Pieces (Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche) (Juan Piquer Simón, 1982)

posted in: Duane, Jocelyn, Joint Review, Review | 0
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A crazy dude who chopped up his mother at the tender age of eight stalks and kills coeds on a college campus, dismembering them with a chainsaw. But only the pretty ones… can you say Oedipus complex? As the bodies pile up, a disenchanted detective races against the clock to figure out the identity of the killer before he kills again.
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Nom de Plume:  This movie is fantastic! Whatever silliness exists in the plot (which I actually find charming) is far outweighed by the sheer ingenuity of several cinematically magnificent death scenes. You can’t really go wrong with Juan Piquer Simón (ok, maybe once in awhile) but he gave his all to this film and it shows. There are some familiar faces for sure, Christopher George (City of the Living Dead, The Exterminator) as the Lieutenant out to stop the aforementioned killer,  Linda Day George (Mortuary, Mission Impossible) as the undercover cop/tennis coach  who assists, the loveable oak-stump that is Frank Brana (a Simón favorite and character actor with scads of appearances in prolific films such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West) our jolly Englishman Edmund Purdom (The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff, Absurd) Jack Taylor as the snooty gay professor (a Franco staple through the 70’s but worked with Naschy and Amondo de Ossorio, etc) the college-boy-turned-detective Ian Sera (who while lending not much to the world of film, has managed to star in two of my favorite Simón films this and Pod People) and we cannot forget the cuddly bundle of cute that is “Big” Paul Smith playing one of the many red herrings in this film; the gruff gardener.

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Razor88: Agreed, a cult classic in every sense of the word. Who can forget walking through the horror section of the local video store and seeing that cover of the (hot) girl pieced together and the giant chainsaw triumphantly looming over her? Too bad those endeavors in those days turned up to be a waste of time with the majority of the tapes having all the gratuitous violence and nudity haphazardly removed leaving behind a mere shell of a film. Seeing the film years later in its full uncut glory has left quite an impression on me as one of the greatest slasher films ever made. Produced at the very beginning of the American slasher movie craze following quickly on the heels of films such as Friday the 13th part 3 and Death Screams, Pieces (despite not being an American film) really upped the ante on over the top violence and gore… not to mention full frontal male and female nudity (ok the latter isn’t all that novel, but the former is unusual) and was subsequently banned and/or heavily censored. Also worth mentioning is the heavy use of a chainsaw as a weapon which despite being a sort of stereotypical “horror movie” weapon in pop culture really isn’t used all that much. If I had a dollar for every cartoon or drawing depicting Jason Voorhees holding a chainsaw despite having never ever used one…. but I digress.

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Nom:  What an incredible opening for a film too, ya know? Seemingly innocent it lures you sweetly into a sucker punch of blood and guts supplying instant background on our fucked-up-little-boy-turned-killer.I love the image of that kid *spoiler*covered in blood after hacking his mom to bits sitting calmly and singing a little song working on his dirty jigsaw puzzle. Cuute! The soundtrack is Goblin-esque with the exclusion of the pop number that’s very Alice Cooper “Flush the Fashion” days.  There are a lot of things about this that are fairly giallo-esque (“esque” is my new way to describe everything, deal with it) the childhood trauma that forces these horrendous acts, the multiple red herrings, the undeniable sexuality that laces each murder, the phallic weapon…I have to laugh at those god damned gloves though! They didn’t go all out for leather here folks, why spend the money when rubber gets the point across? Haha! He’s wearing black latex gloves not unlike the kind I use to wash dishes. Too funny!

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R88: The opening is very satisfying to be sure. I LOVE how the kill scenes in this have those beautiful slow-motion bits that really rub your face in it, and the gore is extremely well done. The use of the pig carcass when the killer is bisecting the slut in the shower makes for some very satisfying grue (or was Simón trying to tell us that all young girls are dirty whore pigs? hmm…). The murders are extremely sexual in nature and rightly so, this film is sleazy as fuck. I did find it kind of laughable in a couple scenes, the part preceding the elevator kill in particular where the killer is hiding the chainsaw from his victim BEHIND HIS BACK. It’s a fucking CHAINSAW, and a big fucker to boot. if that bitch was stupid enough to not notice something was a little off there then she really deserved what she got (let’s face it, they were all asking for it… being all young and scantily clad). I also wanted to point out some of the weird shit this movie is peppered with – like the aerobics class led by an instructor in cowboy boots and that retarded scene with the kung-fu instructor attacking Mary (Linda Day) out of the blue for no reason other than some “bad chop suey”… what the fuck was that?  The score is awesome, the one recurring piece really reminds me of Goblin’s score for Zombi – I dare say it’s a blatant ripoff. Despite being a slasher film, Pieces does seem to nod quite a bit to its Italian predecessors… it never hurts to acknowledge your roots.  I thought the gloves were actually kind of cool in a creepy way. It seemed to me almost like he had them on because he was performing some sort of sick medical procedure.

