I was recently informed that a person I had interviewed had passed away. One of the legendary special effects icons in the movie industry Joe Viskocil passed away August 11, 2014. The same day Comedian Robin Williams did as well.

I did an interview with Joe at Motor City Comic Con in 2013 and he was very vocal about the movie industries reliance on Computerized Special Effects. With good reason.,, (I’m looking at you George Lucas and ILM for Star Wars 1-3).

Here is a link to his interview: http://tgtmedia.com/news/joe-viskocil-special-effects-master/

As a fitting tribute to his work in the industry, here are his Top Ten Movie Effects that I bet you didn’t realize was his work. *WARNING* Right below #1 was Joe’s very first film he ever worked on… The Trailer contains Nudity. It was made in 1974. You have been warned that it is NSFW.

10. Volcano – miniature effects supervisor: mechanical effects / miniature pyrotechnics supervisor

While the film itself wasn’t spectacularly great, the effects needed to pull off this script were well done. Even with the amount of star power in this film they at least saved L.A.

9. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – pyrotechnic supervisor

Personally this film flew under the radar. With an all-star cast it takes the best of all forms of literature and puts it into an intriguing tale. I mean I has Sean Connery. That should make you want to see it. While not heavy in Pyrotechnics they are used and used well between gun battles, fireworks, buildings exploding and much more.

8. Bat*21 – Pyrotechnician

One of the first films that I saw on Cable was this film. Gene Hackman, Danny Glover and many other great stars in a tale not glorifying war but showing both sides from one person’s perspective. When you have a film based on a war (any war or battle for that matter) you are going to have explosions. Vietnam specifically used napalm and bombs constantly to deal with the vegetation of the jungles.

7. Team America: World Police – special effects supervisor

Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s epic movie about America, Guns, North Korea and Puppets wouldn’t have been half as successful without the explosions that occurred throughout the film. Sure, Kim Jong singing “I’m so lonely”, the various actions the puppets were engaging in and the quotes from the script were hilarious. It was the visual effects that made it work.

6. Terminator – Pyrotechnics and fire effects

One of James Cameron’s best films, not highest grossing but in terms of action, directing, cast and visual effects it set the stage for many films to follow. This particular clip while it is a trailer, shows some of the explosions and fire effects used throughout the movie.

5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day – Pyrotechnic supervisor

While I didn’t think it would be possible to out do the original film, James Cameron did it once more. Probably one of my favourite films of all time, this ramps up everything that was done in the first one and tops it. The Visual Effects and Pyrotechnics were insane and constantly used throughout the film. Here’s a small snippet of what occurred. It’s a definite must watch.

4. Independence Day – Winner Academy Award Visual Effects – (1997)

Joe talked about Independence Day in the interview about how he was asked… no, pleaded by the Visual Effects crew to please blow up the models that they hand crafted. Truly when you saw this film at the movies it really made that film explode at you and I know it made me jump every time, even to this day.

Here’s Jim Carey presenting discussing the groundbreaking Visual effects that occurred during that year with Dragonheart, Independence Day and Twister

3. Ghostbusters – Pyrotechnic Supervisor – Staypuff Marshmellow Man

While I didn’t know this it was amazing to know that he was on set with this iconic movie. Take a look specifically at the pyrotechnics involved in these scenes, especially from 2:30 onward. Now, that’s teamwork. If you haven’t seen it before (watch it on Netflix) Spoiler Alert: Here’s the final battle between Ghostbusters and the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man.

2. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope – miniature explosions: miniature and optical effects unit

This was another first film for me and it got me truly interested in story telling, sci-fi and everything Steven Spielburg and George Lucas ever created. I was engrossed in Star Wars and Indiana Jones and to this day I still play them to watch how great films are made. This clip is a great example of what occurred in 1977 vs the Special effects heavy Remastering. If you can ever get your hands on the VHS versions of the Original Trilogy, do it. You will thank me later for it.

1. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back – miniature pyrotechnics: miniature and optical effects unit

The reason why I put this movie before A New Hope was only because of the Battle of Hoth scene. Iconic and memorable, it takes miniatures to a whole new level and to add in the special effects the real explosions and not CGI was a true test of a pyrotechnics master.

Honourable Mention: Flesh Gordon (1974)

This was Joe’s very first film he worked on and he tells the story through our interview. As Joe said: “It’ called Flesh Gordon… not Flash Gordon… ” Spoiler Alert: As a warning, it contains Nudity and is NSFW. You’ve been warned.

Do you agree with my top ten list? If not, comment below I’d like to know what your Top Ten list would be by looking through Joe’s past IMDB work: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0899670/