Pieces (1982)

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“Young co-eds are being dismembered by a mysterious murderer on a college campus. The killer is attempting to put together a human jigsaw puzzle made from body parts.” — IMDb

This movie is the best kind of hot mess cult classic. It has such an amazing juxtaposition of completely absurd, out-of-place dialogue, mediocre acting, and subpar dubbing along with some truly chilling moments and AWESOME murders that you can’t help but love it.

The movie opens with a young boy being caught and subsequently berated by his mother for playing with a pornographic puzzle (I had no idea such a thing existed so thank you for that). But don’t worry, he kills her with an axe and then feigns innocence when the police arrive so he is sent off to live with his aunt. Fast forward 40 years and his lust for killing is still there, only now he stalks college co-eds and keeps pieces of their bodies to assemble his own perfect woman (I’m really not sure what his end goal is there).

It’s a pretty straight forward slasher/mystery, but the red herrings that are thrown at you are just laughably obvious. Like I’m really going to believe that the sketchy gardener who has keys to everything on campus (Paul L. Smith) is the actual killer? Or the anatomy professor (Jack Taylor, though I wish it could have been Thomas Lennon aka Lieutenant Dangle from Reno 911) who is clearly socially stunted and has working knowledge of how to disassemble a body? But it doesn’t matter because this movie is FUN.

You have these moments of legitimately high tension — like the killer following the girl as she unsuspectingly dances down the hallway and then trapping her in the elevator — and then, shortly after, probably the best known moment of ridiculousness when a completely random dude jumps out of the bushes and scares Kendall (Ian Sera) as he is investigating with some pretty sweet kung fu moves.

There’s god awful acting and some of the cheesiest, stiffest lines ever… but you have brilliant killings like the female reporter being slashed on the water bed and then flailing in the bloody water in slow motion before he stabs her through the back of the head (but, naturally, you can see the fake knife bend in the most obvious way in the pulled back shot). Or the girl with her legs chainsawed off in the corner of locker room (definitely one of the most brutal scenes I’ve witnessed).

I thought the music (done by Stelvio Cipriani and Carlo Maria Cordio) was a standout, too, though some moments were eerily reminiscent of The Blood Stained Shadow, which Cipriani also scored.

But the TRUE gem of this movie is the ending. Not only do we have the very obvious twist when we find out the killer, but the last two bits of surprise are just THE BEST. I was already loving it but with the closing scene I was LITERALLY clapping at the TV as the credits rolled. Worth it for that alone, trust me.

Rating: 7/10 | Director: Juan Piquer Simón | Writer: Dick Randall, Joe D’Amato | Music: Stelvio Cipriani, Carlo Maria Cordio | Starring: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Frank Braña, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Paul L. Smith, Jack Taylor

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