You don't have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!
Year of Release: 1982
Also Known As: Mil gritos tiene la noche, One Thousand Cries Has the Night
Running Time: 85 minutes (1:25)
Director: Juan Piquer Simon
Ian Sera ... Kendall
Christopher George ... Lt. Bracken
Lynda Day George ... Mary Riggs
Frank Brana ... Sgt. Holden
Edmund Purdom ... The Dean
Paul L. Smith ... Willard
Jack Taylor ... Professor Brown
Bruce Le ... Karate Professor (uncredited)
The year is 1941. A young boy is assembling a jigsaw puzzle of a nude woman, when his mother enters in a rage and tells him to throw the puzzle out. Instead he returns with an ax and hacks his mother to death, tricking the police into believing a maniac had killed her.
Forty years later at a Boston college, the terror really begins. A chainsaw-wielding madman is roaming the campus collecting pieces of beautiful co-eds for a ghastly human puzzle he is assembling - and the police haven't a clue to the crazed killer's identity.
Pieces... ya know, if this flick'd been released 21 years later they coulda had Ashlee Simpson perform on the soundtrack. Course, if they'd done that her career woulda ended a full month before it should have when the disc started skippin' on 'er during Saturday Night Live an everybody found out she was a phony. What I wanna know is, how come her career goes down the ole toilet faster'n an under-cooked porkchop, but nobody cares when Britney Spears does it? I'll betcha it's got somethin' to do with that damn Mousekateer double standard.
An speakin' of people who don't work for a livin', I gotta tell you about one of the most asinine, sacrilegious things I've heard since they went an released the Atari Flashback. So the other day I'm over at Hammer Time Hardware, mindin' my own business pickin' up some antifreeze for my toilet tank (don't ask), when I ran into Silas Tankersley in Plumbin' Supplies an figured it'd be a good time to ask 'im about gettin' a Jesus tree (you gotta call 'em Jesus trees or else Silas starts tryin' to charge you to chop a Christmas tree on his property). Unfortunately, mosta Silas' trees got all burnt up last summer durin' fire season on account of *somebody* not botherin' to thin the property for the last 45 consecutive years. So I asked 'im where the heck that leaves me tree-wise, when he tells me I can always just "get a fake tree." He actually said that, in PUBLIC, where little children could here 'im. It was sickenin'. I couldn't hardly believe what I was hearin', cause I'd sooner cut down a sage bush an put THAT up before puttin' some hunka pipe cleaners an lead paint tainted plastic from Beijing in my livin' room. Basically I went ahead an told Silas to go back to Seattle an stick that fake tree crapola in his Starbucks travel mug, cause I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. Actually, that ain't what I said, but I ain't gonna repeat what I said since peoples' mamas might be readin'; but the point is, I was P.O.'d. Now, I know mosta you already realize how tacky it is to cover a plastic hat rack in glass balls, but for the folks in places like Boise an Portland who've yet to discover shame, lemme just take a minute here to explain why everyone's prolly laughin' at you behind your backs.
1) Tree stand water is an annual Christmas tradition for your pets. Gettin' a fake tree is basically tellin' your critters to take their holiday cheer an stuff it up their stockins cause it ain't worth it to hafta vacuum once a year. So, to put this in terms that you Old Navy sweater wearing yuppies can understand; picture your New Years party with no martini olives.
2) Fake trees got no smell. Real ones're like a super-sized equivalent of the little pine tree air freshener hangin' from the rear view in your car, an can provide up to three months wortha skank concealment of any misplaced fish heads, or other common household odors.
3) When a real tree dies, alls you gotta do is saw it up an pitch it into the stove. Fake trees gotta be broke down an bent up into a 3rd grade arts an crafts project just to get it back in the box. An God help ya if you've gone an used the box as a fishin' pole holder in the meantime.
4) Real trees come from the FOREST, not the Wal Mart holiday aisle next to the Baby Jesus tree toppers that sing "Gangnam Style." This means no permanent spinal cord injuries from bein' run over by 500lb women in 50 Shades of Grey themed MuuMuus drivin' golf carts durin' the acquisition process.
