Director: Juan Piquer Simon
Pieces is one of the most enjoyable films I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing, not because of it's fine qualities, which the film does have, but because of the entertaining characters and the stupid choices they make. This is one of those films you really have to see with a group of friends, because with my circle of friends this film has become the thing of legends.
The film starts out in the 1940's, with a young boy putting together a puzzle of a naked girl. His mom busts in on this fun past time and bitch slaps him a couple of times to teach him a lesson. Well the lesson wasn't understood by the kid and he proceeds to chop up his mom with a large ax. When the cops arrive at the scene they mistaken the boy for a victim and put him into foster care, hopefully with enough sleazy puzzles to keep his insane mind occupied enough to not chop up more people. We then flash forward to 1983 at a college campus in Boston, Massachusetts, where a now grown psycho begins starting a killing spree in the otherwise peaceful university.
The rage of a young pervert is frightening. Don't mess with his nudie puzzles.
The effects in this film are gorishly frightening and deliciously sleazy in that italian slasher, giallo sense. They spare no expense for the flowing of blood and each kill is graphically displayed like a proud kid showing his first place spelling bee trophy. It may be crude and somewhat excessive to form, but for me the gore effects work and are quite well done for this time period and budget. There's nothing like seeing a headless body of some poor woman just basking in the afternoon sun. Goretastic!
This woman was having such a nice time in the park that she lost her head.
Once the killings start to happen, the university calls on the intuitive skills of Detective Bracken, played by the great Christopher George. Christopher is no stranger to the obscure genre of horror and has starred in many classic flicks like Grizzly, Day of the Animals, and Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead, so he's somewhat of a veteran in this field. He brings a kind of swagger to his role as detective and always seems to have the answers even though he has to later enlist a young college student to help him solve the crimes.
|Christopher George is one smug son of a bitch.|
As Detective Bracken searches for the identity of the person behind the murders, we are given glimpses of a few suspects that continue to show up in this baffling case. One of our main red herrings is in the form of Popeye's arch enemy Bluto and campus gardener Willard, otherwise known as Paul Smith. He keeps showing up after each one of the murders with a suspicious look on his face, the sneaky bastard. Then there's the dean of the school, played by Edmund Purdom, who seems rather put off by the reputation of the school being compromised by these grizzly murders and doesn't seemed concerned in the slightest about the well being of the other students on campus. Both of these guys are prime suspects, but there still isn't any shred of evidence to place any of them at the scene of the crime.
|Bluto says, Dean you are a stupid head.|
What really makes this film the ridiculous and marvelous spectacle that it is, is the introduction to one of the most annoying yet cool as shit dudes, Kendall, played by the luckiest actor in the entire world, Ian Sera. This guy is the biggest dork I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, yet he is with a different woman each scene he appears in. How this guy gets the amount of tail he gets in this film, is mind boggling and it doesn't help matters either that he has a curly headed perm and a shit eating grin glued on his face 24 hours a day. In this bizarre world the film is set in, Kendall becomes an intricate part of the ongoing investigation, even getting deputized by Detective Bracken later on in the film. It's madness yet it's so damn entertaining you can't look away.
|Jesus christ, look at this guy!|
The moments when Willard the gardener is caught multiple times, at the scene of the crime are just hilarious in their ludicrousness. In one of the most outrageous displays of red herringdom, Willard is seen standing by a bloody chainsaw, with blood all over his hands, and a suspicious looking grin as if saying, "Yeah I'm the killer, big woop." To make his case even worse, he fights off the police when they arrive at the scene, making him look like a mad lunatic as he throws them through doors and hulks out better then the legendary Hulk Hogan himself. When we find that he couldn't have possibly committed those crimes because he was somewhere else, the audience is given a big, "What the fuck was this whole set up of Bluto being the killer for!" If it wasn't so hilarious and enjoyable to watch I would have been pretty pissed off, but to me that is what the charm of the film is all about. It doesn't make a lick of sense and I love it for that. Plus how can I stay mad at a face like Willard's.
Just look at that suspicious expression! How are we not
supposed to suspect this guy of committing the murders.
He practically has it stapled on his large forehead!
Ok, now back to the deputizing of Kendall. For some reason, Detective Bracken has a good feeling about Kendall and doesn't suspect him of being the killer even though he's been spotted at the scene of the crime each time the killer slices up one of his victims. Bracken even goes as far as vouching for Kendall's innocence when one of his colleagues wisely mentions Kendall being a prime suspect. The detective spouts these lines of Kendall being a bright kid and the apple of his eye, or some shit like that, and deputizes him making him his partner on this case. Every time Bracken and the rest of the police force are stuck on what do to next, they give Kendall a call, and miraculously he knows what to do. I'd be crying over this horrible plot in the film if I wasn't laughing my ass off over how absurd the notion really is. These moments of Kendall praising by Detective Bracken always bring to mind the line, "Quick get Kendall", as if that silly line was this films answer to "What Would Jesus Do?" The guy is treated like the second coming of christ and he's a full blown tool, as seen in picture below. Now that's Kendall-tastic!
