No, he technically wasn’t special effects, but you have to admit the first of the modern Batman movies, from 1989, didn’t look ideal. Michael Keaton played the caped crusader, and the suit was so hard to move in, it was frequently brought up in later movies as a gag.
People watching nowadays will be able to pick it apart a little more, but at the time it was a fantastic way to show Gotham. The gothic architecture, the shadows, and Jack Nicholson as the Joker make it easy to brush past the smaller issues of the movie, like the bat suit.
Almost Everything from “Plan 9 From Outer Space”
If you're into movies, you're probably aware of “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” It's one of the most famously bad movies in existence. Almost every part of it is so slip-shod, it's impossible to watch it without laughing your head off. It even has Bela Lugosi! But he died during the filming and they had to get a stand-in. Yikes.
This classic shot of toy UFOs hanging in front of a black-and-white sky opens the film, despite the movie coming out in the late fifties – years after color was becoming commonplace. The color was expensive, though and this movie is nothing but cheap.
The Liquid Metal from “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”
“Terminator 2” is fondly remembered for a lot of reasons, but it's a bit surprising to see that the special effects haven't aged as well as you might think. Some of the fast-action scenes are clearly CGI, and the liquid metal of this movie's killer robot has taken a hit in look as time went on.
While it doesn't take too much away from the film, it's just too hard to see it as anything other than obvious computer work, even while the T-1000 is fighting Arnold and Sarah Connors. Still, a good movie.
Arnold's Fat Lady Disguise from “Total Recall”
“Total Recall” from 1990 showed us a lot of cool stuff. A science-fiction plot that goes to Mars, saves lives, and leaves us with a question. However, one part of the movie sticks out as a strange special effects failure. It looks okay before the reveal – since it's just an actor – but once it cracks open to show the film's lead inside, it's clear that it doesn't look natural.
Plastic, clay, whatever they used, it clearly wasn't skin. The action kicks off right after that, so it's easy to forget, but it still doesn't look very good.
The Werewolf from “An American Werewolf in Paris”
As the werewolf stomps through a Paris subway, viewers are left puzzled at the monster on the screen. This movie came out in 1997, which means CGI hadn't yet reached a respectable point (thanks to movies like “The Matrix” or “Fellowship of the Ring”) but it was starting to get more use, including full-motion capture for monsters or non-human creatures.
This is a good example of the growing pains that the technology had to go through before it would start to blow us away. It might have been scary at the time, but no longer.