It’s Exactly What You Think It Is!

You don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!

PIECES (1982)

Boston 1942. A blossoming young pervert named Timmy Reston sits alone in his bedroom putting together a jigsaw puzzle featuring a nude pin up girl. His emotionally unstable mother walks in and catches him red handed. Infuriated, she asks him where the filth came from and slaps around the little brat while demanding answers. She warns the boy that he will end up like his father and proceeds to slam a picture of the man into a mirror. This violent act appears to have a profound effect on the boy. Mrs. Reston sends her son off in search of a plastic bag so she can junk all of his toys. Timmy returns with an axe instead and repeatedly slams it into mommy’s skull! Then the pint sized psychopath removes mommy’s head with a saw! After shutting his mother up for good Timmy goes back to work on his blood splattered puzzle.

A friend of the family becomes concerned when she can’t reach Mrs. Reston and shows up with police. When the cops break in they discover a gruesome sight in the bedroom – enough blood on the floor to ensure that something had been butchered. Then they find Mrs. Reston’s severed head in a closet. Little Timmy is found cowering in another closet, covered in blood and whimpering about a big man that hurt his mommy. We are told that Mr. Reston is overseas in the Air Force and that the murderous little bastard Timmy will be sent to live with an Aunt who lives nearby.

After the opening credits we flash forward forty years to find an unseen killer (who is obviously Timmy Reston all grown up) on the prowl at a large New England university. A bizarre skateboarding accident involving a large pane of glass reminds the madman of his mother smashing the mirror with his father’s picture forty years before and inspires him to go on a brutal killing spree. The unseen slasher stalks after the sexy young students so he can remove their limbs with a chainsaw and use the pieces to create a human version of his prized pin up puzzle! His first victim is a tasty young co-ed that he decapitates with a chainsaw in broad daylight.

Hard boiled police detectives Lt. Bracken (Christopher George of “Grizzly” &“Enter The Ninja” fame!) and Sgt. Holden (Leslie Nielson lookalike Frank Bana, who also appeared in “Return Of The Evil Dead”) are sent in to investigate the murder. They start with the Dean, who seems more concerned about bad publicity than the murder itself. The Dean (Edmund“Don’t Open Til Christmas” Purdom) turns the detectives on to the head of the anatomy department and closet campus queen – Professor Brown. (Jack Taylor, who appeared in numerous Spanish horror epics including “Ghost Galleon” & “Night Of The Sorcerors”) Professor Brown seems to think it might be one of the boys, but Sgt. Holden assures him that at this point the investigation consists of buying clothes without labels and trying them on for size.

Shortly afterwards we are introduced to the campus stud Kendall James. (Ian Sera, who also appeared in “Pod People”) A blonde hardbody sends Kendall an invitation to fuck in the campus swimming pool later. Kendall accepts the invitation of course, but the killer beats him to the pool room and proceeds to net the girl like a large fish and then shear away her limbs with his trusty saw. This time the madman takes the girls’ torso as a souvenir. The temperamental and sneering campus gardener WillArd (unforgettably portrayed by Paul “BLUTO” Smith!) stumbles upon the bloody crime scene and has a wild run in with the cops that ends with Sgt. Holden threatening to BLOW his brains out!

The detectives question Kendall and his nerdy best friend “Goggles” and wind up believing that Kendall had nothing to do with the murder. Lt. Brown even decides to turn to Kendall for help with the investigation. He also arranges for an undercover police officer named Mary Riggs (played by Christopher George’s wife – Lynda Day George, who also starred in “Mortuary” and “Day Of The Animals”) to join the campus faculty as the new female tennis coach.

Meanwhile, the killer decides he needs a pair of arms and decides to relieve a pretty young dance major of hers inside an elevator. Kendall hears her screams of torment and barks out orders to the police officers on the scene. The sight of the limbless girl in the elevator is enough to make a seasoned police officer puke his guts up, but Kendall immediately seizes control of the situation and tells the guy to go call an ambulance! The girl initially survives the attack but dies in the hospital from the massive shock and loss of blood before she can identify the killer. Mary searches for clues and stumbles upon the fucking Kung Fu Professor (Bruce Li!) who attacks her because of something he ate. Bad chop suey maybe.

