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20 Terrible Special Effects That Ruined The Movie

23 June 2013 | Features, Other Lists | by David Zou

worst special effects

Cinema has a special kind of magic, one that’s best served by a gifted, visionary filmmaker and even stronger when said filmmaker teams up with an equally talented visual effects maestro. It’s Steven Spielberg and Ray Winston joining forces to bring dinosaurs back to life in the wondrous Jurassic Park, or John Landis and Rick Baker physically transforming an average guy into a monster in An American Werewolf in London.

However, bad special effects and terrible CGI afflict many films, from blockbusters to b-movies. That earlier statement about cinema being magical? In these cases, a better word would be “painful,” or even “comical.” These are the 20 worst special effects in movie history.


20. Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull


The “Special” Effect: It’s difficult to pick a winner from the fourth Indy movie, what with its crap CGI ants, crap CGI gophers and crap CGI aliens, but for our money, the worst bit has to be Shia LaBeouf swinging through the trees with some crap CGI monkeys. Yeesh.

Why So Terrible? The monkeys look fake, the forest looks fake, and the whole thing looks like the sort of novelty photography you might take part in at a theme park. A low point in a film full of them.


19. Jumanji


The “Special” Effect: In fairness to Spielberg and Lucas, at least their CGI simians look more convincing than the kitchen-trashing pranksters encountered in Jumanji.

Why So Terrible? Not only is the CGI awful, it’s also completely unnecessary. Surely it wouldn’t have required much training to get some real monkeys to make a bit of a mess?


18. Megalodon


The “Special” Effect: A wrecked cruise ship precipitates a host of passengers diving overboard in the hope of rescue. What they find instead is a hungry, prehistoric mega-shark. Bummer…

Why So Terrible? The shark itself is less convincing that the holographic Jaws in Back To The Future pt. 2. He is big, though…


17. Saturn 3


The “Special” Effect: Harvey Keitel journey’s through the rings of Saturn in this truly dismal sci-fi flick originally conceived by the Oscar-winning John Barry. Safe to say, it’s not his finest work.

Why So Terrible? The rocks that make up the planets rings can clearly be seen to be resting on a pane of glass. Good grief…

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  • JoseSD

    Its Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone not Philosopher’s Stone…. only kidding I know in the UK it was called Philosopher’s Stone it’s just funny how Brits always get mad cause we call things different, like Soccer I know “it’s called football”

  • WoWed

    the low budget films i can usually forgive. But yeah, if a movie is made by a major studio, they have no excuse.

  • Shannon L Gillece

    A couple of these movies were ahead of their time. It’s crazy to compare films made if the 90′s to those made today like Jumanji which was made in 1995. On a side note, Lucas can go to hell!

  • Korabljenik

    Well deserved #1 spot.
    I would also mention Reptile from Mortal Kombat (1995) and Animalities Battle from Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997).

  • MG

    I seem to remember that the animals in Jumanji were intentionally made to be odd-looking because they were a product of the artificial world of the game. Or maybe that’s just what they said at the time because they couldn’t do a good job.

  • leanton31

    I personally hated the CGI effects in The Hobbit. Especially the stupid Goblin King, the orc arch enemy which i keep forgetting his name and especially the wargs with their ridiculous “evil eyes” that looked sooo cartoony! 300′s wolf is nothing compared to the wargs!

  • Mike Henderson

    Honorable mention: The plane crash in Air Force One.

  • Tali Meirav

    and don’t forget that dreadful Will Farrell movie, “Land of the Lost good CGI”

  • Nacho Zaragoza

    Not Fair!! Jumanji is a 90′s flick… and the monkeys were HILARIOUS!!

  • Ricardo Costa

    They are forgetting the other scenes where the monkeys show up. A real monkey can be taught how to trash a kitchen… but not how to ride a police motorcycle.

  • Mark Johnson

    This list is rather stupid. Picky about things that couldn’t always be controlled… like technological advances and what-not.

  • adam

    you forgot matrix revolutions. matrix reloaded was kinda fake too but it could be forgiven since the movie was great.

  • Keyser Soze


  • anon

    you do not include totall recall in a list like this. rob bottin is one of the greatest special effects artists. ever. apologize now!

  • Roxtaf

    Yet another list for my list of lists that are a waste of time

  • David Warp

    So pointless! How can you even ruin b-movies by bad special fx? Isn’t that the REASON, they are b-movies? Come on guys, this list is just random.

  • Graham Ian Mann Gogs

    The people who create this pathetic lists should be made to drink bile.