Tuesday, August 31, 2010

'Pieces' is lots of gory fun

Pieces (1981)
Starring: Christopher George, Frank Brana, Lynda Day George, Edmund Purdom, Paul Smith, Jack Taylor, and Ian Sera
Director: Juan Piquer Simon
Rating: SPLIT--4/10 if viewed as a straight slasher film; 7/10 if viewed as a comedy)

Someone is cutting up beautiful college girls with a chainsaw and carrying off pieces of their bodies to create the world's first full-sized, flesh-and-blood person puzzle. The police (George and Brana) are stumped, so rather than conduct a full investigation, they recruit random faculty members to help with investigation and ask a random student to keep an eye on an officer who is sent in under cover as the school's new tennis instructor (Day). Who is the killer? The effeminate anatomy professor (Taylor)? The brutish groundskeeper (Smith)? The randy Big Man On Campus (Sera)? Or the quirky University Dean (Purdom)? Who's got bodyparts and a chainsaw hidden in their closet?

Some films are so bad they become unintentionally funny, and they end up being more funny than supposed comedies. "Pieces" may be an awful horror movie--hence the Four Tomato rating--but if it had been a slasher movie spoof, it would rate Seven Tomatoes. From the most incompetent cops ever put on film (not only do they recruite a possible suspect to watch their undercover officer, but they give him access to police files), to the least subtle serial killer to ever roam a heavily populated area (it's a residential campus, and he uses a chainsaw to kill people), to the Kung Fu fighter who shows up out of no where to attack the undercover cop for no reason what so ever, to the date-rape drug-fueled climax, "Pieces" gets funnier and funnier as it progresses. The lame, wanna-be "Goblin"-style electronica score only heightens the fun. (I'll grant the filmmakers one good scare, though. There's a bit near the end that I didn't see coming at all, and it made me jump.)


  1. Is that the same Paul Smith who played Bluto in 1980's Popeye? He ways always typecast as a heavy.

  2. Good eye. Yes, this is the same Paul Smith. (Credited as Paul L. Smith in "Popeye.")

    And this tidbit from the Fun Facts File demonstrates why he was cast as "a heavy": He weighed 17 pounds at birth, and by the time he was 12 years old, he stood six feet tall and weighed 200 pounds.