The mad butcher then sets his sights on the legs of Susie Billings, a sexy young tennis player. The ever resourceful killer sabotages the campus P.A. System so it continuously plays canned intermission music. This makes a perfect cover up for the sound of his chainsaw. While Mary, Kendall, and WillArd are fumbling around with the music the lousy bastard kills her. It’s all enough to make Mary unleash a devastating display of sheer frustration! BASTARD!!!

Lt. Brown turns to Kendall yet again for help and sends him to the record vault with Sgt. Holden to pour over files looking for any reference to the campus staff. Mary goes to a suspect’s house that evening for a cup of coffee and a few questions and winds up getting a lot closer to the killer than she bargained for. Just as Mary is drugged and her lovely feet are about to become the final addition to the murderer’s supreme creation, Kendall unearths a clue that reveals the killer’s true identity. Kendall and the cops have to race to stop the killer before he can finish his human jigsaw puzzle. This all culminates with an unbelievable mind blowing genital crushing grand finale that must be seen to be believed!

PIECES is one of my all time favorite flicks, and I consider it to be one of the “blueprint” flicks that had a profound effect on me and my tastes in horror. My father was demented enough to rent the VHS for me when it was brand new…and I was about 10 years old. I can still remember him stumbling home drunk that night, muttering something about how “the box said something about going to Texas with a chainsaw or something.” I have been a HUGE fan ever since, and I have seen this flick more times over the years than I could possibly count. I make everyone I know watch this movie if they haven’t already. Whenever I talk to people about horror flicks I always have to mention PIECES as one of my favorites and as one of the all time great 80’s slasher flicks.

This flick is absolutely hilarious, it plays out like a really gory and outrageous version of an Italian Giallo. The unseen, black gloved killer is pure Dario Argento. The soundtrack from Carlo Maria Cordio (aka CAM) is atmospheric and excellent, even if it borrows heavily from Goblin’s score for “Zombi.” ”Pieces” was written by the terrible trio of director Juan Piquer Simon, producer Dick Randall (“Slaughter High”), and the infamous Joe D’Amato. (“Antropophagus”) No wonder this sleazy slasher flick is so full of brutal violence and perverse sexual overtones. There’s some especially tasty nudity to enjoy and even a little something for the ladies when Simon slips in a full frontal shot of Ian Sera. IT STINKS!

There’s more sidesplitting dialog in this howler than any other I can think of. From the cross eyed girl with the HUGE tits that dreamily coos how“the most beautiful thing in the world is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed at the same time,” to WillArd proudly proclaiming  he “ain’t getting’ paid by the hour,” to Christopher George imploring his partner to“take some uppers, anything, just get me a lead!” The dubbing and dialog definitely make this work an unintentional comedy, and this is one of the rare flicks I find actually gets funnier with repeat viewings.

“Pieces” also works as a slasher flick. Big time. The graphic violence is very nasty and convincing. In the gruesome scene where the killer chainsaws into the abdomen of a girl in the shower a real pig carcass was used which makes the scene very effectively disgusting. From start to finish this flick takes no prisoners. Watching it recently I was stuck by just how SPLASHY the gore is in this one. Pieces is easily one of the most gruesome and mean spirited slashers. This gory little gem definitely lives up to its’ immortal tag line: “You don’t have to go to Texas to have a chainsaw massacre!” and has to be considered essential viewing for any self respecting fan of 80’s horror.

PIECES also currently holds the record for the movie I have bought the most times in my lifetime. I first picked up the strangely edited TZ VHS release (which is missing the entire opening scene and starts with the opening credits!) when I was in junior high. I watched that one a shitload of times in the early 90’s with my buds, even though it made even less sense without the opening scene, and I would always have to tell them what the intro was supposed to be from my memory. A few years later I stumbled upon a used copy of the Vestron VHS at a local video store and quickly snapped it up. When I got heavily into collecting obscure horror flicks a few years down the road I bought the “uncut” Japanese version of Pieces (with Japanese subtitles) on VHS from the legendary Midnight Video for a whopping $25 bucks! I remember being REALLy excited to see that one, and then being really bummed to see it was exactly the same as the Vestron VHS, with the subtitles being the only difference. All said, that’s about $60 that was spent on those three copies.

