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Celebrating World VFX Day - Chris Lumb

Friday 8 December 2023, by Judy Harris

In our final instalment for World VFX day we spoke to comedian and old school effects fan Chris Lumb about the library ghost from Ghostbusters and the face melting scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Ghostbusters - library ghost (Ivan Reitman, 1984)
When I about 7yrs old I saw Ghostbusters at the cinema with my brother and was totally blown away by this jump scare at the start, screaming at me. It’s terrifying! I love the way she shushes them first and then instantly changes, she bursts out into the screen. It’s totally unexpected that this little old lady turns into this demon. Blending comedy with the frights isn’t easy to do but all the gags work in this film. I love old school effects because there’s a certain grittiness to them and you have to be more imaginative with them. It strengthens what you’re doing because it impacts how you shoot things, it makes you more innovative in every way. You can watch a version with no sfx on the 4k blu-ray, it’s fascinating to see the process of how they put it together.

Raiders of the Lost Ark – opening the ark (Dir. Steven Spielberg, 1981)
I’m a big 80s film fan especially because of how they merged everything together, the practical and the digital. I love the bit where the three men’s faces come off. You’ve got the exploding one in the middle, the one whose face gets sucked in and the one whose face just melts off. This wasn’t funny when I first saw it, I had to fast forward this bit, I just couldn’t stomach it. I watched the behind the scenes footage and the guy whose face melts off had layers and layers of clay and paint and all that on him so it would look gruesome. The reason why the first one explodes with a wall of flame in front him is to soften the impact of the explosion because it was too violent.

Chris’s show Prequel, Sequel, Requel where comedians have to pitch a sequel, a prequel and a requel in one minute can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeivwdqP5FM

World VFX day is an annual day of recognition in celebration of the vfx industry (and the often invisible labour of vfx workers) started by a collective of visual effects studios. Anyone in or outside the industry are encouraged to take part. Sign up to the ‘World VFX Day’ newsletter for the latest news and events: https://mailchi.mp/651b2a6c2ad9/world-vfx-day

Thanks to everyone who took part in our World VFX day series, it’s been really fun!

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