5) Let's talk ambiance. With a fake tree you've got this perfect "no needle out of place" Stepfird Tree sittin' lifelessly in the corner of the room, which invariably makes the place feel exactly as cold an sterile as the waitin' room at a proctology clinic. Now, stick a real tree in that same room an you've got all the comforts of the great outdoors in your very own livin' room. It's as close as you can get to goin' to the drive-in without leavin' your hide-a-bed. Plus, once the tree thaws out an the pine beetles revive, you've got the sounds of a campin' trip in the dead of winter, an you just can't put a price on that.
Bottom line; fake trees're about as American as borscht pudding, an I won't have one in my house. I'll find a real tree if I hafta drive to friggin' Fairbanks. But anyway, I hope this clears up some things for the folks out there who don't have the privileges that you an I have. They're prolly out buyin' trees offa guys named Howard on some vacant lot surrounded by cattle gates, or, God help 'em; havin' to throw up the Christmas equivalent of a CGI fir in their dens. They're prolly the same people who buy those DVDs that play nothin' but logs burnin' in a fireplace to simulate what it's like to be normal, it's pitiful.
Let's not go thinkin' too hard about that though, cause this's supposed to be the happy time of year where we all stop snipin' at each other long enough to open up cheap crap from K-Mart an pretend like we aren't gonna immediately toss it into the Salvation Army donation box the moment said people leave our homes. Really though, you shouldn't do things like that. Poor folks got enough problems without bein' forced to look at Harry Potter pajamas while they're clothes shoppin' at Goodwill. Sides, this week we've got a classic of the Spanish cinema, an a flick that hasta be the best Texas Chainsaw Massacre / Nightmares in a Damaged Brain / Friday the 13th / Frankenstein / Psycho composite of 1982, we're talkin': Pieces. Probably the best flick ever made by the man who brought us Extra Terrestrial Visitors (aka Pod People) and Slugs, so you can probably see that we're talkin' drive-in blockbuster here. But this ain't just any movie about a psycho who tears through college co-eds with a chainsaw, cause there're a lotta subtle points in it intended to educate WHILE it horrifies, an I'd be remiss if I was to just dive into the review without passin' on at least a few of the cliff's notes from this baby, so listen up. The first thing you'll discover watchin' this flick is that an Anatomy teacher is just as good at reconstructin' a murder as any pathologist. Plus they'll work for practically nothing. Second, when purchasing pool supplies, always shell out the extra cash for the industrial strength skimmer. It's got that extra strong nylon mesh that you'll need to scoop up unwanted bimbos. An third, puttin' a jigsaw puzzle together while wearin' the rubber gloves that came free with your toilet brush is a tricky business.
But the thing that really caught my attention in this flick is somethin' I think the NSA tends to overlook while conductin' illegal mass surveillance programs designed to protect us all by sortin' us into categories based upon the kinda porno we watch, an that's how to judge people based upon their "happy childhood quotient." You might be wonderin' just what that is exactly; well, basically it weighs the number of times we saw the squished remains of our beloved family pets layin' in the road against the number of Atari 2600 games we got for Christmas, to determine how screwed up we'll grow up to be. That ain't to say that just cause somebody used to burn ants with a magnifyin' glass an splatter flies on windows with the compressed air in their BB guns is gonna grow up to be Jeffrey Dahmer (at least not immediately), but it's worth keepin' track of, cause there's always one point in our lives where we'll invariably revert back to our younger years, an that's the dreaded mid-life crisis. Now, normally, a mid-life crisis just consists of findin' a 20-somethin' with mommy or daddy issues an takin' a trip down mammary lane, but for some of the more dysfunctional members of society, it means goin' on an involuntary Poulonoscopy screenin' rampage. See, the NSA only bothers to monitor what us adults are usin' Google for, cause apparently nobody at the Pentagon every saw The Omen. Essentially, what I'm tryin' to say is, chances're pretty good that when you hit 45 an start gettin' nostalgic for the good ole days, you might take your new-found adulthood an use it to relive the time you chopped your mama's face into Hamburger Helper. An the thing that's really pathetic about all this is that it's totally preventable, because this is one time bomb where everyone who's even remotely payin' attention has a front row seat to the countdown timer. I mean, there're people out there who wanna set up a Muslim database so's they can keep an eye on 'em, when the reality is that anybody approachin' 45 with a naggin' spouse an three kids who once witnessed their Betsy Wetsy get run over by the lawn mower is a threat to the safety of our country. Buncha morons can't see the forest from the trees as far as I'm concerned. Which reminds me, I've gotta get over to the train tracks in time for... well, just never you mind why.
