Pieces (1982)

Pieces (1982)Boston, 1942. The movie doesn’t waste any time and gets straight to the first body count, where a young boy is in his room minding his own business while pinning a pornographic jigsaw puzzle. In comes his strict and unhinged mother, who gives him a few slaps before she throws away that filthy thing. He then picks up an axe, which he happens to be allowed to have in his room for some reason, and chops his mother to death, before he saws off her head while he smiles, and then hides in a closet. When the cops come in, they just assume that the boy was lucky and managed to hide from the unknown killer. Little did they know..

 

Then we jump 40 years later, still in Boston, where the kid we just saw in the opening have grown up to be a serial killer (No, really? Who would’ve guessed). He hunts down young female students at a college, dressed as a classic giallo-style killer with a black coat, gloves and a big hat that hides his face behind its shadows. And speaking of shadows, the look of the killer is actually inspired by the comic book character The Shadow. He has also developed an obsession with pornographic jigsaw puzzles and is fixating to make his own, personal masterpiece(s) with real body parts. The first victim gets her head chopped off under the blue sky as she lies on the lawn outside the campus, studying. The chunky gardener, played by Paul “Bluto” Smith, is the first to be suspected, of course. The killings are being further investigated by Lt. Bracken (Christopher George) who also has a suspicious eye on the socially stunned anatomy teacher Arthur Brown (Jack Taylor), who looks like a reduced Vincent Price with a bad flu.

 

The tagline for Pieces says “You don’t have to go to Texas for a Chainsaw Massacre“. It’s probably the best and fitting tagline I’ve ever read for a film like this, and it isn’t an exaggeration either. Pieces is easily one of the goriest slashers from the 1980’s with all the mandatory recipes of Blood, Tits and Gore. The effects really stand out, especially the girl who gets sawed to pieces in the toilet, and some visual highlights like the woman who gets butchered on the water bed. And as bad, wooden and stiff the acting is, which is also the funniest part of the movie, they sure were dedicated enough to deal with gallons of animal blood, fresh from the local slaughterhouse, while organs from dead animals were used as the more gorier effects. Must have smelled just like pure movie magic. There is some really bizarre dialogues here, such as one of the female students saying right of the blue and makes it pretty clear that it’s the middle of the mating season: “the most beautiful thing in the world is to smoke pot and fuck in a waterbed at the same time”. I want a T-shirt with that quote. There’s also a complete random cameo of a Bruce Lee imitator that doesn’t make any sense. But nevertheless, Pieces is a lot of bloody, brainless fun with solid entertainment value that definitely belongs in every gore-hound’s film collection.

 

Pieces

 

Director: Juan Piquer Simón
Original title: Mil gritos tiene la noche
Country & year: Spain | USA | Puerto Rico, 1982
Actors: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Frank Braña, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Paul L. Smith, Jack Taylor, Gérard Tichy, May Heatherly, Hilda Fuchs, Roxana Nieto, Cristina Cottrelli, Leticia Marfil, Silvia Gambino, Carmen Aguado
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0082748/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Burning (1981)

The Burning (1981)It’s a hot summer night in Camp Blackfoot, where a group of teenagers are preparing to pull the prank of the year on the camp’s caretaker, Cropsy. We learn that he’s obviously a bully who deserves a lesson, and the kids also learn in the hard way that a prank with matches and fire isn’t the best combination. They sneak into his cabin, planning to scare him with a rotten skull full of maggots and candles in its eye sockets. It gets from bad to worse when the fire gets to Cropsy himself, and he runs out in full flame, with the kids being helpless witnesses as he stumbles down to the lake. Five years later, he is released from the hospital, completely deformed and disfigured by the burning, and of course, hungry for revenge.

 

So this is the premise of “The Burning”, the film which is best known for kick-starting the movie career for the Weinstein brothers, Harvey and Bob. Having founded the company Miramax Films in 1979, with only two obscure films in its catalog, the young brothers were desperate for a hit. And having realized that making a slasher is quick and cheap and could be big business like both “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and John Carpenter’s “Halloween”, and other slashers who came and went. So, why not. Harvey Weinstein was inspired by Cropsey, a boogeyman-urban legend from New York that was a popular campfire story, but ended up using only the name for the movie’s killer. And yeah, we all know at this point who turned out to be the real boogeyman here, but that’s a whole different story. Brother Bob was involved in writing the script and their mommy Mira worked as a consultant. So this was more or less a family project. The Brit Tony Maylan, who previously made documentaries, was set to direct while Jack Sholder worked as the editor, who later made “Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge”. Yes-keyboardist Rick Wakeman gives a great soundtrack, and Tom Savini stands for the effects. But the big star here is probably a young Jason “George Costanza” Alexander in one of the roles. Here he is 22, slim and has hair. Would you imagine. This was also his debut role. And no, we don’t get a twist where Cropsy is actually Cosmo Kramer, even though it’s a hilarious thought. And enough Seinfeld references for today.

 

With some great talents in place with lots of potential, it’s too bad that the film itself is nothing much. After the opening sequence and a quick, gritty scene where Cropsy, dressed as a giallo killer, visits a brothel and find his weapon of choice with which he kills one of the whores before he heads to the camp, the film is pretty dull and boring. There’s too far between the interesting moments, and most of the second act is just lots of filler scenes where the kids bathe, smoke, and mostly do nothing to keep the interest up. No build up, no tension, just a bunch of random scenes that goes nowhere. And visually this looks more like a cheap teen comedy, where atmosphere is nowhere to be found. And the night scenes in the woods that were shot day-for-night…why even bother? This is just lazy and uninspiring. Yawn. Where did the budget go? Who knows. So, where’s all the killing scenes? In the last twenty minutes, if you’re patient. And some of them are brutal and juicy, at least.

 

And if you want to know more about the original “Cropsey”, watch the documentary “Cropsey” from 2009.

 

The Burning

 

Director: Tony Maylam
Country & year: USA, 1981
Actors: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Larry Joshua, Jason Alexander, Ned Eisenberg, Carrick Glenn, Carolyn Houlihan, Fisher Stevens, Lou David
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0082118/

 

Tom Ghoul