Decided to take in a classic slice of cheeze today in the form of Juan Piquer Simon’s Spanish slasher… Pieces. So, it’s been over 20 years since I last sat down with this gem, and I went into it with a preset feeling that it wasn’t going to be good. Boy I couldn’t have been more wrong…. it was terrible… but fun!
While playing with a puzzle, a young boy is repressed and verbally abused by his mother. After she blows up at him, he kills her, chopping her up with an axe. Forty years later, on a university campus in Boston, a serial killer is loose chain-sawing young women into pieces, keeping a specific part each time. Lt. Bracken makes a deal with the dean of the campus, and sends in undercover agent Mary Riggs posing as a tennis teacher. Together with the help of a student named Kendall, they try to find the identity of the killer.
The acting in this film is laughably horrible, and sports some really rough audio dubbing. Somehow though, the film retains a simple charm with its silly dialogue and awkward performances. A scene where Lynda Day George steps out of a change room after finding a fresh kill and cries “bastard!… baaastaaard!… baaaastaaaarrrd!” …. classic!
This was the heyday of bad decision making. Women were always alone, giving the killer plenty of time to enjoy his kills… and he’s using a bloody chainsaw! A young woman studying alone and secluded behind the bushes on campus, a young woman swiming alone at night in a darkened pool, a woman walking alone on a dark path… the list goes on. I mean c’mon, as the body count grows, they still seem to put themselves in these ridiculous secluded situations, offering stalkers and serial killers a one-stop buffet. On top of this painful separation from the general populace (of which there seemed to be none), there are scenes that make absolutely no sense… but anything to move the story… right? In one scene, an Asian student attacks the female undercover cop at night on a dark path… go figure. In the middle of the attack, he passes out, after which he tries to blame it on bad chop suey before running off. It’s completely random, kinda like the director said Kung Fu’s cool… I wanna put a kung fu scene right here!
On the plus side, for a film thats over 25 years old, the gore effects are surprisingly brutal (in a good way). Most of the film is shot in well lit environments, so the blood and guts are pretty vibrant and surprisingly realistic. One scene in particular where the killer chainsaws a girl in half was done with a closeup using an actual pig carcass… totally gruesome and pretty believable. For what it’s worth, Pieces is arguably one of the goriest films of its time. Other films of that era tended to hide a lot of the gore in darkened shots, but Pieces isn’t afraid to show it all. Even the opening axe scene is pretty brutal.
The final staple in a good 80s horror film is the nudity… “boobs and blood”! Pieces has its fair share, although early 80s nudity is nowhere near as sexy or enjoyable as you remembered back in the day.
If you like your slasher flics, Pieces is one of those rare finds that deserves a spot in your collection. It’s far from a good film, but what it does right, it does well. Pieces is currently available on DVD only.