Screenplay: Dusty Nelson
A couple of weeks ago a trustworthy genre fan said this film was coming out. I saw Tom Savini and Joe Pilato, I watched the trailer, and I pre-ordered immediately.
Cobbled together with loose change by George Romero’s friends, EFFECTS is a mesmerizing D.I.Y. frightmare that no one talks about, but everyone should. A group of coked-up filmmakers — including Tom “DAWN OF THE DEAD” Savini, Joe “DAY OF THE DEAD” Pilato, and John “TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE” Harrison — gather in Pittsburgh to make a slasher. As filming begins and “accidents” happen, it’s clear that something isn’t right. EFFECTS is a meta-enhanced takedown on the philosophy of horror that doubles as a sleazy and terrifying movie on its own. Order the Blu-ray now!
There are people who ask me about boutique home video distributors and why I place them in such high regard. The American Genre Film Archive is a great example of film lovers using their resources to make a truly hidden gem available. The story of the AGFA is very interesting and I recommend you listen to episode 61 of the Shock Waves podcast which includes an interview with Joseph Ziemba and Bret Berg from AGFA.
I wish it was easy to explain why I loved this film so much. It is not very good by today’s standards, and it probably wouldn’t win in a fight of 1980’s standards either. This film is a prime example of a high quality, Midwestern, no-budget, film; and a film within a film. It is possible that a non-Midwesterner won’t be drawn in, as I was, and it should be a staple of the genre.
But it was lost. Poor moves were made in 1980 and distribution fell apart and the movie was shelved, for years. There was a DVD released in 2005 (from friend-of-the-site Synapse films) and it was screened a few times after that. And now AGFA made a 4k scan of the sole existing 35mm print and it looks great.
It is important to spend a moment on the story and the script. This was such a tight and twisting film which was able to keep my attention for its entire running time. I was engaged by the actors and didn’t feel like any of the scene were unnecessary. I think that this is a function of the budget, there was no time to be wasteful. Also, many of the performances felt ignorant, perhaps spontaneous is a more apt term, but Pilato did not really seem to know what was happening during several key scenes and it works very well, especially when it is placed next to a modern million dollar picture that a film fan can anticipate, beat by beat.
I am confident in saying that Effects will likely have a place on my Top 10 releases of 2017. This is a very special disc, especially for a new home video distributor like AGFA. It is, however, difficult to issue an open recommendation. The film is rough and clearly not ‘Hollywood’ but If your viewing habits are wide enough to allow for this, it is a very strong recommendation. If you are a genre film junky this is a necessity.
- After Effects (with option commentary)
- Ubu; a short film by John Harrison
- Beastie; a short film by Dusty Nelson
- Archival Commentary Track
Director: 9 – Cinematography: 5 – Edit: 7 – Parity: 2 – Main performance: 6 – Else performance: 2 – Score: 6 – Sound: 5 – Story: 10 – Script: 10 – Effects: 10 – Design: 8 – Costumes: 7 – Keeps interest: 10 – Lasting: 10