The movie begins in 1942 where some kid's mindin' his own business, puttin' together this jigsaw puzzle of a nekkid lady cause back in those days folks hadda work for everything they got, which includes porno. Back then the PornHub was a guy named Stan who hung out in the pool hall an sold stills from stag films outta the trunk of his Packard. But anyway, pretty quick his Mom catches 'im havin' hormones an comes completely uncorked. Slaps 'im around, busts his mirror, puts the boots to the puzzle like Red Forman's foot to a hippy ass; an worst of all, makes the kid go get a Hefty bag so she can make 'im watch 'er ceremonially burn everything in his room that he's managed to derive the slightest amount of happiness from. I think we can all agree that what happens next is crucial to the survival of the first amendment, an that involves the kid fetchin' an axe from the tool shed an turnin' mama's face into a bucket of shark chum. Only while all this's been goin' on some nun's been poundin' on the front door tryin' to sell Amway memberships, an pretty quick the cops show up an the kid hasta lock 'imself deeper in the closet than Pat McCrory an act like he dunno what happened when they find mama's head ornament adornin' the kid's dresser. Then we go 40 years into the future where the kid's still tryin' to put together the same puzzle (that's what homeschoolin' from a religeous nut gets ya) an preservin' the clothes mama got murdered in so that he'll have somethin' to dismember 'er by. Only now we're at a college somewhere in Spain where this P.O.'d landscaper gets fed up of never bein' consulted about the theme for the hedge pattern an chainsaws the head offa some girl while she's studyin' for 'er physics final. That's the last thing you want happenin', cause pretty quick Christopher George shows up with this Spanish version of George Kennedy (Sgt. Holden) an threatens to force everyone on campus to look at his 1974 Playgirl layout if the Dean don't show 'im the student body. Then this blonde orgasm major goes for a swim while some creep who's dressed up like Darkman skulks around checkin' out her floaties an breathin' like Liberty Medical cut off his COPD medication, until she finally comes close enough to the edge for 'im get his pool skimmer around 'er like a used condom in the Playboy Mansion hot tub an proceeds to saw 'er up into a lumberjack breakfast.
Chris is P.O.'d, an when he drives back over to the college an finds the groundskeeper (Willard) tryin' to clean the bimbo bits off the chainsaw he, Holden, campus security, an some wimp in a Christmas sweater (Kendall) try takin' Willard into custody. Only problem is that Willard's approximately the size of Mount Shasta, so mostly they just get slung around like Candy Samples' bra during airplane turbulence until Holden finally gets his gun trained on the guy. Then Chris gets the Anatomy teacher (Professor Brown) to take a look at the Sexist Chainsaw Massacre to get his professional opinion on the cause of death, an Doc Brown tells 'im it prolly had somethin' to do with the girl's sudden uncanny resemblance to the reject bin on a mannequin assembly line. This's about the time Chris realizes he's pretty much up Stuff Creek with an EPA run by the Trump administration, so he gets his wife (Lynda Day George) to pose as a tennis teacher at the university an keep 'er eyes peeled for asthmatics wanderin' around campus tryin' to turn impressionable young sluts into cafeteria cuisine for Sloppy Ho day. Then the entire graduatin' class goes to watch Lynda bounce up an down like Dolly Parton on a camel safari on the tennis court, til this nosy reporter shows up an starts harassin' Jimmy the Dean about the university's sudden shift from a place of learnin' into a smoked sausage factory. Meanwhile, the maniac with the niece's pieces collection is hangin' out in front of the aerobics gymnasium castin' Dick Tracy's sillouette on the wall an eyeballin' this gal with giraffe legs who's inside breakin' all the laws of physics with 'er body an generally functionin' as a groin pull simulator. Basically, she got legs, an he knows how to use 'em, only he can't catch up with 'er until she makes it all the way down to the elevator on account of his terminal lung cancer, an about that time he pulls out his concealed chainsaw an delimbs 'er like an overhangin' Elm tree. Someday we gotta make a law against carryin' concealed chainsaws without a permit, this's just outrageous. But anyway, Kendall hears the girl screamin' in the elevator while she's bein' turned into piles of single serving meatloaf, an by the time he finds 'er she looks like the little black guy in Freaks who hasta roll cigarettes usin' nothin' but his lips.
