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Special Effects

3.6 out of 5 stars 19 ratings
IMDb5.3/10.0

-33% $19.99
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October 18, 2016
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Product Description

"From the writer & director of It s Alive, Larry Cohen s Special Effects casts a satirical eye on Hollywood, viewed through the prism of the thriller film genre. When the fresh-faced Oklahoma country boy Keefe (Brad Rijn, Smithereens) comes looking for his wife Mary Jean (Zoe Tamerlis, Ms .45), a wannabe actress, he soon discovers the seamy side of Tinsel Town when Mary Jean is found dead and he s the prime suspect.

With a few swipes at Hollywood archetypes (Eric Bogosian as Christopher Neville, a once-revered Wunderkind director; Zoe Tamerlis as Mary Jean look-alike, Elaine, a budding actress who isn t beyond manipulating the situation for her own benefit), Special Effects offers chills, thrills, shrieks, and a few laughs along the way.

Written and directed by Larry Cohen, Special Effects also stars Kevin O Connor (Let s Scare Jessica to Death) and Richard Greene (TV s Mad Men) in supporting roles.
"

Product details

  • Is Discontinued By Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ No
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ R (Restricted)
  • Product Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 0.7 x 7.5 x 5.4 inches; 5.92 Ounces
  • Director ‏ : ‎ Larry Cohen
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ NTSC, Subtitled
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 46 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ October 18, 2016
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Zoe Tamerilis, Eric Bogosian, Brad Rijn, Kevin O'Connor
  • Subtitles: ‏ : ‎ English
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ White Oak
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B01JLVTN5Q
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.6 out of 5 stars 19 ratings

Customer reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5
19 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2020
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4.0 out of 5 stars Larry Cohen's personal favorite film. Olive bluray.
By Allen Garfield's #1 fan. on January 22, 2020
Interviewer: "Who is your favorite filmmaker?"

Neville: "Abraham Zapruder."

Great off-beat thriller/satire by the great Larry Cohen.

If you grew up in the 80s watching independent genre films on VHS, then you’re likely already familiar with filmmaker Larry Cohen. He has had his name on numerous titles over the years, directing Black Caesar (1973), It’s Alive (1974), God Told Me To (1976), Q (1982), The Stuff (1985) and writing credits on the likes of Best Seller (1987), Maniac Cop (1988), Abel Ferrara's Body Snatchers (1993) and Phone Booth (2002). His IMDb lists HUNDREDS of credits. He’s had a long and storied career, and now one of his personal favorites has been released on a superior (Olive is a generally lackluster outfit - usually bare bones) Olive bluray: subtitles, audio commentary, good specs.

Larry Cohen's storied life is chronicled in the amazing documentary, King Cohen. Anyone on this page needs to see it. Cohen will be missed.

Special Effects is an unusual thriller about egotistical film director Christopher Neville (Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio), whose career is in decline after making a big budget flop. When desperate actor Andrea (Zoe Lund/Tamerlis, who starred in Ms .45 and wrote Bad Lieutenant) finds and introduces herself to Neville, she thinks she’s making an important connection. But events take a shocking turn when the filmmaker murders her at his home and films it for use in his next project. Her hot-tempered boyfriend Keefe (Brad Rijn) arrives and instead becomes the prime suspect. The devious director decides to make a movie about the crime and hires Keefe and an Andrea look-alike (also played by Lund/Tamerlis) as cast members, with the intention of incorporating the actual murder footage into the feature.

This was a very small movie and it shows to some degree. Honestly, it kind of plays like a low-budget knock-off of a Brian De Palma thriller. It’s surprisingly well shot but by comparison, this is simpler in its set ups and doesn’t possess as much visual oomph. Of course, that’s to be expected given the limited resources. The synthesizer-heavy score also comes on a bit strong. It’s occasionally distracting and dates the movie even more than the fashions do. Then again, maybe the clothing and décor was a comment on 80s aesthetics - not unlike De Palma's Body Double, another dark showbiz satire.

Lund’s performance in two different roles is uneven, although the second character she plays comes off as more effective than Andrea does. Truthfully, it seems as if her voice track was rerecorded with an accent for the first twenty minutes. At least it all gets sorted out relatively quickly when the doppelganger character is introduced. While a lot of the performances are uneven, Bogosian is excellent as the megalomaniacal Neville. Despite it being his first lead role, he’s compelling and fun to watch from beginning to end, relishing his villainous turn. His performance is along the lines of Richard Dreyfus' role in the underrated Inserts (1975) - a reclusive/megalomanical H'wood director who makes X "loops" for the quick cash - but more importantly, because he can. Using hapless and delusional wannabes as playthings satisfies his sociopathic tendencies. Yup, triple bill: Special Effects, Inserts and Body Double.

Sorry 'bout the digression...

And the movie does have several fascinating elements. The concept of a killer using a real life murder and hiding it within a fictional narrative is interesting, as are the reactions of the characters. Despite the tragedy, the ex-boyfriend, look-alike and even police are only too happy to participate in the production. They quickly get caught up in the business and promise of being celebrities. Watching the characters struggle with these elements is the film’s strongest asset. Even if it isn’t perfectly executed, these aspects add a great deal of depth and interest to the story.

I’m not sure where the transfer originated, but this is a great looking disc with a consistently sharp image. One almost wonders if the film elements didn’t come from the director himself (after all, he does contribute to the bonus feature). However they got a hold of these elements, there’s a lot of bright colors, red in particular, that pop off of the screen. The movie looks as striking and impressive as it is ever likely to. As noted: Olive Films typically do not rise above (often no subtitles, extras, poor specs, etc.) an average DVD - this bluray release is a welcome exception.

And the commentary track with director Cohen is insightful, giving plenty of details about his working methods and the production itself. He explains that the film was made on a very low budget, that he and his location scouts found many real environments on the cheap, and that the movie was filmed quickly to maximize all of these visually interesting places. The locales clearly add an incredible amount of production value to a very modesty budgeted flick. Overall, Cohen an interesting (putting it mildly) guy and the informational audio track is a great bonus. An ace raconteur, Larry.

Warts and all, one can see why Special Effects speaks to some pockets of genre film fans today. While some facets are seemingly passé, the themes were ahead of its time and are still applicable today. For those who enjoy Larry Cohen’s work, the incredibly crisp picture and audio commentary add another level of enjoyment, and make this disc well worth picking up.
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