[Review] Effects (1980, Groovy Gory Gruesome Gold) – by Paul Cardullo

Groovy Gory Gruesome Gold

Paul Cardullo takes a look at an unusual Groovy Gory Gruesome Gold film this week  – writer/director Dusty Nelson‘s  Effects (1980). Though it was shot in 1978 and ostensibly released in 1980, it did not receive a proper release until the DVD came out in 2006. Paul takes a look at the new 4K Blu Ray restoration just released by American Genre Film Archive. The cast and crew is comprised of a number of once-and-future alumni of George A. Romero films, including Joseph Pilato (Rhodes from Day of the Dead  (1985)), make-up genius Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead (1978) et al.), and John Harrison (composer and 2nd-unit director on Creepshow  (1982) and Day of the Dead (1985)). Paul discusses the meta-contextual nature of the film and why sometimes things are not always as we expect them to be. Listen below to check out his review and find out just why you should seek out this lesser-known gem.

Effects (1980) 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

While a crew is filming an ultra-low-budget horror film, most of them are also unaware that their director is simultaneously shooting a snuff film – with some of them as the unwitting subject.s

Director: Dusty Nelson
Writers: William H. Mooney (novel), Dusty Nelson (screenplay)
Cast:  Joseph Pilato, Susan Chapek, John Harrison, and Tom Savini
Run time: 84 min

From American Film Genre Archive:


A new 4K transfer of this snuff-fueled frighmare starring Tom Savini and Joe Pilato

Cobbled together with loose change by George Romero’s friends, Effects is a mesmerizing D.I.Y. frightmare that no one talks about, but everyone should. A group of coked-up filmmakers – including Tom “Dawn of the Dead” Savini, Joe “Day fo the Dead” Pilato, and John “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie” Harrison – gather in Pittsburgh to make a slasher. As filming begins and “accidents” happen, it’s clear that something isn’t right. And no one can be trusted. Landing somewhere between  Snuff and a student film by John Carpenter,  Effects is a meta-enhanced takedown on the philosophy of horror that doubles as a sleazy and terrifying movie on its own.


  • Ubu short film
  • Beastie short film
  • Archival commentary track with John Harrison, Dusty Nelson, and Pasquale Buba
  • New 4K scan from the only 35mm theatrical print in existence
  • Liner notes by Joseph A. Ziemba of AGFA and Bleeding Skull
  • After Effects documentary with optional commentary track
Rita (or is it Mona) (Debra Gordon) sees her boyfriend Barney (Bernard McKenna) brandishing a razor – or does she?
Effects - on the set
Dom (Joseph Pilato) and Nicky (Tom Savini) are hanging out on the set, waiting to film.
Effects - snuff
“This is not what I thought it was”  – The crew watches what may or may not be a snuff film.
Effects - cast and crew
The cast and crew gather in a stairwell to discuss a key scene involving an attack with a razor.
Effects - the woods
Dom (Joseph Pilato) struggles through the woods when things may have turned deadly.

Paul Cardullo
Paul Cardullo is a North Carolina indy filmmaker and horror fan. His tastes range from art-house horror to low-budget schlock to indie gems to Slovenia killer hillbilly flicks. When not watching films, he helps make them. From actor to boom operator to doughnut wrangler, he makes himself useful wherever he can. Paul believes it is sometimes necessary to suffer for one’s art. He has endured being covered in [censored], having [censored] thrown at him, and spending over a year with muttonchops and a 70’s-style mustache. When not being abused for the sake of his craft, Paul works on computers and watches as many obscure (and not so obscure) movies as he can fit in.