The “Special” Effect: Any scene in which Garfield interacts with his human co-stars, showing him up for the charmless CGI monstrosity he really is.
Why So Terrible? One of the least likeable CGI creations ever devised, not even Bill Murray’s voiceover can enliven Garfield’s soulless eyes and overly shiny appearance. Not that that put him off returning for the sequel...
Air Force One (1997)
The “Special” Effect: The President’s plane makes a splash-landing in the ocean, seconds after the last few passengers are evacuated. Except for nasty old Xander Berkley of course.
Why So Terrible? For a big-budget blockbuster, this one ends with a whimper, rather than a bang, with a truly atrocious crash sequence. The bit where the plane turns over on its nose as if the water were made of concrete, is particularly painful...
Let The Right One In (2008)
The “Special” Effect: Virginia has survived an attack by Eli, but she has been significantly changed, as shown by this scene in which her pet cats take a rather sudden disliking to her.
Why So Terrible? They just look jarringly computer-generated. In a movie about a vampire, surely the effects budget could be better used elsewhere? What’s wrong with real cats? Pah.
The Shape Of Things To Come (1979)
The “Special” Effect: This piss-poor Star Trek knock-off really hits the high notes when the ship jumps into hyperspace. That’s some cutting-edge filmmaking, right there...
Why So Terrible? It’s basically a toy spaceship being thrown in front of a black curtain. CGI might not have been available, but surely they could have come up with something a little more convincing than this?
I Am Legend (2007)
The “Special” Effect: Any time when the vampire creatures are on screen, with their gaping mouths and chronically non-scary appearance. Sigh.
Why So Terrible? They aren’t the worst CGI creations in the world, but given how creepily tense the opening half an hour or so is, the big reveal of Will Smith’s toothy antagonists is a huge let-down. They look far too digital to be even remotely terrifying. Shame.
Green Lantern (2011)
The “Special” Effect: Hal Jordan is introduced to the magical realm of Oa by Tomar Re, one of the more unusual-looking members of the Green Lantern Corps.
Why So Terrible? It’s all just so uninspiring. Firstly, you have Oa itself, a flat, computer-wallpaper version of what a “futurescape” might look like. Then there’s the horribly rendered Tomar Re, who moves like a puppet having a seizure. And of course, there’s Hal’s poorly CGI’d suit. Breathtaking, it ain’t.
The “Special” Effect: A rare bum note among the special effects that won Derek Meddings an Oscar sees the Hoover Dam collapse, swamping the valley below.
Why So Terrible? The scene required additional inserts, but by that stage, Meddings was already working on his next project ( Moonraker , if you were interested). As a result we get a little toy village feeling the wrath of the unchained waves...
Howard The Duck (1986)
The “Special” Effect: Jeffrey Jones’ villain is the beneficiary of some extremely poor CGI, as he shoots laser beams and later fireballs from his eyes. Hmm.
Why So Terrible? If an effect makes a man in a duck costume look credible, you know it isn’t the best. Such is the case with Jones’ flaming eyeballs.
The “Special” Effect: The Sharktopus itself is pretty special, but we’d sooner single out an early scrap between shark and octopus, in which the shark makes a break for freedom by jumping out of the water, only for those tentacles to catch it in mid-air. Nice...
Why So Terrible? It looks like a plastic shark caught in some sea-weed. And check out that shadow! Obviously, the shoddiness is all part of the charm here, but still...
The “Special” Effect: Every time old Scoob comes bounding into frame, every last fragment of credibility this garish family romp might have been clinging on to goes flying out of the window.
Why So Terrible? Scooby doesn’t look like he’s in the same universe as his human counterparts, let alone the same room. Not even Matthew Lillard’s frenzied mugging can convince us...
Freddy vs. Jason (2004)
The “Special” Effect: A quick toke on a joint leads to one bemused teen being confronted by a weird, dog / caterpillar creation. That’s what happens, kids. Just say no.
Why So Terrible? The creature’s head seems to be entirely separate from its body, and not in an intentional way. Even a stoner would recognise this as a particularly shabby job.
The People That Time Forgot (1977)
The “Special” Effect: A pair of dinosaurs attack Patrick Wayne and Dana Gillespie, who deserve medals for managing to keep their faces straight throughout...
Why So Terrible? There are ropey monster suits, and then there are ropey monster suits that look like they’ve been made from old cereal boxes by the director’s kids. These fall squarely into the latter category.
