Spanish director Juan Piquer mon (Slugs) took the chainsaw beyond Texas to initiate a massacre in New England. But instead of a cannibalistic family, it becomes a mystery of whom this shadowed, chainsaw wielding maniac is chopping up a college campus, but targeting only the female student bodies.
Pieces (1983) unfolds in Boston in 1942 and a seemingly innocent, yet peculiar, young boy is casually putting together a pornographic jigsaw puzzle of a nude woman. But the fun of putting the pieces together to speculate the finished product is ceased as his mother rampantly storms into the room tearing everything apart demeaning her son of the puzzle she finds appalling. After lashing out, she sends her son to fetch a garbage bag to dispose of the filth, but what she doesn’t know is that he’ll be back with something much more handy to dispose of her who interrupted his time of amusement.
Jump ahead 40 years from the grisly axe murder of his mother, and we find the “curious” boy grown up, nothing but a shadow dressed in black, still in posseson of the blood-stained puzzle that triggered his rage to kill. It’s this unknown, perverted psycho who is on a mison to build his own life-ze puzzle to regenerate his mother from human body parts. And what better setting than a college campus to find a surplus of young, naïve females to get the job done?
It’s up to Detectives Bracken (Christopher George) and Holden (Frank Brana) with the help of a fellow student and undercover detective/tennis player Mary Riggs (Lynda Day George) to help catch this crazed chainsaw dweller. Writer Dick Randall must have been quite the tennis fan, in which we see multiple scenes of tennis playing (which is quite dreadful I must add), as well as a pointless kung fu scene as Randall had been multaneously writing a separate martial arts film at the time.
The film has a good idea going for itself, but the awful character development and dialogue is by far the most retched aspect in its entirety. But there is a decent “who done it” atmosphere that works well for the film’s standards as there are multiple characters who you could point the finger as the culprit.
Despite having many dark scenes, the effects are somewhat decent but really nothing above average. With the opening axe sequence and arm chopping with a chainsaw in an elevator, the look of rubber is too prominent to even come close to being convincing. Supposedly in the dismemberment of the tennis player through the torso, a pig carcass was used during the close up. One of the most stylish being the knife behind the head through the mouth.
For a low-budget 80s flick, Pieces manifests a nice balance of run-of-the-mill chainsaw deaths, bare skin and cheesy acting that you would expect from this era. Even its surprise finale will have you rewinding just to make sure you saw exactly what you thought it was. With mon’s short directorial career, his next and only other semi-major film would be 1988’s Slugs.