Pieces: Movie Review

Pieces Horror Movie, 1982
by Jason Lees, MoreHorror.com

Pieces (Juan Piquer Simon, 1982)

The first time I came across “Pieces” was on a beat up VHS copy I rented from a gas station when I was way too young (and thank you Casey’s counter jockey for allowing an eleven year old to check out anything he wanted as long as he had the cash). I had no idea at the time what I was watching. It was violent, loud, bloody, and made no sense whatsoever. I returned the flick and went about my life, chalking up the whole experience to something I just didn’t grasp yet.

A few years later I came across it again on a bare bones DVD store at a mall. It was something like 3 bucks in a discount bin, so I took a chance with it, and it wasn’t until about halfway through that I realized that it was something I’d already seen. Due to its overseas heritage, “Pieces” has been released under a few different titles, so this revelation isn’t that uncommon.

Depending on where you got your copy, it’s been known as “Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche/Night Has a Thousand Screams” or “1000 Cries Has the Night”, but most of us know it as “Pieces,” but all that doesn’t matter. To most of us, it’s that badly dubbed/badly acted chainsaw flick. That el cheapo DVD didn’t change my mind about the flick back then. It was still a violent, loud, bloody mess that made no sense. I watched it and eventually lost the disc.

But one thing changed with that viewing. It sort of stuck with me. I’d find myself referencing it to friends. I’d quote lines (“… bastard… bastard…. BASTARD!!!...”) and it led to me trying to unravel certain mysteries in life, like why the hell is there a kung fu scene in an alley? This was back in the days before Special Features on DVDs. You were lucky to just get the film in widescreen, and those bargain basement DVDs were considered excessively generous if they even had a Menu screen.

“Pieces” also became the basis of one of my long time beliefs in our genre, something that makes our little backwoods corner of cinema all the more special. Horror fans, and this is only true of us, cherish some absolutely lame shit. Yes, we hold up the classics to the world and proclaim the validity of PSYCHO and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD as outright masterpieces, but we also and with just as much fervor defend and uphold works like PIECES and NEW YORK RIPPER. You don’t find that kind of support for bad romantic comedies. Those fans lie to themselves and say Reese Witherspoon earned her Oscar, while we all know that what we’re watching can barely be called acting. The difference is, we know what we’re watching is crap, but just don’t care. We like it that way.

PIECES is your basic chainsaw-killer-off- his-mother-as-a-child-and-grows-up-to-try-and-replace-her-with-a-cadaver-sewn-together-from-his-newly-eviscerated-victims. Yea, I know, yet another remake of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST. To go into the plot holes and random twists would be to ruin the film’s punch line. The gore comes fast and furious, sometimes to amazing affect. No, you never believe that any of it is real, but sometimes it’s hard to believe they pulled off the stunt, or that they got anyone to stand that close to an actual running chainsaw. For what the filmmakers lack in talent, they must have made up for in being very convincing on set.

I have to admit that a good bit of the fun to “Pieces” for me now is the new(ish) DVD from Grindhouse Releasing. Gone are the lonely days of being confused watching a blurry VHS copy. Now I can sit back and watch the film with an audio track of a packed theater hollering at the screen with me. Those disembodied voices aren’t confused by what they’re seeing. They’re in on the joke in a way that eleven year old me never was. They love every frame of blood and gore the film has to offer, and somewhere in those last twenty plus years, I must have figured out the joke, too. Now instead of blasting the film for being a mess, I defend it. It sits proudly on my shelf beside TAXI DRIVER, SUSPIRIA, and TROLL 2.
Yea. Horror fans love some messed up shit, and it doesn’t get any more messed up than “Pieces.”

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