7 Amazing Movie Special Effects You Won't Believe Aren't CGI

#3. The Matrix Reloaded -- Crushing Cars on the Freeway

Hey, remember that part in The Matrix Reloaded when that one dude lands on top of a car so hard that it completely flips over and leaves a whole unholy mess in the middle of the freeway? Of course you do.

Man, this Frogger remake is badass.

Well, if you had to guess which part of that shot was added in CGI, the guy landing or the resulting pandemonium, which would you choose? Hint: It's the one that looks like he's leaving a turd on the windshield.


That's right: Other than the character, literally everything you see in that shot is real -- even the implosion of the car upon impact of the nonexistent landing. This was achieved thanks to a ridiculous car rig that worked while the vehicle was driven. In other words, someone finally invented a system to make it look like an invisible hippopotamus is sitting on your car.

"Finally." -Millions of really weird fetishists

The filmmakers then composited that image with footage of the actor playing kangaroo in front of a blue screen. But that was just the beginning: In the movie, the impact is so strong that even cars that are several feet away from the one that was rigged impossibly flip themselves over, too.

"Should we have warned any of the other drivers? Naaaah."

So how did they do that? Like all good things, this was the product of a series of hidden cannons and ramps, in a process that second unit director David R. Ellis described as "catapulting cars over the freeway." The result was not only the Hulk smash you see at the start, but also the cascade of carnage that comes afterward as car after car piles up.

So why didn't this movie win all the Oscars, again? Oh, right. It actually sucks.

#2. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind -- Cut-Less Scene Changes

Usually, when movie directors need to change scenes, they use a concept called cutting, a complex process that entails shutting off the camera, physically moving it to a new location, and then turning it on again. And we said "usually" because others directors will have none of that shit.

For instance, check out this sequence from the Chuck Barris maybe-true-but-probably-not biopic Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, where Barris (played by Sam Rockwell) comes up with the idea for his show The Dating Game in his bathroom, while talking to his girlfriend (Drew Barrymore). The camera zooms in slowly on his eyes ...

... and when it pulls out, he is already in a boardroom pitching the idea to a bunch of white guys in suits. All without a single cut.

"That's very interesting. But where are your trousers?"

But there's got to be some digital trickery going on there, right? Not at all: The director, a first-timer called George Clooney or something, wanted to do any and all effects entirely in-camera ... meaning that instead of cutting and taking the actor to another set, he actually moved the entire set around the actor while the camera was zoomed in.

"Where should we leave naked bathing Drew Barrymore, sir?"
"I think there's a closet over there."

Mr. Clooney (pronounced "Clone-ay," probably) used the same "no cuts" philosophy at different points in the movie, like the part where Barris first walks into the studio lobby. For a second, the camera gets distracted by a tour group, and when it comes back to Barris, he's working at the studio himself.

Whoever he slept with to get the job didn't have much stamina.

That was an easy one -- they just had the actor change his clothes real quick while the camera moved away. Other effects were slightly more complex, like the "split screen" in the scene where Barris is speaking on the phone with a studio executive ...

... which wasn't a split screen at all: They built the apartment set in front of the office set, and physically opened the wall when the camera wasn't looking.

Now imagine this happening the next time you're on the phone with your boss.

Clever, right? Man, this Clooney guy is going places.

#1. Jurassic Park & REC -- Monsters You Probably Assumed Were CGI

Stan Winston School of Character Arts

It's well-known that Jurassic Park was created through a combination of CGI and terrifying dinosaur-shaped robots, but there's one important special effect they used in the film that is often neglected -- namely, dudes in rubber suits.

Stan Winston School of Character Arts

Stan Winston School of Character Arts
They abandoned the idea of giving the dinosaurs bow ties pretty early on.

Yep, the movie that convinced everyone that CGI was cool used good old-fashioned monster costumes, too. Steven Spielberg commissioned the legendary Stan Winston to create some practical effects for some parts of the film, because it's one thing to tell your child actors to imagine they're being chased through a kitchen and quite another to put a real Raptor face in front of them.

Winston's team came up with a system that consisted of making the most realistic dinosaur puppets ever, then sticking a dude inside them. Here's an early model:

Stan Winston School of Character Arts
It's either that, or the ultimate fate of Mr. Muldoon.

Speaking of the famous kitchen scene, Stan Winston Studio supervisor John Rosengrant and concept designer Mark McCreery got the honor of donning actual Raptor costumes in that part of the movie -- that's Rosengrant in this shot:

Stan Winston School of Character Arts
He volunteered for this part because he always hated children.

But surely the next movies in the series were all CGI? Nope: Check out the fierce Velociraptor in track pants in this test footage from the second movie ...

Stan Winston School of Character Arts
Don't you hate it when you go jogging and leave the headphones home?

... and a dude with the head of a Pteranodon in the third one.

Stan Winston School of Character Arts

Of course, CGI monsters are inescapable by now -- take the inhuman stick figure zombie woman thingamabob that shows up at the end of REC.

Turning the film into an 80-minute YouTube screamer.

This thing doesn't even have the dimensions of a real person, so how could it possibly be anything but CGI? The answer is, thanks to Javier Botet -- a Spanish actor who has been using his affliction with Marfan syndrome to scare the bejesus out of anybody who pays him to do so.

He'd be a great choice for the XKCD movie.

For film-quality effects merged with Internet-quality shortness, watch the trailer for Cracked's new Star Wars mini-series.

Karl has a Twitter account where you can read his thoughts and a book where you can read his email exchanges with people who hate him. Follow David on Twitter or check out his work over at Film School Rejects, where he is a staff writer.

For more reasons to love movies more than you already do, check out 6 Iconic Movie Scenes That Happened by Accident and 5 Iconic Pop Culture Moments Improvised at the Last Second.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 6 Ghastly Works of 'Art' Made from Dead Animals.

And stop by LinkSTORM to calm your anger about it being Monday.

Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up RIGHT NOW and pitch your first article today! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infographic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!

And don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to get sexy, sexy jokes sent straight to your news feed. Are you on Google+? So are we!

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here


The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!