The Art of Practical Effects on Creepshow

In the 90’s, CGI really hit it’s stride and became the wave of the future for film-making. It was considered more cost effective and generally allowed directors to implement a little more imagination into their films. Still, there’s remained a large section of film-goers who appreciate the creativity it takes to pull off old-fashioned special effects, and now with 80’s nostalgia seemingly hitting its stride the last few years, it seems as if more and more film-makers are returning to the art of the practical effects, and that’s most evident in the horror genre. So how many practical effects can we expect on Creepshow, Shudder’s new horror anthology series?

“We're so embracing the spirit of it, I mean, it's 98% practical effects,” show runner Greg Nicotero said. “Like, all the creature work, and all the makeups, and the werewolves, and the puppets…”

While it was important to utilize practical effects to maintain the spirit of the original Creepshow films, renown horror actor Jeffrey Combs felt there was an even better reason for returning to that style: “I actually think it’s the way to go. When CGI first came out, we had a new tool in the toolbox […] but you go back and watch those movies the last couple of decades, and they don’t hold up too well. And I kind of feel like CGI was a new tool that was kind of overused.”

But we can’t discuss practical effects without talking about make-up legend Tom Savini, who is personally responsible for crafting many of horror’s most used special effects even still to this day. Surprisingly, Savini doesn’t completely disown CGI: “I love CGI when it's done well. I wish I would've had it back then to solve some problems…” Of course, there’s a big 'BUT' in there and Savini explains what his issues overall with CGI are: “We're training new generations to accept all the CGI stuff. It's us old timers who have a collective dislike of it because, okay, when I saw Jurassic Park, I didn't see any dinosaurs. I saw a guy sitting at a computer and this pissed me off…”

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Thankfully, when he’s not getting angry at CGI or stepping in the director’s chair (as he did for an episode on Creepshow), Savini’s still running a special effects school that’s teaching the next generation the art of practical effects. What does it take to become a master of special effects? For Tom Savini, it’s a simple question to ask yourself when figuring out how all of this works: “What do I need to see to make me believe that what I'm seeing is really happening? And that translates into, ‘What do I need to show people to make them believe that?’ It's the same thing a magician does. A magician makes you look here and he's pulling a wad of flowers out of his ass. He misdirected you so he could do the trick, and he also has mechanical devices you're not aware of and that's what special effects is; mechanical devices.”

Creepshow and all of its old-fashioned gore is scheduled to premiere on Shudder on September 26, 2019.