Theatrical Release: September 23, 1983 (USA)
DVD Release: October 28, 2008
Director: Juan Piquer Simon
Review by James Klein
Pieces is a movie that must be seen to be believed. It’s one of those “kitchen sink” films where it throws at the audience everything it can think of: gore, nudity, comedy, kung fu, aerobics…if there ever was a movie that you thought was complete batshit, Pieces may beat that movie. One thing for sure: I cannot be friends with anyone who doesn’t like Pieces or appreciates its obscure, what-the-hell attitude. Sure, it ranks up there with I Spit On Your Grave and Maniac as being one of the sleaziest horror films out there but while those films are dark, dreary, and depressing. Pieces is a rollercoaster ride filled with complete insanity that one can’t help but laugh or smile.
Shot in Spain with a cast made up of actors who are mostly dubbed, despite being American, Pieces starts off with a young boy in his room working on a jigsaw puzzle of a nude woman. When Mommy catches him and goes completely nuts, the boy takes an axe to Mommy. After chopping up Mommy and drenched in blood, the boy sits back down and finishes his puzzle. When police arrive at the scene, the boy lies about what had happened, saying some big man came in and did this to her. The police somehow buy the story and all is well until we get the classic “______ Years Later” tagline.
At a college campus, women are being brutally attacked by a killer with a chainsaw but somehow keeps escaping. Women are sawn in half, decapitated, stabbed, one even pees herself before being killed. Of course, almost all of these women are in some state of undress. While the police, lead by genre favorite Christopher George and the dean of the school (Edmund Purdom from Don’t Open Till Christmas) think that it could be the groundskeeper (Paul L. Smith) one student believes that it could be someone else associated with the school and decides to do some detective work on his own.
It is obvious that director Juan Piquer Simon didn’t take this film seriously at all and kind of said, “Fuck it.” and threw in whatever he could to make this film enjoyable and entertaining. There are some great lines as well in Pieces, some of them include:
“The most beautiful thing in the world is… smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed, at the same time.”
“Professor Brown… you see… is a homosexual.”
“I guess I’m so used to bodies… dead ones… that I’m callous.”
“Hey, it’s Mr. Chow, my kung fu professor.” (this is my favorite scene in the entire film as we get a two minute kung fu attack out of nowhere and lasts until the attacker is kicked in the balls. When he gets up and it’s Mr. Chow, in a really bad dubbed fake Asian voice, he tells everyone that he was just out jogging and next thing he knows, he is on the ground, maybe its bad chop suey. I will argue that this could be one of the greatest and most ridiculous scenes in film history. I scream with laughter every time. )
Aside from the bizarre dialog, Pieces almost purposely doesn’t make any sense with characters suddenly doing something completely out of character. Adding to the strangeness is the fact that the music in the film is all library music (credited as “Cam” in the film?) and the climax has a dead body tearing apart a man’s crotch.
Grindhouse Releasing does a fantastic job with Pieces, with the picture and sound never looking better. I’m used to watching an old murky Vestron VHS tape I had that was put out in the early 80’s. Now, we get to see just how gory but yet cheap the special effects really were. Some fans may complain that the picture may look too good since Pieces seems to be made for looking like a grindhouse film. This 2 disc set also includes the Spanish opening which is just edited differently, the theatrical trailer and what may be the highlight; an hour long interview with Juan Piquer Simon and Paul L. Smith. Simon pretty much admits he was screwing around while making Pieces and what it was like to make such a strange film. Smith talks about his entire career going through films like Midnight Express, Popeye, Dune, Crimewave, as well as Pieces which he believes is a decent horror film!
Pieces is one of those movies that if I find out a friend hasn’t seen it, I have to throw it in the DVD player right away so that person can have the honor of seeing something so off the wall. While this film is best viewed at a drive-in (I have seen it twice at the drive-in I am proud to say) but this beautiful DVD by Grindhouse would be the second best option.