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Special Effects (1984)

A director makes a movie based on a murder he committed.




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Complete credited cast:
Andrea Wilcox / Elaine Bernstein (as Zoe Tamerlis)
Kevin O'Connor ...
Det. Lt.Philip Delroy
Bill Oland ...
Det. Vickers
Leon Gruskin (as Richard Greene)
Steven Pudenz ...
Heidi Bassett ...
John Woehrle ...
Studio Executive (as John Woerhle)
Kitty Summerall ...
Andrea's Roommate
Kris Evans ...
Mike Alpert ...
Taxi Driver


Reality and illusion collide in this thriller about a megalomaniacal movie director who murders a young would-be actress, then sets about making a feature about the deed, casting the dead woman's clueless husband as the patsy, and finding a dead ringer to play the part of the dead actress. Written by Eugene Kim <genekim@concentric.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Andrea was dying to get in the movies ... See more »


Drama | Horror | Thriller


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Release Date:

16 November 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cutting Room  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of the head shots Neville and Detective Delroy look through is Dustin Hoffman as Dorothy Michaels in Tootsie See more »


Andreas hair changes from wavy to curly in each scene See more »


Neville: Like I always say, I don't know what I like until I see it. And then I *know* I don't like.
See more »


References Zapruder Film of Kennedy Assassination (1963) See more »


Let's Dance
Performed by David Snider and The Defiel Band
Music and Lyrics by Michael Minard
©1984 Minard Music Company-ASCAP
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User Reviews

"We make it up, and then we make it happen."
30 March 2017 | by See all my reviews

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.

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