The “Special” Effect: This post-transformation Banner looks a very poor relation to Mark Ruffalo’s big green giant, and the worst bits by a mile are his silly little shorts. Oh dear.
Why So Terrible? Just look at them! They look as though they’re made of cardboard and floating just ahead of the Hulk’s swimsuit area, like a TV "censored" logo designed to keep the viewers from seeing anything they shouldn’t.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
The “Special” Effect: Superman goes toe to toe with Nuclear Man on the surface of the moon, the infinite expanse of space providing a suitably epic backdrop to their dust-up.
Why So Terrible? You don’t need to look particularly carefully to spot the black curtains billowing in the background. Not quite so majestic now, is it?
The “Special” Effect: The shark comes rearing up onto the deck of the Orca, flailing around like the proverbial fish out of water. Let’s be honest, he was scarier in the ocean...
Why So Terrible? The fake look of Bruce the shark is the stuff of legend, but it’s only when his whole body comes out of the water that his shortcomings are fully exposed. Popping out of the briny depths, he’s too frightening to criticise! Up on deck however, he does look a bit rubbery...
Snakes On A Plane (2006)
The “Special” Effect: One particularly luckless passenger heads to the toilet to relieve himself, only for a snake to leap out of the bowl and bite him in the groin. Ouch.
Why So Terrible? When it’s lurking in the toilet, the snake doesn’t look too bad. However, when it’s flailing around attached to the bloke’s old chap, it’s quite another story.
Lost In Space (1998)
The “Special” Effect: Matt LeBlanc is the luckless cast member charged with interacting with a weird simian creature he plucks from a bush. Neither actor nor CGI come off terribly well here...
Why So Terrible? Another dodgy piece of rendering that makes it painfully apparent that LeBlanc is clutching at thin air. Not that his acting helps matters. You can sense Gary Oldman cringing in the background...
The Beach (2001)
The “Special” Effect: Leo DiCaprio goes for a jog through the jungle, imagining himself to be a character in a video game. Cue a pixellated makeover, as Leo becomes just that...
Why So Terrible? Taking aside the scene’s incredible naffness, the video game effects look half-hearted to say the least, particularly the tiger that looks as though he’s wandered in from a cereal advert.
The Abyss (1989)
The “Special” Effect: The giant flying saucer that makes an appearance at the movie’s big finale. So much of this film is a technical triumph, and yet...
Why So Terrible? It looks more like the lid to a tin of Quality Street than an extra-terrestrial spacecraft, and those splashy water effects are also troublingly artificial.
E.T. : 20th Anniversary Special Edition (2002)
The “Special” Effect: The newly CGI-created E.T. sits in the bathtub, sticking out from the original cut of the film like a particularly sore thumb.
Why So Terrible? Attempting to crowbar shiny new CGI effects into a 20-year-old movie is usually a fool’s errand, and so it proves with Spielberg’s family classic, which suffers immeasurably from the director’s unnecessary tinkering. Slightly ropey prosthetics will always be preferable to the inappropriate introduction of CGI.
Star Wars: Episode One The Phantom Menace (1999)
The “Special” Effect: Jar-Jar Binks, unconvincing at the best of times, but particularly when forced to interact with his human co-stars.
Why So Terrible? To be honest, Jar-Jar’s appearance is probably the least offensive thing about him, but even so, he remains a remarkably crap piece of CGI. Every scene in which Neeson or McGregor attempt to speak to him seems as though they’re staring straight through him. Which of course, they are.
The “Special” Effect: A flyover shot of the ship’s deck and its many bustling passengers, the camera finally coming to rest with Captain Bernard Hill as he receives a nice cup of tea from an underling.
Why So Terrible? Despite Titanic ’s many excellent effects, this one falls sadly flat, with the passengers looking for all the world like mannequins. That Cameron, eh? Not a clue when it comes to SFX...
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
The “Special” Effect: Sam Jackson is belting out his motivational team-talk when from out of nowhere, a giant CGI shark lunges out of the water and takes a big old chunk out of him. Yum.
Why So Terrible? The scene itself is a schlocky delight, but the shark really does look ropey, an obviously digital creation chucking a mannequin about the place before mercifully disappearing underwater again.
