Pieces (film)

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Pieces
PiecesPoster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Juan Piquer Simón
Produced by Stephen Minasian
Dick Randall
Edward L. Montoro
Written by John W. Shadow
Dick Randall
Starring Christopher George
Linda Day
Frank Braña
Edmund Purdom
Paul L. Smith
Ian Sera
Jack Taylor
Music by Librado Pastor / CAM
Cinematography Juan Mariné
Edited by Antonio Gimeno
Distributed by Grindhouse Releasing
Release date(s)
  • August 23, 1982 (1982-08-23) (Spain)
  • September 23, 1983 (1983-09-23) (US)
  • December 7, 1983 (1983-12-07) (France)
Running time 89 minutes
Country United States
Spain
Puerto Rico
Language Spanish
English
Box office $2,032,311

Pieces (original title: Mil gritos tiene la noche translation: 'A Thousand Screams in the Night') is a 1982 exploitation slasher film and "drive-in favorite." The film was directed by Spanish filmmaker Juan Piquer Simon. It stars Christopher George, Linda Day, Frank Braña, Edmund Purdom, Paul L. Smith, Ian Sera, and Jack Taylor.[1]

Plot[edit]

In 1942, a 10 year old boy named Timmy plays with a jigsaw puzzle of a nude woman when his mother walks in. She chastises him for it. The mother orders Timmy to get a plastic bag to "burn everything." Instead of her order, Timmy gruesomely murders her with an axe, then saws her body with a hacksaw.

The police later arrive and break into the house through the front door, and Timmy hides in the other closet. The police enter the bedroom only to find a bloody mess, including the mother's dismembered head in one of the closets. The police hear Timmy crying in the other closet. They open the door, only find the boy soaked in blood. The police question the whereabouts of the father; the nanny replies hesitantly, lying that he is in Europe with the Air Force, but she also mentions that Timmy has an aunt, who lives an hour away and will take care of Timmy.

Forty years later, an unseen person is shown opening a drawer and takes out a box that contain his mother's clothes, which are stained in dried blood. The other thing found at the bottom of the box is a photo of her with a red 'X' on it. The next scene cuts to a girl skateboarding through the college campus. While this happens, a van (filled with various glass items) stops by and two men carry out a giant mirror frame. The girl on the skateboard (unable to stop) ends up smashing into the mirror, shattering it to pieces. Back at the killer's house, he removes another box, containing pieces of the puzzle of the nude woman, which he starts putting together.

Somewhere on a college campus, a girl is studying in the grass. Nearby, the unknown person is seen working on the shrubbery with a chainsaw. The man dressed in all black clothing approaches and saws off her head with the chainsaw. A little later, Lt. Bracken (Christopher George) and his partner Sgt. Holden (Frank Brana) arrive to investigate the killing. They talk to the college dean (Edmund Purdom) about the chainsaw murder and there were no witnesses and the girl's head is missing. Bracken tells the Dean that they have no suspects and says "We're just out buying clothes without labels and trying them on for size". Willard (Paul Smith) the burly and bearded groundskeeper is outside utilizing a chainsaw, similar to the one, the killer used.

In the campus library that evening, a girl gives a note to a male student, named Kendall (Ian Sera), expressing the desire to "do it underwater". The unseen killer finds the discarded note nearby and goes to the gym swimming pool where the girl is. As the girl swims, the black-clad killer nearly chokes the victim to death via fishing net and pulls her out of the water and attacks her with his chainsaw. A little later, Willard arrives and turns on the pool lights where he sees Kendall run from the area and finds a bloody chainsaw and the girl in pieces with her entire torso missing. The police arrive and arrest Willard when he attempts to run. The groundskeeper claims to the cops that he just discovered the body and had nothing to do with the killing.

The next day at the police station, Dr. Jennings (Gerard Tichy) arrives to provide a profile of the murder. Lt. Bracken brings in Mary Riggs (Lynda Day George), a former tennis player-turned undercover-cop. Bracken explains to Holden that Mary is going undercover to pose as a tennis instructor at the college, and Kendall is going to assist her whenever he can.

Sylvia Costa (Isabelle Luque), a Boston Globe reporter, tells Bracken about the rumors she has heard, leading her to believe that a maniac is running loose. That evening, the killer stalks the deserted campus and follows a girl who has just finished her aerobics routine. The girl and man in black get into the elevator together. Soon, he reveals his chainsaw which has has been hiding behind his back and saws both of her arms off. On the floor below, Kendall hears a scream causing him to investigate. He and two other policemen race to the elevator, only to discover the whole elevator sprayed with blood along with the victim, who's dead.

A little later that night, Kendall sees Mary walking around alone at the deserted campus. While the unseen killer is near, Mary has an odd encounter with the kung fu professor, who attacks her and then explains he is not sure what happened after Mary has kicked him in the groin. Afterwords, Mary leaves with Kendall, but Sylvia is still snooping around. The killer follows her and stabs her to death on a waterbed.

