First of all, what do you honestly expect when viewing a video nasty from 1982 called Pieces? Okay, so it didn’t make the official video nasty list, but it easily could have, such is the gleefully exploitative nature of the tone and content, and basically what you get is lots of gratuitous gore and nudity, plenty of awful acting, and a completely in cohesive plot. The director Simon went on to make the far superior Slug in 1988, and that was a grue fest as well, but Pieces makes that look high concept! Hence the ingenious strap-line, ‘It’s exactly what you think it is!’
The ‘plot’, for what it is worth, is essentially an excuse to string together as much misogynistic violence as can be crammed into 86 minutes, but revolves around a young lad being caught making a rude jigsaw by his mother; after she has over-reacted and chastised him mercilessly, he kills her with an axe and dismembers her with a saw (as you do) and hides in the closet, where the police find him covered in blood and quivering with excitement/fear, and assume he has narrowly escaped from the killer.
Fast forward thirty years or so, and the boy has grown into a fine upstanding citizen, albeit now prone to occasionally chopping women into little pieces with a chain saw. He is apparently still trying to finish that pesky jigsaw of a naked lady his mother stopped him completing all those years ago, but now he’s making it with real body parts. Told you it was bollocks, didn’t I?
Still, if you switch off all parts of your brain involved with logic or good taste, Pieces is kinda fun. The blood is way too red, but the killings are at least executed with a little panache, some of them in slow motion to, er, pad the running time, and there’s many moments of unintentional comedy. The killer walks up to people with a bloody great chainsaw behind his back, and no one notices; there’s a completely random martial arts attack which will have you in fits of twitchy laughter; there’s some of the hammiest acting ever committed to celluloid (Willard, the main suspect, telegraphs every line like it’s his last), and as an added ‘bonus’ we even get one of the most riveting tennis matches to feature in a slasher film. Pieces is anything but conventional, even by European gore flick standards, and is so bonkers, it could quite easily have been subtitled ‘Carry On Chainsaw…’! Ooh, matron!
As always with these Arrow reissues, the extras are generous and plentiful and include trailers, documentaries and commentaries, plus a booklet of liner notes, a reversible sleeve and even a soundtrack CD of the original cheesy score. If Eighties slasher flicks float your boat, this is a thing of (admittedly worthless) beauty. Ian Glasper