Friday, October 2, 2015

Pieces (1982)

"You don't have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!" is a video rental box slogan for the ages.  And it's good news, because I don't want to go to Texas for anything.  But the tag line is sort of misleading, as Pieces owes only its murder instrument to Texas Chain Saw.  The rest is pretty much a Euro-ed up clone of slasher fare like Friday the 13th.

A boy angers his mom by solving a jigsaw puzzle because the puzzle has a nude lady on it.  Mom overreacts, even by 1942 standards, and is subsequently lightly touched with an axe to death.  Forty years later, murders start happening at a Boston college.  Grisly murders, conducted with a chainsaw.  You'd think that a chainsaw would be a poor murder weapon for a college campus because it's loud and you'd get caught immediately, but shut up your brain.  Because you will want to see this cast of characters, including a guy who looks like Mr. Gravel from Desperate Living....

...and a man who could be the brother of Bud Spencer...

Even the lead lady (who shows up midway through the film) is reminiscent of my fave Eurofox Barbara Bouchet.  It's a cavalcade of B-movie knockoffs and they're voiced by some of your best-loved Euro voiceover people.  Fans of Argento, Fulci, Mattei, and the gang will recognize these timbres.  But the good news doesn't end there!  Because we get a script that is frequently fucking completely insane!  Lines like:
  • "The most beautiful thing in the world is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed at the same time."
  • "Right now we're just buying clothes without labels and trying them on for size." (this in reference to a murder investigation!)
And scenarios like:
  • A guy successfully hiding a large chainsaw behind his back in an elevator.
  • A karate fight that literally comes out of nowhere and leads to absolutely nothing in the plot.
  • A shock ending styled after Friday the 13th, but even more ridiculous and fabulous.
Pieces doesn't skimp on the gore either.

I really enjoyed the hybrid nature of the film.  At its core, this is a trashy blood movie, but it's rife with Euro trappings: the synthy soundtrack, the silhouetted killer, the whodunit aspects, all of these put us firmly in giallo territory.  Even the heavy police presence and quirky characters seem like echoes of Italian horror and yet there are also preposterous chainsaw mutilations & college kids banging their days away.  Multiculturalism has never been so satisfying.

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