Monday, March 19, 2012

Pieces / Mil gritos tiene la noche (1982).

I've just traded up my LOVEFiLM subscription so that I have unlimited streaming, rather than disc rentals. It's only until I wrote that sentence just now that I feel a little sad about it! I am giving up properly renting films, probably for good. It's another step into "the future" but also another reason to be nostalgic.

Pieces is the film that may very well be my last ever disc-in-the-post rented movie, then. A good one to go out on!

Um, hello awesome poster art, too...?!

From here.

The tagline "It's Exactly What You Think It Is!" pretty much sums this film up, although don't make my mistake and presume this to be a bad or un-entertaining thing.

I put this DVD on for the simple reason that my unlimited streaming isn't activated until LOVEFiLM get their outstanding disc back. I wanted to watch this so that I could return it. Effectively, I put Pieces on because I wanted it out of the way.

Well ladies and germs, my face is red, because this film is pretty damn good.

From the get go we have that wonderful sense of slight disconnection, due to the film being dubbed from its original Spanish. That, and the seedy 80s look of the thing bring Fulci to mind, which can only be a good thing.

The plot, in all of its uncomplicated glory: a young boy murders his violent overbearing mother, back in 1942. (Did they have plastic bags in 1942? There's a moment in this sequence when she screams for him to fetch her one so she can bag up his things to burn them. Hmm) In any case, the kid's having none of it and chops her into bits - or pieces, if you will - with an axe.

It might have been this moment, this face, which made me realise I was gonna love this movie.

And this one which clarified the fact.

Many years later the little boy is all grown up and he's been serial killer/stalker wardrobe shopping. Black gloves, brimmed hat, long black coat... the works. He prowls around a Boston college campus breathing heavily, killing women - now using a chainsaw - and collecting body parts in order to assemble a gruesome human puzzle, harking back to the moment he offed his mum.

She flipped out when she caught him putting this together.

With each real "piece" he collects, he builds this puzzle along with it. We follow the many murders as the police, aided by male student Kendall (Ian Sera) try and mostly fail to work out what the bloody hell is going on. Bizarrely, the university seems pretty happy to continue to stay open and fully functioning, even as the body count rises. I love you, horror movie logic.

There's even time for some dancing.

But mostly there's a lot of this.

As the above shows, the first thing to love about this film is the gore.

The internet informs me that a pig carcass was used for this one.

Keeping to the Pieces keyword of "simple", the butchery is just that. The quick, bloody and solid practical effects do the job in each and every appearance. Shots of dismemberment tend to be fast, giving them more impact and the viewer less time to nitpick. Not that there's much to complain about for the most part. I mean, look:


This film is so capable in its gruesomeness though, that even the "mistakes" (such as the disembodied head pictured earlier obviously moving during its short screen-time) come across as endearing.

Another excellent facet of the Pieces personality is how gratuitously it sets up characters as potentially being the killer. Two favourite instances of this are...

Willard the sweaty, squinty-eyed groundskeeper lovingly polishing his chainsaw. It couldn't be... could it?!

This one made me laugh out loud. So unnaturally posed, it's brilliant.

A tableau of suspects! These people weren't even standing near one another a moment ago in this scene, now they're suddenly all crammed into shot like this!

The adorable heavy-handedness continues with the clumsily inserted inclusion of a Bruce Lee kung-fu type for no reason other than he was starring in the director's other film at the time (see the first trivia point here) and an early mention of something which was later to become a murder scene. Why was this heavy handed, you ask? Because it's a water bed. A water bed in a college gymnasium. Hush with your protestations though, because the kill is worth it.

The audience aren't told of the killer's identity until just before the final showdown. Being as I am someone who doesn't generally try to work out things like this and who suspends their disbelief to a ridiculous degree, I hadn't guessed it (I never do, it's great).

For what on first glance appears to be nothing more than a scuzzy Spanish slasher flick, there are some rather wonderfully composed shots in here.

Climax of the water bed scene. Love this.

Thankfully it also manages to be something of a scuzzy Spanish slasher flick...! So many tits!

A shot of a girl peeing herself in fear!

Furthermore, I was delighted surprised to notice an appearance of a cock, too. No I didn't screencap that. Tempted, but no. The character of Kendall, doing remarkably well for someone whose fuck buddy was drowned and dissected only days ago, is seen in bed with an insatiable brunette before jumping out and yes, introducing us to Little Kendall. Ahh the 80s; ahh the European casual attitude to nudity.

Hitting the spot right up until the end credits, we have the eventual discovery of the human jigsaw by way of... a comedy lean onto a revolving bookcase.

The composite corpse promptly flops forward onto our campus stud.


One final treat, one final scare: in a moment of vulnerability, Little Kendall is mauled by the pieced-together corpse!

Maybe that was the purpose of showing us the healthy, apparently very well performing penis earlier on? We became attached to it and then its demise is all the more tragic! RIP little guy.

And no, there is no explanation as to why the franken-lady is able to come alive that way, but it doesn't matter. It makes for a brilliant ending! Freeze-frame, screaming continues and then fades out with an electronic echo. Fantabulous.

Speaking of screaming, have a bonus screencap which will only amuse those who have seen the film...

"You baaaaaaastaaaaaard...!!!"