Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Effects (1980)

When I was a kid I really wanted to make movies. I mean, how much fucking fun would making a horror flick be? Wouldn't that be just super awesome? Wellll, not really if Effects is anything to go by. The story of a small film crew that are being killed off for a secret snuff film, Effects isn't hopeless, but for the most part it's a huge waste of potential.

Dominic (Joe Pilato of Day Of The Dead) is an effects man working on a low budget horror film, which is being directed by the somewhat unhinged Lacey. Dominic is happy to toil away elbow deep in fake blood and limbs, but doesn't realise that Lacey is up to no good behind the scenes - and that the horror film is only a front to diguise Lacey's intentions to film the real demise of the crew in order to make a snuff film.

I'm not sure where I picked this idea up, but I was under the impression that Effects was a lost horror gem. I guess the involvement of Joe Pilato and Tom Savini tickled my fancy to some extent, but I'm still not entirely sure why I had such high expectations. It has a solid premise to be fair, but aside from the odd nice touch, this movie is a bit of a mess. It's biggest flaw is it's pace - there are so many slow, pointless scenes about absolutely nothing, and the film remains weirdly plotless for approximately an hour, before Dominic realises what's going on and the main premise of the film actually kicks in. Up until this point, it's padding a go-go, and though the scenes of the filming of the fake horror movie are actually quite convincing, the constant inane chatter from characters you don't care about is honestly torturous. Several storylines are hinted at but never resolved, characters disappear from the film without explanation and it's just a frustrating affair on the whole because it occasionally hints at something that could have been great - however, those flashes of inspiration are ultimately stifled as the film stumbles along without direction to its dull and strangely sudden ending. 

One of the few scenes that I really loved features Lacey, Dominic and a few others watching a snuff film in a darkened room while off their heads on coke (there's a lot of coke in this movie for some reason, these kids really love that shit). It's a hugely effective scene, and again hints at what could have been done with this movie had it been written by someone who actually knew what they were doing. There are a couple of other decent, tense scenes that elevate the movie above the status of total crap, but not enough to make it worth seeking out. Even the performances are sleepy and slow - Joe Pilato, who rules so hard in Day Of The Dead, turns in a performance so lazy and non-descript that I honestly didn't even recognise him for a good 20 minutes or so, and although Tom Savini does his thing with the usual energy and charisma, he can't make up for a cast of bored, sleepy looking actors that are only notable by their total lack of charisma. 

I've seen a few reviews of this movie that mention that it might go over the heads of most horror fans, which is just plain silly - just because a movie is dialog-heavy and has a vaguely interesting premise doesn't mean it's any more intelligent than your average slash-fest/shit-fest. If anything, this movie is guilty of pissing away it's initial promise, and basically amounts to a slow, bloodless mystery movie with only the most tenuous connection to horror. Oh well. 

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