The next day, Mary and Kendall are playing tennis. A fellow tennis player heads into the locker room to shower. The unseen killer appears again and attacks her with his chainsaw. The killer chases her into a stall, where he chainsaws the door down. The girl, obviously terrified of being killed, urinates her sweatpants. Shortly afterwards, the killer breaks in and kills the girl by sawing through her belly. At the same time, Mary and Kendall see Willard leaving the locker room and inquire about music being played loudly over the speakers. Mary and Willard go to the control room to switch off the music, while Kendall goes to the locker room, only to find the corpse of the girl. He comes back outside, where Willard and Mary are present, with blood smeared on his hand. Mary eventually finds the bloodied corpse and flips.

Kendall then goes to the police station where he meets Holden and thinks that the killer must be part of the university faculty, since the killer seems to know when and where to strike and avoid the police. They look into the Dean's past and discover that when the Dean was younger, his mother was killed by an unknown person and that he previously changed his identity. They figure out that the Dean must be the killer and has been taking pieces of the dead women to make his own human jigsaw puzzle.

Meanwhile, Mary visits the Dean in his office, where he takes her back to his apartment and drugs her drink. Bracken, Holden, and Kendall burst into the Dean's apartment, where he's eventually killed. The corpse, consisting of body parts from multiple victims, falls out of the Dean's cabinet and terrifies Kendall. The film ends with Kendall preparing to leave, after he bends over to get his jacket, when the corpse inexplicably comes to life and castrates him, while Kendall screams.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The short script for Pieces was written by British filmmaker John W. Shadow, and co-written by Dick Randall. Contrary to popular belief, Joe D'Amato was not involved in this production. It was given to director Juan Piquer Simón by producers Dick Randall and Steve Minasian, with whom he had worked on previous films.[2] Although the film was set in the United States, specifically in Boston, it was actually shot in and around Valencia, Spain, home of film director Juan Piquer Simón.

According to the interview with Simón in Pieces of Juan (on the Grindhouse DVD version of the film), the director says that none of the female stars of the film knew how to play tennis, even though they were supposed to be portraying "professional" players. A tennis coach had to be hired so that they could learn to lob the ball in a convincing enough manner to make the film believable. Simón also reveals in the interview that he is proud of the visual effects in the film, especially that a pig carcass was used for the effect of the chain saw cutting through a young woman's stomach.[3]

The film starred real life husband and wife team Christopher George (of TV's The Rat Patrol) and Lynda Day George (of TV's Mission: Impossible), Edmund Purdom, spaghetti-western star Frank Braña, and Paul L. Smith ("Bluto" of Robert Altman's Popeye).[4]

Release[edit]

The original film was first released in Spain on August 23, 1982, followed on September 23, 1983, by a North American theatrical run distributed by Artists Releasing Corporation. The film opened on December 7, 1983, in France.

The uncut, uncensored director's cut of Pieces (aka Mil gritos tiene la noche) appeared for the first time in North America on DVD in October 2008 distributed by Grindhouse Releasing / Box Office Spectaculars. The release includes Grindhouse Releasing interviews with director Juan Piquer Simón (Pieces of Juan, directed by Nacho Cerda) and Paul Smith: The Reddest Herring (directed by Alma Har'el), an extended interview with star Paul L. Smith.

The two-disc deluxe edition by Grindhouse includes, for the first time, an (optional) restored original soundtrack by Spanish composer Librado Pastor, as well as many other extras and bonus materials.[1] Liner notes have been contributed by the renowned horror writer Chas Balun ("Deep Red"), and the release also includes as bonus video of American horror director Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever) presenting a theatrical screening of Pieces to a Los Angeles cult audience.[2] Grindhouse Releasing / Box Office Spectaculars released the first North American deluxe uncut, uncensored director's cut edition of the previously out-of-print movie on DVD on October 28, 2008, on Ryko Distribution/Warner Brothers label.[4] Grindhouse Releasing continues to be the official licensed distributor of the film.

On September 5, 2011, British company Arrow Video released Pieces on DVD in a 1.66:1 (16×9) anamorphic aspect ratio version with an introduction by star Jack Taylor and a number of other extras.

Critical response[edit]

Pieces received mixed reviews in its initial release, but has seen a cult revival in recent years. Pieces fan and horror film director Eli Roth calls the film, "a masterpiece of early 1980s sleaze."[5] The notorious film carried the memorable and highly successful marketing taglines, "Pieces... It's exactly what you think it is!" and "You don't have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!".[1][4] As well as being an influence for many prolific horror directors over the years, exploitation filmmaker Brad Jones has cited Pieces as one of his favorite horror films, as well as being one of the best horror films of the 80's. Jones also reviewed the film on his show The Cinema Snob.[6]

References[edit]

External links[edit]