Pieces (1982)
By: J.R. McNamara on December 18, 2008  | 
DVD
Grindhouse Releasing (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.66.1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0, Spanish DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 85 Minutes
The Movie
Pieces DVD
Credits
Director: Juan Piquer Simon
Starring: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Paul Smith, Jack Taylor
Screenplay: John Shadow, Dick Randall, Juan Piquer Simon
Country: USA/Spain
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
I am almost sure that I open every single review of a film from the eighties with something like this, but a fact is a fact. No matter what anyone ever argues, I will never be convinced that there was a better decade for horror films than the eighties. All my favorite films come from this decade: Re-Animator, The Burning, From Beyond, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Breakfast Club… ahem, forget I mentioned that last one. I am not sure if it is because I, like most of us, am enamored with my teen years, where experience many firsts were experienced: first girlfriends (or boyfriends), first sex, first rated 'R' film - or if it is just because the films, like the ones I listed above, were just some kick ass films that are still brilliant today.

I certainly think the latter, and every time I revisit a film I haven't seen in years, I am pretty sure it is not just a wave of nostalgia that washes over me, but an impression that this decade made some memorable films, more so than any other decade of the 20th century. I must say something that kind of confirms this is the amount of films that are sequels to films of that era: Rambo, Rocky Balboa, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, et cetera.

Director Juan Piquer Simon's Pieces is no feat of cinematic brilliance. Actually, to be fair, the best way to describe it would be an anachronistic balls-up of a film, with abysmal acting, diabolically disastrous dialogue, illogical irregularities and just some of the oddest oddballery ever put to film.

And here, dear reader, is why the film is brilliant.

Pieces is a terrible film, let no-one tell you otherwise, but it is so so terrible, and so stupid, that it appears that the director not only knew this, but relished in it. When the first person said:' It's so bad, it's good', they must have either been talking about ice cream cake, or this film. Somehow, the sheer ridiculous of it, is also its charm. Be assured it is violent… to the point one effect of the film was done with a real chainsaw being buzzed through an actual pig's carcass. You can park your fake blood and rubber intestines up your butt, this is the real (fake) deal, and some of the dialogue, and situations are simply bizarre or just completely daft - the Kung Fu professor who attacks a police officer, only to pass out due to 'bad chop suey' springs to mind.

So what is Pieces about? Well, 40 years ago (so in the early 1940s), a woman found her son doing a jigsaw puzzle of a naked lady, and being a bitch-parent, she decides to throw out any of the kids stuff that leans towards, shall we say, the more adult. This, of course, makes the kid bonkers and he splits her head open with an axe, and proceeds to saw her into pieces. The police eventually turn up and assume the carnage was performed by a maniac, and that the son managed to survive, and he is shipped off to his aunt's house.

Flash forward to now - and by 'now' I mean '1982' - and we find a serial killer is at work on the grounds of a New England university. Every girl he murders has a piece taken from her, as if some kind of obscene jigsaw is being made somewhere, but who is the killer? Is it the strange, quiet Professor Brown (Jack Taylor)? The weirdo groundskeeper (Paul Smith)? The keen-to-be-of-help student, Kendal (Ian Sera)? Maybe the ever helpful Dean (Edmund Purdom) is the killer? Or is it his nosy secretary, Grace (Hilda Fuchs)?  Luckily, plucky undercover cop Mary Riggs (Linda George) is on the case, and along with fellow police officers Lt Bracken (Christopher George) and his able sidekick Detective Holden (Frank Brana) they will surely solve the case, or die trying.

Judging by the original title Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche (One Thousand Cries Have The Night), this film may have originally been seen as a giallo, whose direction got lost along the way… or it could just be that Joe D'Amato was partially responsible for the script, and that is why it ended up as silly as it did. Another suggestion that maybe this was supposed to have been musch more serious and maybe even was supposed to emulate an Argento film is the appearance of a very Daria Nicolodi looky-likey reporter, and the typical black gloved hands performing the murders.

The problem with accepting this as a giallo though comes from the deplorable script that is filled with so much nonsense that even a Dr Suess book would snub its nose at it. From a tennis star, who clearly can't play tennis to a police force that seem to have been trained by the guys from Police Academy, both in police work and acting, this movie should stink to high Heaven, but it doesn't'. Simon's direction feels like it isn't taking itself seriously, so it is easy for us, the viewers, to overlook its inconsistencies (like a touch phone in 1942) and just slip along in the copious amounts of gore and boobs on display.

This release comes dangerously close to being on par with Cannibal Holocaust, but only just misses out, really only due to the fact that it isn't Cannibal Holocaust. I certainly hope that Grindhouse Releasing can play a game of 'digitus extractus' and get another release of this quality headed our way soon, instead of the usual 12 to 18 months it seems to take.
Video
I expected this to be a horrible image, but while it is slighty grainy, it is relatively artifact free 1.66:1 anamorphic presentation of the film.
Audio
Both the English and Spanish tracks sound great, though you will appreciate the Spanish more as it doesn't feature that awful disco music for the dance scene… yes, the dance scene. Both these tracks are presented in Dolby Digital Mono, but The Vine Experience (discussed in the extras) is presented in 5.1, for that 'in the cinema' experience.
Extra Features
To start with I have to comment on the menu screen audio. If you thought the electronica score by CAM from the aerobics scene was annoying, wait until you hear it on a loop…. AAAARGH!!!!

The interviews section has two interviewees: the first being Juan Piquer Simon, and the second being Paul Smith. Both are quite interesting looks into the lives of people you wouldn't expect to see detailed mini-docs of. Piquer Simon discusses his history and influences, and reveals he did Pieces as he turned down Last House on the Left 2 (wouldn't that be the Second to Last House on the left?). The Paul Smith interview, which is subtitled 'The Reddest Herring' is nothing short of marvelous. I would never have though that such a beast of a man would be such a calm, warm and softly spoken human being, and he talks about his entire cinematic history from Exodus on… and even today he still is the perfect choice for Bluto in Popeye!

The galleries aren't just the usual boring movie stills, though it does have some, but it also contains publicity material and video covers from worldwide releases of the VHS. Also we have a short doco where Piquer shows off some of his collectables, including the blood-soaked jigsaw puzzle from the film.

As usual with Grindhouse releases, the trailers are awesome. Cop this lot: Cat in the Brain, The Beyond, Cannibal Holocaust, I Drink Your Blood, The Tough Ones, Massacre Mafia Style (which looks like it could be either the crappiest or the greatest film ever made… actually it is probably both), Gone With The Pope, Scum of the Earth, An American Hippie in Israel, Death Game (another one on J.R.'s must-have list, I mean it's got a young Sondra Locke and Colleen Camp in it… yoinks!!), Ice House, Mad Ron's Previews From Hell.

The Cast abnd Crew section is pretty cool. Basically a text piece, but the filmographies have extra trailers not found in the trailer section. Some of these trailers aren't the greatest quality, but to see some trailers of these old films, some long forgotten, is fabulous. I hope Grindhouse release Witchcraft 70 as that looks like the cat's pyjamas!!

This disc also features some DVD credits.

Bearing in mind that this is a Grindhouse release, look for some of the Easter Eggs, including Eli Roth at a cinema play of Pieces, similar to the Cannibal Holocaust one, a bonus trailer and others.
The Verdict
Grindhouse, I love you. Pieces, I love you. There is only one thing greater than the release of this film, and that is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed (and if you get that little in-joke, you need to purchase this 2 disc set NOW!!!)
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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