He’s blown the “What If” doors off Tim Burton’s Superman Lives, Ang Lee’s Hulk and next up in Francis Lawrence’s I Am Legend. Special Effects guru Steve Johnson has just released a video that shows an unused makeup test for the zombies in the 2007 Will Smith hit. Apparently Lawrence wasn’t entirely happy with how the actors looked in this makeup and eventually just went to full CG creations. After watching the videos below, though, it’s hard to imagine something grosser than the practical effects. It would have been a whole different movie. Check out the creepy video after the jump.

Thanks to Shock Till You Drop and /Film reader Kevin McCarney for the heads up. Here’s the video.

Now watch this scene from the final movie and try and figure out if it would have been more effective with those suits.

It’s pretty obvious why the effects weren’t used. The movement wouldn’t have been as impressive, the facial details not as expressive plus, much like the Hulk, they probably would have just taken too much time to manipulate on set. Time on a set is precious and expensive. And while things obviously look better when they’re done on set, it’s not advisable to spend a bunch of time working on something you can do in post-production, especially if you have a huge budget.

I’m not a big fan of I Am Legend - in fact, my favorite part of the film is the first scene of The Dark Knight that was shown before it in IMAX – but its problems couldn’t have been solved by changing the shoddy CG to practical effects. It had much more to do with story, plot holes and things that you can’t just throw money at.

Would these effects have changed anything for you? Which do you prefer, the final film or the creepy makeup?

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