10 Crazy Movie Effects of Recent Times That Were Not Made With CGI

In modern-day cinema, almost every movie uses CGI to improve the visual experience or even to create entire scenes. And when fantasy and sci-fi movies are such a big part of Hollywood, CGI becomes all the more common. Many filmmakers tend to use CGI as it saves a lot of takes and time. However, some directors still prefer the old-school method – Tens of takes and Hours for perfecting a single scene. So today I’m going to run you across some crazy movie effects of recent times that were not computer-generated.

The result of this modernization is that people assume that every action sequence is completed post-production. That is where we come. We have prepared a list of 10 scenes from recent movies which you thought were CGI but weren’t. This list is also a shoutout to all the directors who don’t rely on technology for the quality of their movies.


Yes, you guessed it wrong! This iconic scene of Mortal Kombat was not all CGI. This scene sees Kung Lao (Max Huang) using his bladed hat to split the villainous Nitara (Mel Jarnson) straight down the middle. Seeing all the blood splashing from Nitara’s body, you’d have thought that there is no way this is real. But you’d be half wrong. Though the blade was added post-production with some minor touch-ups, the blood spurting and Nitara’s body was real. Kung Lao confirmed this at an interview.


According to him:

It was actually more practical than CGI, I have to say because all the blood you see that is all real. I can’t give away too much, but, when we shot that fatality, it was coming at me and it was a mess… Later on they worked around with the CGI to make it even look more outstanding, but yes, majority of it was all real.


Crazy Movie Effects of Recent Times

You did not see this coming. No, the plane crash scene was not at all CGI but shot IRL. It is a known fact that Christopher Nolan (Director) is not a fan of CGI and prefers to shoot his scenes using practical reinforcements. Though a scene showing a plane crash into a building would have to be either miniaturized or CGI, this is Nolan we are talking about. But, believe it or not, the physical crashing of the plane was cheaper than miniaturizing.


Nolan asked his team to buy an entire Boeing 747 for shooting this scene. The building was, of all places, at an airport. The team used minimal VFX and went old-school on the building. And that is Sir Christopher Nolan for you!


Zack Snyder directed Army of the Dead was filled with gore, blood, and violence. Of course, CGI helped through some of the scenes. The movie contained some real nasty zombies, even animal zombies. However, most of them were CGI, some were shot with practical methods. One of them is Alpha’s zombie horse. Even though the tiger was created digitally, but not the horse. The zombie horse was a real horse covered in zombie make-up and prosthetics.


Deborah Snyder (Producer and wife of Zak Snyder), in an interview with ScreenRant, revealed:

We built this nylon suit and then we put appliances on the horse. It was really fun. It was also really difficult because we were in New Mexico in the middle of the summer and the suits are not that breathable, so we had to have short times where we could shoot with him, and then the horse had to be wet down and we didn’t expect that part of it. One of the challenges with a zombie horse.


Crazy Movie Effects of Recent Times

Free Guy was supposed to be the bridge between the virtual and real world. The movie is set in a video game where a character breaks free of the code. So, the use of CGI for almost everything seems understandable. The filmmakers used some sort of VFX elements in almost every scene. There is a man in the background in multiple scenes throughout the movie. The man seems to be on fire and jumping from a building. This particular scene could very easily be added after the shooting. However, the director asked his team to hire an actual man for this role. The guy on fire was seen in the background many times through the run of the movie.


Director Shawn Levy revealed in an interview:

We built this nylon suit and then we put appliances on the horse. It was really fun. It was also really difficult because we were in New Mexico in the middle of the summer and the suits are not that breathable, so we had to have short times where we could shoot with him, and then the horse had to be wet down and we didn’t expect that part of it. One of the challenges with a zombie horse.


Pieces of a Woman was a movie that witnessed a failed homebirth and the grief that follows this mishappening. The movie had one long-take scene where Martha Weiss (Vanessa Kirby) gave birth. Unfortunately, the baby dies soon after. This was a 23-minute single take and you would think that the baby used was just a prosthetic-turned-baby using CGI. However, the director wanted this baby to be real. So he found a creative way to achieve this. They hired a baby and its mother who were outside the apartment set throughout the scene. The spot boys cleverly slipped the baby in the frame after his birth.