Then Kendall hasta go derustle his jimmy with this girl who won't quit broadcastin' 'er cooter quakes all over campus, an when he dismounts to find a gag for his squealy posturepedic mattress he sees Lynda walkin' alone outside an goes to make sure she don't get deforested. Only before he can get there Lynda gets attacked by a kung fu mercenary on a sugar high stemmin' from his eatin' an entire batch of fortune cookie dough, an she purt'near gets egg rolled before Kendall shows up to calm the guy down an take Lynda back to 'er dorm. Course, while all that was goin' on, the nosy reporter's been followin' 'em around unaware that The Stihler Killer's hangin' out inside a nearby buildin', an next thing you know she gets grabbed an stabbed about half a dozen times on a water bed until she looks like a package of hamburger that got thawed out in the microwave. The guy actually stabs 'er through the back of the head til the knife pokes out 'er mouth, which I'm pretty sure is an allegory about the ongoing threats to the freedom of the press or something. Now the guy's just gettin' downright cocky on account of it bein' pretty clear that Chris is never gonna get his act together, so Buzz Sawldrin decides to crank the school fight song over the loudspeaker on the tennis court so he can chase this gal around the locker room an watch 'er Wimbledons undulate like a flounder in a tidal wave, before sawin' 'er in half in a bathroom stall an takin' everything below the equator home with 'im. Then Kendall an Lynda find what's left of the body an have a minor freakout when it becomes clear that the killer's still got a leg up on 'em, an so Chris finally gets so P.O.'d that he sends Kendall down to help Holden root through old police records to see if anyone on the staff has a history of operatin' a dog food plant without a license. Meanwhile, Lynda decides to go ask the Dean what he knows about Doc Brown, only the Dean ends up spikin' 'er coffee with this super-charged NyQuil that paralyzes 'er from the eyebrows down, an right about that time Kendall finds the record from 1942 about the Dean's mama gettin' a discount rate on 'er sawed off coffin. Gonna cut it off here, but you've gotta check this one out just to see the endin' where Chris George realizes his wife is fallin' to pieces an that somebody's gonna put her together, only with mismatched parts. If'n I know my musical history as well as I think I do, I'm pretty sure this scene was the inspiration for Faith No More's "Falling to Pieces," so enjoy.
