5.4/10
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14 user 18 critic

Special Effects (1984)

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

Director:

Larry Cohen

Writer:

Larry Cohen
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Zoë Lund ... Andrea Wilcox / Elaine Bernstein (as Zoe Tamerlis)
Eric Bogosian ... Neville
Brad Rijn ... Keefe Waterman
Kevin O'Connor Kevin O'Connor ... Det. Lt.Philip Delroy
Bill Oland Bill Oland ... Det. Vickers
H. Richard Greene ... Leon Gruskin (as Richard Greene)
Steven Pudenz Steven Pudenz ... Wiesanthal
Heidi Bassett Heidi Bassett ... Neville's Asst. Director
John Woehrle John Woehrle ... Studio Executive (as John Woerhle)
Kitty Summerall Kitty Summerall ... Andrea's Roommate
Kris Evans Kris Evans ... Cosmetician
Mike Alpert Mike Alpert ... Taxi Driver
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A Shocking, Sensual Thriller! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 November 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cutting Room See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

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

Quotes

Reporter: What is your greatest influence?
Neville: Abraham Zapruder.
Reporter: Who?
Neville: Honest Abe never lies.
Reporter: How do you spell that?
Neville: J-F-K.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK video version was cut by 30 secs and edits shots from the stranglings of Andrea and the blackmailer, as well as heavily reducing a scene of Neville watching film footage of Andrea's murder. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Adjust Your Tracking (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
just because it's about trash doesn't mean it isn't trashy
11 June 2015 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Special Effects is kind of a serious parody, if that makes any sense, of what De Palma did back in the 80's (or perhaps Larry Cohen's work too), where a filmmaker becomes a murderer when he lets in a would-be actress to his home, films having sex with her and also films the act of death. But instead of going on the run or just hiding it and going on with his life, he decides to make a movie about this girl, using Keefe, the girl's husband (played by Brad Rijn), getting a police detective to be a consultant (because who needs to solve any crimes) and, via Keefe making a trip to the Salvation Army and her just happening to work there, a girl who with a hair change looks just like the dead Andrea Wilcox (both played by Zoe Lund of Ms 45 fame).

Eric Bogosian is the reason to see the movie, playing this nasty, brutal director with some level of... do we call it humanity? He sometimes plays it over the top, but not in a way where it chews the scenery. He is really there to be the best actor he can be, which is more than can be said of Lund (who is maybe half-good, not as Wilcox but as the 'new' Andrea, Elaine), and certainly not Rijn, who tellingly only made a few movies and is just terrible here as this angry, despondent husband.

Maybe the problem is that Cohen is just a bit too obvious with his satire, or maybe, in a way, not obvious enough. This should be really funny - once or twice I did laugh, more from the police detective's meddling - and when he does an actual sex scene with two characters it stops the movie dead in its tracks. Special Effects has a little fun with its premise, which is rather dark and takes not just from De Palma but liberally from Hitchcock (Vertigo, duh) and even Peeping Tom with the idea of a camera that, ahem, kills in its way. It also has a rather obnoxious 80's synth soundtrack, which could be fine in small doses but is laid over every scene like a cocaine-diddled cloak. And the horror scenes, when they come, are kind of shoddily filmed.

But, again, if you like Eric Bogosian, this is one of his better performances, and a good indication of what he would do later in the decade with Talk Radio.


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