Pieces (1982)
By: Michelle R. on May 11, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Diamond Entertainment (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0 Mono. 90 minutes
The Movie
Director: Juan Piquer Simon
Starring: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Paul Smith, Jack Taylor
Screenplay: John Shadow (Joe D'Amato), Dick Randall, Juan Piquer Simon Music: CAM
Tagline: You Don't Have to go to Texas for a Chainsaw Massacre! Country:
USA/Spain/Puerto Rico
Boston, 1942: A young boy is caught by his mother assembling a jigsaw puzzle of a naked woman. After she hysterically berates and belittles him, the boy skulks off, returns with an axe and proceeds to hack her to bits (Director Juan Piquer Simon spares no expense in delivering the bloody goods - this all takes place before the opening credits). Police arrive at the boy's home shortly after, discovering him sobbing amongst the carnage. The cops have no idea that it was this seemingly innocent child who committed the atrocity…

Fast-forward 40 years later: A reign of terror begins at a Boston university when a girl is decapitated by a chainsaw-wielding maniac. Strangely, the corpse's head has disappeared – presumably taken by the killer as a gruesome 'souvenir'. Grizzled detective Lieutenant Bracken (Christopher George) is sent to investigate, and before long a range of suspects are quizzed: pale, effeminate and constantly ridiculed Professor Brown (Jack Taylor); brutish mountain-man groundskeeper Willard (Paul Smith), and the stuffy college Dean (Edmund Purdom). Meanwhile, student Kendall (weedy Ian Sera, who's completely miscast as the supposed campus 'stud' – complete with fetching 1980's ensemble of oversized reading glasses, garishly pattered pastel blue woolen cardigan, and black and white check flannelette shirt) thinks he's gotten lucky when a sexy blonde classmate invites him for a quickie in the deserted swimming pool. Unfortunately the killer gets there before Kendall, leaving a plethora of mutilated body parts scattered around the pool. Once again, certain parts are mysteriously missing. A baffled Lt. Bracken dispatches Kendall and one of his office colleges, glamorous ex-tennis player (yes, you read this right) Mary Riggs (Linda Day George), to act as undercover 'spies' at the college and report any suspicious activity. The search to find the maniac intensifies as he continues to prey on the female student population, culminating in the merciless stalking of a woman – who wets her pants in terror – and saws her entire torso from her body. Somewhere on campus, the unknown butcher is 'piecing' together his ideal woman with the limbs he has stolen, just like the one on the jigsaw his mother confiscated from him decades ago. Now he has his eye on the attractive Mary – will Bracken and Kendall stop him before she is the next victim?

Combine all the staples of the typical 80's slasher flick together: rampaging killer hellbent on slaughtering promiscuous teens, drawn-out, gory deaths, minimal plot and extensive nudity, add a Z-grade Spanish director, 99 cent budget, clunky dubbing, inept acting and glaring anachronisms, stir and voila! The results are the unintentionally hilarious trash classic that is Pieces. Clearly intended as a fast money spinning cash-in on the slice and dice flicks of its era, Pieces is pure unadulterated sleaze/cheese, abandoning any attempt at story or character development for a series of grisly 'shocks' strung together by a wispy thread of a plot. The slap-dash hastiness of the production is evident in its meandering camera work, poor editing and careless technical errors (spot the 1970's push-button telephone in the prologue, as well as the plastic garbage bag, which wasn't invented until 1950!) And as you'd expect, the acting isn't exactly Shakespearian, with performances veering wildly from over-the-top (Paul Smith's permanent 'evil' squint and Lynda Day George endlessly shrieking "BASTARD!" upon discovering one of the murdered women), to porn-standard wooden, with faded former Hollywood matinee idol Edmund Purdom failing to add any dignity to the proceedings in his bread-and-butter role as the Dean. Yep, Pieces is a stinker. But it's an incredibly entertaining stinker, with more than enough cheap thrills to keep the viewer interested right up the absurd double-twist ending (involving the 'jigsaw-woman' constructed from the victims' body parts coming to life…oops!) Not to mention that this film also has the honour of containing one of the most bizarre moments in cinema history – Kendall's kung-fu teacher inexplicably attacks Mary when she is walking alone outside the campus one night, then attributes his actions to "bad chop-suey". WTF???
Disappointingly, Pieces is presented in a dreary, cropped 1:33.1 pan and scan transfer. Colours are washed out, shadow depth poor and white speckled grain is constant during the entire running time.
Pretty much as unspectacular as the video quality – a bland Dolby Digital Mono track. Overall it is audible and serviceable, but sounds no better than VHS quality. Oh, and if that CAM music soundtrack sounds familiar, that's because excerpts of it were recycled in Joe D'Amato's Absurd (which was filmed around the same time).
Extra Features
Not much here to speak of – scene selection (a whopping 4 chapters), some dodgy "Bio & Fun Facts" screens on Christopher and Lynda Day George, and two taglines from the film's trailer (but sadly not even the original trailer is included). Looks like we're going to have to wait for the long-anticipated Grindhouse disc for a definitive DVD release.
The Verdict
Okay, so Pieces is no masterpiece in the traditional sense, but really, what do you expect from a movie with the tagline "You don't have to go to Texas for a Chainsaw Massacre", as well as exploitation veterans Juan Piquer Simon, Joe D'Amato and Dick Randall at the helm?? Filled with gore and nudity, woeful acting and dialogue, and absolutely no socially redeeming value whatsoever, fans of bad movies are sure to get a kick out of Pieces. Watch it in the right frame of mind with some trash-loving mates (and a good supply of booze) and you'll have fun.
Movie Score
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