And so ends Pieces, probably the best of all the cheesy Juan Piquer Simon flicks of the 1980s, which included Slugs, The Rift, Extra Terrestrial Visitors, and Mystery on Monster Island. This is one of those flicks where you look at the IMDB rating and instantly realize people're rating it entirely based upon how much they liked it, with little consideration for how ridiculous it is. Of course, when looked at entirely based upon its fun factor, it's easy to see why even the IMDB would give it a 6.1, because the movie utilizes just about every sleazy trick in the '80s exploitation playbook, and throws in a lot of other nonsense that's so out of place and bizarre that it's utterly unfailable based almost solely upon the enjoyment factor. And unlike a lot of other cheese 'n sleaze combo platters, this flick has multiple scenes that're so asinine that it's really tough to choose a favorite. I think most people would probably agree that the shot where the Bruce Lee impersonator (Bruce Le) is tryin' to kick the crap outta Lynda Day George, before gettin' ahold of himself and explaining that he "musta got ahold of some bad chop suey," is the show stopper. But I personally liked the shot where Lynda and Kendall find the tennis player's body and she starts screaming "bastard!" over and over again until she finally runs outta wind. Then there's the scene with Kendall's gettin' P.O.'d with his date cause she won't quit advertising her orgasms to the entire dorm, and when it looks like he's about to leave she suggests puttin' a gag in her mouth if it'll get her another round of action, plus the fight that commences between the 300lb groundskeeper and the cops, even though the guy had nothing to do with any of the murders. Of course, once you look at the writing credits and spot Joe D'Amato, everything suddenly makes sense, cause he was one of, if not THE master of the European exploitation film. Still, I kinda liked the "kitchen sink" approach, where the primary plot is essentially a combination Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, but also includes elements of damn near every other horror movie from the previous 20 years, including the whodunit angle from the original Friday the 13th, a climax that's straight outta Frankenstein, the unhealthy mother/son relationship from Psycho, and the setting used by countless other flicks, including Jess Franco's Bloody Moon. I will say that the first time I saw this one I was a little disappointed, because this movie gets enough praise heaped onto it that I'd expected it to be a little better on a technical level. Not sure why I expected that exactly, but I did, so the one suggestion I'd make to anyone who plans to check it out for the first time is to go in expecting Don't Go in the Woods (although to be fair, it is at least a little more professional than that one), rather than Friday the 13th, in terms of production value. Of course, if you don't care about production values, you're in for a treat regardless.
In any event, it's time to suture this thing together to find out whether it can stand on its own two feet, so let's get to it. The plot, if you step back far enough and ignore some of the details, is pretty interesting and even has a touch of originality to it. Most of the originality comes in the form of motivations, but it's there if you look hard enough. However, take a closer look and you're left with notions of a university with a kung fu teacher, an asthmatic serial killer who chooses the heaviest weapon of death he can find, college kids who never attend class, cops that give said college kids access to confidential police records, and a buncha other things that I could gripe about endlessly, only you probably get the point by now and that'd just be spiking the ball. So in general, it's got a good concept, despite having a lot of logistical flaws that don't do it any favors. The acting is a little difficult to gauge, because some of the actors are dubbed. As far as the important characters go, you've got a fairly even split between American/British actors and Spanish actors, so half of them are dubbed while the other half aren't. As far as the primary ensemble, I'm inclined to say that the acting is fine, even though there really aren't any academy award winning performances being given. That said, my favorite character is the landscaper, Willard, who spends most of the movie lookin' at people like he's about to beat the crap out of them, or just outright beating the crap out of them. Then you've got the Spanish gals who're all there entirely to beef up the breast count, and their dubbing is pretty pitiful, which you can generally get away with because by the time their shirts come off most of us aren't listening anymore anyway.
