The film “Effects” (review here) was a largely forgettable thriller more famous for its tangled non-release than anything witnessed onscreen. Synapse Films released a great DVD package of the title last year with all the bells and whistles one would expect from a cult favorite. While the production of the DVD was superior in every way, the actual film proved monotonous. Directed by Dusty Nelson and starring a group of George Romero associates, “Effects” told the tale of a low budget horror film that was a secret front for a group of snuff filmmakers. With such a great premise and the participation of effects master Tom Savini (in a supporting role) expectations for an all-out splatter fest would be understandable. It turns out that “Effects” was aiming for a much more subtle “reality vs. film” puzzle box that wasn’t nearly as smart as it thought it was. Our review of the Synapse DVD barely even mentioned the score, which turns out to be quite a revelation.
The “Effects” soundtrack was composed by the versatile actor/director/writer/producer and composer John Harrison. John played creepy director Lacey Bickle in “Effects” (and produced the film as well). His impressive film career is peppered with great moments including composing the soundtracks for “Creepshow” and “Day of the Dead” as well as directing gigs in countless genre productions. Harrison's soundtrack for “Effects,” his first, is a superior work in every way. It’s filled with a drama and nuance completely missing from the film. The main title is a haunting, melancholy piece that is referenced throughout the score. It begins with subtle wind instruments and builds into a memorable piano and synthesizer melody. Harris' orchestral pieces are truly evocative of a mystery and darkness that the film so clearly wished to achieve.
Stand out tracks on the CD are track #3: "Lacey Checks the Cameras," track #10: the moody "Dom and Celeste Go Fishing," and track 16: "The Chase" which includes the actual dialogue and sound from the film. Also on this great sounding disc are all of the incidental rock and disco (this was 1980) tunes from the film. While none are terribly inspired, they're not bad pop songs and represent the generic sounds from the era. Most grating though is a radio jingle written for the film (track 6) which was included for "Effects" completists only.
Synapse has done a remarkable job with the mixing of this never-before-released limited edition soundtrack. It comes with some liner notes by Harris and a few behind-the-scenes photos. It's an exceptional production for this obscure, haunting little score. Fans of the film should hunt it down.
Get it here!