10 Most Ingenious Special FX In Horror Movie History

The best horror movie special effects - from The Fly to Evil Dead!

Evil Dead Mia
Sony Pictures

Ripping human beings limb from limb is no short order - it's messy, expensive and carries a hefty prison sentence. So in the pursuit of visceral realism in horror movies, you can definitely expect the first two but don't necessarily have to indulge the third.

Special 'FXperts' have been filming decapitations and dismemberments since the birth of horror, over 100 years ago. Since the late nineties, however, computer generated imagery has increased in use exponentially. Now, CGI can be very effective but human eyes have a unique ability to detect fakery, hence the 'uncanny valley' phenomenon.

If you're looking for realistic horror and the pixels just can't cut it, you hire the B (Movie) Team. From Georges Méliès, Tom Savini, Chris Walas, Rick Baker and of course, Rob Bottin, these guys have been bathing in red corn syrup, latex rubber and miniature explosives since birth. Seamlessly blending practical effects 'in camera' has elevated some horrors from the mediocre to the magnificent.

Seth Brundle's human/fly hybrid took body horror to a new level and animatronic ingenuity gave us the best werewolf transitions ever seen on film. With those and many more, here are some of the most effective and stomach churning horror FX imaginable...

10. Tina's Death - A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

Evil Dead Mia
New Line Cinema

Wes Craven's 1984 nightmare slasher classic has earned its place in the horror movie hall of fame, but there's few who could deny that some of the effects have not aged well. The sequence in Tina's dream where Freddy has elongated arms, for example, looks pretty ridiculous to a CGI generation. The final shot of Nancy's mum being pulled through a very small hole in the front door looks even worse. So why is this film on this list?

You might think it's for the now legendary scene where Johnny Depp is liquified in a bed and sprayed onto the ceiling, but no, that scene was an afterthought, brilliant as it is. The rotating room used for the effect was actually designed for Tina's death scene, a mere thirteen minutes into the film.

Inspired by Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling in Royal Wedding, the set furniture was nailed down, actor Amanda Wyss was given her marks and the cameras rolled. It's a stunning effect and given the intensity of the performance, it remains one of the most shocking sequences in the movie.

The original cut had the stunt woman landing on the bed, swimming with fake blood but was cut by the censors for being too explicit. What remains quickly cuts to Rod's reaction as his faced is splashed red. Depp's death usually gets the credit for the gnarliest sequence of the movie, yet it was a fortuitous use of a pre-existing set - one that almost electrocuted the crew.


A lifelong aficionado of horror films and Gothic novels with literary delusions of grandeur...