There is a question that, I suppose, needs to be asked here. What, exactly, is a horror movie? Sometimes that’s easy to define. Horror movies have ghosts or monsters in them. Vampires, blobs, werewolves and other creatures of the night fill the screen of many a horror film. But what about more pedestrian horror? Movies in which the villain is human.
Jason Vorhees is just a man in a hockey mask with a machete (at least in the early films, he later becomes superhuman and virtually unkillable). But there are lots of crime movies with higher body counts. No one would argue that the Friday the 13th movies are anything other than horror, but serial killer movies are often called thrillers.
Maybe that’s because there usually isn’t a police detective trying to solve the case of the Jason killings. But then there are a lot of Italian horror films, giallos especially, that plotwise are basically police procedurals.
Maybe horror movies are more gore-filled. But that doesn’t always track either because some cop flicks concentrate on the extreme violence of their killers. And plenty of horror films have very little gore or none at all.
I don’t have an answer here. It is a big debate that I won’t solve in these pages. I mention it because tonight’s Friday Night Horror movie could be considered more of a thriller than a horror, but it does carry the horror genre label on IMDB and that’s what I thought it was coming into it, so that’s what we’re gonna keep calling it.
Andrea Wilcox (Zoë Lund) left her husband Keefe (Brad Rijn) and small child in Texas to go to New York City and pursue an acting career. Though she’s willing to sleep with producers and directors and anybody who will give her a part she’s only able to find jobs doing nude modeling and the like.
When Keefe comes to get her back and bring her home she lies and says that her career is starting to take off. Why, she has a meeting that evening with Neville (Eric Bogosian) a famous movie director. She does in fact go to his house that evening and literally begs him to at least take a look at her.
He does look at her, then sleeps with her, and secretly films the encounter, and strangles her to death. He cleans her up, puts her inside Keef’s car, and dumps it at Coney Island.
The cops immediately suspect Keef and arrest him. Neville hires an expensive attorney and gets him free on bail. He then decides to make a movie about Keef and Andrea. He gets Keef to play himself and finds an amazing Andrea look-alike in a woman named Elaine (also played by Zoë Lund) to play Andrea.
Things get weird from there.
B-movie auteur Larry Cohen mixes Vertigo (1958) with Body Double (1984) and bits of Peeping Tom (1960) into a sleazy cauldron of awesome. He has Brian DePalma’s flair for taking Hitchcockian ideas and amping up the sex and violence, but very little of either director’s sense of style. Though he does create some really interesting sets, especially Neville’s giant apartment filled with mirrors and water.
The film really is more thriller than horror as Neville takes his movie ideas to extremes and is more than willing to kill again to maintain his cinematic goals.
Special Effects wasn’t at all what I was expecting when I put it on, but I found it to be quite enjoyable.