PIECES. (1982) DIRECTED BY JUAN PIQUER SIMON. SCREENPLAY BY DICK RANDALL AND JOHN W. SHADOW. MUSIC BY LIBRADO PASTOR. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY JUAN MARINE.
STARRING EDMUND PURDOM, LINDA DAY, PAUL L. SMITH, IAN SERA, FRANK BRANA AND LINDA FUCHS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
'You don't have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre...!'
The film-makers in this case are happy for the viewers to know that this slasher movie from the early 'Eighties does exactly what it says on the tin. 'It's exactly what you think it is,' in other words, as it says on the promotional material.
Can you possibly guess from the title what to expect from this eighty-six-minute gem from the time of the dawn of the slasher movie? Well, just in case you've switched your brain off for the Easter weekend, and fair enough if you have, I'll let you have a wee sneak preview of the plot. That and enough chocolate to last you till Tuesday, what more do you need...?
The weird thing about the film is that it's actually a Spanish horror flick that even qualifies for the genre of 'giallo,' but it's been dubbed into American-English. Because it's also set in a Boston university, I watched the whole thing without realising that it had been originally fimed in Spanish. It seemed as American as apple pie to me. I reckon that the director might take that to mean that he'd done a great job...!
The plot is pretty simple, really. Some psychopath clad in a hat-and-overcoat combo that gives him the silhouette of Claude Rains in THE INVISIBLE MAN is murdering students from the university. Only female students now, mind you, with lovely long Farrah Fawcett-style hair and pert titties and peachy backsides that look great in tight, form-fitting jeans. Sluts, in other words, haha. The kind that whip their tops off at the drop of a bra strap and go running around the place screaming blue bloody murder with their tits out.
The women are being hacked to death with the murderer's trademark chainsaw. The special effects in the film are superb, in that it really looks like the chainsaw is, say, cutting through a woman's stomach or arm or whatever. I believe that pig carcasses may have come into play during some of these scenes to make them more realistic. 'Nuff said.
And the blood...! Rivers of the stuff flow through the film and make it one of the bloodiest slashers I've ever seen. There are lots of similarities to John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN and the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies, with a heavily-disguised killer cutting a murderous swathe through mostly attractive young people and leaving nothing but bloody parts behind.
The cops (all two of 'em) are driven demented trying to find the killer. With the help of a curly-headed male student they insist on treating like a fully-qualified police officer- Kendall James- and a lady cop masquerading as a tennis coach- Mary Riggs- they have to stop the crazed psychopath before he kills again. Which he will. It's a flippin' slasher movie, for crying out glavin. Are there any suspects...?
Well, yes, there's the handsomely-moustachioed star of Euro-sleaze movies, Jack Taylor, playing Professor Arthur Brown (where's the 'FIRE,' Arthur?), one of the college staff. He's single and lives with his mother. Alarm bells are ringing straight away. Norman Bates much? Principal Seymour Skinner much? Professor Brown has a secret 'affliction,' however, one not at all in keeping with his status as the college heart-throb. What could it possibly be...?
The university gardener is on the list of suspects too. Name of Willard, I call him 'Groundskeeper' Willard and the actor who plays him is famous for playing Bluto in Robert Altman's 'POPEYE.' Which is absolutely believable as he's the spitting image of the big, blustery beardy Bluto and he even does the squinty-eye thing Bluto does in PIECES.
There's also the Dean of the university, a posh-talking, outwardly charming English chap. Is he the fruit loop who's been making mincemeat of the female co-eds in order to complete the rather disturbing jigsaw of a naked chick which holds the key to the whole dastardly affair?
Well, we don't know, see? We can't tell which are real clues and which are red
herrings. There's enough of these to hold a flippin' banquet where all the courses are fish.
There's also the cops themselves, of course, and the student Kendall who, despite his geeky appearance, seems to be the campus Lothario. Spoiler alert: we get to see his willy. It ain't nuthin' special. By which I mean, I done seen bigger...!
The tennis coach-undercover cop Mary Riggs is a real early 'Eighties knockout. That's apropos of nothing, really. I just thought she deserved some kudos for something over which she has no control, haha. An accident of birth, isn't that what they call it? See how she copes in the kung-fu scene, possibly the most bizarre scene ever filmed and included in a movie. It's like the film-makers just knew a guy who did kung-fu and thought it would be a shame to waste him. Hilarious.
The murders are all brilliantly done, but the one where the topless girl is running screaming through the deserted shower room with the killer in hot pursuit is really special. There's so much blood...! The water-bed scene is one you won't forget in a hurry, either. There's a terrifically shocking climax to look forward to also, as well as a lot of comedy, whether intentional or otherwise.
The good news is that this cult slasher horror movie from the time when really good slasher movies were born is out now on special release from ARROW VIDEO. It comes complete with an absolute ton of extra features, such as a superb career-spanning interview with the iconic Spanish director himself.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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