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07-29-2006, 09:39 PM
Review Date: July 20, 2003
Released by: Diamond
Release date: 9/1/2000
Region 1, NTSC
Full Screen 1.33:1
Shot in several different locations and penned and directed by men from different backgrounds, Pieces is a film hybrid of many different influences. Released in 1982, this gory, cheapie of a film has gone on to garnish a sizeable cult following. Diamond Entertainment presents the film for the first time on DVD in a "fully restored and enhanced digital master". So how is the transfer, and more importantly, is this chainsaw flick all its cut out to be?
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/pieces/pieces_shot1s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/pieces/pieces_shot1l.jpg)The film begins on a warm summer's day in 1942, where a young boy does what most others of his age do; he is building a jigsaw puzzle. But like with anything, the closer one looks the less perfect everything seems. Instead of scenic landscapes or cutesy designs, the little tot's puzzle consists of none other than a nude woman. Upon discovering this risque puzzle, the young boy's mom lectures and belittles him. Apparently lacking any sense of discipline whatsoever, the little boy promptly leaves the room, grabs and axe and hacks his mother to...well, pieces.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/pieces/pieces_shot2s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/pieces/pieces_shot2l.jpg)The film then jumps 40 years later to a Boston university, where a bunch of the co-eds are being systematically slaughtered. Nude swimming, disco glazed aerobics and late night walks are all interrupted by the menacing roar of the chainsaw. Each victim, all of which are female, are being cut into several segments. As the detectives pry into the case, they discover that for each murdered victim, one body part is missing. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the killer is constructing a puzzle of his own..
Just who might that killer be though, that is the question? Is it the gnarling, chainsaw wielding gardener, Willard (Paul L. Smith), or perhaps one of the inquisitive detectives? Then again, it could be one of the blatantly obvious professors. The secret is revealed in the end, as all the pieces come together.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/pieces/pieces_shot3s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/pieces/pieces_shot3l.jpg) Pieces is an interesting giallo/slasher hybrid. Made in the US during the heyday of the slasher film but by almost entire European influence, the end result is a confused mixture of two distinct film styles. Combined are the cheese of American 80's fare and the sleaze of European productions. A prime example of this campy combo is during the infamous aerobics sequence, where woman jazz it up to some horrible disco music. As the music fades out, a woman leaves for the washroom, quickly removing her top and letting her dirty pillows hang free. The gloved, Argento-ish killer, comes in and cuts her another hole as the scene ends with the flow of blood. Its cheesy, sleazy and campy all in one, and it ends up being good for some good chuckles.
Adding to the laugh factor is the atrociously dubbed soundtrack, wooden lead performances and terrible dialogue. Some of these line deliveries have to be seen to be believed, as some of the detectives react to the gruesome deaths as if they were ordering a pizza by phone. The performance by the "how the hell could they have hired him as a gardener", Paul L. Smith, is so over-the-top it is impossible to take this film seriously. A scene involving a kung fu Chinaman drunk with the taste of bad chop suey has to be seen to be believed.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/pieces/pieces_shot4s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/pieces/pieces_shot4l.jpg) The first half of the film is filled to the brim with all sorts of cheese, and the gore and nudity will keep viewers interested and entertained for most of the film. Although the film does trudge along through the third act, the conclusion is worth waiting for in all its horribleness. The killer does his traditional "why I did it speech", is stopped and then finally gets the last laugh, as is traditional with slasher films. The ending though, is so nonsensical and out of place that it hampers any chances this film had at being "good", making it merely a fun piece of dairy.
The tagline of the film reads, "It's Exactly What You Think It Is", and the title makes it that much easier to classify. It is a piece of shit, but fans of sleaze and cheese will have themselves a moderately good time.
Despite being restored and remastered, Pieces looks like it was filmed entirely behind the exhaust fumes of the chainsaw it exhibits. This cropped, 1.33:1 transfer looks quite terrible, with inconsistent and muddy flesh tones, bleeding colors, and a generally washed out appearance. Shadow depth is very poor, and the film is riddled with white print blemishes. To its credit, it does look pretty sharp for its age and budget, but still this transfer could have been much, much better. Considering how good the film is though, a transfer like this can't really make it any worse.
A mono track is all that is included here, and it is just as bad as the video. The entire track is riddled with hiss and occasionally maxes out during loud parts. The grinding and decapitation of flesh has never sounded so drab. Everything does remain audible, but overall this sounds no better than VHS quality.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/pieces/pieces_menus.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/pieces/pieces_menul.jpg) Save for a few poorly constructed bios, four chapter stops and the tagline placed alone on a separate page, there is nothing extra of note on this release. Considering the films exploitative tagline and controversial one sheet, it would have been nice to have at least gotten the trailer included on this release.
Filled with nudity, gore and horrible production values, fans of bad movies will get a moderate kick out of this slasher/giallo construction. The video transfer is poor and drab, and the same thing can be said for the audio. With a list price of only $9.98, fans of early 80's trash should give this one a look, but all others look elsewhere for a chainsaw massacre.
Movie - C-
Image Quality - D
Sound - D
Supplements - D
Running time - 1 hour 30 minutes
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