PIECES DVD Review

Charlie Hobbs, Contributing Writer
Pieces is completely insane in the best possible way.  This classic of the early 80's slasher boom is both incredibly gory and crazy funny without sacrificing it's edge.  Juan Piquer Simon created one of the first self-aware slasher spoofs entirely in the cutting room, and it works brilliantly.  The gags in the film are played completely straight, and the gore is over the top, but not quite to the point of ridiculousness.  Arrow Video have given this film some much needed attention in the UK, and their bonus features are solid enough to consider a double dip for anyone out there who already has the Grindhouse Releasing edition of a few years ago.
When you meet him, you'll go to PIECES!

Jigsaw puzzles can be maddening. They drive to distraction. You might even go so crazy to take your own mother down with an axe...

On a Boston Campus, young girls are missing out. Missing out on hands, feet, arms and heads as a certain puzzled psychopath, forty years down the line, carves a bloody swathe through the female college population. Only one tough cop has the stones to bring him in but can he track down the slayer before all the girls are mincemeat?

If you want classic, leering, sleazy, slasher action, then PIECES will take a chainsaw to your skull.
When watching Pieces, you get the impression that no one on screen realized what kind of film they were starring in.  Everyone plays their role completely straight, and the film works as a horror/comedy in a way that 95% of other horror comedies don't.  This is one of the rare gems, like Re-Animator, that is simultaneously funny and incredibly gory without showing its hand too much in either direction.

I'd hate to give away too much of the film's plot, which is really fun and goofy, but suffice to say that there is never a dull moment.  Pieces runs only about 82 minutes, but none of those minutes are boring, and even when someone isn't being actively hacked to bits, you want to see what will happen next.  In the Tony Timpone commentary, he compares slashers to porn, in which everything between money shots is often really boring, but Pieces smashes that mold and keeps the audience engaged even when the action isn't particularly bloody, which is seldom.

Pieces is a film that everyone deserves to experience for the first time.  There are many instances during the film where you'll find yourself simultaneously scratching your head and laughing your ass off.  To point out those moments in this review would just be to deprive you of that experience, and I'd never do that.

Buy Pieces!

The Disc:

Arrow Video's DVD of Pieces is very good.  The A/V isn't great, but it holds up next to the US release from Grindhouse.  This is one title that didn't get the Blu-ray treatment, and based on the look of the source material here, it probably wouldn't have benefited much.  You won't be blown away by either, but there is minimal print and audio damage, even if they are rather unspectacular otherwise.

Arrow Video really focuses on the extra for their features, and the video extras created by High Rising Productions are very worthwhile and not the usual EPK stuff.  There is a 20 minute interview with Jack Taylor, star of this and many other Spanish horror films, in which he talks about his experience on Pieces and in other Spanish horrors with people like Jess Franco.  This piece is interesting, and Taylor is an engaging interviewee.  The other major video extra is a retrospective piece with various horror aficionados. This piece runs about 25 minutes, and is more gushing than informative, but it does give the viewer a sense of the film, it's impact, and the impression it made on audiences back in 1982.  The final video extra is a trailer, which shows little of the film, but is very effective in conveying the tone of the film, and was probably very helpful in getting asses in seats!

In addition to the video extras, Arrow Video have included their customary print bonuses like a custom reversible cover, fold out poster, and booklet with an essay by Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA.  All very worthwhile. 

Completists will probably also want to pick up the Grindhouse Releasings DVD which has an hour long interview with JP Simon and another hour long interview with co-star Paul Smith, but this Arrow Video release is well worth owning for the solid bonus material and booklet.  Either way, BUY PIECES!
Special Features:
THIS EDITION CONTAINS
- Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork
- Double-sided fold-out artwork poster
- Collector s booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA.

DVD CONTAINS:
- Introduction by star Jack Taylor
- Pieces of Jack: An Actors Experience of Spanish Splatter Actor Jack Taylor recollects his experiences of performing in Pieces
- Pieces of Deconstruction: Looking Back at a Grindhouse Gorefest Hostel producer Scott Spiegel, filmmaker Howard S. Berger, critic Michael Gingold and horror historian Santos Ellin Jr. reflect on the lasting legacy, and lacerations, of Pieces!
- Audio Commentary with Fangoria magazine s Tony Timpone, sharing first hand recollections of the golden age of slasher cinema, moderated by Calum Waddell
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