A Little SFX Goes A Long Way

If you are a female over the age of 6 or a male over 28 and posted an excited review or Transformers 2, your movie-reviewing bona fides are hereby revoked. The only exception is granted to those who were stoned or too upset over Michael Jackson’s death while watching this pile of robot rust.

Two hours worth of repetitive CGI accompanied by non-stop metal clanging noises made me think how little was needed to impress a young viewer just 30-50 years ago. I remember my Dad telling me how during his school years everyone went crazy over the Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller. The old Tarzan movies produced in the 1930s made it to the USSR as war trophies and were shown everywhere for years after WWII (In the following book clip start reading the paragraph starting with “Basically Hollywood…”).

 

Many injuries resulted from attempting to swing on any hanging rope with one arm while imitating the Tarzan call.

Cheesy special effects of the 1930s and even an obvious reusing of the same footage throughout the series didn’t prevent me from enjoying them when I saw Tarzan for the first time in the early 80s.
When I was very young another movie took me and my classmates by a storm. Zorro probably caused more property damage than any movie before it, with a “sign of Zorro” drawn, engraved, chiseled or carved on everything with a surface.

Speaking about cheesy special effects, how can one forget “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad“. When I was 8 or 9 the monsters from this movie looked totally real. Not so much anymore.

In the late 70’s a Japanese movie The Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds was the talk of the country, at a time when Jurassic Park wasn’t even a concept. From appetizer to dessert – One town becomes a monster meal – was the tagline.I still distinctly remember a half of a horse falling off the cliff, the other half bitten off by a dinosaur, and I still avoid bloody movies.

Another scary Japanese movie of my childhood was the Sinking of Japan (Tidal Wave) which came out in 1973 and was remade in 2006. Here is a clip of a recent remake.

You can imagine pitiful special effects of 1973 but I still remember it as a terrifying movie years later.
There are plenty of acclaimed and beloved movies with really low-quality special effects, that did not benefit from a more sophisticated remake.
Unfortunately no amount of special effects could benefit Transformers 2.

  • Owen

    I remember watching Sinbad as a kid and thinking it looked real as well. Though I am well behind my peers in the “real” category having been raised in a household that didn’t watch movies or have cable t.v. I liked this overall roundup. I wonder if this is what our grandchildren our going to be saying some day about the Matrix and Dark Knight.

  • DLC

    You can embed an excerpt from Google Books? How did I not know this?

  • You can, but apparently on some books you can embed only a highlighted portion of text instead of the whole page. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t see the “clip” button.
    http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2009/06/new-features-on-google-books.html

  • midtown miscreant

    Johnny W was the only Tarzan, ever. I watched an old Tarzan a couple of years ago, and they did run the same scenes of the natives chasing him through the jungle over and over, and I think his lion fight scenes were all one in the same. Its funny how things seemed bigger or more real when viewed through our young eyes. When I was a kid I saw Billy Jack the movie, like a dozen times. I caught it on television a while back and couldnt make it through 20 minutes. Good post.

  • Movie producers are like kids with cake. One bite is wow, really tasty… so why not a hundred bites.