In the late 70s, a group of ambitious Pittsburgh filmmakers decided to work together to make a movie called The Manipulator and later Effects. Due to a distributor problem, it was never released in theaters or on home video with just two theatrical screenings. One was at the U.S. Film Fest — which is now the Sundance Film Festival — and then the world premiere at the much-missed and long-gone Kings Court Theater in Oakland on November 9, 1979.
26 years later, Effects would finally be released on DVD and shown at the Warhol in Pittsburgh. Today, there’s a gorgeous AGFA blu ray release of the film and you can watch it any time you’d like, but at one point — as Tom Savini reminds you in this documentary — all he could do was tell people about the movie because there was no way to see it.
Directed by Michael Felsher and featuring nearly everyone involved with the film — David Belko, Susan Chapek, John Harrison, Dusty Nelson, Debra Gordon, Joe Pilato, Pasquale Buba, Savini, George Romero and Marty Schiff — the bulk of this story takes place poolside at John Harrison’s house as the cast looks back on a movie that was hidden for so long. There are also moments filmed at the old Mind Over Media building, a place I worked at just a few years afterward.
This was a bonus feature on the releases of Effects, but this new blu ray has so much more, like an exclusive feature-length edition of AfterEffects with over 15 minutes of never-before-seen interview footage, commentary from Felsher, more interview clips with George Romero, deleted scenes, highlights of the evening Effects played the Warhol, the 2005 DVD trailer and a book with all-new tributes to Buba, Pilato and Romero.
I often think that so much of the culture that I love is disappearing, that the people who made it are fading away. This has been shown to me so many times this year. This movie allows me to look back on so many that are gone and sit amongst them, learning how Pittsburgh once made its own films. Great films.
This is worth the watch just to hear how much Pilato loved his first lunch at the Squirrel Cage.