EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SPECIAL EFFECTS (director/writer: Larry Cohen; cinematographer: Paul Glickman; editor: Armond Lebowitz; music: Michael Minard; cast: Eric Bogosian (Chris Neville), Zoe Tamerlis (Andrea Wilcox/Elaine Bernstein), Brad Rijn (Keefe), Kevin O'Connor (Lieut. Delroy), Bill Oland (Detective Vickers), Richard Greene (Emil Gruskin), Heidi Basset (Director's Assistant), Steven Pudenz (Thomas Wiesenthal); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Paul Kurta; MGM Home Entertainment; 1984)|
|"An uneven homage spoof on auteurs
like Hitchcock, Powell and Ferrara."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An uneven homage spoof on auteurs like Hitchcock, Powell
and Ferrara. Director-writer Larry Cohen's ("God Told Me To"/"It's
Alive!"/"Hell Up In Harlem")
murder mystery has an intriguing
premise and some wonderful New York attitude sequences and Cohen's
clever cynical take on filmmaking, but there are too many dead spots
and the awkward finale all but drains the life out of the finished
Andrea Wilcox (Zoe
Tamerlis) is an aspiring young
naive actress who left Oklahoma and her earnest husband Keefe Waterman (Brad
Rijn) and young son to be in the
Big Apple in pursuit of her career. Hubby tracks her down posing in a
scanty costume for a bunch of photographers and forcibly drags her back
to her dumpy Lower East Side apartment so she can pack her bags to
return home and be a proper mother. To make hubby jealous, she lies
telling him that she's dating famous film director Chris
Neville (Eric Bogosian, his screen debut) and then flees by climbing out the bathroom
window. Andrea steals hubby's car and goes to the failed Hollywood
director's posh weirdly decorated SoHo townhouse, that has a powerful
William Blake picture hanging on its wall, and gets promised a part in
his next picture if she goes to bed with him. The director got canned
from his last pic for going over budget with special effects and not
giving the studio the kind of film that could generate a box office for
its big-budget. In bed, there's a rose on her pillow. Chris says "he likes flowers because they're so
beautiful and they die so quickly." When things don't go right in the
sack and she calls him a loser, the smug director strangles her. Chris
keeps a hidden camera in his bedroom and filmed her death, which he
gets sleazy lab technician Gruskin (Richard
Greene) to develop.
after Andrea's body is found in her hubby's car in Coney Island, lead
investigating NYPD detective, Lieut.
Delroy (Kevin O'Connor),
arrests the hubby as the prime suspect. But Chris pays to get him a top
criminal lawyer (Steven
Pudenz) and puts up his bail.
The slimy monstrous director hopes to make a comeback by filming a
realistic low-budget murder mystery based on the Andrea murder and
hires a reluctant Keefe to play himself and the detective to be a
technical adviser. Chris then follows Keefe's suggestion and hires
charity shop volunteer worker and Andrea lookalike, Elaine (also played by Zoe), to play his wife in
How it all plays out is
diverting, as the scheming twisted director, desperate for a hit movie,
wishes to use the actual footage of the strangulation and hopes to
frame the nice-guy hubby after pretending to be his friend.
Unfortunately things get too muddled to be anything more than an
interesting project, as it lacks the finesse and detailed structure of
Hitchcock's Vertigo or the droll humor of Powell's voyeuristic Peeping
Tom--films it seems to emulate. But it does remind me in some strange
ways of the no-budget Ferrara rape/revenge thriller Ms .45
(in which Zoe was also the star).
REVIEWED ON 6/6/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