PIECES (aka: One Thousand Cries Has the Night)(aka: MIL GRITOS TIENE LA NOCHE)
(director: Juan Piquer Simón; screenwriters: Dick Randall/Joe D’Amato; cinematographer: John Marine; editor: Antonio Gimeno; music: Librado Pastor; cast: Christopher George (Lieutenant Bracken), Ian Sera (Kendall James), Linda Day (Mary Riggs), Edmund Purdom (Dean), Paul Smith (Willard), Frank Brana (Sergeant Randy Holden), Jack Taylor (Professor Brown), May Heatherly (Mrs. Reston), Hilda Fuchs (Grace – the Dean’s Secretary); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Dick Randall/Steve Minasian; Grindhouse Releasing; 1982-Spain-dubbed in English)
“It’s exactly what you think it is!”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Juan Piquer Simón (“Endless Descent”/”Mystery on Monster Island”/”Journey to the Center of the Earth”) directs this wonderfully goofy exploitation shocker horror pic that has the tagline it lives up to: “It’s exactly what you think it is.” It’s a low-budget sleaze fest, shot in Boston and Madrid. Writers Dick Randall and Joe D’Amato keep it splatter happy, cheesy, tongue-in-cheek with a macabre humor, and have enough titty shots for the film to appeal to the frat boy crowd.
In Boston, 1942, a ten-year-old is playing with a jigsaw puzzle of a naked woman his overseas serviceman father left in the closet. When his hysterical mom (May Heatherly) gets nasty with him and kicks over the puzzle in a moral outrage, he axes her to death in little pieces, decapitates her and hides in the closet when the police arrive pretending to be scared of the mysterious killer. The film moves ahead forty years later to 1982, and a coed is chainsawed to death on the Boston campus of a private college and decapitated. Cigar-chomping Lieutenant Bracken (Christopher George) and his partner Sergeant Randy Holden (Frank Brana) investigate, and when a string of gruesome chainsaw murders take place on campus (my two favorites are the girl who gets chainsawed in half in the elevator and the half-naked coed who is so scared of the chainsaw that she pees in her pants) the stymied homicide coppers bring in the sexy Mary Riggs (Linda Day, the real-life wife of Christopher George) to be an undercover cop posing as the new tennis instructor. All the vics are beautiful coeds hacked to death by the maniac killer, who collects their body parts to create a likeness of his late mom. Bracken decides to go against the book and use the teenager campus stud Kendall James (Ian Sera), who knows everyone on campus, to be his second undercover cop. The suspects are the behemoth maintenance man Willard (Paul Smith), the creepy homosexual anatomy teacher Professor Brown (Jack Taylor), and the seemingly innocuous loner college dean (Edmund Purdom).
Surprisingly it’s not just a mindless slasher film, which it is, but it has more sustenance as a somewhat provocative parody of contemporary campus life and as a spirited Grand Guignol splatter film. Despite lame dialogue, has-been or never been actors, being badly dubbed in English, overloaded with gratuitous and graphic violence, clumsily helmed, and filled with awkwardly shot slasher set pieces, it still is weirdly entertaining because it has the guts to be just what it is–a refreshingly unfettered grindhouse flick that shuns FX special effects to deliver its brain dead grossness with buckets of blood from the slaughterhouse and uses real chainsaws in its crazy-assed topless chainsaw chases across the campus. You can’t help laughing at it, it’s so stupid and genuine and diabolically absurd.
REVIEWED ON 2/28/2010 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/