Special Effects

Special Effects

Gutter De Palma, with insanely sleazy atmosphere and Manhattan location filming where you can almost smell the piss. Benefits from the low-budget casting of Zoë Lund and pre-fame Eric Bogosian, who both radiate weird energy. Hoping we can give this synth score a nice vinyl release at some point so I can have it playing next time I murder someone.

The Eric Bogosian film director character is obviously based on Cimino and Bogdanovich, and at one point he derisively namechecks Dorothy Stratten as a "nonentity" who "got a $10 million eulogy on film." Given that Larry Cohen goes out of his way to mention her name in his script, I wonder if he wants us to draw a parallel between the megalomaniacal Bogosian's murder of the Lund character and Bogdanovich's own relationship with Stratten. (To be clear, I think it would be fairly ugly if that was his intention, but again, I didn't write this script, I'm "just askin' questions").

Ten years ago when I was in my earlier twenties I interviewed Larry Cohen for a now-defunct horror-movie magazine called Shadowland. I asked him if he identified with the Bogosian character, and he responded:

Well, it wasn’t me, it was more like Peter Bogdanovich and Michael Cimino who had big successes and then all of a sudden the whole bottom fell out on their careers and they couldn’t get a job anymore. They were very demanding and difficult when they were on top, and people didn’t like them, but they were successful and people put up with them. When they slipped, nobody wanted to put a hand out to help them get back up again. So, there was a whole raft of directors like that that you see all over the place – they all disappeared from the horizons and I don’t know what became of them.

I look at their careers and mine and I go, ‘Well, I never got up there to the top, but I never had a huge collapse like they had.’ It must be tough to be at the very pinnacle of the business, get Oscar nominations and critical acclaim, and all of a sudden, nothing. My career is more or less on even keel – I’ve made the pictures I wanted to make, they’ve had a moderate success but I’ve made a lot of money off them, and I just keep working. Thank God I never had that meteoric rise or meteoric fall.

It's an interesting answer, although again, I was in my early twenties, so I was still too dumb to know how to ask a followup question. Elsewhere in the same interview he told me of his first movie, "Bone was really in the same category as something like the movies Mike Nichols was making back in those days, like Carnal Knowledge. If the picture had received the kind of notices that I’d hoped for, I probably would have gotten a different career, but it wouldn’t have been the same career, because if I’d gotten into making studio pictures, I never would have had the autonomy that I had on my low-budget pictures." I think he does identify with the Bogosian character - not in terms of his career trajectory, but in terms of his directorial megalomania (central to Cohen's self-perpetuated mystique was that he was a guy who would drive a car on the Manhattan sidewalk or stage a shooting in the St. Patrick's Day Parade or fire machine guns of the top of the Chrysler Building).

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