a movie that has been "lost" for
twenty-five years, EFFECTS is oddly contemporary.
The premise is similar to "Big Brother."
Instead of featuring a group of strangers
who auditioned to be filmed living together,
EFFECTS is about a group of strangers living
together and making a horror movie while
being unknowingly filmed for a snuff feature.
Well, the cast and crew are not completely
unaware, and thats exactly what the
film pivots on for intrigue and interest.
Lacey Dickel (John Harrison,
who also produced and scored the film) is
an independent director making a horror
film. It is rumored that Lacey has a lot
of money, even though everyone is living
on the sets and he has one cameraman on
the project Dominic (DAWN OF THE
DEADs Joe Pilato). Film making is
hard work, with tight budgets and tight
schedules, but that doesnt mean there
is no time for cocaine and liquor-fueled
fun on the shoot. Much of the congenial
atmosphere begins to get tense after Lacey
shows a film to Dominic and and a couple
Its a movie that he
got from a guy in England that was made
for a "rather specific audience."
Dominic is not part of that audience. In
fact, he is quite disturbed by the grainy,
black-and-white footage featuring a woman
getting tied to a chair by a hooded, muscle-bound
guy who starts to cut everything but the
ropes holding her to the chair. To ease
the tension, Lacey then retracts his earlier
description of the film and says that he
made it as a student. It never gets too
comfortable after that especially
when real scares and real blood starts getting
used on their own sets.
While not perfect, EFFECTS
is a well-written and well-acted movie.
The film was written and directed by Dusty
Nelson (based on the book SNUFF by William
H. Mooney), produced by Harrison and Pasquale
Buba, and costars Tom Savini and Susan Chapek.
George Romero fans may recognize some of
these names since most of the acting and
production crew worked with him during the
70s and 80s. In many ways, I think EFFECTS
is more enjoyable and more interesting than
Romeros output during this period
with some obvious exceptions (those
featuring "dead" in their titles).
Pilato is most famous for
playing Captain Rhodes in DAY OF THE DEAD.
As much as Rhodes was despicable and over-the-top,
Dominic is likable and played straight.
Its a shame that this movie didnt
get released when it was made because Pilato
should have had a higher profile as an actor.
Hes definitely got chops.
Included on the DVD is a documentary
that features interviews with Romero, Savini,
and most of the cast and crew from EFFECTS.
The documentary is well-worth watching as
it details the bad distribution deal that
has kept EFFECTS out of theaters and stores
and nicely documents the camaraderie and
film making passion of the Pittsburgh independent
film scene. A couple of short films
"Ubu" and "Beastie"
are also included. While not exceptional,
they certainly give the viewer an idea of
the breadth that the Pittsburgh filmmakers
were actually capable of despite their most
famous export zombies. "Ubu"
is a goofy, surreal jaunt based on Alfred
Jarrys silent play "Ubu Roi"
and "Beastie" is a romantic dramedy.