Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Vintage Video Of The Week : The Very First Practical Effect!

For this week's Vintage Video, we are traveling further back in time than we ever have before.  So strap yourself into the Freddy In Space Time Machine and prepare for a lengthy journey; we're headed all the way back to the 1800's, for the most vintage Vintage Video of the Week in Freddy In Space history!!

Though practical effects have, for the most part at least, been all but replaced here in the year 2013, by computer generated imagery, there will always and forever be no more effective way to depict an on-screen kill in a movie than through the use of practical special effects.  What guys like Tom Savini were doing back in the '80s can be described as nothing less than movie magic, bringing monsters to life right in front of our very eyes and having those monsters tear apart humans in such a realistic fashion that it was almost hard to tell that we were, in fact, only watching a movie.
 
But where did the art of the practical effect begin?  To the best of my knowledge, the first on screen kill scene, to use special effects to make it look really real, was waaaaaay back in 1895, in an 18 second long short film produced by Thomas Edison.   Directed by Alfred Clark, the short film was called The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, and it depicted a cinematic recreation of the beheading of Mary Stuart, which was carried out in 1587.
 
In the film, it was a male who actually played Mary, and the decapitation effect was pulled off with a clever edit, as the executioner's axe is about to come down.  The actor was swapped out with a dummy, and thanks to the relatively seamless edit, it looked as if the actor's head was actually chopped off.  In fact, so revolutionary was such an effect for the time, that many who viewed the film believed that the actor was actually beheaded!
 
The effect is so well done that the short is pretty creepy to even watch in the present day, given it looks so realistic, and has a certain snuff film quality to it.  Can't ever achieve that with CGI, that's for damn sure.
 
Click the play button below to see the very special effects driven kill scene in the history of cinema ... this week's Vintage Video!!


In real life, Mary Stuart's execution didn't go so smoothly.  It actually took two axe blows to decapitate her, as the first one accidentally made contact with the back of her head, rather than her neck.  Just thought you should know that.  You sick freak, you.

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