Effects (1980) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Dusty Nelson
Starring: Joseph Pilato, Susan Chapek, John Harrison
Rated: R/Region 0/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from AGFA
Joe Pilato (DAY OF THE DEAD) stars as Dominic, a young and enterprising cinematographer who has ventured to a remote mountain retreat to provide camerawork and special effects on a low-budget horror movie. What he finds there is a skeleton crew made up of eccentric and unpredictable talents. Even worse, the director Lacey Bickle (John Harrison) is a humorless dictator who likes to shoot at all hours of the night. Despite the hardships, Dominic’s time on the set is lightened by the presence of Celeste (Susan Chapek), the beautiful young gaffer who also appears to be at odds with the rest of the crew. But as their relationship intensifies, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems. While the director orchestrates his scenes of terror and fright, behind the walls of the mountain lodge, another film is being made. Secret cameras follow Dominic and Celeste everywhere they go. No one is who they seem to be. Lacey Bickle is about to make the most horrifying movie of all time, and it may very well cost everyone their careers‚ and their lives.
In 2005 Synapse release Effects on DVD. Oddly enough, this was the first time the movie had actually gotten a wide release. Now here we sit with a new 4K scan of the film on Blu-ray from AGFA. It ports off everything from the DVD and gives us a way better look for the film. If you look deep enough into the plot, you realize that it was a bit ahead of its time for 1980, or the later part of the 70’s when it was actually being filmed. There is an early sense of reality television here, as our cast think they are working on a movie only to actually be THE movie. I picked up on those things and I think anyone who does will appreciate it more, even if the slow nature of the film might turn some away that don’t hang with it. For a movie called Effects that also has Tom Savini in it (probably not playing a role too far away from his actual self), you might expect more actual blood and effects than you get. You go in thinking it’ll be more effects ridden, but you see a bit of a slow plot that doesn’t really pick up the pace until someone decides to snort some cocaine and bust out a snuff film. But after that point, the movie does get a lot more interesting. It becomes a little bit Running Man, a little bit The Most Dangerous Game, a little bit corny, but it works overall enough.
One thing the movie does do well is the characters. We have Savini, but we also have a movie that makes you kinda like Joseph Pilato. Which is kind of hard to do after years of seeing him as the classic character, Rhodes, from Day of the Dead. We also have our director, played by John Harrison, who plays this whole thing straight and has a lot more going on in the movie besides just sniffing stuff up his nose, which is a key thing in this movie as well oddly enough. The bottom line is that the movie has its charm to it. It also has a bit of a slow-moving nature as well, which makes it perhaps a little iffy at certain points, but I still think it is worth a watch. If for nothing else, to just see what some of George Romero’s buddies can make on their own. It is a plot that is a bit ahead of its time (based off a book), but it isn’t perfect. I do think it might just be entertaining enough regardless.
– AFTER EFFECTS documentary with optional commentary track
– UBU short film
– BEASTIE short film
– Archival commentary track with John Harrison, Dusty Nelson, and Pasquale Buba
– Liner notes by Joseph A. Ziemba of AGFA and Bleeding Skull!
– New 4K scan from the only 35mm theatrical print in existence
Quality of Transfer: 90%