Special Effects (1984)

Special Effects (1984) movie poster

director Larry Cohen
viewed: 08/15/2016

It’s easy to see why people would link Larry Cohen’s 1984 thriller Special Effects with movies like Peeping Tom (1960) or especially Body Double (1984).  It’s a relatively obscure movie about a film-making, murderous obsessions, and doppelgangers, and it’s ripe for the pairing.

Larry Cohen never fails to be interesting, and Special Effects stands up, even with some rather odd casting, and Cohen’s moderate budget.  A young Eric Bogosian stars as a dark-minded auteur, and Cohen populates the film with a ton of interesting character actors in small roles.  The girl of the film turns out to be Zoe Lund, so notable from Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45 (1981).  What might be most notable is that she didn’t speak in that film and here she’s got to play two parts.  There is a stiltedness to her somewhat leavened by her interesting looks.

More problematic is her primary foil, down and out hero Keefe (Brad Rijn, whose rather limited filmography reflects his less than ample skills).  Between Rijn and Lund, Special Effects could easily have tanked with no survivors.  It’s a testament to all else that it remains as entertaining and interesting as it does.

This was a first time watch for me and I could easily imagine how this movie could grow on one through further re-watchings.

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