Special Effects (1984) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Larry Cohen
Starring: Zoë Lund, Eric Bogosian, Brad Rijn
Rated: R/Region A/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from Olive Films
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 horror 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.
Writer and director Larry Cohen does his best De Palma in Special Effects from 1984. Here we see a man track his wife to the big city where she’s trying to make it in the movies. She gets on the bad side of a director who is not only weird but looking for a comeback. The director films it, the husband gets the blame, and the next thing you know a deal is actually worked out for this director to make a movie about this and cast the husband a lookalike of his now dead wife. Of course, both the wife and the women who looks like her is both played by Zoë Lund of Ms.45 fame in what might be her best performance overall. The film is a bit of an odd one but somehow all the weirdness keeps you watching just to see how everything will turn out in the end. We have a good city backdrop and we see people do a lot of questionable things for the movies and for a movie credit. Eric Bogosian’s performance as Neville, our weird director, is a very watchable one and probably is the glue that holds this one together. I found our leading man played by Brad Rijn to be a bit hit and miss. Especially when the fake country accent is tossed into things.
These types of movies were a bit of a craze during this time and this one is at least a very well made take on this flavor of cinema. We have our leading man get into some very strange situations and we do wonder if he’ll ever be able to make his way out of them. We have some moments of strong violence and a whole lot of nudity, which if I’m, to be honest really sounds like a great time to me. I had fun with this one and founding it to be very entertaining even if it is a movie that is far from perfect. The disc is a nice step above the old DVD here and I’m also a fan of seeing the original poster take up the cover space on this one. Olive has even tossed an extra on this one making it a very good release worthy of checking out if you are a fan of Larry Cohen or if you are a fan of an De Palma flavored movies from around this time.
– Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Larry Cohen and Filmmaker Steve Mitchell
Quality of Transfer: 92%