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Nom:  Interesting take. I read that the killers get-up was inspired by The Shadow (and not so much any giallo influence) so I found it particularly amusing when he’s going through his ritual of putting a few more pieces of his cherished jigsaw together and he has difficulty getting the pieces to fit properly, those big latex gloves noticeably frustrated. *giggle* As far as the slow motion I’m glad you mentioned that, they use it to great benefit in this film. There’s no better way to maximize impact (and budget) than with a well thought out and slowed down kill scene. In my opinion the reporter/waterbed scene has to go down in history as one of the most beautiful murders on celluloid.  It covers every base: it’s artistic, sexy, terrifying…it’s utilizes the simplest of things: a sexy woman, the white dress, the slowly becoming blood-soaked water, the knife and all in glorious slow motion..it’s absolutely breathtaking.  But you’re right, there are a few quirky, funny things that make you stop and just kinda go “What the fuck?”  For example, the fact that they basically turn Kendall into a cop instantly, Mary’s outrageous screaming of “Bastaaaaaaaaaaard” with so much forced emotion, the slut in Kendall’s bed with some misogynistic suggestions for him, the line that is BEGGING to be a song intro “The most beautiful thing in the world is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed” (it’s so halted and bizarre coupled with her soft and whispery voice) not to mention the fact that apparently Mary was previously some famous tennis champion who now works for a small town cop-shop and goes undercover as herself…but no one has any idea that she’s a local cop?! I have to repeat though, the utter magnificence far outweighs any trivial goofiness.

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R88: Yeah I half expected him to go into a retard rage with that puzzle and just start pounding his fists on the table trying to force the pieces to fit together. I do like how they made the puzzle all weathered and fucked up (it was 42 years later after all)… a lot of filmmakers wouldn’t have bothered with that level of detail. The look of the killer is obviously based on The Shadow if you look at some of the poster art, but to me in the film you really don’t see enough of him to make out what the fuck he’s supposed to be. The main character in this is the chainsaw of HATE anyway. I agree on the waterbed scene, it’s truly one of the most well done kill sequences in the last 50 years in my opinion. The odd funny bits that border slapstick threaten to take me out of the film, to be honest but I guess it’s a testament to how good Pieces really is that it never actually made me hate it. It doesn’t take much of that sort of bullshit to really ruin an otherwise solid movie. Although the film is pretty formulaic and kind of predictable it still manages to be fairly unique and a standout of the genre. As much as I hate to invoke his name, Eli Roth mentions (unfortunately his blathering is stamped all over the Grindhouse release) it to be “The greatest ending in horror history” which is proof positive that he’s a pretentious assclown who has no idea what the fuck he’s talking about, let alone that he actually “got it”. Admittedly I did take it for granted the first couple of times I saw it but since you pointed out the more abstract side of it, it makes a ton more sense. I could over-analyze and say that it’s indicative that one’s mother will always try to have a death grip on her son’s testicles or something to that effect but I’ll spare you the armchair psychoanalysis.

Nom:  Yea, for some reason the little funny bits don’t bother me at all and I end up finding that it just adds to my overall enjoyment of the film. I like the fact that it can be four films in one and not take itself too seriously. Another tasty bite that I wanted to mention was the bathroom scene with the tennis player. Not only does she piss herself which is realistic and hot but it’s that gorgeous shot of her terrified and gripping the cold tiles of the bathroom stall through the cut he made in the door with the chainsaw…what a thing of fucking beauty. We are most definitely in the same boat-of-hatred for Roth and I’ll admit that it was certainly a surprise to be seeing/feeling through the eyes of the killer in the last 20 seconds of film. I can’t believe that we didn’t touch on how awesome his mommy fetish was or the fact that he somehow managed to save her dress and shoes OR mention him slipping the reporter’s blood soaked feet into Mommy’s heels and the time he spends so satisfyingly admiring Mary’s feet/calves knowing that they are the last piece of his twisted puzzle.  There’s almost too much awesome to cover in one review!

Ohh Juan. You impressive bastard, you are sorely missed!
Official COSDS Nunspank rating:  
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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