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The Charm of Low Budget Special Effects

The realism of special effects in modern movies is unprecedented. With computer imagery and multimillion dollar budgets, they should be! But B-movie buffs appreciate the genius required in creating monsters, spaceships, and giants on a shoestring budget. It takes real imagination and creativity to film a movie in ten days for $500, even back in the days when $500 was real money. For example, Stephen King describes how the spider was done in the movie The Giant Spider Invasion.

 “In spite of the title, there is really only one giant spider,” King writes, “but we don’t feel cheated because it’s a dilly. It appears to be a Volkswagen covered with half a dozen bearskin rugs. Four spider legs, operated by people inside this VW spider, one assumes, have been attached to each side. It is impossible to see such a budget-conscious special effect without feeling a wave of admiration.”

As it turns out, King guessed right. The spider was indeed mounted on a Volkswagen with eight people moving the legs inside the car. Richard Albain, who went on to create the FX in John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 and The Fog, was the man who built the VW spider.

“We had to physically make this thing move, so the quickest, cheapest way is to buy a Volkswagen bug,” he says. “It’s low to the ground, the engine’s in the back, and we can put everything on the frame on the front. We built off it, we welded everything to the body. We used it as a mode of transport, of making it move, and it was low enough to the ground where we could hide it. That way we could drive it up over the hill, and into the city. And the same time we’re rowing the legs, and trying to keep everybody in synch!”

Ed Wood might be known as the worst director in history, but he actually cranked out movies that were shown in theaters. Godzilla is a guy in a suit, but that's the way we know Godzilla. And even though Jaws had a decent budget, it wouldn't have been so suspenseful if Spielberg weren't forced to work around the fact that the shark didn't work. Read about the creativity of limitations at Jamie & Adam Tested. Link  -via Digg


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