|This is the start of their beautiful friendship. What a dream team.|
Now before you forget that this is indeed a horror film, there are some brilliant set ups and tension filled scenes of the killer stalking a dancer as she practices her routine after hours at the campus. These moments are rich with voyeuristic intent and bring the old technique of the point of view camera shot into play. The scenes where this concept is used is pure 80's in tone and style and is great to see drawn out as the killer gets closer and closer to his prey. We are even treated to some creepy silhouettes of the killer as he looks through a glass opening in the studio door. Other then the over the top story line of Kendall becoming one with the police, this really is an enjoyable slasher that has a charm of its own.
|Dick Tracy even makes an appearance in this wild film.|
The highlights of this film, like in all slasher movies, is when the killer makes his kill. Each murder is more brutal then the next and like I've already mentioned, the camera stays through all of the bloody details. Even chainsaw kills are seen in their entirety, as we watch limbs go flying from bodies, leaving a stream of blood to spout from their bloody stumps. It's pretty bold stuff and nothing seems scaled back or held at bay from the viewers eyes. That is something that I can truly appreciate and be proud of in this topsy turvy film.
|The killer is about to take his next victim. Quick get Kendall!|
As the bodies begin to pile up, the cops still don't have a clue as to who is performing the murders. The entire cast is full of red herrings and no one is excluded as being a suspect. That is unless your name is Kendall and you have the soft side of velcro on top of your bulbous head. I think we have a winner! If you think Kendall is familiar in this movie, then you might remember him in another Juan Piquer Simon film entitled, The Pod People. That shit stain of a film has the same qualities that make Pieces the entertaining gem that it is. I have only seen the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 version of the film, but the movie centers around a furry creature from space that can do "magic things" and who has the nose of an ant eater and the movements of a midget with a stick up its ass. The MST3K version is actually very hilarious and I recommend you check it out, because there are some classic moments in it. Now back to 'Kendall Saves the Day'.
|I must have this group photo framed in my house. Classic.|
As the film goes on, we are proven that brutality is the name of the game, as we're witnesses to some gory kills all in the name of slasher cinema. It's very strange to have such a light and fluffy cast in such a heavy blood driven narrative, but that's what we are given in Pieces. You go from a corny scene where Kendall arrives just when the killer is taking his next victim, and Kendall begins ordering around the police officers and they actually listen to his stupid ass, to a graphic shot of a woman getting her skull caved in by a large kitchen knife that proceeds to jut out her mouth. Nasty stuff and to be paired with the idiot stylings of Kendall, is truly rare in any kind of film.
|Holy shit! Will someone get Kendall!|
I haven't really delved into the acting of this film. Well put on your shit waders, cause this is not a pretty sight. Every actor does their damnedest, but the end result is something rather amusing and entirely opposite of what they were originally trying to convey. Take the character of Mary Riggs for example, played by the lovely Lynda Day George, who also starred alongside Christopher George in Day of the Animals. In her one pivotal scene, she is supposed to be outraged by the killings and how they haven't been able to stop the murderer. She screams at the top of her lungs, "Bastard.... Bastard!", but instead of gaining an oscar worthy performance in this dramatic exposition we are given a scene that provides more laughter then heart felt sympathy for her characters plight. I for one love the scene as it is and revel in all its absurdity, but you can tell that this wasn't the intent of the director. I feel that these missteps actually add to the charm of the film and make it more memorable then if it was played straight forward and effectively came off as that.
|I think Kendall is a..... Bastard! Bastard!|
I really don't want to give the ending of the film away, because it really should be experience by a group of people that are all viewing the film for the first time. To say the least, it ends in a doozy of a ball busting conclusion, where one of our most beloved characters gets what was coming to him for the entire length of the movie. After this conclusion, I can stomach all the praises of Kendall in the world if it means all of this adoration leads to this moment. The only thing I'll show you is the last shot from the film, where Kendall has one of the most ridiculous expressions ever to grace the slasher movie history books. Enjoy.
|Somebody quick, get Kendall's balls on ice!|
Pieces is a slasher film that really is a classic in its own sense. For some reason the charm in this film has stayed with me for years and after viewing it recently, the memories have never diminished. It's a goofy but well put together 80's slasher that has all the elements that we love in these stories. It has got the interesting characters that you'd never find in any other genre, its got the lovely ladies of the era, it has the buckets of blood served fresh from the killers brutal slayings, and it has a fun quality to it that really can't be described. This unique element is what makes this film so enjoyable and one that places it in a classic status, remembered by all the good times had while viewing it with great friends. I highly recommend you get a group of friends together this weekend and pop this bad boy into your set. You won't be disappointed at how absurd this slasher film can get and how thoroughly entertaining the whole debacle is. Always remember, what would Kendall do?
4 out of 5 stars One of the Most Entertaining Slashers Out There!