Reviews | Written by Chris Jackson 30/01/2022

EFFECTS (1978)

Made in 1978 by a gang of pals who met while working on early George Romero films (including special effects maestro Tom Savini and Day of the Dead's Joseph Pilato), Effects (AKA The Manipulator) saw an extremely limited release in the early '80s before being completely forgotten about until its arrival on DVD in 2005. Its central idea - a film crew get together at a remote location to make a fake snuff film, then murders start happening for real - may well be fairly solid, but any intrigue and tension is pretty much completely eliminated by the unreasonably long amount of time it takes to actually go anywhere.

A not-entirely-unexpected yet still enjoyable twist and some (admittedly fairly mild) action manage to perk things up towards the end of the film but, apart from a haunting and strikingly effective scene in which the director shows an "is it real or is it fake?" snuff movie to some of the crew, the majority of the first hour is a bit of a chore to get through. By the time the end credits roll, there's a fair chance that you won't have a clue whether what you've just witnessed was part of the actual movie or the movie within the movie or something else entirely, so repeat viewings might be needed to figure things out, but there's a bit of a question mark over how enticing the prospect of repeat viewings might be.

An audio commentary with actor and producer John Harrison, producer Dusty Nelson and editor Pasquale Buba is way more interesting than the film itself. It's fairly standard in terms of content, but the crew recount their memories of shooting the film and give all the behind the scenes info and anecdotes you could possibly want, providing an engaging overview of the trials and tribulations of filmmaking in a bygone era. An hour-long documentary, “After Effects”, covers a lot of the same ground but from different participants' points of view, and there's even a separate audio commentary by its director if you want even more inside information. Elsewhere, a couple of short films round out the package - the 12-minute Ubu is one from the "what the hell am I watching?" vault, while the 15-minute Beastie, in which a young couple hang out for a bit, is... well, it's a thing that exists.

It's a mixed bag overall, but not without its merits. This is one of the first releases resulting from a new partnership between 101 Films and the American Genre Film Archive, which sees official AGFA Blu-rays being made available in the UK for the first time. Effects is a bit of an underwhelming choice to kick things off with, but just check out AGFA's catalogue and you'll see there's certainly plenty of chaos and mayhem to look forward to over the coming months.