Reviewed by Ian Watson
Reviewer’s note: Pieces is an odd duck. It can’t be properly enjoyed while sober or during the cold light of day, so a more accurate rating would be: One Star (if viewed while sober) Five Stars (if seen under the influence).
Not that I condone enjoying slasher movies with the synapses disrupted, but it’s always worked for me.
Early on in Pieces, Spanish director Juan Piquer Simon’s bandwagon-jumping slasher effort, a woman scolds her son for completing a jigsaw that gives him his first glimpse of the female birthday suit. So he takes an axe to her. Not a sequence you’d expect to bring down the house, but the stilted performances, horrible dubbing and inept staging did just that. And this was just the opening scene.
Forty years later, co-eds on a New England campus are being carved up by a sicko with a power tool, the body parts used to create a life-size jigsaw puzzle. Astute viewers may make a connection. Enter Christopher George’s Keystone Kop, who like everyone else doesn’t find it strange that nobody witnessed a girl being decapitated on the front lawn in broad daylight. Such a crack detective is our hero that upon finding severed limbs next to a bloody power tool, he asks, “Could that have been done with a chainsaw?”
Later, asked for comment on rumors of a psychotic killer loose on campus, he tells a reporter: “There are rumors like that every couple of months.” Sensing he’s no Columbo, George enlists fellow kop Lynda Day to go undercover as a tennis coach (why not?), but when she’s not over-emoting over a cut-up corpse she’s fighting off a “kung fu professor” who attacks her for no reason before apologizing(“Something I eat. Bad chop suey!”) and running away, never to be seen again.
By the time Paul L Smith’s twitchy janitor, found standing over a corpse clutching the murder weapon, was released by police because “there wasn’t enough evidence”, we had to wonder if we were watching a comedy of the post-modern variety. Why else would a co-ed get into a lift with a black-clad, chainsaw-wielding figure just because she recognized him? How could she not notice the ‘saw until he revved it up? And was the actor playing Professor Brown really Ben Stiller with a false mustache?
One thing’s certain: Pieces is a ton of trashy, schlocky, stupid fun that goes great with alcohol and friends after midnight. It almost makes you want to seek out director Simon’s later Pod People (1984), which features an ALF-like alien named Trumpy.
Reviewed by Ian Watson
Length: 89 min