Here's who matters and why: Christopher George (Day of the Animals, Graduation Day, City of the Living Dead, Mortuary, Grizzly, Whiskey Mountain), Lynda Day George (Day of the Animals, Beyond Evil, Ants, Mortuary, Fear No Evil), Frank Brana (Return of the Evil Dead, Cthulhu Mansion, The Rift, Slugs, Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold, Extra Terrestrial Visitors, Hundra, Mystery on Monster Island, Supersonic Man, Where Time Began, Masked Man Strikes Back, Love Brides of the Blood Mummy, Hannah Queen of the Vampires, The Butcher of Binbrook, Supermen, The House that Screamed, Santo Faces Death, A Witch Without a Broom, Perseus Against the Monsters), Edmund Purdom (Don't Open Till Christmas, Absurd, The Rift, 2019: After the Fall of New York, Ator the Fighting Eagle, Nightmare City, The Night Child, Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff, The Devil's Lover), Ian Sera (Extra Terrestrial Visitors, Mystery on Monster Island), Paul L. Smith (Red Sonya, Dune, Sonny Boy, Gor, Haunted Honeymoon), Jack Taylor (Conan the Barbarian, Wax, The Birthday, Edge of the Axe, Rest in Pieces, The Sea Serpent, Where Time Began, Exorcismo, The Mummy's Revenge, Female Vampire, Devil's Exorcist, Horror of the Zombies, The Vampires' Night Orgy, Doctor Jekyll vs. The Wolf Man, Count Dracula 1970, Succubus, The Genie of Darkness, Neutron the Atomic Superman vs. The Death Robots, Nostradamus and the Destroyer of Monsters, The Curse of Nostradamus), Gerard Tichy (The Blancheville Monster, The Sea Serpent, The Beast and the Magic Sword, Mystery on Monster Island, The Mysterious Island, Terror of the Living Dead, Blood Brides, Face of Terror), May Heatherly (Cannibal Apocalypse, Edge of the Axe, Beaks: The Movie), Hilda Fuchs (Vampyres, Hundra), Alejandro de Ensico (Nightmare City), Emilio Linder (Extra Terrestrial Visitors, Cthulhu Mansion, The Rift, Slugs, Commando Mengele, Monster Dog), Victor Iregua (Seven Murders for Scotland Yard, The Evil's Heritage), Mario De Barros (The Valley of Gwangi), Isabel Luque (Tarzan and the Kawana Treasure), Bruce Le (Future Hunters, Infra-Man). There are a few noteworthy roles for the three cast members who briefly managed to enter the public conciousness, including Paul L. Smith, who had previously played Hamidou in Midnight Express, Jack Taylor who went on to play Victor Fargas in The Ninth Gate, and Dan Sturkie, who portrayed Tobias in They Call Me Trinity.
Then we've got the voice actors who worked in the dubbing department, and their credits are as follows: Pilar Alcon (Aqui huela a muerto, The Sea Serpent, Conan the Barbarian, The National Mummy, Night of the Werewolf), Nick Alexander (Phenomena, The Raiders of Atlantis, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, The Scorpion with Two Tails, Yor the Hunter from the Future, The Last Shark, Nightmare City, Cannibal Apocalypse, Contamination, Terror Express, Zombi 2, Screamers, Hitch Hike, Strip Nude for Your Killer, Deep Red), Carolyn De Fonseca (The Fishmen and their Queen, Killer Crocodile 2, Alien from the Deep, Il giustiziere del Bronx, Demons 6: De Profundis, Phenomena, The Scorpion with Two Tails, The Last Man on Earth, The New York Ripper, Piranha II, Absurd, The House by the Cemetery, Murder Syndrome, Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper, Hell of the Living Dead, Macabre, Beyond the Darkness, Torso, Don't Torture a Duckling, Seven Blood-Stained Orchids, Blade of the Ripper, Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror), Larry Dolgin (Acting roles: Leviathan, The Pit and the Pendulum 1991, Robot Jox, Ghoulies II. Dubbing: Endgame: Bronx lotta finale, Cannibal Holocaust, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Cannibal Ferox, Nightmare City, Hell of the Living Dead, Contamination 1980, Zombie Holocaust, The Humanoid, Ghoulies II, Don't Torture a Duckling, Yor the Hunter from the Future), Jason Klassi (1990: The Bronx Warriors), Steven Luotto (Top Line, Rats: Night of Terror, The Final Executioner, Extra Terrestrial Visitors, Escape from the Bronx, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, The New York Ripper, Cannibal Ferox, Nightmare City, Cannibal Holocaust), Edward Mannix (Extra Terrestrial Visitors, Endgame - Bronx lotta finale, Yor the Hunter from the Future, Escape from the Bronx, Exterminators of the Year 3000, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Cannibal Holocaust, The New York Ripper, Absurd, The House by the Cemetery, Nightmare City, Hell of the Living Dead, Cannibal Apocalypse, Contamination, Alien 2: On Earth, Zombie Holocaust, Eaten Alive 1980, The Pumaman, Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror, Zombi 2, A Bay of Blood).
