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Top 10 Practical Movie Effects of All Time


  1. Dangerosu Author

    This is a very cool list but for me the number 1 movie practical effects or ALL TIME goes to James Cameron's Aliens (1986). As with every Alien movie in the franchise, every director tried to bring his own signature to the film (that is why every Alien film looks and feels distinct from the others), but James Cameron revolutionized the way we see sci-fi action movies with his 1986 imagining of the alien xenomorphs. His vision and his ambition to not accept half measures brought to life one of the best sci-fi movies in history. He brought in talented modelers, set designers and puppeteers, he designed a lot of the vehicles himself, he worked with animatronic specialists, pyrotechnics and camera techniques that all culminated in the most amazing and ambiguous practical effects ever used in a sci-fi movie to date and ever since.
    If you are a fan of movies and behind the scenes documentaries please see "Superior firepower "Making of Aliens" (2003)" to understand why James Cameron is a genius film maker and why Aliens became a masterpiece in the genre.
    #1 – Aliens (1986) for all the fabulous practical effects in it.

  2. Victor Seastrom Author

    Please do your homework – Buddy Gillespies work on the bombing of Tokyo in "30 Seconds over Tokyo" is still some of the finest miniature work ever. You probably thought it was real footage… that's the genius.

  3. malphone Author

    what about independence day? They built entire models of New York City and Los Angeles, flipped it on its side, and then launched a flamethrower at it

  4. hvitekristesdod Author

    Peter Jackson’s Braindead aka Dead Alive is an underrated masterpiece of practical effects… The last 30 minutes keeps the gore flying at a frantic pace with too many great moments to count…

  5. JMH Author

    Empire Strikes Back, Jason & the Argonauts.. for sure!
    I'd also mention The Nightmare Before Christmas (and its spiritual predecessor, James & the Giant Peach) along with the Wallace and Grommit movies. Guess I just love claymation! 😀

  6. Branden Paris Author

    The sick Triceratops from Jurassic Park was 100% practical. I’m stunned it didn’t make the list. These guys lost a lotta cred…

  7. Phoenix 24 Author

    These are amazing. Even knowing how the shots are made, I still don't believe they're fake. Truly genius and miles better than any CGI version could ever be

  8. Gregg Martini Author

    Bram Stoker's Dracula was, except for one digital morph at the end, all on camera effects using models, puppets, etc. And except for the streets of London, all shot indoors. They were inspired by film techniques at the time of the novel's writing.

  9. Veli Karppinen Author

    It really feels sad that old-time FX-masters like Rob Bottin, Dick Smith, Tom Savini, Ray Harryhausen Willis O'Brien and Georges Melies are dying breed. All of these effects are great and their magic becomes a bit silly when you know how they were made. Sometimes they are just ridiculously simple.

  10. Malinda Garza Author

    Omg what a lengdary. To watch real effects of the the past to the present it is just wonderfully beautiful. From king Kong to terminator 2. And the ultimate watch having Johnathan Landis director and creature creator rickbaker. These two would go on to create an iconic masterpiece video of all time along with Micheal Jackson's dance moves and that would be thriller.

  11. Justin Wilkens Author

    So #1 was a shot not even used in the movie. Just when I thought your list couldn't get any dumber, and then you totally redeem yourself!

  12. Jpof Gwynedd Author

    Even in 2019, this is still a pretty definitive list and hard to disagree with: if you're a true movie fan as opposed to yer avridge "I hates everything!" jerk

  13. clark cimmerian Author

    Ray Harryhausen did not animate with clay you fucking idiot! What what a fucking SHIT HEAD! How stupid can you be. Worthless video totally just worthless. Practical effects are done with live props-not optical effects now rear projections. This video is just STUPID!

  14. Julien Ralys Author

    sad to see that once again ( not cauZ from my coUntry ) G. Méliès … still " dead " werhas he invented a lot of SFX … on his time.
    beside my comment
    i like your video /°-


  15. Darth Revan Author


    That movie almost killed 15 dudes, dropped a real aircraft onto a real hangar and used bloody depth charges in the film!

  16. TheSaiderRiscam Author

    I do agree that all of these are awesome, but The Lord Of The Rings has enough practical effects to make this video three times. However a lot of those effects are short and sweet and not something like parting the Red Seas.

  17. Main Stream Gaming Author

    I think the hospital explosion from the dark knight should have beat out the plane sequence from the dark knight rises.

