Pieces: Disgusting & Stupid
Dir. Juan Piquer Simon (1982)
After being caught putting together a puzzle with a nude woman on it, a young man kills his mother with an axe. Years later, he unleashes a horrific chainsaw murder spree on a college campus.
This was one, I'm ashamed to say, I hadn't heard much about until recently. Apparently, Pieces has a HUGE cult following, drawing many midnight movie-goers to showings around the country even today. Others tout it as the worst movie ever made. Let me just say, first off, that if they actually think this is the worst movie ever made, they haven't seen half of the shit I've seen.
Pieces is, essentially, a bad 70's slasher film that happened to be made in 1982. It's outdated, it's period-specific, and the acting is horrific, because obviously. It doesn't take itself seriously, which is good, because it's not. It's clearly of the Herschel Gordon Lewis lineage, as the gore isn't incredibly realistic, but is incredibly gory. These aren't bad things, and what Pieces sets out to do, it accomplishes in spades. However, it does set itself firmly in the category of your standard, run-of-the-mill 70's slasher films (although again, about 3 years too late).
It's got your stereotypical nude scenes, including a topless chase near the end that results in a total disembowelment. It's got buckets of blood and guts, again very reminiscent of HGL. There's a knife through the face on a waterbed, an axe in the head in the first 5 minutes of the film, and a completely and utterly random encounter with a karate teacher who jumps out of the shadows and attempts to perform karate and then is knocked cold by a knee to the nether-regions. I'm still not entirely sure what that last one was about, but I really tried not to think too hard on it. It's got everything you're looking for in a standard slasher: it's a movie you've seen a million times over with a budget you've probably got in your wallet right now. Again, all good things as far as I'm concerned.
And yeah, it's totally ridiculous. It's amassed a cult following as a bad horror movie. It's one of those. It's Rocky Horror without the transvestites, songs, and humor: tasteless dialogue, ridiculous acting, and people who can sit in the movie theater and quote the lines. My DVD actually came with a soundtrack lifted from a Eli Roth-presented showing in Los Angeles, which is kinda cool. It gives you a little background on how the audience views the movie, with one viewer saying something along the lines of "I'm here for tits and blood and guts." That guy wasn't disappointed, for sure.
The practical sfx were pretty decent. They actually cut up a pig carcass for one of the chainsaw kills. And come on... the tagline is one of the best ever: You don't have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre! Come on, that's awesome! This is back in the day when you used to have to have a great tagline to sell a movie. You know, "keep repeating, it's only a movie", "in space no one can hear you scream," etc. etc. We need more of that.
This was a movie that could only be made in the time period it was made, could only have suffered from recruiting bigger acting talent, and will remain in the midnight matinee category of horror flicks for years to come. And that's right where it belongs.
Bottom line: Standard, subpar slasher that belongs with other films of its ilk. A decade or so too late to be groundbreaking, too dumb to be a true classic, but just bloody and goofy enough to be the perfect presentation of what it is. 3 stars out of 5.