Using a real baby could have been a huge risk but the director wanted the scene to look as realistic at any cost. The director, Kornél Mundruczó, in an interview with the Decider, said:

We had an amazing Montreal French mother gave the opportunity to shoot with her baby. She was really part of the shot. It was a real baby and you can watch it on [Kirby’s] face. That connection is the whole movie, and it would never happen [with a CGI baby]. It’s impossible.


Shang-Chi and The Legend Of The Ten Rings was called a CGI-fest by many viewers. The movie brought many mythical creatures into life and without CGI, that would’ve been next to impossible. However, almost every fight sequence was shot in real life. The actors were all trained in martial arts and executed each sequence to perfection. The actors revealed how many takes it usually took to get a flawless scene. One such scene was the fight between Shang-Chi and the masked Death-Dealer:


The scene had Shang-Chi knocking a kunai out of the Death-Dealer’s hand and catching it with his. The scene was so beautifully executed that the audience just assumed that the kunai was added post-production. But the Shang-Chi actor Simu Liu revealed that the scene was the result of intense choreography. According to him, it took “175 takes and a truckload of gauze.”  I seriously don’t know if it was an exaggeration or truth. And after doing this scene himself, did Simu even needed a stunt double?



The Conjuring series is known for its scene with extreme disfiguring of the body while being possessed. A similar sequence was seen in The Conjuring 3. During an exorcism, a young boy, David Glatzel, rises from the table while bending over entirely backwards. The scene looks so creepy that it set the mood right for the rest of the movie. Contrary to your belief, David’s bending was not done by CGI. Actually, the creators hired a 12-year old contortionist who did the bending without any VFX enhancement or wires. The director, Michael Chaves, revealed this in an interview with IGN.


According to him:

That’s all in-camera and it’s not sped up at all… We did have CG in that we did face replacement, but there is no wire work, that’s all her just doing it. What’s crazy is that’s at speed. The plan was she was gonna do this slow rise up and we did a couple takes like that, and then I was asked Emerald, ‘Can you do that any different?’ And she was like ‘I could do a really fast version,’ and she did it and you could just hear [the crew] trying to like keep their lunch in because it was just so unnerving. And Patrick [Wilson] and Vera [Farmiga]’s honest reaction [is in] there when they’re looking at her.


Crazy Movie Effects of Recent Times

With a budget of only $15 million, the director David Lower had to limit his use of VFX effects.  It is interesting to know that the iconic Geern Knight’s (Ralph Ineson) appearance had only minimal use of CGI. His appearance is actually a result of world-class make-up artists. And combined with his skillful performance, the character of Green Knight came to life.


The director, in an interview, revealed:

There are no VFX at all… We went through a lot of crazier designs, but ultimately I wanted him to be an actor underneath that makeup. We even talked about doing things like a puppet. I decided the best thing to do was cast a really great actor and design some incredible prosthetics around him.


The Suicide Squad, like other James Gunn movies, enjoyed creative VFX effects. Even some characters were recreated out of CGI. But not Polka-Dot Man. PDM was featured as a victim of an interdimensional virus. The symptoms include emission of polka-dots. If he doesn’t puke the dots twice a day, they purge as bumps on his skin which he comically refers to as ‘just a rash’. However, unlike Nanaue or Weasel, Polka-Dot Man was not created using CGI. After some time of the release, the director revealed that these pustules were actually created using prosthetic make-up and lighting effects. The interesting thing to know is that there was almost no use of VFX effects whatsoever.



The Fast and Furious franchise is known for its use of VFX effects and now that they have reached space, CGI is used more than ever. Justin Lin is a great director who achieves what he visions and he never cared for extensive use of VFX even though, people trolled him for this. However, the car chase or crash sequences are usually multiple scenes shot separately and stitched together.

But Justin Lin defied his own norms and shot a complex scene in a single take. We are talking about the scene where a giant electromagnet pulls an entire car through a restaurant. (The flying spoons and forks add a little fun in the scene) Now, you may imagine that using such real-life utensils might be a little dangerous. But Justin actually did it! They were not just artificial props flying around, but real sets of spoons and forks flying in a kitchen. The stunt coordinator explained how they flew the cutlery without any wires, using pure physics. The utensils were launched towards the truck using the concept of compression. He explains how the car used, the utensils flying, the glass window flying around were all a hundred percent real.

Did you know that these Crazy Movie Effects of recent times were shot practically? How did you like these facts? Let us know in the comments.

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