Special Effects

1984

Action / Drama / Horror / Thriller

6
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 29%
IMDb Rating 5.4 10 555

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Eric Bogosian as Neville
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
749.96 MB
1280*694
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 46 min
P/S 2 / 4
1.58 GB
1920*1040
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 46 min
P/S 1 / 1

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Scott LeBrun 7 / 10

"We make it up, and then we make it happen."

Eric Bogosian of "Talk Radio" fame stars as Chris Neville, a hotshot young filmmaker. His career is going downhill fast, so he decides to try something unusual. He films himself murdering aspiring starlet Mary Jean (the late Zoe Lund of "Ms. 45" cult stardom), then proceeds to make a movie telling Mary Jeans' sad life. Swept into the filmmaking process are Mary Jeans' husband Keefe (Brad Rijn, "Smithereens"), and the detective (Kevin O'Connor, "Let's Scare Jessica to Death") investigating the case; the detective quickly gets stars in his eyes. Neville actually finds a young woman who's a dead ringer for the murdered actress, also played by Lund.

There is a good idea here, about satirizing the entire movie-making business, and showing what happens as real life and reel life blend together. It's written and directed by low budget movie icon Larry Cohen, so you know that he will come up with some interesting material, and movie moments. (It IS intriguing to think what a filmmaker of Brian De Palmas' sensibilities could have done with this!) It's a good blend of art and trash, with a little bit of sex and shots of the beautiful Lund baring her body. It's also a marvel of art direction: dig that garish studio and townhouse in which Neville does his dirty work. Perhaps the most entertainment value arises out of O'Connor enjoying his "technical adviser" capacity and becoming fixated on receiving the appropriate credits. Given that Neville is such a smarmy character, you watch and keep waiting for him to get his just desserts. Michael Minard supplies a fun electronic score that unfortunately is used a little too much.

The performances are fine. Lund has a field day in her dual roles. Bogosian is superb as the creepy director. Rijn, O'Connor, Bill Oland, H. Richard Greene ('Mad Men'), and Steven Pudenz offer fine support.

The most striking image of all: Neville standing on a floor completely covered with headshots. (Among those he thumbs through is one of Dustin Hoffman as "Dorothy Michaels" in "Tootsie".)

Seven out of 10.

Reviewed by Coventry 5 / 10

Larry Cohen goes Brian DePalma ... (without success)

I'm a really big fan and admirer of writer/director Larry Cohen. Are cult, horror and exploitation fanatics even fully aware of all the things he did?!? Cohen co-created the super successful Blaxploitation genre, with milestones like "Bone", "Black Caesar" and "Hell up in Harlem". He also invented the bizarrely uniquely and blackly comical monster trilogy "It's Alive", as well as several other imaginative and unforgettable horror gems like "The Stuff", "Q – The Winged Serpent" and "The Ambulance". Larry Cohen is also a very versatile and experimental director who even tried out religious thriller ("God told me to"), werewolf comedy ("Full Moon High") and political biography ("The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover"). But I'll also tell you what Larry Cohen is not, though … He's not Brian DePalma. Cohen penned it down for himself to direct, but here's one script he maybe should have donated to De Palma… With its convoluted plot and an ambiance reminiscent to "Blow Out" and "Obsession", this film is straight up the alley of Brian De Palma and he presumably would have done more with it. "Special Effects" is a very Hitchcockian thriller about a flamboyant but failing NY movie director who goes berserk whilst seducing an aspiring young actress and strangles her on camera. He – Chris Neville – dumps her body on Coney Island but after meeting his victim's desperate husband he develops the brilliant idea of turning is crime into a movie! He casts the husband as the naive culprit, an unknown look-alike as the willing victims and he even hires the investigating police detective as counselor. Half dark satire and half serious thriller, "Special Effects" is overly talkative and quite often too dull. In sheer contrast to Cohen's other films, there's very little violence and bloodshed in this movie, but the two murder sequences that are shown are quite unsettling and macabre. Practically all characters are hateful and unidentifiable, even the ones that are supposed to be likable ones. I'm not a fan of Eric Bosogian, but he's ideally cast as the megalomaniac director, who lives in a bizarrely decorated loft full of flowers and ugly relics. Zoë Tamerlis stars in a double role, as the strangled actress and her dead ringer, but doesn't impress in either of them. Tamerlis is considered a cult heroine by many exploitation fanatics, but apart from her sole legendary role in Abel Ferrara's "Ms. 45" and dying far too young she didn't really accomplish a lot. Who knows, perhaps the whole "aspiring actresses dying whilst trying" premise was Larry Cohen's own personal tribute to Dorothy Stratten who tragically died at the age of 20 in 1980. Like Tamerlis' character in the beginning of the film, Stratten also was a naive and overly enthusiast young beauty who surrounded herself with the wrong men. By getting murdered at such a tender age, before her career even properly started, she became more famous and legendary that an actual long-running career ever could have made her.

Reviewed by Python Hyena 8 / 10

Zoe Tamerlis is the Ultimate Special Effect.

Special Effects (1984): Dir: Larry Cohen / Cast: Zoe Tamerlis Lund, Eric Bogosian, Brad Rijn, Kevin O'Connor, Bill Oland: Innovative thriller that counters special effects with reality. Eric Bogosian plays a sleazy filmmaker who strangles a would-be actress and films it. Her husband is charged with the murder since he aggressively hated the lifestyle she led, particularly when he catches her doing a striptease for a group of males in the film's opening. Central plot regards Bogosian in negotiations with police in a film that recreates the horrific murder. They manage to find a young woman whose appearance greatly resembles the murder victim. With that said, she is to play that role, while the decease's widow reluctantly portray himself. Director Larry Cohen previously made It's Alive and Q but here he is aided by one of his best screenplays. Zoe Tamerlis Lund is a stunning and beautiful presence in duo roles fresh off her rousing performance in Ms. 45. She plays the niave murder victim as well as the lookalike caught up in the scheme. Bogosian plays off the sadistic desire of a filmmaker to bypass fiction with reality. Brad Rijn plays the husband caught up in a film that can falsely expose him as a murderer. The detectives are standard issue although one desires film credit for his involvement. The result is an underrated thriller with a lot of nudity, thrills and absolutely no special effects. Score: 8 ½ / 10

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