It’s Really Real! Practical Effects in Movies

As we are knee deep in spooky season, I reflect on why I enjoy certain movies. For me, when a movie takes the time and effort to use practical effects instead of CGI-ing everything, it really makes a difference. Here are some of my favorite movies that utilize practical effects to great results.

Jurassic Park

I think this is a classic example of practical effects making things seem just a little too real. Intellectually, you know that they do not actually have dinosaurs chomping on people, but your eyes aren't so sure. It certainly puts you on edge anytime your beverage ripples.

Binge Box

While the Evil Dead trilogy of movies is definitely older, a lot of the horror comes from the use of (cheap) practical effects. I generally approve of the wacky, goofy direction the series took and my favorite is the last one, Army of Darkness.

The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring

While this series certainly uses CGI, it has to, Peter Jackson also put a lot of time into practical effects. From the use of forced perspective to get the heights right to using the voice actor as a prop (which was then covered with CGI), the practical effects really ground this high fantasy movie.


I really enjoy pretty much everything about this movie, but especially how they make dream sequences feel so real and trippy. This is another one of those movies that makes you doubt reality for a while after seeing it.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Another classic, Roger Rabbit set the standard for movies that use both live action and animation. As a kid, it fulfilled all my wishes to meet my favorite cartoons.

Mad Max

Lastly, in an effort to live up to the movie this is a sequel to, practical effects were employed as frequently as possible to ground this larger than life film.