Starring: Christopher George, Frank Braña, Lynda Day George, Jack Taylor, Ian Sera
From cult Spanish exploitation king, director Juan Piquer Simón (Slugs; Monster Island), comes Pieces, a brilliantly perverse 80s slasher starring Christopher George (The Exterminator; City Of The Living Dead ), Lynda Day George (Beyond Evil; Mission : Impossible) and Jack Taylor (The Ninth Gate; Conan The Barbarian) that proves “you don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre.”
Jigsaw puzzles can be maddening. They can drive you to distraction. You might even go so crazy as to take your own mother down with an axe... and that’s only the beginning for one repressed teenager.
On a Boston university campus, forty years later, young girls are missing out. Missing out on hands, feet, arms and heads as a certain puzzled psychopath carves a bloody swathe through the college’s female population. Only one tough cop has the stones to bring him in, but can he track down the slayer before all the girls are mincemeat?
Normally, these movies don’t quite add up to the hyperbole that the distributors plaster all over the pre-publicity, but Pieces lives up to it in so many ways. This is easily the best 80s slasher film that I didn’t get to see during the 80s. We’ve seen the creation of many a serial killer on screen.
They’ve become that way for a variety of reasons; it’s in their genes, they’ve been set on fire by a group of parents or perhaps they just don’t like a section of society. The killer in Pieces didn’t like his Mum trashing his nudie jigsaw and threatening to destroy his magazine stash. So, Mum get’s the axe and years later the killer decides it’s time to make his own jigsaw. The movie starts with a brief promise of a real twisted plot as the child pretends that “the big man” killed his Mum, but that idea is soon swept away by the sight of a campus girl skating into a mirror being carried by workmen. What was the point of the scene? I have no idea. It’s never mentioned again.
True to the tagline: “It’s exactly what you think it is” the movie delivers a copious amount of gore, including the old knife thorough the back of the head, only to poke out through the mouth effect. (Similar to a death in Fulci’s House By The Cemetary). There’s plenty of bloody killings to satisfy gorehounds but it never seems offensive due to the outlandish, and comedic scenes in between. Highlights include Lynda Day’s exclamation of “Bastard!” repeated three times with increasing intensity; Jack Taylor being asked if the bloody great chainsaw near his feet could have been responsible for the severed limbs arranged in plastic baggies; the random attack by the Kung-Fu instructor; the tennis match between rubbish student and rubbish instructor.
Like some bizarre prophetic vision of the Scary Movie series, Pieces looks as if it could have been a low budget comedy version of Scream. At times, the antagonist wanders around in daylight wearing a big black mac and a hat. It appears that in the Spanish version of New England , it’s ok to dress like this, whilst campus girls wear next to nothing. At one brilliant moment, the killer follows a barely clothed young woman into a lift “hiding” a massive chainsaw behind his back. The loose narrative of the “plot” is peppered with scenes that don’t quite fit together, like the jigsaw that the killer keeps hidden.
Even Ian Sera’s character Kendall doesn’t feel much like a hero. He’s a womanising suspect in the case that ends up getting inexplicably deputised by the police. There’s a somewhat strange pay off for any of the audience who dislikes his womanising ways, one that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
This is covered in one of the featurettes included on the disc but is worth mentioning; Paul Smith must be one of the biggest (literally) red herrings in horror movie history. When he’s about to be arrested as a suspect, instead of protesting his innocence, he proceeds to kick the stuffing out of the arresting officers! He appears later and one of the main characters looks at him as it to say “I could have sworn it was you”. As Paul Smith is as big as Gunnar Hansen, it’s not a stretch to think that he’s the killer. Who is the killer doesn’t really matter. It’s not quite a Scooby Doo ending and by that stage, the audience really isn’t that bothered. The ride to the end had been so much fun.
Pieces is a guilty pleasure. It shouldn’t work but it does. It won’t be for every Horror fan and certainly isn’t for everyone but if you buy into it, it’ll keep you amused for the entire duration. If you’re a fan of odd foreign horrors and have an unhealthy sense of humour then this is a must see. If you already have a copy, the Arrow release is well presented as always with some interesting extras. I haven’t seen the packaging but by the looks of it, it follows the same high standard as any other Arrow release. I particularly like the newly commissioned artwork that you can see from the Amazon link and on the Associates website.
7 out of 10 (Wayfarer)
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