Van Helsing (2004)
The “Special” Effect: Van Helsing prepares to square off against Richard Roxburgh’s Dracula, transforming into a werewolf at the stroke of midnight.
Why So Terrible? It’s not so much the transformation that’s awful (the crumbling skin effect is actually quite a nice touch), but the frankly laughable end product. At least the chronically overacting Roxburgh is on hand to provide a distraction...
Return Of The Jedi Special Edition (1998)
The “Special” Effect: Inexplicably, George Lucas decided to extend the Max Rebo Band’s segment in this re-released Jedi , tinkering with the music and throwing in some horrible CGI backing singers for good measure.
Why So Terrible? If the ear-bleedingly awful music doesn’t have you putting your foot through the telly, that hideously cartoonish CGI surely will. Awful.
Anaconda 3 (2008)
The “Special" Effect: Crystal Allen finds herself confronted by an angry anaconda in this sub-par sequel, notable only for a spectacularly hammy turn from one David Hasselhoff.
Why So Terrible? The creature itself looks comically computerised, but when it moves, things really get iffy. Thankfully, Hasselhoff arrives with a big old gun to distract the audience.
Die Another Day (2002)
The “Special” Effect: Bond escapes a melting ice-cap by surfing down it with the aid of a canoe and a parachute. All in a day’s work for 007, although somehow, we can’t see Daniel Craig agreeing to this.
Why So Terrible? First of all, the collapsing ice looks fake. Then there’s the fact that you can see the join between the canoe and the rolling wave. And then there’s the horribly obvious contrast between Bond and the water behind him. In a word, dreadful.
Mission To Mars (2000)
The “Special” Effect: The arrival of an alien at the movie’s grand finale, who helpfully gives the crew a quick crash course on the mysteries of the universe.
Why So Terrible? The alien looks like the sort of half-cocked creation you might have seen in a children’s TV show from the ’80s, not a proper, Hollywood movie! It has to be seen to be believed...
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
The “Special” Effect: The arrival of the Newborn, the icky genetic hybrid of human and alien DNA. That sounds frightening and awe-inspiring, right? Well...
Why So Terrible? The Newborn should have been Alien: Resurrection ’s calling card, but instead, its wrinkled, gunky visage inspires pity rather than dread. Somebody put it out of its misery...
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
The “Special” Effect: The crew of the Enterprise are forced to attempt a dramatic reboarding of the ship, whilst travelling in a speeding shuttle without any breaking power. Hairy stuff!
Why So Terrible? Bill Shatner’s first time at the helm of a Star Trek movie was hamstrung by an extremely limited effects budget, meaning that what should be an exciting sequence ends up looking extremely hokey indeed.
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008)
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.
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?
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...
Saturn 3 (1980)
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...
Total Recall (1990)
The “Special” Effect: Arnie ditches his fat woman disguise when it begins to malfunction, the headpiece splitting in two to reveal the big man underneath. Or at least something that looks a bit like him...
Why So Terrible? The head revealed underneath is clearly a model, confusing the issue for baffled viewers. So, there’s a model version of Arnie, devised as an overweight woman... wait, what?
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009)
The “Special” Effect: Mega Shark shows off his athletic prowess by leaping out of the ocean to take a bite out of a passing plane. “Holy shit,” says the passenger who spots it first, as well he might...
Why So Terrible? You’d expect a film with this title to be full of laugh out loud effects, and so it proves. However, while the shot out of the window is funny and effective, the sequence in which plane and shark fall back into the ocean... well, it’s just plain bad.
The “Special” Effect: A young Leonidas proves his worth in battle from an early age, seeing off the unwanted attentions of a fearsome CGI wolf...
Why So Terrible? While most of Zack Snyder’s film is characterised by sumptuous visuals, the wolf itself looks terrible, like a cartoon dog sporting a set of comedy false teeth. Odd.
The Stuff (1985)
The “Special” Effect: Charlie shows just how unpleasant “the stuff” can be, howling and gurning for all he’s worth as a wave of white goop erupts out of his hideously distorted mouth.
Why So Terrible? Yes, we’re well aware that it’s quite an amusing sequence when taken in the context of the trashily awful B-movie it comes from, but it doesn’t half look hokey. The initial face-stretch is decent enough (kind of); it’s when the white gunk makes an appearance that things really start to look a bit crap.
Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone (2001)
The “Special” Effect: Harry, Ron and Hermione are confronted by an angry troll, who sets about smashing up one of the school bathrooms before the trio are able to subdue it.
