to do them.

DAY NINE
Brought to you by Elisabeth Rappe


THE OFFENDER: Van Helsing




THE SCENE:  Just one?  How to pick? Would it be the rubbery Mr. Hyde?  Dracula’s Brides, whose superimposed faces you could pick out even on the grainiest of projection screens?  The glossy werewolves who fling pieces of their own tissue? The Dracula manbat? The Transylvanian horses leaping over a drawbridge? The mouth stretching vampires? Pick your favorite.  I’m going to play it safe and say the whole damn movie.



WHERE IT ALL GOES WRONG: When Stephen Sommers said “Why should I invest in new effects? I have those state-of-the-art ones from The Mummy I can use.  They’re just as good as they were in 1999.”  I’m not sure what’s sadder – that Sommers had kept poorer track of technology than movie audiences, or that he can’t be bothered to invent new looks for his wannabe creature features.  This is a guy who clearly worships on the alter of the Universal Monsters, but finds it too taxing to do more than rework his own Mummy designs.  If a stretchy face and swirly exits were good enough for Arnold Vosloo, it’s good enough for some damn vampires. 



HOW IT COULD  HAVE BEEN DONE PRACTICALLY:   Mr. Hyde (who isn’t meant to be a physical giant, merely a man of enormous appetite for evil) and the vampires could have been achieved with some good make-up.    Same with the werewolves because as a whole, people do enjoy a practical, Rick Baker made werewolf over a CG one.   Even the Dracula manbat could have been achieved with some combination of practical and CG effects. Remember, Bram Stoker’s Dracula turned Gary Oldman into a leathery bat with just old fashioned latex and rubber. It still looks fantastic, unlike Van Helsing, which was dated before filming began.



HOW BAD IS IT?  It’s a painful, silly blight on cinema.   I will always be in the minority that thinks Van Helsing had some potential, somewhere, but it got lost in a lot of shiny and rubbery CGI.     It’s sad this is as high as Sommers felt he could aim, or that he was utterly bewitched by these monsters with no weight, menace, or appeal to them. Surely if you love the old monster movies as much Sommers does, you burn with the intensity to create your own, and to make it look as ghoulishly real as possible. You will give all that is humanly possible to make your nightmare come to life. Or you could just reuse your effects from 1999 and hit the pool.



IN SUMMATION: I lied. The worst piece of CGI is seen at the end. Someone decided Hugh Jackman’s bare ass was too distracting from the “plot”, and hid it beneath some pixilated cloth. This was a crime against all that is beautiful, holy, and good.