Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Juan Piquer Simón|
|Produced by||Stephen Minasian
Edward L. Montoro
|Written by||Joe D'Amato
Paul L. Smith
|Music by||Librado Pastor / CAM|
|Editing by||Antonio Gimeno|
|Distributed by||Grindhouse Releasing|
|Running time||89 minutes|
Pieces (original title: Mil gritos tiene la noche translation: 'A Thousand Screams in the Night') is a 1982 cult classic 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.
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 because "I'm gonna burn everything." Timmy gruesomely murders her with an axe instead of getting the plastic bag. He then decapitates his mother's body with a hacksaw and hides her chopped up head in one of the closets.
As this happens, a nanny knocks on their front door, but no one answers. So, she calls the police. The police later arrive at the house. The police and the nanny break into the house through the front door. Timmy then proceeds to hide in the other closet. The police and the nanny then investigate the bedroom, only to find a bloody mess. They open one of the closets only to find Timmy's mother's severed head. They hear Timmy fake crying in the other closet, and open the door, finding 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 the nanny also mentions that Timmy has an aunt, who lives an hour away and that she will call her and take Timmy there.
Forty years later, in 1982, a grown up Timmy (who is now called Willard) is seen opening a drawer to find his mother's shoes and dress, which are soaked in blood, as well as a photo of her, crossed out in red. 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 are seen carrying out a giant mirror frame. The girl on the skateboard ends up crashing into the mirror, which shatters 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.
Then, the chainsaw-wielding psychopathic killer is on the loose on a college campus in Boston. Tormented by childhood memories, the killer tries to create his own jigsaw puzzle made from real human body parts. Along with police lieutenant Bracken (Christopher George) and college student Kendall (Ian Sera), Mary Riggs (Lynda Day George) poses as a tennis instructor in order to try to uncover the identity of the maniac.
Many girls fall victim to the psychotic killer: the first girl is decapitated with a chainsaw while sunbathing; the second is nearly drowned in a swimming pool, only to be pulled out of the pool and sawed into pieces with the chainsaw; the third has her arms sawed off by the killer while in an elevator and she dies from massive blood loss; the fourth is repeatedly stabbed in the chest with a knife while on a waterbed, and stabbed through the back of the neck; the last girl to be killed becomes trapped in the girls' locker room while topless, who apparently wets her pants in fear while trying to hide in the bathroom from the killer, and has her body sawed in half, while her upper body is left behind.
In the end, it turns out the college Dean is the killer. He tries to kill Mary but Lt. Bracken, Sgt. Holden and Kendall are able to save her by shooting him in the forehead. 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.
- Christopher George as Lt. Bracken
- Linda Day as Mary Riggs
- Frank Braña as Sgt. Holden
- Paul L. Smith as Willard
- Edmund Purdom as The Dean
- Ian Sera as Kendall James
- Jack Taylor as Prof. Arthur Brown
- Isabelle Luque as Sylvia
- Gerard Tichy as Doctor Jennings
- Hilda Fuchs as The Secretary
The short script for Pieces was written by Joe D'Amato and co-written by Dick Randall. It was given to director Juan Piquer Simón by producers Dick Randall and Steve Minasian, with whom he had worked on previous films. 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.
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).
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. 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. 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. 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.
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." 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!". 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 the best horror film of the 80's. Jones also reviewed the film on his show The Cinema Snob.
- Mondo-Digital.com "The Squishy Cinema of Juan Piquer Simon"
- BD Horror News: DVD Review "Pieces" by David Harley
- Motion Picture Purgatory: Pieces (Mil gritos tiene la noche)
- IMDB production info
- PopMatters Short Ends and Leader "Pieces (1982)" October 14, 2008, by Bill Gibron
- Fear.net "Pieces" DVD Review