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John’s Horror Corner: Pieces (1982; aka Mil gritos tiene la noche), a campy, bloody slasher classic from Spain.

March 31, 2022

MY CALL:  A campy 80s slasher classic that douses the screen in boobs and blood as well as a feisty who-done-it mystery to fill in the gaps between the guts. Strong recommendation for fans of early era slashers.  MORE MOVIES LIKE PiecesFor more lower budget early 80s slashers, consider Maniac (1980), The Prowler (1981), Madman (1981), or maybe The Slumber Party Massacre (1982).

Director Juan Piquer Simón (Slugs, The Rift, Cthulhu Mansion) has made some pretty fun, campy, gory movies—and this is likely his most favored work. From scene one, this mean slasher classic is pulling no punches as a blood-covered boy with a love for puzzles and the female form brings an ax to his mother’s head for some bloody on-screen impact. Cut to 40 years later on a college campus and the killer is still up to some decapitating shenanigans as he chainsaws a co-ed’s head off in broad daylight. All this in the first 10 minutes of the film cultivates much promise for gorehounds.

After some gruesome incidents, anatomy professor Brown (Jack Taylor; The Ninth Gate, Conan the Barbarian) is consulted at crime scenes and undercover cop Mary Riggs (Lynda Day George; Beyond Evil, Mortuary) scours the campus on the case with a maniac on the loose with a taste for naked girls. The over-sized gardener Willard (Paul L. Smith; Dune, Red Sonja, Gor) is highly suspicious and always seems to be near the crime scenes right after the murders. Equally suspicious is Kendall (Ian Sera; Extra Terrestrial Visitors), a college student who seems to be systematically sleeping with all the women on campus. The accusations are frequent, frivolous, and even a bit feisty.

Our masked killer’s Leatherface influence is worn on his sleeve as he murders a college skinny dipper and leaves her in a bloody chopped-up poolside pile, but less one body part. The killer claims different parts of each victim. We see head and limb bloodily separated from their bodies via chainsaw, an on-screen rarity for a low budget early 80s movie. And for those who care, there is a lot of nudity, which is actually somewhat linked to our killer’s piecemeal motive. The macabre highlight is the discovery of the severed torso of a girl, doused in blood and entrails dumped out on the floor. There is even a decomposing stitched-up Frankenstein girl formed from all the stolen body parts and an utterly ridiculous crotch-ripping closing shot just for funsies.

This movie is very basic and its budget is humble. But it’s pacing, on-screen action and gore make it more than engaging enough. As a fan of the era, I rather enjoyed it. I hadn’t seen it in at least 20 years, yet it held up well for me. For context, it’s not as good (of a ‘film’) or intense as the likes of Maniac (1980) or Madman (1981), but far better than The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)… in my opinion, at least.

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