Denez McAdoo

Pieces1983″Pieces…It’s exactly what you think it is!”unrated – 89 minutes

Ah, the lost great piece of Italian “giallo” horror film that never was. Not that it “never was” completed or released. Just that it “never was” Italian. Shot and filmed in our very own Boston, MA by Spanish director Juan Piquer Simon, Pieces runs like a textbook example of Italian horror. Out-of-sync post-production audio: check. Elaborately choreographed murder sequences: check. Bad-ass prog-rock sound track (preformed here by CAM): check. Complete disruption of suspense through the use of slow-motion camera work: cheee-yeck.

Pieces tells the story of a young boy who, after being corrupted by his father’s pornographic puzzle collection, decides to butcher and then decapitate his mother for trying to punish him. He wisely hides in the closet and cries like a baby once the cops arrive and fools them into thinking he himself was simply another victim. Now, in present day 1983, the boy has grown into a man and has apparently, though inexplicably, decided to once again start hacking up nubile young women in and around an unnamed university campus, strategically sawing off different parts of their bodies in an attempt to somehow reconstruct a decaying flesh and blood effigy of his dead mother. The killer’s plan is conveniently explained to us by the murder scenes being paralleled with shots of his excruciatingly slow reconstruction of the blood splattered porno-puzzle (no, for real. Like, it’s a puzzle with a saucy little brunette number as the completed puzzle picture. That’s why it’s called Pieces…get it?!). This leads to a veritable whodunit as director Juan Piquer Simon (mis)leads us towards clues as to the killers actual identity. Is it Willard, the shifty foreign brute and resident maintenance man? Or how ’bout Kendall, the curly-haired lanky dweeb who, defying all logic of the real world, scores with three different women throughout the film (he probably drives a Corvette)? Who knows? Who cares! With no apparent motivations for the killings beyond, um, having done it previously when he was but the tender age of seven, the actual identity of the killer is bound to be, at best, a disappointment anyways.

But is Pieces simply another formulaic horror cliché? Yes, but it is, in fact, its very obviousness that is this movies main advantage. The film hits every Italian giallo horror convention (a sub-genre of Italian horror defined by trench-coat-wearing mystery killers who are revealed to be one of the main characters) so squarely on the head, without being the least bit ironic, brigs to mind the age-old adage: if it ain’t broke; don’t fix it. What do you think the killer uses as his weapon of choice? A chainsaw. Does this make sense considering several of the killings take place during broad day light in sufficiently populated areas? Absolutely not. Is this still a totally awesome set up, nonetheless? Hells yeah! There’s even that thing where victims run while the killer slowly walks behind them but still always manages to catch up in time to jump our from in front of them, chainsaw in hand. But still, when we are rewarded with stunning set pieces, such as the water bed butchering and elevator dismemberment, frankly, I don’t’ mind. The problem with most other by-the-book horror, is that in practice, they rarely deliver where as Pieces not only brings home the bacon but splatters the scalding-hot gristle right in your baby-sister’s face. Though it occasionally falls into slow and static dialogue which, granted, does serve to forward the plot and develop the characters a bit, Pieces frequently breaks up this monotony with enough memorable hack scenes to keep the pace flowing smoothly. And if the completely out of left field, totally inexplicable, crap-your-pants of a surprise ending doesn’t have you convinced that this is a great movie, perhaps you should go back to the Driving Miss Daisy and Steel Magnolias that I think your aunt and your mother are eating bonbons and sharing Kleenexes to over in the other room somewhere. I don’t care what Ebert and Roeper would have to say, this movie is great, and made me throw up in my mouth four out of five times.