I’m sorry but this film lost me right at the beginning when a scene taking place in a child’s bedroom, supposedly in Boston back in 1942, had a pennant for the New England Patriots hanging on the wall. The Patriots didn’t even exist until 1960 and then they weren’t even called the New England Patriots until 1971!
Spanish director Juan Piquer Simon falls into the same trap as Italians like Fabreizio de Angelis, making embarrassing errors in American sports in a feeble attempt to trick the audience into thinking their foreign film was made by Americans. Nothing ruins an otherwise crappy slasher film for real Americans like a botched football reference.
The movie does attempt to redeem itself in short order when after the mother rants about the naked jigsaw puzzles she catches her son putting together, she sends him out to get a trash bag so she can toss his dirty pictures and he instead returns with an axe and goes all Lizzie Borden on her! Nobody messes with a boy’s porn collection, not even his mama!
Pieces though spends the rest of its run time not amounting to much of anything that actually makes any sense. Like why did the killer suddenly start chopping up various college co-eds after 40 years? There was a scene where a girl skateboarded into a mirror and the movie then flashbacked to when the killer’s mom crashed into a mirror, but why would that cause him to try to assemble a woman out of different victim’s body parts?
But that guy is deranged so you can forgive any illogical behavior by him. You shouldn’t though have to give the same pass to anyone else in the movie. Like Willard, the burly and creepy janitor who is always mysteriously near the murders and whose facial expressions seemed to just be him trying to look as suspicious as possible. This despite the fact that the audience knows it can’t be him because of the difference in size between him and the killer.
Likewise there is the shifty behavior of the professor of anatomy whom the movie sporadically remembers is part of the cast. Aloof and constantly acting like he’s hiding something, he’s a person who is such an obvious suspect, you immediately dismiss him as a suspect. He also adds nothing of value to the movie except perhaps an extra ten minutes to the movie’s running time.
The characters investigating the murders are equally defecient. Christopher George is Lt. Bracken and while the professional and authoritative George (City of the Living Dead, Mayday at 40,000 Feet) is always a welcome presence, his character is a total waste, accomplishing literally nothing as it pertains to solving the case.
Bracken mainly shows up late to the crime scene, talks to the Dean and deputizes a student to do most of the heavy lifting under the guise of the student “keeping his eyes open” about what’s happening on campus.
Bracken’ biggest contribution is also his stupidest. He assigns former tennis pro turned cop Mary Riggs to go undercover as the new university tennis coach to smoke out the killer. Even though so far the killer has only targeted students. And even though a reporter was sniffing around asking him questions resulting in him first denying everything and then referring her to Riggs who is sitting in his office. You have to imagine that when the reporter went to campus to watch a tennis match with Riggs as the new instructor that this was the fastest blown cover in the history of dopey deep cover schemes. Except the reporter never acknowledges any of this!
For her part Riggs is just as ineffective at her job as Bracken, spending her time brushing off the advances of the student Bracken has keeping an eye on her and in one of the movie’s most surreal scenes being suddenly attacked by a karate expert who just turns out to be the college’s kung fu instructor. He laughs off the incident and then leaves without explaining anything. Still, in the movie’s least surprising moment she still lucks into being drugged and menaced by the killer anyway.
The case is finally cracked when the student is back at police headquarters reviewing information on the college staff (I told you Bracken didn’t do anything!) when he sees one of the staff changed his name. One quick phone call later and we learn the person’s real name and that his mother was hacked up with an axe years ago. Damn, who’d they called that had all that information at a moment’s notice? The screenwriter?
The movie is a showcase for a series of graphic kills with axes, chainsaws and knives. There’s nothing more happening though in between but spooky music and story elements that seem randomly inserted (Riggs being a tennis pro when actress Linda Day George clearly had no idea how to play tennis, the nosy reporter murdered before she could find anything out, the lengthy jazzercise scene, the student’s glasses-wearing friend who showed up once in awhile to spew pointless dialogue or wear a mask to scare his friend for no reason, the scene where Bracken has the student talk to the psychologist so a profile can be worked up on the killer despite the student knowing absolutely nothing).
Pieces is a gory puzzle that never fits into a completely coherent picture, but has enough silly and shocking moments (including two slow motion moments at the end of the movie that will leave you laughing) that you won’t mind it’s just a mashed together mess.
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