Why So Terrible? Compare this scene to the battle with the cave troll in Fellowship Of The Ring . Whereas that CGI creation managed to express genuine feeling (as well as kicking some serious arse), this shonky creature looks like a poor man’s Shrek.
Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
The “Special” Effect: A pack of ravenous hyenas close in on a small boy, before unceremoniously ripping him to shreds. Lovely.
Why So Terrible? They don’t look like hyenas, and they damn sure don’t move like hyenas. It would be funny if they weren’t ripping a toddler a new one.
The “Special” Effect: A frankly laughable chase sequence featuring a motorbike, a helicopter and a couple of police cars. The worst examples of bad CGI in a movie packed to the rafters with it...
Why So Terrble? Absolutely nothing in this scene looks even remotely real, from the buildings to the vehicles via everything in between. If you saw any of this in a video game, you’d feel short-changed, let alone in a major motion picture. A real crap-fest of shonky visuals.
King Kong (2005)
The “Special” Effect: The film crew set out to explore Skull Island, only to get caught in the midst of a group of tyrannosaurs chasing down some giant dino prey. Remarkably, there are very few casualties!
Why So Terrible? Unusually for WETA, the sequence suffers from some chronic CGI, with the human actors clearly running in front of a green screen and the dinosaurs crudely pasted into the background.
Regenerated Man (1994)
The “Special” Effect: Having been forced to drink his own experimental formula, a scientist turns into a huge, sentient blob of CGI. And a hungry one at that...
Why So Terrible? The CGI on show here is of the ludicrously brightly-coloured variety that would look out of place in most cartoons, let alone a soberly lit, live-action movie.
An American Werewolf In Paris (1997)
The “Special” Effect: The werewolves. Every scene in which they appear.
Why So Terrible? The first film used costumes and make-up and worked perfectly well in creating a genuinely frightening hybrid of man and wolf. The decision to use CGI in the follow-up proved disastrous, sapping away any potential tension by presenting a cast of woefully poorly-rendered beasties.
The Polar Express (2004)
The “Special” Effect: No one scene in particular, rather every appearance made by Tom Hanks’ unnerving conductor. Fair play to Robert Zemeckis for trying, but the technology just wasn’t quite ready.
Why So Terrible? His immobile face and haunting, dead eyes are not the features of a human man. Instead, they combine to create the face of a nameless fear that continues to stalk our dreams. Horrible.
A Sound Of Thunder (2005)
The “Special” Effect : Most of the effects in this dire adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s well-loved story are worthy of inclusion, but the arrival of an angry dinosaur really takes the cake.
Why So Terrible? Taking aside its horrible red and green colouring, why does it look so shiny and non-threatening? No wonder it goes down with a whimper...
Star Wars (1997 / 2004 re-release)
The “Special” Effect: In his infinite wisdom, George Lucas decided to employ the CGI now available to him to restore a scene featuring a young Jabba to A New Hope . Even a second polish for the 2004 DVD release couldn’t save this one.
Why So Terrible? This new Jabba looks drastically different to the one we meet in Return Of The Jedi , while the moment where Han steps on Jabba’s tail (included to solve a perspective problem) is just plain insulting.
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
The “Special” Effect: How could we leave out Ed Wood and his marvellously wobbly flying saucers? The floppy gravestones are also worthy of note, but there’s nothing to top those “spacecraft”...
Why So Terrible? Made from model spaceship kits rather than the dinner plates of legend, there’s a reason Plan 9 is so notorious, and these saucers more than play their part.
The “Special” Effect: Birdemic ’s production values are the stuff of legend, and we could quite happily enter the entire film as one long, crappy special effect. However, if we have to pick one element, it would be the dive-bombing birds that inexplicably explode upon impact.
Why So Terrible? Even the explosions look half-arsed, having more in common with a newly lit match than a towering inferno.
The Mummy Returns (2001)
The “Special” Effect: Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo are going at it hammer and tongs, when a noise at the door signals the return of Dwayne Johnson’s Scorpion King, now transformed into a half-man half-scorpion hybrid...
Why So Terrible? Clearly worried about exposing the join between CGI scorpion body and live-action torso, Stephen Sommers elects to present the Scorpion King as a fully animated creature. The result is disconcerting to say the least, particularly when the camera homes in on his face!