13 December 2010

NECRO-OPINIONS: THE CGI BLOOD DEBATE

The general mood on horror blogs about the CGI blood debate is usually pretty negative if not downright hostile. There even seems to a sense that CGI effects border on some sort of heresy in horror or sci-fi and yet the genres themselves would seem to be the very ones that would be the most likely to be prone to incorporating such experiments. And not only that but that horror fans would be the most open to seeing what could be done, in terms of enhancing a film experience,  with this new technology, and yet the opposite effect is what we seem to be witnessing. And I have to say that I am a bit disappointed by what I am seeing as well as far as the use of CGI in horror films. The end result seems to appear to look more like computer game graphics and many CGI monsters looks about as cheesy as some guy running around in a rubber monster suit. I for one am not against the idea of CGI monsters and gore. What has been done with computer effects by people like James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis and Peter Jackson is often seamless along side the real situations characters in the films they oversee. Of course there will be some people who can even find fault in the works of filmmakers like these innovators and so how on earth will that crowd ever be able to accept effects operating on a lower budget and with less talent behind the lens and keyboard.

While it is reasonable to think that people with less skill and vision than someone like James Cameron or Peter Jackson are not going to produce the greatest monsters with CGI effects is it too much to ask that they at least get something going with CGI blood? It is like asking how are they ever going to pass calculus when they cannot even get a D in arithmetic? I guess it is cheaper to do some blood spatter with a computer program now than to use exploding condoms filled with fake blood that may require several takes to get it all just right. The problem is that CGI blood effects simply have to be as real looking as that exploding condom to satisfy any horror fan. Despite criticisms the whole CGI blood things seems to be the direction in which things are headed and yet the results do not seem to be getting much better. It is as if since the trend has become established no one even seems to care now about raising the bar. Even Sam Raimi used some pretty crappy CGI blood effects in his return to horror film Drag Me to Hell. I found a screen capture to give an example below. Even in the still the blood running from actress Alison Lohman’s mouth looks fake as hell. I mean did they really have to use CGI blood in this particular scene? And if so, why not try to set an example. Why should any aspiring, independent horror director try to do anything better when people like Raimi do not even seem to give a shit.

One film people really bash as far as the CGI blood goes, but one that I thought worked out fine, was The Midnight Meat Train. Here I thought some of the CGI gore and violence was a cut above  what I was seeing elsewhere and yet viewers were still not satisfied. Are we to shoulder some of the blame as well for not being a bit more open to this new technology and where it could be headed in time and in more capable hands? Surely the death scenes in Meat Train were a leap beyond many of the goofy death scenes of the 70’s and 80’s where bright red barn paint colored blood was amateurishly employed. It seems this is where things are heading and not much can be achieved by complaining and longing for the good ol' days though I am as guilty of this as anybody else. If Peter Jackson can do King Kong as flawlessly as he did (in my opinion, which is not shared by everybody) then surely 'simple' blood spatter can be done better, at least as good as Midnight Meat Train and then better. No less than that. And that is not to say that the use of real 'fake' blood does not have its drawbacks as well. Such as how fake-blood tends to dry and congeal under the studio lights quickly so that a person with a recent wound suddenly has dried blood on his or her face –i.e. Umma Thurman at the beginning of Kill Bill 2 for example- because the blood that should still be running  and pumping out of the body has dried up after multiple takes under the hot studio lights. I am not anti-CGI. I welcome the process. I am simply anti-BAD CGI and the fact that things seem to be getting worse and worse rather than better and better. In closing an issue I really have more than with blood spatter effects –like someone’s brains getting blown out and CGI being used to represent the action- is the use of CGI to represent blood stained clothes, floors or walls. I think this is going too far even for my tolerant nature. Here I see no reason to not use real-fake blood and think the way things should be going is a combination of both higher level CGI effects in horror films and old school exploding condoms, ala Tom Savini. Is anyone out there just 100% anti-CGI blood effects (or anti-CGI period)? Maybe together we can resolve this heated subject and make the world a better place for all people to live in. Please participate in the poll in my side bar and express your opinion.

Typical fan reaction to the use of CGI blood in modern horror films.

NOTE of 29 DEC 10: Well, with three days to go on my well received side bar poll (I have 2 whole f***ing votes and one is mine) the opinion on CGI effects is tied. I have decided that if I want to get interaction on my site I need to develop a female alter ego called Biffy the Horror Blogger and post some fake images of some teenage gal with massive hooters and say 'like' every six words and abuse the elipsis (...) and I will have a very popular Blogger site.

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