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Top 10 Scariest CGI Effects in Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Owen Maxwell

It doesn't have to be real to be terrifying. For this list, we're looking at computer-generated monsters and visual moments that chilled us to the bone. As several of these monsters show up late in their own movies, a SPOILER ALERT is in order. Our list includes CGI effects from "Drag Me to Hell" (2009), "The Cabin in the Woods" (2012), "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004), "The Hobbit" franchise (2012-14), "The Mist" (2007), and more! Join WatchMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Scariest CGI Effects in Movies.

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Scariest+CGI+Effects+in+Movies


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Script written by Owen Maxwell

Top 10 Scariest CGI Effects in Movies

It doesn't have to be real to be terrifying. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Scariest CGI Effects in Movies.

For this list, we're looking at computer-generated monsters and visual moments that chilled us to the bone. We’re basing our picks on a mix of clever animation, haunting technique and just how much the creations scared us. It should be noted that mixtures of practical and CGI will be considered. As several of these monsters show up late in their own movies, a SPOILER ALERT is in order.

#10: Sugarplum Fairy

"The Cabin in the Woods" (2012)

Evil little children always send a chill up the spine. Perhaps it’s the whole “perversion of innocence” thing. As the survivors proceed into an elevator, they're treated to the sight of hundreds of haunting monsters, but this one stood out from the rest. After dealing with killers and a even a ghost, they happen upon a little ballerina in an elevator across from them. As she turns around however, it's shown that she has rows of teeth instead of a face. The shocking reveal mixed with the absolutely twisted look of the creature made for one of the most memorable monsters in the whole film. And in this movie… that’s saying a lot!

#9: Darkseekers

"I Am Legend" (2007)

No matter how many tentacles or claws you give your monster, creations that bear a close resemblance to humans will always strike fear on a deeper level. Will Smith’s Robert Neville is understandably on edge as he journeys through the post-apocalyptic streets of New York City. Considering the devastating effect that the mysterious disease has had on humans and animals alike, he’d be crazy not to be nervous. In one particularly terrifying moment, he stumbles upon a hive of these pale mutants and barely makes it back into the light. Their vampire-like qualities, mixed with their almost (but not quite) human appearance results in a haunting uncanny valley effect that really makes a viewer squirm.

#8: The Creatures

"The Mist" (2007)

Bugs will probably scare humanity until the end of time - let’s just hope that oversized extra dimensional ones aren’t what bring it about. While so much of the initial fear in this Stephen King horror comes from the potential for accidents, earthquakes and other such worldly concerns, the people waiting out the storm soon encounter forces far more disturbing. Between the giant mantis-like creatures, killer flies and those terrifying tentacles reaching through the mist, it’s a veritable CGI buffet of nightmares come to life. The off-putting and incomprehensible features that make up these monsters are truly grotesque. Add to that the size of these creatures, and you’ve got terror worthy of Lovecraft himself.

#7: Azog the Defiler

"The Hobbit" franchise (2012-14)

Towering above our heroes, this wicked-looking Orc chieftain is all the more terrifying as a result of his heavily textured, battle-scarred skin and jagged arm replacement. Chasing after Thorin and his companions astride his gigantic white warg, he makes for a truly nightmarish figure. Just look at that horrible grin he presents when faced with danger. Though the handsome Manu Bennett may have been the man behind the mocap performance, his rugged good looks made it into the final creature design. With his short temper, brutal strength and upgraded blade arm, Azog is one Orc that will keep you up at night.

#6: Mr. Gray

"Dreamcatcher" (2003)

A creature becomes all the more horrific when you find out you've only seen one of its forms. In this bizarre alien tale, adapted from the work of Stephen King, our heroes first encounter a slimy oversized parasite. With its huge fangs, this nightmare slug is already plenty freaky, but it’s nothing compared to Mr. Gray himself. A tall humanoid alien, Mr. Gray is seriously imposing, but it’s his party trick that really terrifies. When he later exits the body he’s possessed, we’re presented with another form - a giant saw-toothed beast with a razor sharp tail. Forget a dreamcatcher; after meeting Mr. Gray, you’ll never be able to fall asleep again!

#5: The Dementors

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004)

The name really says it all when it comes to these ghastly creatures. Floating around like the foreboding embodiments of death, these wraiths feel like hell on earth. Guarding Azkaban Prison, they feed upon happiness, making time in the wizarding prison an even worse fate than one can imagine. Devouring human souls, these large ghouls are just as scary to think about as they are to see face to face, as they chill the air and warp the world around them. Given their seemingly endless numbers and with no way to destroy them, the only thing scarier than a dementor, is a Dementor working with Voldemort.

#4: Dragged to Hell

"Drag Me to Hell" (2009)

In this macabre tale of magic and demons, our protagonist, Christine, is cursed when she denies a gypsy an extension on her loan. Though hell is well-trod ground conceptually, the firsthand look at the underworld provided in this film will leave you hiding behind a blanket. At the beginning, we get our terrifying first look, and it’s enough to make anyone want to turn over a new leaf. Here we follow a couple seeking help for their cursed son, but it’s too late. The floor breaks and a burning nether realm opens below him as hands drag him screaming into its fiery depths.

#3: Aliens

"Signs" (2002)

There’s nothing quite like seeing the confirmation of your fears in the flesh. So much of this alien horror film plays on people's paranoia, that when the big reveal comes and the aliens are seen, it’s downright terrifying. A rural family is terrorized in their own home when they start seeing crop-circles in their cornfield, among other odd and unsettling occurrences. When it finally gets its moment in the spotlight, the giant extra-terrestrial proves to be both fast and strong, and is made all the more intimidating by its piercing eyes. It’s the sort of alien that’ll make you thank your lucky stars that what you’re witnessing is a work of fiction.

#2: Arachnids

"Starship Troopers" (1997)

Scares, like strength, are best in numbers. The expansive bug race that terrorizes colonies and military forces in this sci-fi satire comes in so many shapes and sizes, it's hard to say which one we’d choose to face if we had to. From the massively jawed and clawed warrior bugs that can rip people in half, to the swarms of equally dangerous flying bugs, there isn’t a welcoming creature among them. Alongside explosive bugs and building-sized tankers that spit acid and artillery, each subspecies is terrifying in its own way. Even the slow brain bug is a shocking sight to behold.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

The Various Spiders

"Enemy" (2013)

Vanishing Skin

"Hollow Man" (2000)

Two-Faced Dogs

"Resident Evil: Afterlife" (2010)

It’s True Form

“It” (2017)

Sightless Creatures

“A Quiet Place” (2018)

#1: The Giant Monster

"Cloverfield" (2008)

Never seeing the full scope of a monster makes it somehow even more terrifying. Given that we only catch the most sparing of looks at this massive beast at any given moment, it lands in that perfect middle ground to inspire the viewers' minds to fill in the blanks with even more ungodly terror. Mixing amphibian stretches of skin among other features, along with jagged arms and beady eyes, the parts we do see of this colossal titan are grisly. With its massive jaw and equally vicious babies, this monster proved itself as scary on-screen as it was off.

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