Special Effects (1984)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Unlike other films by this title, the subject matter of Larry Cohen's murder mystery is a dastardly film director whose last movie plummeted at the box office in spite of flashy special effects. He wants to climb back up from this failure, so when he murders an aspiring actress in a Soho apartment, in a twist of his already twisted mind, he throws himself into a scheme to film a re-creation of the murder. As the movie plot, which is the director's plot, becomes more and more convoluted, he gets the detective assigned to the case to take part in his scheme and even gets the dead actress' husband to act out her murder in front of the camera. Laced with black humor and unexpected turns in the action, this director keeps the movie going, thanks to real director Larry Cohen who actually keeps the movie going.
Drama , Horror , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
New Line Cinema

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Eric Bogosian
as Cristopher Neville
Zoe Tamerlis
as Andrea/Elaine
Brad Rijn
as Keefe Waterman
Kevin O'Connor
as Det. Lt. Phillip
Bill Oland
as Detective Vickers
Richard Greene
as Leon Grushkin
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Special Effects

All Critics (3)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | May 21, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

An uneven homage spoof on auteurs like Hitchcock, Powell and Ferrara.

Full Review… | June 5, 2010
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A significant (if ultimately chaotic) entry in the director's canon of ramshackle tributes to the dark, dangerous, voyeuristic allure of the cinema.

Full Review… | February 6, 2006
Lessons of Darkness

Audience Reviews for Special Effects


just because your movie is about trash doesn't mean you can escape being trashy all the time. Eric Bogosian goes a ways to making this watchable. But if I want a filmmaker satirizing his own genre, I'll stick with De Palma and Body Double, or even the opening/ending of Blow Out.

Jack Gattanella
Jack Gattanella

Have you ever noticed that there is always one guy who ruins the topless photo shoot for everyone else? In this case, it is Keefe(Brad Rijn) who tries dragging his wife Andrea(Zoe Tamerlis) back home to Oklahoma from New York. She will have none of it, escaping out the bathroom window before seeking out disgraced film director Chris Neville(Eric Bogosian). However, she realizes too late what he intends his next project to be... Wearing its low budget proudly on its sleeve(so much so, that some of the dialogue seemed to be fading out at times), "Special Effects" is a movie that wants to have its exploitation and complain about it, too. That it works as well as it does is down to Eric Bogosian's natural intensity. In this case, he puts it to good use playing a director who cannot tell reality from make-believe anymore. With a backdrop of a gloriously sleazy and tawdry 1980's New York City and a loft that is alternately tacky and awesome, this movie could also be seen as a warning against the glamour of filmmaking.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer


B-movie maestro Larry Cohen directs this tale of a psychotic director who murders an actress and then proceeds to cast a movie about her murder starring her widower husband as the suspected killer. Special Effects wants to cleverly satirize horror and thriller directors, but its cleverness ultimately wears thin and can't be supported by a constant stream of nudity and weak murder scenes.

Al Miller
Al Miller

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