  18. jawn1977jaws Author

    I knew Christopher Nolan was the Man…but after witnessing the opening scenes in the Dark Knight Rises , and when Bain pushes the button, and releases the fuselage to have it fall past him and his captive, and watch the real fuselage plummet to Earth below…yeah….Chris, you keep knocking it out of the park….keep up the good ( mind blowing ) work.

  19. pingidjit Author

    How is Jurassic Park not on this list? The mega T-Rex breathing on the car, the whole kitchen scene, the birthing triceratops… like, come on! Soooo many practical effects that MADE that movie.

    I also feel like Jim Henson should have got a nod in some way for all the puppetry work that while not necessarily realistic, still absorbed people into a world through his works.

  20. sclogse1 Author

    I never want to be "thinged" again. My issue with the wolfman scene is it's prosthetics should have been shot in lower indirect light.

  21. Noelle O'Brien Author

    The transition of stop motion in old monster movies to modern animation is really cool. For anybody looking for the same dedication to the craft as Jason and the Argonauts look to Laika studios for their work on coralline or kubo and the two strings.

  22. Bad Idea Comics Author

    No mention of Aliens? The scene where the marines enter the alien modified area is genius use of practical effects. It's so good you don't even realize it's an effect – it looks like a huge opening made of alien resin, but it's just a small model that's closer to the camera with the marines off in the distance. Also Bladerunner – just…everything in Bladerunner. Flying cars looking more realistic via leds causing lens flare, fog/smoke maintained via smoke detectors rigged to trigger the on/off on smoke machines, the 17 exposures required to create the blimp flying over the hotel skylight – so many great practical effects. Your list is good, but there are some great ones that deserved mentioning.

  23. Christopher Donahue Author

    They used a ton of practical effects in Zathura. I love that movie to death and I definitely think that it should be honored for use of practical effects in the digital age.

  24. William C Francis Author

    The American Werewolf in London transformation was decades ahead of its time. totally amazing. Also, it was the first time that sort of transformation had ever been shown in full light in film.

  25. jmw Author

    The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy walks out of her sepia-toned house into the technicolor world of Oz. They painted the inside of the house to be sepia, and even used sepia makeup on a stunt double, so the transition from sepia to technicolor is seamless.

  26. grillodofus Author

    Dude, lord Harrihausen was the real master, legendary level achieved no less! The lord of the rings was specially awesome for their sets: both Helms Keep and Edoras where really built for the movie, and i mean REALLY REALLY built: for example if you walked into a blacksmith shop in set you would find AN ACTUAL BLACKSMITH forging real armors and weaponry that where used in the film, it doesnt get real-er than that! Also Mad Max Fury Road is too an unreachable masterpiece of real practical effects.

  27. Dave Francis Author

    Bottin is pronounced “Bo Teen”. You missed so many… from the matte paintings in Gone with the Wind, the early makeup effects of Lon Chaney, the aged makeup and effects of Exorcist, other Bottin productions like Robocop and Total Recall, the amazing stunt work of the Bond franchises (most notably the corkscrew car jump from The man with the Golden Gun), creature effects of Predator and the amazing miniatures and creatures of Aliens, the amazing puppetry of Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Muppet franchises, the clever effects of all Friday the 13th and Elm street franchises, not to mention the amazing effects of the Romero’s living dead series and Argentos Demons, Lets not forget Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, I could go on….. Think the list should be more about the artists like Steve Johnson, Dick Smith, Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger, Rick Baker, Tom Savini, Tom Woodruff, Alec Gillis, Stan Winston, John Rosengrant, Shane Mahan, Rob Bottin…to name but a few. It is such a shame their names are not as well known as they should be.

  28. John Ligon Author

    What if a movie built a full size railroad bridge and then blew it up as a real train crossed it and crashed into the river below? Oh wait, that has actually happened and you brainfarted and left it off your list. (The Bridge On The River Kwai for those of you unfamiliar with said film)

  29. ADeCosa59 Author

    Nice that you acknowledged Harryhausen, but Ray NEVER used CLAY!!

    All of Harryhausen's stop-motion creatures were constructed similarly to Willis O'Brien's original King Kong: they were made of FOAM RUBBER, baked around fully-posable steel armatures with ball-and-socket joints.

    The construction and artistry of his stop-motion models was truly breathtaking.


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