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John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Seventy-Two : Pieces
Perhaps the greatest thing about the 1982 film “Pieces” are its two taglines. One reads, “You don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!” which is nice, because Texas is pretty damn hot. The other is even better, stating, “It’s exactly what you think it is.” I love the non-subtlety.
The film opens with a child singing Humpty Dumpty and putting a puzzle of a naked woman together. His mom catches him and berates him, then demands he get a bag to throw the puzzle away. Unfortunately for her, her son doesn’t know the difference between a bag and an axe. Even funnier in this opening scene is that it is supposed to be a flashback to 40 years prior, yet on the boy’s wall is a New England Patriots pennant. That team didn’t exist until 1971, so I guess this movie takes place in 2011? I don’t know.
During the credits we find out that a band called “CAM” did the soundtrack, which is basically a child stepping on a Wal-Mart keyboard. We then fast-forward to present day, where a woman actually has an encounter in the street with men moving glass! I never thought I’d see the day someone actually encountered glass movers. She’s then slaughtered in broad daylight by a man with a chainsaw, unveiling the less than stellar effects we’re in store for. Yes, this was the 80’s, so the cheesy effects actually add to the charm. I just wonder how Savini would have handled this. I guess I’m spoiled with his work.
So Lieutenant Bracken, played by Christopher “Half-Ass It” George, has a discussion with the Dean and decides to put a fake student undercover to figure out who’s behind this. The Dean has a real problem with people investigating his school. I mean, it’s just a beheading! Come on ! Does it need to be that big of a deal?
We have a random waterbed sex scene (nice), followed by a shot of who we are lead to believe is probably the killer, a large bearded janitor with a chainsaw and a goofy disposition. We also meet our hero (?), a geeky guy named Kendall who really isn’t much of a hero at all. A woman strips to the sounds of a saxophone, making it clear why this scene even exists at all, and then after a fabulous day to night transition, she goes swimming, but then out of the shadows comes a pair of hands holding a chainsaw. Like many of the victims in this movie, she takes a few seconds to figure out what exactly someone might be doing with a chainsaw indoors, before realizing it and starting to scream. So she’s killed, and this allows detectives to sort through the body parts which are just left by the pool for all the public to see, along with the chainsaw.
We also get some great detective work, as Bracken asks the Dean, “What do you think? Do you think these cuts could have been made by a chainsaw?”
We have an aerobics scene that rivals the one from the fourth Friday the 13th film, and also discover that the bathrooms in this school are located down long, desolate hallways with poor lighting. Well, of course they are, right?
It’s at this point that Lt. Bracken starts hitting on every female in sight, while dismissing all the murders as simply “rumor.” I think the students on this campus must not know each other. Either that, or the killer is picking the most unlikeable, unnoticeable people he can find. Bracken sees the killer, or at least a shadowy figure, stalking around outside, but he doesn’t check it out. You know, because the murders are just a rumor.
After a sweet shot of a “Friday the 13th” poster in a guy’s room, where some of the most bizarre sex talk ever imagined is taking place, a girl is chainsawed in a bathroom. She pees herself, by the way. You know, for added effect. It’s also around this time that a karate teacher shows up and attacks one of the characters, only to shake it off as “Bad chop suey.”
So this is where I’m going to end the review, because I’ll give away the ending. I don’t know that this movie gives too many clues, but in the end, I think looking back, you’ll figure out who the killer is. I only breezed over the movie, but I failed to touch on the fantastic game of tennis that takes place in the middle of this jumbled gore fest. As a movie, nothing that happens makes any sense. The lighting, plot, direction and attention to detail all lack.
But as Motion City Soundtrack once sited in their song “Pulp Fiction”, slashers are usually guilty in that “The plot sucks, but the killings are gorgeous.” And that’s this movie. It makes no sense, but will delight any horror fan, especially ones of the 1980’s slasher genre.