Juan Piquer Simón/ Italy Spain Puerto Rico/ 1982/ 89 mins
Available on Blu-Ray Mon March 27 2017
The slasher genre has a lot to answer for. While there are some slashers that transcend the genre such as Halloween and Black Christmas, most are cheap and nasty exploitative fare offering very little beyond excessive nudity and gore. Then there are films like Pieces, which is so bafflingly bizarre and bonkers that it may just be an underappreciated classic of the genre.
Opening in the 1940’s on a mother discovering her son making a jigsaw puzzle with a naked lady on it (a sort of IKEA version of pornography), and paying for this discovery with an axe to the head, the film then flashes forward to the 80’s where the young boy has grown up and graduated to butchering college girls. Hunting the killer are two of the most useless cops in cinema history, a horny college kid and, in one of the films many lapses in logic, a famous champion tennis player who also moonlights as an undercover cop.
In amongst this flimsy plot are some oddball performances and ridiculous moments that amount to a great deal of tonal whiplash. For every well-constructed sequence (a murder on a waterbed is especially well executed) there are several goofier moments; most notably the undercover cop getting into a fight with a Kung-Fu teacher while hunting the killer, which feels like it belongs to an entirely different film. Apparently, the producer shoehorned the scene in as he was heavily involved in martial arts movies. Whatever the reason, it’s still really dumb.
Pieces is not a good film, but it is an entertaining one. By most horror film standards, it’s a mess of illogical storytelling, bad performances and an uneven tone that veers between Giallo type atmosphere and bargain basement schlock. Despite the innumerable flaws, it’s also a lot of fun. Unintentional fun certainly but nonetheless an absolute hoot. This is best exemplified in a scene where the two detectives need a second opinion on whether a blood drenched chainsaw lying next to a chopped up body is the murder weapon. It’s that kind of film.