Pieces (1982) - You don't have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!
PLOT - Forty years ago a young boy brutally murdered his body by hacking her to pieces and later blaming the crime on a break-in. Years later he witnesses an accident that triggers his memory of his mother's murder causing him to begin to hack up co-eds at a local collage campus in Boston to piece together and get his mother back once and for all.
Warning! This review contains spoilers!!!
LOWDOWN - I first heard of Pieces years ago after first watching the killer documentary Going To Pieces The Rise And Fall Of The Slasher Film. Here this movie was spoken about several times along with clips being shown throughout the feature. Instantly I knew I had to track down this gritty little gen. That same year I bought the movie on bootleg at Rock & Shock and finally saw what all the hype was about. This movie captured the grittiness of the late 1970's/ early 80's and was a film that wasn't sleek or clean like so many of the slashers that were released in the 1990's. This movie captured the same feel early slashers like Don't Go Into The House or Don't Answer The Phone had but had it's brutal scenes of violence and gore to make it stand apart from all the others. Directed by an Italian director, the movie featured terrible dubbing, nudity, and blood splattering everywhere. In fact I would say if you are a fan of Italian horror this is a movie you would dig.
The film doesn't hold back at all. In fact in just the first few minutes of the film we witness a young boy hacking his mother to death with an axe and then saw blade! The film sets up showing how twisted the killer's mind is. One of my favorite shots is him opening up the box which holds his mother's bloody dress and shoes he's kept all these years. The best of it is the symbolism of the playboy puzzle game that his mother originally caught him playing with all those years ago. In all manners of speaking what he's attempting to do again is solve one big puzzle. Piece together the body parts of all of the victims and make his mother. It almost seems like a twisted version of Psycho. Several movies showed dark relationships with the killers and their mother's, This one was perfect. In fact sources say if one certain version with subtitles you can hear the killer as he takes out the dress asking out loud why his mother had to leave him? This is what makes Pieces stand apart from so many slashers that happened in the early to mid 1980's. This killer had a twisted motivation and as cheesy as the film seems, actually was written quite well.
The film shows forty years later in Boston (parts were filmed in Boston as well as Spain) where a young lively girl is skateboarding and accidentally smashes into a large mirror two movers are attempting to bring across the street. The killer witnesses this and instantly remembers shortly before he murdered his mother how in a fit of range she smashed the mirror in his bedroom. This causes a mental block to break down, and begins to massacre. The next scene shows the same girl a few days later laying out in the park trying to study when she hears the noise of a chainsaw. Looking over she sees a groundskeeper with his hood up and goggles trimming branches. She asks if he's going to be long, if so she'll move. The groundskeeper remarks he'll be done shortly and seconds later the blade comes out of nowhere cutting her head off in broad daylight. This is what makes this slasher different. In fact just last night I rematched it with a friend of mine and I couldn't believe how scary this scene actually is. The killer legit is standing all covered up and speaks to the victim before talking to her in a public place in the MIDDLE OF THE DAY!
Well the police get involved and a few days later a young beautiful co-ed goes to the school pool in the middle of the night for a late night swim to meet up with the local college stud. Well instead the killer follows her (again another SUPER scary scene of the killer in the shadows getting his chainsaw ready to kill her.) Here he cuts off her torso. There are of course plenty of suspects, such as the boy she was supposed to meet, a professor, and the actual groundskeeper. The movie is FULL of laughable moments such as the body being covered up with a clear plastic sheet, or how legit everyone is touching evidence after the murder. Still, this second kill makes the local police nervous so they hire an undercover cop who poses as the new female tennis instructor. Here the college is scrambling to not let any of this leak to the press despite a nosey woman reporter constantly asking questions. Here the police decide to let the local college stud to team up with the undercover cop since he knows pretty much everyone on campus.
A few days later we witness a dancer staying late in the studio practicing with the killer looking in on her. Getting nervous, she hurries out of there and legit misses the killer by just seconds. On her way out of the building she runs smack dab in the middle with him in the elevator (again his face unseen) that's when he whips out the chainsaw and hacks off her arms as she screams, still alive. Shortly after she's found the police and ambiance arrive but she dies due to blood loss. With no cues, the police are completely lost on who's doing this and why?
I love how the school still stays open and there's no security.
Well we see what the killer has been up to. It appears he has a pretty fancy walk-in freezer and he's slowly piecing together his mother. Part, by part...
Well this movie not only features a fuck load of nudity, we also get some full frontal by the male lead. I applaud this move, not just because I'm a chick, but looks like the director was trying to be fair for the mixed audience. Also it's rare we get to see a guy's dick on screen. Another reason why this movie is gritty, and realistic. Bravo, more dick please.
Well we have our laughable kung-fu scene where the undercover police woman gets attacked for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Just goes to show how bad shit crazy and random this movie can become. That same night the nosey female reporter is still strolling around on campus alone when she wanders into the physical therapy room and gets attacked by the killer with a butcher knife RIGHT through her mouth! (Another memorable kill like this was shown in Psycho II) This murder is beautifully shot since the victim falls on the brand new waterbed which is remarked on earlier in the film as a bunch of students standing around in the hallway AT SCHOOL smoking a joint say that there is no better feeling than getting stoned, and screwing on a waterbed. Ah the 1980's. what a time to be alive!
The killer strikes again in the middle of the day after a tennis match and blasting band music over the loud speakers to cover up the sounds of the chainsaw and screams of his next victim. This kill is unsetting simply because of how realistic it seems. The poor young girl is topless (of course) and tries hiding in the rest room when the killer saws open the door. Terrified she pisses herself. This is something that's rarely shown, but adds to how dirty and real it all feels. After the body is discovered we get the greatest line ever spoken in a horror movie.
The school STILL remains open and it's discovered that the dean of the college is in fact our killer after the police dig up the truth about his mother's murder all those years ago. That same night the undercover police woman goes to the dean's very fancy office/apartment to talk with him about one of the suspects. As the police race to help her, the dean has his eyes on her feet since the last pair he got didn't fit his mother's shoes (killer problems) so he drugs her coffee not once but twice leaving her paralyzed, unable to move but totally aware of what's happening. Well when the young college student breaks into the office before the police the killer jumps out and there's s brief fight before the police arrive and shoots the killer right in the head. All seems to be saved. Shortly after the rest of the police arrive the young college guy accidentally leans against the bookshelf making it spin around revealing the rotting body to fall on him. I'll admit, this scared the FUCK out of me when I first saw it. Afterwards, as the guy steps over the covered up body the most strange and awesome pop out happens. The hand reaches up and claws the guy's dick off. Seriously...this happens. I'm sure it was just used as a final scare for the movie but who knows, the parts did belong to plenty of girls he screwed around with. Just another reason why Pieces is so strange yet so wonderful.
I was able to get this movie on DVD and this past year finally on a great blu-ray release which had a limited edition as well as having the soundtrack and Playboy puzzle in it. This is in my top ten favorite slashers of all time. It belong with the ranks of such movies as The Mutilator, Intruder, and The Burning. This was back when horror movies were horror movies and it's one of my all time favorites. This blu-ray release was right on the money and I still have to go through all the special features. I do know that director Eli Roth and horror host Joe Bob Briggs love this movie and it's a favorite of theirs to screen at special events. This movie is gaining a whole new fan base and thanks to many many awesome companies we get new artwork based off it, pins, and even shirts. My Pieces shirt from Fright Rags is one of my all time favorites. I might get smacked for saying this but I would love to see Eli Roth do a remake to this movie. I feel only he could keep it gritty and completely splattered with blood.
4 1/2 stars!