All of that went out the window when I went to the chopping maul one day and found the Diamond Entertainment DVD release of Pieces sitting there…for $5. That cheap ass, shitty bootleg dvd was the exact same quality, and had the exact same content as all the other“uncut” versions I had previously owned on VHS. I had that one for years, and also bought bought a cheap ass “horror collection” DVD set that included Pieces. That was my fifth purchase. The sixth and what I assumed to be final purchase came along years later when the fine folks at GRINDHOUSE RELEASING released an amazing 2-disc deluxe edition dvd release of PIECES, which was fucking incredible and a must-have for hardcore fans of the film. The highlight of that one for me was the optional Spanish soundtrack with original score by Librado Pastor, which made watching the film again a totally new and bizzare experience, and the really interesting in-depth interview with director Juan Piquer.


Like I said, I assumed that bad ass 2 disc dvd release would have been the last word, but then Grindhouse Releasing went ahead and blew it out of the fucking water with their latest release of PIECES – an absolutely KILLER 3 disc blu-ray/cd set that includes a bonus CD featuring the original soundtrack freshly remastered from the original studio tapes! This stunning, brand new high definition presentation of PIECES is easily the best the film has ever looked, EVER, and as if that wasn’t enough, which believe me it would be, there’s also an exclusive commentary track from the legendary star Jack Taylor! This rare chance to get to hear from Jack, speaking at length about this film makes this an essential purchase for all diehard fans. But that’s not all, there’s also a brand new full length documentary included, titled “42nd Street Memories.” As you expect from the title, this one covers the gory daze of the exploitation flick craze, and contains interviews with icons like Bill Lustig, Frank Henenlotter, Buddy Giovinazzo, Jeff Lieberman, and best of all, the notorious Terry Levene from Aquarius Releasing! This documentary could easily stand on it’s own as a separate release, and the fact that it’s included here as a bonus just adds to the incredible value of this release. I’m probably guilty of throwing around the word “mandatory” too much in my reviews, but what else could this one possibly be considered?!?


And speaking of bonus features, there’s one more thing worth a special mention – the first 3000 units include a replica PIECES “naked lady” jigsaw puzzle! How cool is that? This sweet little bonus was again, strictly limited and advertised as such from the get go…and yet somehow the internet and specifically the mailboxes of the good folks at Grindhouse Releasing were FLOODED with nasty complaints from greedy and grubby little cunts complaining about the “limited” availability of this puzzle replica! I have to say this, if you have the nerve to complain about such things, you don’t deserve one anyways. It blows my mind people can’t see the bigger picture here, and instead of pissing and moaning about stupid shit like a little puzzle, revel instead in the glorious HIGH DEFINITION presentation of the film, and the aforementioned wealth of bonus materials…including a fucking CD of the soundtrack, and perhaps show some gratitude to the hard working people who made it possible. Grindhouse Releasing has all of my hard earned respect for their incredible efforts, and REAL fans of the good stuff should give them praise for these kind of top notch, absolutely stellar releases. I for one, want to see more of them in the future, and I am proud as hell to have bought the film a 7th time.


2 Responses to “It’s Exactly What You Think It Is!”

  1. Dave Callahan Says:

    Great read, Bro! And a great flick. I LOVE PIECES !!!!

  2. I love reading a truly passionate endorsement of a movie. Your love of Pieces really shines through.

    It pained me not to preorder this for the puzzle bonus. Money has been super tight lately and I’ve had to be particularly choosy with my purchases. All of the Grindhouse BDs that I own are amazing.

    I have this, The Mutilator, Solange, and Thundercrack all on my must have list but no way to afford them all. Grindhouse, Synapse, and Arrow all make packages well worth the money, but they physical media is getting really expensive..

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