When it comes to having all the pieces of a traditional 80’s slasher Pieces ticks every box. Creepy and nasty opening sequence set in the killer’s childhood to explain his murderous obsessions? Tick. College campus setting with plenty of randy teens to terrorise? Tick. A whodunit plotline with tons of potential perpetrators? Tick. Tons of gore and dismemberment? Tick, tick and triple tick.
Directed by Spaniard Juan Piquer Simón aka J.P. Simon who wrote the sensational and slimy Slugs the set-up is a simple one as a chainsaw wielding killer with a penchant for jigsaw puzzles starts tearing apart co-ed’s taking a head here and an arm their and causing chaos to rain at the college.
Unable to get a solid lead the cops led by Lt. Bracken (City of the Living Dead star Christopher George) bring in an undercover operative Mary Riggs (Lynda Day George from the 70’s Mission: Impossible TV show) to pose as a tennis coach and try to uncover the killer along with the help of Kendell (Ian Sera) a resourceful student eager to help out.
With panic taking over and time running out can the dynamic duo work out the identity of the insane maniac amidst the red herrings and blood soaked murder scenes and solve this twisted puzzle? Of course they can but that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of gruesome set pieces along the way before they get there.
One for the gore hounds for sure there are some great murders including a wicked and warped slow-mo slaying on a water bed that would make Freddy very happy indeed as well as excellent effects and jumps throughout right up to the very final scene.
Full of the usual themes found in slasher films of drugs, violence and teenage conformity there is an obvious counter point between the sexually frustrated and psychologically castrated killer abused by his mother in the opening scene for owning a dirty jigsaw of a naked lady and the popular hunky teenage heartthrob Kendell seen scoring with the ladies in his dorm room complete with a Friday 13th poster on the wall.
Related to this subject but more jarring to a modern audience is the rampant sexism with Pieces purposely only putting women in the position of victim with even the supposedly competent and professional undercover police woman Mary having to be saved by Kendall a number of times including once from a random and slightly racist Kung Fu attacker.
Putting this old fashioned viewpoint aside Pieces delivers high entertainment value both intentionally and unintentionally especially in the scene when Mary in a fit of fantastic frustration yells “Bastard!” multiple times in the most dramatic and hilarious moments of the movie.
As ever Arrow’s awesome release is overflowing with extras including two versions of the film; the US theatrical version and the original uncensored director’s cut, plus an alternate re-score by composer Umberto, brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues, tons of featurettes, interviews and a soundtrack CD featuring the entire original score which is excellent.
Not the best of the genre but equally not the worst either this is a solid horror that perhaps lacks the originality and style found in other examples from the period however if you’re a slasher fan you most definitely need Pieces to complete your collection.