Additionally: Gregory Snegoff (Acting: Misery. Dubbing: Flight to Hell, The Blade Master, Godzilla 1985, Endgame: Bronx lotta finale, Yor the Hunter from the Future, The House by the Cemetery, Cannibal Ferox, Nightmare City, Hell of the Living Dead, Zombie Holocaust, Cannibal Holocaust), Susan Spafford (The Tomb, Cannibal World, The Mummy Theme Park, Touch of Death, Devil Fish, I guerriera dell'anno 2072, The Raiders of Atlantis, Yor the Hunter from the Future, Exterminators of the Year 3000, Warriors of the Wasteland, Pieces, Absurd, Cannibal Ferox, The Last Shark, Murder Syndrome, Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper, Hell of the Living Dead, House on the Edge of the Park, City of the Living Dead, Contamination, Zombie Holocaust, Eaten Alive!, The Great Alligator, Zombi 2, Torso, Don't Torture a Duckling, Blade of the Ripper, Cannibal Holocaust), Robert Sommer (Riddler's Moon, Rats: Night of Terror, The Final Executioner, Exterminators of the Year 3000, Conquest, Nightmare City, Hitch Hike, Don't Torture a Duckling, The X from Outer Space, Cannibal Holocaust), Pat Starke (The Mummy Theme Park, Killer Crocodile, After Death, Dial: Help, Vampire in Venice, Cannibal Holocaust I & II, The Barbarians, White Slave, Devil Fish, The Ark of the Sun God, The Pod People, The Raiders of Atlantis, Escape from the Bronx, Exterminators of the Year 3000, Ironmaster, The Scorpion with Two Tails, The New York Ripper, 2020 Freedom Fighters, Absurd, Cannibal Ferox, Murder Syndrome, Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper, Nightmare City, Hell of the Living Dead, House on the Edge of the Park, City of the Living Dead, Zombie Holocaust), Dan Sturkie (Wolfen, Captive, Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype, Don't Torture a Duckling).
The special effects are probably the most spectacular aspect of the movie, both in terms of being legitimately decent, and by the sheer glee that Simon obviously took in filming them (he likes to use slow motion from time to time, which is definitely the sign of a man who loved his work). The thing I really liked is the fact that, whatever other problems the effects may have, I don't recall seeing any dummys used. To realistically depict the severed head on the dresser in the opening sequence, they hollowed out the inside of it so the woman could sit inside, thus using her real head covered in blood. They either buried or covered up the head of the second decapitation victim (I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been, my apologies) so that they could use her actual body, and for the scene where the tennis player gets sawed in half, they must have built a stage for her to sit down in that covered her lower half. It'd be nice if more special effects guys did that kinda thing, because on a low budget movie the severed body parts almost always look like crap if you try making a fake piece. The rest of the effects aren't bad either, because like all dedicated special effects professionals, they were willing to go out and grab animal carcasses and innards to use in place of sausages and latex. Thus, flesh tears convincingly, and guts ooze spectactularly. There is one scene where the reporter gets knifed in the back of the head and you can see the rubber blade bend against the back of her skull, and I suppose the arms being sawed off in slow motion tend to make it clear the woman's arms are tucked against her sides, but in general, the effects are very good for the movie's budget, even if they do get a little silly with the volume of blood being sprayed from time to time. The shooting locations are a little generic and not particularly convincing. It's hard to say where they were shooting this thing, but I'm guessing it was probably a resort hotel or something along those lines. Definitely not a school, even though they did at least go to the trouble of shooting one scene in a library to help prop up the otherwise unconvincing shots. Mostly we're just talkin' home interiors, and I suppose if you've gotta have a weak point, the shooting locations are likely to do the least damage to the overall score. The soundtrack, for the most part, isn't too bad. It alternates between these really cheesy softcore porno tracks, and a pretty nifty Euro sound that's reminescent of the band Goblin, who performed in all the best European horror titles of the era including Suspiria, The Church, Phenomena, Beyond the Darkness, Deep Red, and even the original Dawn of the Dead. Fortunately, the cheesy tracks are in the minority, with the others being fast paced, suspenseful, and pretty catchy to boot, so I'm inclined to give it a decent score on the sound front. Overall, Pieces is a classic of the 1980s splatter subgenre, and a prime example of a flick whose fun factor helps balance out the occasional shortcomings inherent in a low budget movie. Be sure to check it out if you haven't already.